Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No playgrounds for children....

On the same day it was revealed that Temasek Holdings and GIC together probably lost close to $100B or more, this topic about no frills housing surfaced. See there is a small but significant part of our society who can no longer afford to pay HDB's prices for flats so a number of PAP MPs proposed "no frills" housing. The idea is to provide housing stripped of amenities such as covered walkways, playgrounds and BBQ pits. Without these amenities, the HDB can sell the flats at lower prices. Oh this idea is so brilliant isn't it - poor people's children don't need playgrounds because they should be out helping their parents to earn money. Hey who needs BBQ pits when you can't afford to buy the raw meat. Covered walkways? Just bring an umbrella whenever you go out. See the solution to unaffordable housing is not for HDB to lower its prices until they are affordable but to strip an estate of amenities until people can afford it.

I was listening to 93.8Live this morning when they had a discussion about no-frills housing. One Singaporean called up to say he was really really worried about this idea. No lah he is not worried about the children of poor families not having play grounds.....he is worried that no-frills flats will be build next to his HDB and the poor people will cross over to use the amenities that he paid for. Now you know where the 66.6% comes from.

Staying together moving ahead...only if you can afford it. Otherwise they will downgrade you and your children to "no-frills". We can afford to lose $100B - no sweat - but when it comes to improving the living conditions of the poor, the problem is so intractable. See if you build that playground for free and the children of poor people find out about it, they will want freebies in the future...that is what the PAP is worried about ...just like their investments, they always think long term.

Yes, I know by now some of the smarter people reading this blog probably already noticed the flaw in this posting. There are no playgrounds because the poor people in Singapore simply cannot afford to have kids these days ......so why is there a need for playgrounds? Like I said the PAP is so brilliant!

