Late last week, the former chief executive officer of the Housing and Development Board, Liu Thai Ker, commented on the current state of affairs in public housing. He also gave a few indications of what he thought should be the direction for public housing in Singapore.

Amongst his observations were to “forget the bells and the whistles”, that public housing should “provide a shelter over everybody’s heads”, HDB should “provide affordable housing”, and that “it is not a bad thing to be marginally over supply”.

He also mentioned the detailed research HDB went into during his time: “When I was CEO, we looked at the per capita GDP (gross domestic product) growth, the sector of people eligible for public housing, their income … and then matching that to our selling price and to our flat sizes. It was really a very detailed study.”

Understandably, Mr Liu is speaking carefully and watching his words, but his observations are very similar to what we have also advocated in our article on Minister Khaw and HDB. Of course, we don’t have the benefit of a whole research department and other government resources, only our own common sense and market observations. Still, it is heartening to note that we aren’t alone in our assessment.

From the words he has chosen, our interpretation is that he is opposed to the policy of using public housing as an investment. One can also discern the path that began with HDB in the early 1970s, and the various decisions that have led us to where we are today.

That being said, there is still on option that we feel has not been fully explored and threshed out yet, and that is public rental housing. We have, in the past, written about it several times (for example, BLUTA on Housing Part 3). It’s worth mentioning again, as rental is a solution that kills two birds with one stone.

Having easily available units for rent from HDB will make redundant the loophole of public housing used for rental investment, since no one will want to compete with the subsidised rentals offered in a comprehensive rental scheme. It just wouldn’t be worth a HDB owner’s time to sub-let, legally or otherwise, at those prices. At the same time, a comprehensive rental scheme will provide more housing options for the populace.

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  One Response to “A Voice of Experience from HDB”


    Is in agreement to you proposal of rental market for HDB. Since our flat is on 99 yr lease, we do not own the flat. Besides HDB normally forcefully take back the flat around 30 yrs and force us to buy another one at higher price. Might as well rent a flat all our live and save up the money for healthcare and other expenses. Why be burden by HDB housing scheme which is a death trap and deplete our retirement saving.

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