2.1 Words from the horse’s mouth – When interviewed about en bloc sales, Minister for National Development, Mr Mah Bow Tan, was quoted in Sunday Times of 17 Jun 2007: “If you can’t buy an executive flat, buy a 5-room. If you can’t afford central area, go to the suburbs. If you can’t afford Tampines, go to Woodlands or Yishun.” (please refer to my blog entry dated 29 May 2007 entitled “In between … evolving a ‘Bagel Class’ of Singaporeans”). http://singaporeenbloc.blogspot.com/2007/05/in-between-evolving-bagel-class-of.html
In the same vein about land use/supply forces that drive en bloc law: Three years ago, Minister for Health, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, first mooted the idea of retirement villages in Johor, Batam and Bintan (Channel News Asia, 17 Apr 2006). Recently, The Straits Times and Today newspapers reported on 10 Feb 2009 that Minister Khaw visited a Johor Bahru site with an investor-developer who is planning to build a nursing home there for elderly Singaporeans. Reason: Land and labour are cheaper across the Causeway. Amidst the public hue and cry that followed, replete with comic spoof and many who froth and foam about the raison d'être of our Health Ministry, these were my wry observations:
– We sent our kids to Western universities and they will send us to JB nursing homes!
– In JB: Nurseries for our babies; nursing homes for our oldies! Because looking after babies and oldies are equally time- and labour-intensive. Kids need lots of space to run around. Exponentially growing number of chronic oldies take up precious space in land-scarce Singapore.
Have we forgotten our people, the human touch, the essence of public service? It would cleanse our hearts and minds to heed the words of Mr Barack Hussein Obama who addressed his White House staff and Cabinet on the next day after his 20 Jan 2009 inauguration as the 44th President of the United States of America: “We are here as public servants, and public service is a privilege. It’s not about advancing yourself or your corporate clients.” Hear, hear!
2.2 Numbers from the stables – The stables of “URA/Jones Lang LaSalle Research” provided the statistics that were reported in Business Times on 27 Mar 2008, nine months after the words from the horse’s mouth. Sadly, these statistics confirmed my projection of a Bagel Class of Singaporeans (please refer to my blog entries dated 29 May 2007 entitled “In between … evolving a Bagel Class of Singaporeans” and reiterated on 7 Aug 2008 entitled “So what’s the alternative in the END”).
Yeeha … I blogged about this Bagel Class projection in May 2007, a fortnight before hearing the words from the horse’s mouth in Jun 2007! I betted on the wrong horse, eh? The numbers are STARTLING - just over a 7-year time span!!!
One URA chart in the Business Times showed the percentage of foreigners’ non-landed private residential purchases went up from 16% in 2000 to 29.1% in 2007 – more than 80% increase in 7 years!
Another URA chart in the Business Times showed that – within the same 2000-2007 time span – Singaporeans’ share of non-landed private residential purchases consistently DECLINED IN ALL GEOGRAPHIC REGIONS. In contrast, foreigners’ share DOUBLED OR TREBLED in the range of 114%-200%. If PRs are aggregated with foreigners, the NON-Singaporean share also increased substantially from 61% to 95%.
Whoa ... these 2008 statistics NULLIFIED what was said nearly a decade ago in 1999 by the then Minister of State for Law, Ass Prof Ho Peng Kee, when he moved the Second Reading of the en bloc law in Parliament about creating “MANY MORE HOUSING UNITS IN PRIME 999-YEAR LEASEHOLD OR FREEHOLD AREAS FOR SINGAPOREANS”. [Capitalization emphasis is by The Pariah.] Looks like the additional housing units, especially in prime areas, went to the FOREIGNERS! Did the horse bolt from the barn and then got lost in the prime areas?