-----------------------------------------------------
No-frills housing, please

http://www.todayonline.com/articles/301064.asp
NO PLAYGROUNDS or covered walkways in new HDB estates. Nor any barbecue pits. New flats should have very basic floor tiles, meanwhile.
.It is hardly the usual call from Members of Parliament, who tend to push for upgrading in their constituencies. But two among their ranks are making the call for “no-frills” housing.
.According to Dr Lim Wee Kiak and Ms Lee Bee Wah, this should be an option for home buyers and one way to provide more affordable housing.
.Dr Lim’s residents in Sembawang, for example, have told him HDB flat prices are high and younger residents who want to move out of their parents’ homes after marriage find it hard to do so.
.“Many of them have just started work and may not have so much cash,” he told Today. “You’re giving them a chance to build something simple, and over the years when their salaries increase, they may want to improve their homes.”
.When he first raised this in Parliament on Friday, Dr Lim gave the example of flat prices in the 1970s: $15,000 and $20,000 for a three-room and four-room flat respectively. A graduate with a starting salary of $1,000 could pay off his apartment with 15 to 25 months of his pay, he said.
.But today, though their starting salaries are three to five times higher, the prices of new flats have shot up “10 to 30 times”, he added.
.“A high cost of housing has many repercussions as it results in higher costs of living, reduction of resources for other pursuits such as education and investment,” he said.
.His solution, he envisions, would lower construction costs and allow flats to be sold for “well below $100,000”.
.But covered link-ways, playgrounds and other upgrading works can be done later when the estate is more mature, he added.
.Echoing his views, Ms Lee (Ang Mo Kio) said HDB “should avoid building flats with too many value-added features”, which should be left to private developers.
.When contacted, other MPs had mixed feelings, however, about whether there is a place for no-frills flats in Singapore’s public housing spectrum.
.Mr Teo Ser Luck (Pasir Ris-Punggol) said the biggest gripe, instead, among couples he has spoken to is the long waiting time for a new flat.
.The no-frills idea may also not appeal to younger buyers, who aspire more and are more demanding. “They’re more well informed and have specific demands for the quality of life they want,” said Mr Teo.
.Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Hong Kah) was concerned that owners who do not like having the bare minimum might “start hacking and doing it up all over again”.
.“I don’t think people are saying ‘give me no-frills’, but they’re asking for cheaper alternatives,” he said, and suggested that three-room flats - with quality - would be good for younger couples.
.“I think we should create more supply in that segment,” he said. “They can always look at upgrading options later.”
.In his Parliamentary reply on Friday,
.National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said HDB will launch about 3,000 flats for sale in the first half of this year, of which 1,400 will be studio apartments, two- and three-room flats. There will be 4,000 of such flats launched over the next two years.
.“We’ll increase the supply of smaller and lower-priced flats further if necessary to meet the demand from the lower income group,” he said.
.Dr Lim had other suggestions as well: Price homes based on cost rather than matching them to market conditions, and shorten the lease from the current 99 years.
.Some home hunters welcomed his call for no-frills flats.
.Technician Chen Yi, 29, got married in November and is staying in a Woodlands executive flat with his wife, parents and two siblings.
.Mr Chen has been looking for a matrimonial home but has been unsuccessful because prices of resale flats have been out of reach, and he does not want to wait several years for a new flat.
.“I don’t mind if my home has just one bedroom and a hall,” he said. “Even if it’s cramped like those apartments in Hong Kong, I don’t care. I just want a place where I can have privacy.”
Ansley Ng
ansley@mediacorp.com.sg
NO PLAYGROUNDS or covered walkways in new HDB estates. Nor any barbecue pits. New flats should have very basic floor tiles, meanwhile.
.It is hardly the usual call from Members of Parliament, who tend to push for upgrading in their constituencies. But two among their ranks are making the call for “no-frills” housing.
.According to Dr Lim Wee Kiak and Ms Lee Bee Wah, this should be an option for home buyers and one way to provide more affordable housing.
.Dr Lim’s residents in Sembawang, for example, have told him HDB flat prices are high and younger residents who want to move out of their parents’ homes after marriage find it hard to do so.
.“Many of them have just started work and may not have so much cash,” he told Today. “You’re giving them a chance to build something simple, and over the years when their salaries increase, they may want to improve their homes.”
.When he first raised this in Parliament on Friday, Dr Lim gave the example of flat prices in the 1970s: $15,000 and $20,000 for a three-room and four-room flat respectively. A graduate with a starting salary of $1,000 could pay off his apartment with 15 to 25 months of his pay, he said.
.But today, though their starting salaries are three to five times higher, the prices of new flats have shot up “10 to 30 times”, he added.
.“A high cost of housing has many repercussions as it results in higher costs of living, reduction of resources for other pursuits such as education and investment,” he said.
.His solution, he envisions, would lower construction costs and allow flats to be sold for “well below $100,000”.
.But covered link-ways, playgrounds and other upgrading works can be done later when the estate is more mature, he added.
.Echoing his views, Ms Lee (Ang Mo Kio) said HDB “should avoid building flats with too many value-added features”, which should be left to private developers.
.When contacted, other MPs had mixed feelings, however, about whether there is a place for no-frills flats in Singapore’s public housing spectrum.
.Mr Teo Ser Luck (Pasir Ris-Punggol) said the biggest gripe, instead, among couples he has spoken to is the long waiting time for a new flat.
.The no-frills idea may also not appeal to younger buyers, who aspire more and are more demanding. “They’re more well informed and have specific demands for the quality of life they want,” said Mr Teo.
.Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Hong Kah) was concerned that owners who do not like having the bare minimum might “start hacking and doing it up all over again”.
.“I don’t think people are saying ‘give me no-frills’, but they’re asking for cheaper alternatives,” he said, and suggested that three-room flats - with quality - would be good for younger couples.
.“I think we should create more supply in that segment,” he said. “They can always look at upgrading options later.”
.In his Parliamentary reply on Friday,
.National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said HDB will launch about 3,000 flats for sale in the first half of this year, of which 1,400 will be studio apartments, two- and three-room flats. There will be 4,000 of such flats launched over the next two years.
.“We’ll increase the supply of smaller and lower-priced flats further if necessary to meet the demand from the lower income group,” he said.
.Dr Lim had other suggestions as well: Price homes based on cost rather than matching them to market conditions, and shorten the lease from the current 99 years.
.Some home hunters welcomed his call for no-frills flats.
.Technician Chen Yi, 29, got married in November and is staying in a Woodlands executive flat with his wife, parents and two siblings.
.Mr Chen has been looking for a matrimonial home but has been unsuccessful because prices of resale flats have been out of reach, and he does not want to wait several years for a new flat.
.“I don’t mind if my home has just one bedroom and a hall,” he said. “Even if it’s cramped like those apartments in Hong Kong, I don’t care. I just want a place where I can have privacy.”
Ansley Ng
ansley@mediacorp.com.sg

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where is SR Nathan????

Is SR or KY the keykeeper of our national reserves????

GIC and Temasek lost $200 Billions of our reserves, why is SR or KY so silent????

Onlooker said...

While we are on this topic how about no frill Garment?

Anonymous said...

Before making these kind of suggestions, MPs should do their homework. How much playgrounds, linkways, etc contribute to the total cost of a HDB flat? All these are minor and shared between a few blocks of flat. How much would be saved if these were omitted? A little less talk rubbish and a little more facts, please.

