Wednesday, June 22, 2011

$$$$, DBSS or DUMBASS?

I'm dazed. So when is public housing public housing?

Is there a difference between public and private housing? I would have thought public housing means selling or renting of houses (flats) by the government and/or their agencies to the average guy and his family at a reasonable/affordable price. So is $880.000.00 for a 99-lease 5-room 110sqm HDB flat reasonable/affordable?

Or is it plain profiteering? It's daylight robbery if we compare this to the $200,000.00 (same 110sqm 5-room) Sembawang/Sengkang/Punggol flats offered 7 years ago!

So the guy who recommended us to get sick and die in JB is asking Singaporeans not to buy those DumBaSS flats if it is beyond their means. In so doing, he has pressured the DumBaSS developer to reduce the selling price [Link]. Bravo! But at $685,000.00 (the cheapest of the 5-room offered), is it what Public Housing is about?

Well, it's all about money, money and money! The material and money culture in Singapore is turning into a monster! Or is it becoming an earthquake or a tsunami? Will it kill many as in a disastrous nuclear leak? Have we reached a stage where we "Kwa tio sen, chiu pai. Kwa tio ter, chiu tai!" (translate: See gods (any god), pray. See pigs, slaughter!" Have we become a people where making money (GDP?) is the sole reason of our being? Well, with the horrendous example set by the PAP ministers obscenely enriching themselves with millions of dollars in their salary, how can we blame the DumBaSS developer for not lining their pockets with as much as they can? Monkey see, monkey do! Looks like everyone who can should make excessive profits from the 'ikan bilis'. If they complain, just reduce the price or get Gerard Ee in another newfangled Committee to bravely adjust and justify!

Do we have to take advantage of the less endowed, the less fortunate and milk them dry to enrich and empower ourselves? Can we be a little better than being the "big fish that eats the small fish that eats the ikan bilis"?

It may be universally accepted that it sucks to be poor! However, it gets worse when you are trampled, manipulated and treated like pigs by the the ones (the gahmen) who are supposed to take care of you! The CPF and the HDB has been trumpeted since time immemorial as PAP's greatest gifts to Singaporeans in housing and retirement. But the truth is: We are screwed! Prices of HDB flats are sky rocketing and CPF is simply 'untouchable'! Any which way but lose. . . That's how PAP plays it. Damned, we are the losers! Can you imagine the audacity they have to call us 'daft' when we question the immorality of their obscene pay? And asked us to 'repent' when we voted for a 1st world parliament?

Lest I be accused of being a negative crybaby and always bitching about PAP, I wish you to know that I'm on top of the world celebrating the 12th anniversary of (only 3 out of 100 survived a cardiac arrest on the road) my revival ;)

Having been there and done that (knocked on Heaven's door with heart attack & ventricular fibrillation), I'm just so pleased to know that a Beggar can be happier than a Prince. There are those who forgot to die (thanks Sister Theresa Tsu) [Youtube Link 1 of 5 ] and those who refuse to.

I'm grateful to Sister Theresa who taught me that being poor doesn't necessarily sucks if you're in the 'flow'! It's all in the mind! Below is a happy picture Theresa Tsu, a "beggar who forgot to die".

The size of the pictures below does not denote how great they are. It is the facial expressions that say it all! The 'cunningly calculative', the 'truly happy' and the 'arrogantly atas'



At June 23, 2011 at 9:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Life is short
it is always shorter for
those who wish to live
Precious and important
live(life) cannot be
It is only psychological
though. No matter how
great one deems oneself;
becoming ashes or dust
level one with the rest.

At June 23, 2011 at 9:28 AM , Blogger The said...

I think the whole fiasco is due to the wrong expectations of the government/HDB. When the tender for the land was awarded, the expectation from the government agency is that it is for public housing - hence the relatively low price of around $280psf.

However, by using private developer for public housing, and not setting price ceiling, it is setting itself up for just such an outcome.

Private developers are, by definition, motivated by profit maximization.

So, now the the private developer has the best of both world - low "public housing" land cost, and high private housing prices.

For private housing, the construction cost is about $150-$200 psf. For public housing, it should be much lower, say, around $100 to $150psf. So, we can see that the developer is making huge profits.

The DBSS should be abolished. It goes against everything that HDB stand for, or used to stand for in the past.

If the design is private, if the constructing is private and setting of selling price is private, what do you call such housing? Public housing?

There is only one solution to this fiasco - abolish the DBSS immediately. Otherwise it will live up to its name of becoming a Damned Blood Sucking Scheme.

At June 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There must be something wrong with our education system, or perhaps quality of intelligence, when so many people cannot understand that they have built their lives on capitalist soil, not communist soil.

