I am a Singaporean born in the 1950s. Before Singapore obtained independence from the British, my family of eight were living in squatter settlements at the present Bukit Purmei area. In 1967, we, along with many of our neighbors were relocated to brand new HDB flats in Bukit Merah. Though the flats are one room with eight of us crammed into a tiny room, we have a roof over our heads with clean water supply and electricity.
We live there till 1979 and moved to a larger 5 room flat in Toa Payoh Lorong 8. After marriage, I bought a new flat in Ang Mo Kio and after selling the flat 5 years later, I was able to upgrade to a terrace house in Potong Pasir.
Which country in the world allows a poor laborer’s son like me to move from a squatter settlement to a landed house in just a single generation?
Photo by Muhd Asyraf, unsplash.com
I am extremely thankful to the PAP government for the high level of home ownership which I believe to be the highest in the world.
While HDB may not be perfect, it has managed to house an entire generation of Singaporeans in less than a decade, a feat not seen anywhere else in the world.
We should be thankful for what we have and not criticize the government excessively over the 99 year lease of HDB flats.
Leasehold public housing is nothing new. Many countries in the world have limited tenure for public housing. I went to an exhibition on Myanmar properties recently and was told that private apartments there have a leasehold of only 70 years.
As our Prime Minister has rightly pointed out, 99 years are more than enough to house two generations of Singaporeans and more importantly to ensure that a precious resource like land on a small little island like ours is not monopolized by wealthy families like what has happened to Hong Kong.
All Singaporeans, young and old are given equal opportunities by the government to own a slice of Singapore. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Old Guards such as Lee Kuan Yew, Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee and Lim Kim San, our first Housing Minister. Our excellent public housing is the envy of the world. Let us don’t forget our achievements over the years and continue to strive on to greater heights for our beloved nation! Majulah Singapura!