Andrew Loh / Joshua Chiang
Blocks 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 along Tiong Bahru Road were built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) which operated between 1927 and 1959. The SIT was a body set up by the British colonial authority to solve the housing problems faced by Singapore in its early days.
SIT was, you could say, the precursor of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) which was formed in 1960. The HDB eventually became Singapore's sole public housing authority in 1982.
The five blocks of 4-storeys each at Tiong Bahru were selected for the HDB’s Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) in 1995.
However, it was only 12 years later – in 2007 – that the blocks were converted to condominiums. It is unclear what the ‘interim use’ of the blocks was between 1995 and 2007
Presently, the five blocks, now named “Global Residence”, together provides 120 “exclusive” apartments “with 2 to 3 bedroom suites ideal for expatriates and families.” (Source)
It is unclear who the Managing Agent for the apartments is.
As in the case of the flats in Bedok, Toa Payoh and Havelock Road, the question is: Why are so many SERS flats being reserved and rented out to foreigners instead of Singaporeans who are in the queue for public rental flats?
Minister for National Development, Mah Bow Tan, revealed last month that there are 4,550 people in the queue for such flats. And as The Online Citizen has shown, some whose applications for such flats were rejected have ended up living in our public parks. Why are public housing flats specially reserved for foreigners? Aren't they suppose to rent from the open market, just like everyone else?
Also, under HDB’s own rules, foreigners, expats, permanent residents, students and S Pass holders are not eligible for rental flats provided by the HDB.
Why then is the HDB now apparently contravening its own rules by reserving and renting out these flats to those who are not suppose to be eligible?
Lastly, has Parliament ever been told of this change of policy by the HDB – this policy of converting public flats for rental to foreigners?