Big money = Profit, disguised as "land cost"

It would be great if real numbers could be finally be put forward instead of stupid suggestions like cutting costs by not providing what are, afterall, very basic facilities.

Anonymous said...

Haiyah, no need to go no frills lah. Just dump the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme which is a real waste of money.

Who in their right mind would venture out to admire expensive landscaping under the scorching hot sun? How many HDB dwellers actually make use of that kind of space? How much time they spend indoors vs outdoors?

Instead of making the indoors better and save on the outdoors, they propose the other way round.

Sometimes, they really amaze me.

rookielim said...

NO PLAYGROUNDS or covered walkways in new HDB estates. Nor any barbecue pits... can these highly paid brilliant MPs do their maths and tell us how much such frills will cost i.e., the % of these frills is to the cost of an apartment? Without the frills, can the price of a HBD be lowered by >50% so that it become truly affordable? If so, please cut them out. The bulk of HDB price goes to the so call land cost. The frills are unlikely cost >5% each unit. Is this small % going to make the HDB anymore affordable? Why do they even bother to bring this up and waste everyone's time (tax payers money)?

Anonymous said...

Indeed the frills are just a minor % of the cost. I think there is a bigger picture of re-packaging/marketing gimmick to allow cheaper housing to low income earners without antagonising those who already paid 400-600k for almost the same shit and thus calming the population and not allowing a major crash in prices.

Anonymous said...

Look at the half empty T2 and T3 at Changi....

Look at the deserted Esplanande...

Look at HDB dabbling in 800k+ "public" condos

BTW, an MRI at Mt E. cost less than one I did at Changi General Hospital

And we cannot afford to build playgrounds for the underpriviledged of Singapore?

Sometimes I wonder whether public sector is confused about their roles? Moving from a public goods provider to a full corporation?

Pls pls pls... start thinking straight...

Anonymous said...

give me a 90 m sq cement cell with lift on every fifth floor and no covered walk way for SGD 15K. I will take it up immediately.

Never use the BBQ pit b4 (and never will), will walk up stairs to take lift.

Sounds Animal Farmish... but we lost the direction for affordable housing for all

diggo

Taishan said...

What happened to the promised land - the Fondue eating thing?
Trying to catch up with Indonesia, Somalia... now ?

Anonymous said...

Me too. Never sat in the pavilions, never even seen a BBQ pit around.

How much are they selling the no-frills HDB flats? Maybe cheaper by a few thousand dollars. Cannot be $15K lah. The whole HDB resale market will crash for sure at that price.

Lost Citizen

Anonymous said...

they are just preparing for the next few elections when they can no longer entice voters with lift upgrading (after all lifts are upgraded). so all these "amenities" will then come into play, ie. vote for me and you get to enjoy a spanking new playground in ur neighbourhood.

bob

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucky

This has nothing to do with your article but one on subprime explained.

http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/11/The-End-of-Wall-Streets-Boom

Anonymous said...

1.we could have spent some of that money making sure that every student has a free computer, free internet access, and is coached to make use of email, im and social networking to communicate with peers and schools/employers.

or at least thats better use of money than sitting around in 'sinking' funds or building so many covered walkways when we all got umbrellas.

2. scary that GIC/temasek want to behave more like investment funds(loyal to returns) instead of sovereign wealth funds(loyal to national concerns). where do they think the money came from? who do they think they're managing the money for?

why do they want returns? government make money for what? i thought firms were profit chasing entities and governments were contractors hired to provide utilities and correct externalities? if government got extra money why should it not give it back to the citizens if it has no good reason to keep it? just like a firm would give money back to its shareholders if it has no good use for it. moreover, governments can issue money, so why is ours so bothered about making it? why don't all these people in government who are interested in making money go be entrepreneurs or investment bankers instead?

Anonymous said...

did you guys realise that the timing of the announcements - HoChing's resignation and then the Temasek losses - is fixed? Or should I say all a "Wayang"?

If done the other way, man, it would be a big embarrassment to her big time. Worst, PM got no face too.

this wayang is damage control...

Anonymous said...

I always dont understand the "sg logic". I have given up trying to understand it. If the poor kids try to take advantage of your playground, they have already did.

If u cant beat the market, join the market. Otherwise, find yourself another market.

Anonymous said...

Why these MPs never dare to ask what is the land cost for a block of HDB flats? Don't these MPs realise HDB is a monopoly business and where it can dictate the base level of housing pricing and can even suka suka peg to market rates?

Anonymous said...

Does it cost that much to build BBQ pits and covered walkways?

It looks like we are being grossly overcharged when the costs of these "amenities" are taken into consideration.

