Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement that singles may be allowed to buy HDB flats directly from the HDB is something which I am particularly happy about. And many other singles would too, I suspect. (I had brought up this issue with a minister several weeks ago and he had said yes, the MND is taking a look at it.)
For the longest time, we singles have felt marginalised, discriminated against – all because we do not conform to what the state deems fit to qualify for a flat. We felt like we were being treated no better than even permanent residents. (By the way, two PR siblings can also buy a resale HDB flat, I am told. But I can’t find any confirmation of this. If you know where I can find such stipulations, please let me know.)
Of course, we could buy from the resale market – but only if you’re 35 and above. (See HDB rules for singles here.) In any case, with the mad escalation of resale prices in the last few years, purchasing from the open market is beyond us. So, we’re left to live with parents, or to rent a room which itself is costly.
So, PM Lee’s announcement is very much welcome indeed. However, there is no doubt in my mind that it will come with certain caveats, or conditions. Why? So that we do not “erode the family values” which our Government seems very pre-occupied with. And with PM Lee also announcing that the Government is also considering letting couples with young children have priority in housing, it does not take a genius to see that allowing singles to buy HDB flats will not and must not supercede the priority given to these couples. I am torn about this, to be honest. I support the idea and the principle behind letting couples with children have priority. (Incidentally, it is an idea which the SDP first raised in August, before PM Lee’s announcement at his National Day Rally speech. Just want to give credit to the rightful party.) At the same time, singles are not less deserving of a home too. So, it will really depend on what the fine print eventually says.
For now, what could be some conditions which will be attached before singles are allowed to buy flats direct from HDB?
Let me make some guesses.
One, age. I suspect that the Government would not want to promote singlehood – because, you know, it will undermine our “family values” and destroy the “basic building block of society” – the family unit. Also, the Government would want to be able to have the chance to persuade singles to get married. Not good if they’re all settled in in a house and get too comfy about life. So, age will most likely be a condition, and I am thinking the Government will put the qualification age at 40 and above. Why? 40 is a reasonable age to suggest that the person most likely will not marry. And being the hardnosed pragmatic Government that it is, it might consider also that 40 is no longer a childbearing age for most women. (I do not agree with this. I am just thinking out loud what the Government might be thinking.)
Second, the type of flats which singles will be allowed to buy. My guess is that they won’t qualify for 3-room and above flat types. Most likely, singles will only be allowed to buy 2-room flats from the HDB. Government will think, “Well, you know, you’re single. Why do you need such a big flat for anyway?” Also, it probably wants to leave the bigger flats for those with families. Again, personally, I’m fine with a 2-room. I’ve seen the new 2-rooms and – for myself – I am perfectly fine with it. I don’t ask for much. I don’t think others will be as accepting as me, though.
Third, location. This will be a very tricky and contentious issue if the Government were to prescribe that singles can only buy flats in outlying areas. I think singles will be up in arms. It would effectively be some sort of banishment, even though S’pore is not a big country, it would still feel like it! I hope the Government will be fair and not even think of this.
All in all, I am looking forward to the details of the changes and I hope there won’t be too many rules or conditions in letting singles have a home.
I mean, we are no less Singaporean, you know? And our life choices sometimes is not within our own control, and we should not be penalised for this. An inclusive society must necessarily include those who are, for various reasons, not married. Yes, we know it is a big thing now with the Government – to get everyone of marrying age to tie the knot and pop a few young ones. It is not that simple – and some of us have chosen not to marry at all.
So, have a heart.
The Government has announced the long-awaited news and we singles applaud it.
Please, please don’t turn our applause into jeers and anger with unnecessary red tape, rules and regulations, conditions, caveats and what not.
There is only one thing the Government actually should consider: Are we singles, Singaporean? That really, is all that matters.
And yes, we indeed are Singaporean.
What else is there to know or consider?
So, cheers to PM Lee and Khaw Boon Wan – for now.