At June 23, 2011 at 12:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Capitalism is good as long as it is guided/controlled for the good of the majority than the minority...or x amount paid for x amount of real effort and sweat...

Un-controlled capitalism were lead to excessive over leveraging and the looting of everything for short term manifold finite gains at the expense of future unborn generations...

To the poster comes in many forms and ways...the paper certified "intelligence" types or the real wisdom hard earned acquired types...from your shows the quality or the lack of real wisdom within may be intelligent...but you have no long range holistic overview of cause and effect plus real wisdom.

Sad. Not for you.

But for everyone in the end.

At June 23, 2011 at 1:06 PM , Anonymous Alien go Home said...

Always love your articles, Fish! I think HDB has lost its way when Marlboro was in charged & now the S$8.00 medical-minister is clearing up the shit. I dont think it's the fault of Minister Khaw, but rather, the full load of the blame should be taken by that useless ex-Minister of National develepment. He's the main reason why there's COE & the extremely high cost of HBD. HDB's main objective is to serve the people & not make a killing out of everyone.

At June 23, 2011 at 1:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:58


You want to stop the govt/ developers from being unrealistic with pricing or when pricing our land/housing but can you stop owners from being realistic when they sell their flats?

Take the EC for instance. We sold Singaporeans at $300+ psf. Now they are selling at $700+ psf.

So who is the idiot here?

At June 23, 2011 at 1:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might as well walk into a rolex watch shop, ask the manager to price the watch at $100( when its actual worth is $20K) so you can resell it for $10,000?

Which planet you come from?

At June 23, 2011 at 2:25 PM , Blogger The said...

We should not fault the developer for pricing at what the market can bear - after all, it is a free market and the private developers exist to make profits.

If at all, the fault lies with the HDB for coming up with such a scheme.

The only difference between DBSS flats and private flats is that the former are not allow to erect perimeter fence/wall or include a swimming pool. Other than that, with better design, finishes and features, of course the developer will try to fob them off at condo prices.

The DBSS is an ill-conceived scheme. Period.

At June 23, 2011 at 2:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You build an attap house in the heart of orchard....fense or no fense or with pool or without pool, it will still be worth millions.

Nah, DBSS is not to be blamed

At June 23, 2011 at 3:29 PM , Blogger The said...

Dear attap houser,

I think we are saying the same thing, but in a different manner.

What is public housing? It should be for the masses and should be affordable. So, you don't build HDB flats in Orchard Road or Kheam Hock Road.

Yes, an attap hut in middle of Orchard will be worth millions, but that is because the land itself will be worth millions.

The point is - DBSS is more akin to private housing. This is the nub. In terms of design, finishing and features, it is more like condo than public housing.

When I say HDB's experiment with DBSS is ill-conceived, it is due to the fact that HDB should not be dabbling with private housing.

Stick to affordable housing. You want housing with bells and whistles - leave it to the private sector.

Stick to BTO. And if HDB really want better design and admit that their own architects are incapable of coming up with such designs, then outsource ONLY the design portion to private architects. At least they can still set the selling prices and not act like private developers.

At June 23, 2011 at 4:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a DBSS Flat buyer buys a unit at $X now and five years down the road he/she could sell it for $X plus 25% and more profit. Does it not mean it is profitable for Singaporeans to buy them? If it is profitable, why the hooha? Is it not good to create opportunity for the people to make money?
Successful buyers should be thankful to the new housing minister and those who are queue eagerly should petition him for more to be built.

At June 23, 2011 at 5:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


DBSS is targeted at the upper income bracket who are mostly discerning buyers or buyers looking for lifestyle product.

But you are suggesting that there should not be a distinction between the different types of "HDB".

If you do that, you are ignoring a group of buyers who aspire to better quality housing.

The point I am making here is that the "bells and whistles" contribute to a fraction of the value of the flat. Its expensive price tag is due mainly to location.

So even if you build a modestly priced BTO(let say at your affordable pricing of $300K), can you stop the owner from selling it at a million dollar later?

If not, why should our govt price these flats at a ridiculously low price or under value the property?

At June 23, 2011 at 5:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Does it not mean it is profitable for Singaporeans to buy them? If it is profitable, why the hooha? "

The hooha is about lower liability and a wider profit margin for the buyer.

Which means lesser money goes into our national reserve(for the collective good) and more spending power to satisfy their insatiable wants.

At June 23, 2011 at 5:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

CPF is a coffin where Citizens put all the money inside, in fact they are clued to the coffin and cannot be taken out - a person will only lie on them when they are "retired". HDB are nails on the coffin. On top of it, PAP want administrative fees for doing all of the above "service". Daft Singaporeans, you bet 60% still belongs to this group.

