Is the ‘HDB asset enhancement’ policy the greatest contributor to inequality?
I refer to the article “Tackling inequality: Social attitudes just as important as government policies, says PM Lee” (Today, Oct 23).
The article quotes Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as saying, “In every society, there is a certain amount of inequality and there is no society where the top and the bottom are the same. Even when you go to North Korea, you can be sure that the Chairman is not the same as the labourer.”
PM Lee was said to have said this in a recent closed-door dialogue with about 530 grassroots leaders held earlier this month, which is a post-National Day Rally (NDR) dialogue.
He added: “And if you look at your own children, you know, same parents, but the kids, brothers, sisters, they are not the same. Each one is different. Different temperaments, different characters, different abilities, and different life outcomes.”
PM Lee noted that inequality “has always existed” in Singapore and said, “If you look back 50 years ago, a lot of people were poor and lived miserably, and still there were rich towkays and landlords. And there was a range from the rich to the poor,” he said. “But we have worked hard to lessen this inequality, to raise the base level up, to make sure that Singapore becomes a fair and just society.”
He goes on to state that this was achieved through “high quality and affordable housing, education and healthcare for everybody”, saying that national policies have mitigated income inequality in Singapore.
During the Q&A session of the dialogue session, PM Lee was asked on the public housing and said to have explained why the Government has to take back a public flat at the end of its 99-year lease.
He said, “You have got 99 years of use out of it. The Government gets back the land, recycle and redevelop for somebody else… that is fair,” he said. “I think that is the fundamental point which we have to understand because if we made it forever, or if we said at the end of 99 years, you give me back the house, I give you back your dollars. Then what about the years when you have been living in the house?”
Based on what PM Lee has said, isn’t this arguably yet another confirmation that your HDB flat may decline to zero value?
Since many Singaporeans use the bulk of their CPF and cash for their HDB (mortgage, renovations, upgrading, service and conservancy charges, property tax, etc) – isn’t it arguably this ‘asset enhancement’ policy that may cause the greatest inequality – when your HDB declines in value to zero?