Over 4000 individuals have signed to express their support for the petition created by local NGO, Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) to call for changes to housing policies by Housing Development Board towards single parents in Singapore.
The petition which can be signed online (in English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil), and calls for five key changes to HDB’s policies:
1. Increase the income cap for public rental housing (currently at $1,500) and set it on a per-capita basis.
2. Allow divorced parents with full, split or shared care and control of children to rent public housing or buy subsidised housing immediately after sale of the matrimonial flat, without debarment periods on rental or purchase.
3. Allow unwed mothers to form a family nucleus with their children to apply for HDB housing.
4. Make information about housing eligibility clearer and more accessible.
5. Create a special unit to coordinate services for single parent families and reduce reliance on direct appeals for case-by-case decisions.
While some may say that there had been other online petitions that have went far beyond four thousand signatures but as the petition requires one to submit personal details which include NRIC number, such a number is not to be taken lightly.
Online reactions towards the petition have been largely supportive and civil society in Singapore at large have mobilised themselves to support the cause that is being championed by AWARE.
Singapore lawyer, Eugene Thuraisingam wrote on his Facebook page,
"It has been explained to me that while we can do something, housing is a big ticket item which the Government subsidises for everyone else, save single mothers. For there to be any proper solution to the matter, it must be for the Government to end its discriminatory practice. It is difficult for private citizens, as well meaning as we may be to contribute in a significant way.
So while we will continue to work on our own solutions, it is sensible also if we could all try to talk some sense to and convince the Government that we Singaporeans want them to share our sense of justice and fairness and end this discriminatory practice."
Actor and theatre director, Ivan Heng wrote, "Home, truly? We need these cruel laws to change, so these parents can provide a home for their children."
Other members of the public also chimed in their thoughts on why they support the petition for change.
Shaik Syahirah wrote,
"Whether you are unwed, divorced, separated waiting to be divorced or even married, you know these laws will affect you. Please share this post to your friends and family and we are looking for 1m signatures among other movements, to make a difference to this negative labelling laws from the Victorian era should be demolished and changed for the better of us pink IC Singaporeans.
Mums, dads, students, teachers, lovers, haters, youngsters, oldies, everyone still needs a home. Some laws make it difficult for you to own or even rent one. The open market is not always a solution, you and I know that. Let's make a difference."
Gerald-Fernando Heng wrote,
"Nobody, except the marginalized (singles, single parents, poor) knows the extent of discrimination, and the complexity of the various hurdles and hoops they have to clear in order to own (or rent) even the smallest and simplest 'public' housing in Singapore. On top of this, there are so many restrictions and conditions attached if you do get it. Why are we being punished?
Why is there such a discrimination when we are fully-functioning, fully-contributing, law-abiding citizens and human beings with human needs? This is not a 'want', for god's sake.
The system in Singapore is demeaning and arbitrary, but so good at devising interlocking, tiny maze-like clauses and terms, and at micro-managing everything to death that they cease to see the big picture of why they exist as civil servants, and leaders of the country!"
Sophina Smith wrote,
"I believe that we don't often get to choose the circumstances in life. Single parents should not have to bear additional burden over their existing responsibilities - life's hard enough as it is. What we all need to bear in mind is how the children are the ones that suffer the most and more can be done to protect them.
As a society, is it enough to commiserate with the taxi driver about the flawed system?"
Jennifer Lee wrote,
"Yes, single parents need homes too, and it is not easy. I have spoken to some personally, and their journey is unimaginable. Holding multiple jobs for the sake of having just a roof - any roof -, having no time for the kids, and subsequently having their kids grow up to blame the parent for all the unhappiness. I have also once met a mother, who is afraid of leaving her cheating, gambling, drinking, physically abusive husband because she worries she may not be able to provide a roof over their children's heads. By staying on a physically abusive marriage, could a mother be indirectly showing her kids that physical abuse is just part and parcel of marriage? Perhaps we could do more as a society, to help single parents get on with lives."
AWARE will submit the final list of signatories, together with information on how many are (or have been) single parents or their children on 27 June, to the Prime Minister, Minister for National Development and Minister for Social & Family Development.
To sign the petition, visit tinyurl.com/asinglelovepetition