At June 23, 2011 at 6:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's probably is so simple.
PAP choses to love MONEY above love Singaporeans, despite being very very loaded.

Death is a great equalizer; naked we cometh, naked we go.

Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before our Maker.

Everyone will be accountable.

At June 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM , Blogger The said...

/// But you are suggesting that there should not be a distinction between the different types of "HDB".

If you do that, you are ignoring a group of buyers who aspire to better quality housing. ///

Where do you draw the line? When it is so clearly private-sector-ish. How about those who aspire to even better quality housing, like a swimming pool and gym and tennis court. Heck, how about the HDB building terrace houses and semi-Ds?

At June 24, 2011 at 9:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depending on how deep or shallow your pocket is, the difference can be three meals of porridge daily or three meals of suckling pigs a day if you so chooses.

We should extract fats from people with a fondness for suckling pig while ensuring that those who live on porridge get some of these fats to keep them warm.

At June 24, 2011 at 9:55 AM , Blogger The said...

Yes, there should be choices. But the HDB mandate is very clear - affordable mass housing. Do encroach into private properties.

You want porridge, you go to subsidized soup kitchen. You dollar can go further. You want suckling pigs or shark fins, you suck up to a 5-star restaurant and be a sucker and later on have to deal with loan sharks.

HDB has no business providing high-end condos. It can give some good-to-have features, but not at the expense of hugely increased cost. Remember - affordable housing. $800,000 for first-hand buyer is definitely not on.

At June 24, 2011 at 1:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one is asking you to buy $800K flat. If you want to compromise with cheaper housing( or "affordable housing"), there are plenty of under $400K flats out there to choose from.
So let the "suckers" go for premium housing - probably with their parent's financial backing. But are they suckers for buying DBSS? Time will tell whether these premium housing will fetch them higher return for their investment.

At June 24, 2011 at 4:05 PM , Blogger The said...

You just don't get it. HDB has no business doing high-end housing. Period.

So, you want HDB to build bungalows? After all, no one is forcing you to buy them. Let the suckers buy them.

Go and read HDB's mission.

"We provide affordable homes of quality and value."

$800,000 per unit in the primary market is NOT affordable.

HDB used to build low-cost housing. Then, when it became not so low-cost, they focus on providing affording housing to low-income people.

Look, I am not a developer guarding my turf.

HDB is encroaching into private developers' turf.

Remember the old RDC (Resource Development Corp). Started out as providing resources like granite, sand, etc for projects. Then decided to go into construction, engineering etc.

And that happened to many stat boards - expanding into other non core areas and crowding out the private sector.

Accordingly to you, it is okay for HDB to go upscale as long as nobody force you to buy.

So, can HDB start building bungalows and condos like The Sail?

At June 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you failed to understand that our housing system differentiate between high household incomers and low household incomers. 80% of our population live in "public housing" which means to say that they are no super scale earners who can afford landed homes.

Among this huge group of flat dwellers, a substantial number can afford to live better. These are the people who are competing for premium locality which account for the rise in value of homes.
This is all legitimate, fair and good for our reserve.
But above all, in a free market system, your idea won't work.

At June 24, 2011 at 5:20 PM , Blogger The said...

/// But above all, in a free market system, your idea won't work. ///

What free market are you talking about? Singapore's property market is far from free. Especially the public-housing market.

Supply is totally within the control of the government.

Which free market offers you housing grants?

Which free market controls how many percent of each race can live in which block?

Of course our housing system caters to all. However, HDB is SPECIFICALLY set up to cater to the lower-income household.

I think we will never see eye to eye if you can understand this point. The raison d'etre of HDB is provide affordable housing to the low income earners. It has absolutely no right to try to go upmarket.

Yes, the housing system caters to all. HDB at the lower the end. And private developers for the rest.

You still have not answer my question. Should HDB go into the bungalow business?

At June 24, 2011 at 6:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are arguing that the market is not totally free, yes, I agree with you but it is free so long as it serves our national interest.
As for landed homes, my earlier post has already addressed that question.
HDB role is to regulate the huge middle class housing and yet has to be mindful of their aspirations. Beyond that, it is niche housing for the rich and ultra rich..

At December 26, 2011 at 8:41 PM , Anonymous Robert said...

Such a great article it was which the CPF and the HDB has been trumpeted since time immemorial as PAP's greatest gifts to Singaporeans in housing and retirement.It such interesting article, thanks a lot for posting this article.

At December 27, 2011 at 2:57 AM , Anonymous Jim said...

It was also confusing for my part between the public and private housing. When I read your article it makes my interest soars up. Anyway, gladly I read our article I got enlighten with your great insights of your topic. :D

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