From the looks of it, I think my BBQ pit is made of marble instead of bricks and mortar.

Maybe your covered walkways are paved with gold.

Anonymous said...

they're channeling state resources to help the needy. they're not doing much to help the middle class. great mistake. middle class folks are tightening their belt and putting more pressure on businesses and jobs.

yamizi said...

But it's true that in Singapore, if you're not financially well off, don't have kids. It's not that it makes you tiresome but come on, be fair to the kids, they deserve a better future.

Anonymous said...

i am surprised why HDB havent jump out and give their standard reply.. that their flats are affordable.. within 30% of the debt limit.. blah blah blah..

ly said...

we need another Goodyear to work in HDB.

and to support FT policies, we shd have many FTs working as MPs too.. increase competitiveness in managing a ctry, reserves, blah..
afterall, the pay is gd nia?

most MPs don't live in HDB, so how can they represent common dwellers of Spore?

MPs have been elected to speak FOR the ppl, serve the residents and not the other way round.

but policies has been misrepresented. (citizens complain HDBs are expensive, they tell u can cheaper but no amenities.) freedom of speech have been confined to hong lim park or online ranting (but dont get caught). ppl expressed their fear of retrenchmt, garmeh give aid.. not to u, but to ur employer (who will retrench u anyway if there is no demand for his biz)

we really need to thank our garmeh for having such great direction in their leadership, for being so understanding, helpful & kind.

Anonymous said...

BBQ pits are redundant. Those near my block have been misused by people burning incense and joss papers all year round. Who would want to BBQ their food using the same pits?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said 1:29 PM...

" Where is SR Nathan????

Is SR or KY the keykeeper of our national reserves????

GIC and Temasek lost $200 Billions of our reserves, why is SR or KY so silent????"

Mind boggling figure $200 billion...possible can fill up an entire 3 room flat with $100.00 notes. If divided equally amongst all Singapore citizens, how much does each one get?

In fact Singapore can afford to spend another $100 billion for all its citizens to tide over these hard times. After all much better to invest in your own citizens for the long term, rather than waiting for those paper losses to recover after 30 years (1 generation). Why do we need reserves that can never be touched and why do we need so much more? Even if we can build it up to several trillions, there is no guarantee another different generation may fritter away what our parents and the present generations had saved?

Why not spend some of our wealth to have the best for our people? We can afford to pay for the best leaders, and yet cannot afford to give the less-privileged children a playgound. They are also saying, we can get cheaper treatments in Johore. What helicopter vision does our bestest paid ministers have? In times like these, we need these ministers to work doubly hard to come up with good policies and to reassure us citizens that things are ok as we have lots of reserves to tide us over. Instead we have been told we have lost one third of it. This really is something Singaporeans may find hard to swallow and accept.

facts actually said...

I must say that Singaporeans can sometimes be quite a difficult lot to please. We complain that public housing is expensive and expect the government to lower the prices. Fair and reasonable.

When the government responds by cutting the ‘frills’ to reduce the price, we argue that it does not cost that much to include them in anyway. Also true.

But you know, the government does need to find a justification to that reduction that has been called for. I was personally very puzzled by how taking out a playground and some covered linkways could ever lower the cost of the flats by such a significant amount.

Direct lowering of prices by cutting down amenities will basically ruffle the feathers of 2 groups. Firstly, the existing flat owners from the neighbourhood, as it will inadvertently affect the valuation of their flats and hence difficulty to sell their units. The other group will be the potential flat owners who simply can’t figure out why our Government can be so cheapskate!

The more subtle and sincere way will probably be to offer genuine subsidies (maybe only exclusive to Singaporeans), for both new developments and resale units. This will overall alleviate the burden of the high cost of our public housing and at the same time not compromising with the inflated value of the existing flats.

Our Government is trying in a certain sense… But I guess their ways of implementation is just not effective in responding to the inherent concerns of the people.

Anonymous said...

No frills house ? Is toilet considered a frill too ? Obviously, it is, as every hawker centre start charging for toilet use so toilet is a frill.

Now anyone who want to bath or use toilet must visit centralised toilet and pay 50cents per entry. Oh, they also can purchased seasoned pass too.

AlphavilleSG said...

I really don't understand! What is wrong with the PAP govt! Haven't Mah Bow Tan clarified 'market subsidies' doesn't mean selling a new flat at anywhere near the cost?

Can you first examine your existing housing policy! Ask why so many Singaporeans are facing mortgage arrears!

Even cheaper flats? FUCK! Please tell us! Please! Please! Please! Is the price of new flat really determined by cost alone!

