Monday, August 27, 2012

Singapore National Day Rally: Home Hope Heart HDB!

OK not necessarily in that order and beating down our cynicism down like beat the mole for once, that was a pretty good theme for the Rally speech. The speech inspired more or less depending on how cynical one was at different parts of the speech, especially near the end I was super frustrated. I wanted to watch Super 8 as it started at 10pm and wanted PM to rush through his speech. In the end, this year's message to me was simple with the touch of nostalgia, plus Mediacorp's programme on old school shops and Labour bar soap from yesteryear inserted into the interval before PM started his rhetoric was great spin!

Ever since the GE where PAP lost a GRC, there have been many symbolic changes on power sharing. Last year, for the first time ever since 1965, opposition MPs attended the Rally. That is a a good precedent and this year was no different signalling that the Rally should be party-neutral as much as possible. Just like this year's NDP where the MPs discarded their whites and light blues, and wore hues of red when they took the grandstand seats and graced the parade party-neutral. Bravo, and I'm not sniggering, serious!

Home, heart and hope in the speech are all built up in the promises on new HDB rulings. As with last year's milestone policies on raising the income ceilings for BTO and ECs and raising hope for Singaporeans waiting to buy new homes, there is renewed hope for couples and singles for them to own new HDB homes quickly. The HDB home ownerships scheme stated in 1964 is now more inclusive about providing homes for Singaporeans even if they are single.

One of the likeable policy rethink was HDB's old-fuddy stand on singles buying new HDB flats. Until now, singles above 35 can only buy resales. Previously they could only buy 3-room resale flats but that changed from 2004. From the hints dropped, singles can hope to buy new flats soon. Maybe even if they are below 35! The question is whether it would be that simple and straightforward or would there be other conditions woven in like only certain types of flats (3BR) in non-mature estates, is 35 still the magic age, would they enjoy grants etc since HDB flats are for Singaporeans and their families according to the great social engineering manual from the 1960s. That manual is out of sync in this time and age of singles and single parents, who are also Singaporeans and need a home too. HDB is ultimately meant to provide homes for Singaporeans, young and old, single and not, families or not. As it should, the devil is in the details on priority and privileges when getting a new HDB flat. Not whether Singaporeans are allowed to buy a new flat or not.

Another HDB policy to change with the times is that families with children would have priority in getting new flats. Good move to encourage families to have kids, and early, for the calculative Singaporean couples who want to plan their lives like clockwork e.g. marriage+1year kids, marriage+6 years upgrade to condo near branded primary school as after MOP and rent out HDB flat in the meantime. LOL

However, there is still looking of the other way on these problems of HDB home ownership e.g. HDB flats are homes for Singaporeans only and currently, foreigners can buy resale while locals can still treat their HDB flats as rental income and not their home. This drives up HDB prices in the market, great for the smug sellers, awful for the potential buyers. WTF, can't please everybody all the time right?


  1. i think permission, priority and privileges are secondary to price..

    i can say every singaporean (single or not) after obtaining their ORD certificate can buy a hdb flat (permission) and they all have first priority and they can get the full $40k rebates (privilege).
    but it will all mean nothing if the pricing is at $1mil per unit. where is a young 20yr old dude gonna find 10% x $1mil for downpayment?

    all these piece meal measures are all for wayang show. if they are serious abt solving this, just de-link selling price from market conditions and introduce cap gains tax.. hdb is a social good (not economic good) and it should stay that way.
    but do they have the balls to do it?

  2. Pwah. You got a point on linking NS to HDB. Not first priority as new HDB is mostly for citizens anyway and citizens would have done NS. But they are given extra NS grant of $10k if husband and wife are both citizens, compared to the one citizen the other PR type of new HDB flat applicant.

    Capital gains tax is crazy. Can't impose cap gains tax on HDB flats, as it would only drive up resale price as sellers would adjust to compensate for the tax paid out. Rather have a HDB owner-occupied only policy and flats cannot be used as rental investments.

    1. if you think along the lines of hdb as a SOCIAL, not-for-profit good rather than an economic good, then even a 100% capital gains tax wouldnt sound so crazy.

      extra grants here and there are just so piece meal and pointless if prices are so crazy. ur 10k extra grants gets wiped out easily in one or two months of market price growth, that 10k is nothing...

      price is the key issue here and as i said, i dun think the govt has the balls to take bold radical moves which ironically we so badly need now... so GG.