Why must the poorest of Singaporean ALWAYS draw the short straw! BLATANT discrimination! PAP MPs! Please examine conscience of the person in the mirror!

Anonymous said...

Well, at least we were not told to shift to JB ie. like what our very respected Health Minister suggested for our old folks!!

By the way, we already have "no frills housing" already - one in Hougang and the other in Potong Pasir.

Some of our MPs are so dumb they should just keep their mouths shut and collect their S$15k a month while they're still in office.

Anonymous said...

Why is the price of HDB flats so high? So that the minister of National Development can show his boss how much money he has contributed to GDP and claim his share of Performance Bonus of 7 times.

Why is cost of flats not linked to construction material cost (Assuming land cost to Govt is negligible) Cos the seller will flip the property 5 years later and gain huge profits, so Mah Bow Tan wants his share of the profits as well - these go to the GDP figures and Mah can claim his performance bonus of 7 months.

Why is there a sales levy when people sell their flat or when people who are retrenched sells their flat and downgrade?
So the Mah Bow Tan can claim a higher 7 month performance bonus.

Now you know what is the meaning of world class leadership with world class pay?

Robert Tan said...

Great solution...create slums.

But on a sad note, why are discriminating against our people ?

Anonymous said...

aiya, why so difficult, just erect mini ERP gantry on every walkway and playground so that the poor will only use when it is necessary, so that they will not overuse the amenities. Or else, implement the prepay system like the electricity so that the poor will not over spend for what they cannot afford to.

Anonymous said...

So much for aiming for Swiss standards of living. We are now on the verge of really regressing.

Ship the old and sick off to nursing homes in neighbouring countries. Pack the poor off into ocnvenient 'no frills' housing, probably in some out of the way place. In any event, how much do they expect to save anyway?

But when troubled 'brand name' banks ask for help, throw in billions at the drop of a hat.

Uniquely Sinkapore.

Anonymous said...

Temasick and GIC lost billions of dollars. They fix the problems by making the citizen pay for it.

They overcharged us on the sale of HDB. Now the citizen has to pay for it to make it more affordable.

M&M peanut say we can make it. Sure we had to tighten our belt even tighter. While he and his family continue their fine dinning.

I ask myself what is karma?

Anonymous said...

the gahmen will tell u that if u compare prices around the work, our flats are the cheapest (fact)...but the problem are we earning enough to afford this cheap housing in the first place without sacrificing other aspects of life...e.g. like eat out once in a while...watch a movie.....no no no....if u cannot afford it..dun gay kiang and spend $$$.....but then..we are also told we dun know how to spend our $$$...nd govt to keep $$$ for us..hmm very contradicting

Anonymous said...

I wonder what "frills" these MPs are referring to:

Carpark? - as confirmed by HDB, this is not included in cost of flat. It is paid by car owners through monthly $90 season parking.

Walkway, playground, exercise corner? - built gradually over the years by Town Councils using our accumulated monthly fees.

Interior renovations? - none, we buyers hire one of our own.

So what "frills" are these MPs referring to?

Anonymous said...

Reducing the building cost of flats by removing the so called frills does not work to reduce its selling price.

This is because HDB prices its flats based on affordability.

What's stopping HDB from retaining the selling price and making a bigger profit? It is a profit oriented company afterall.

Anonymous said...

my goodness, cant imagine this is the solutions that of million dollars MPs could come out with. They should just keep their mouth shut and continue draw their million dollars salary than putting mud onto themselves. What a loughing stock. Muahahahaha...hang on, why not building Swiss standard atap flats with the kampong style toilet? No frills and environmental friendly too...

Anonymous said...

No Frill Housing means common kitchen, common toilets and common bathroom like the Lim Yew Hock's days.

Anonymous said...

No Frill Housing means common kitchen, common toilets and common bathroom like the Lim Yew Hock's days.

How old are you to know about Lim Yew Hock days. How much do you know about Public Housing during Lim Yew Hock days.

Do you know that it is a privilege to be able to rent an SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust) flat during those days.

You must have sufficient number of people to form a family before you qualify to apply for one.

Anonymous said...

I refer to Lim Yew Hock days on a time-scale rather than specifically the SIT flats. During those days, there were a lot of houses with private room but common toilet, bath and kitchen. No lifts, no playground - nothing else. They were really "no frill". I lived in one as a kid. SIT flats were the first attempt to improve the lives of Singaporeans. But now, it saddens me to see that MPs are suggesting that we regress to those times. Has the Singapore dream of "Swiss Standard of Living" burst?

Anonymous said...

I wondered if we can choose a 100 years mortgage so that we only need to pay $10 per month to live in HDB flats.