SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party has issued a statement on Saturday evening in response to the social media posts made by People’s Action Party’s social media channels over its 2019 Housing Paper.

The party says, it notes that the PAP’s social media channels have taken out of context, and selectively employed one paragraph at page 47 of the Workers’ Party’s 2019 Housing Paper, “Counting Down to Zero: Are there Alternatives to VERS”, and narrowly interpreted it as a call to build fewer BTO flats.

“This is despite Sengkang GRC MP Louis Chua’s clarification in Parliament immediately after Minister Desmond Lee raised the point in his round-up speech.”

WP also said that it would not have been lost on the PAP that immediately after the relevant paragraph, which did question if there might be an oversupply in future, the paper said “BTO projects should continue…” but proposed that BTO flats would be supplemented by additional flats under the WP’s proposed Universal Sale-and-Buy-Back Scheme in future.

“We do not speculate why the PAP would choose to deliberately ignore the context of this point in our 2019 Housing Paper, but leave it to Singaporeans to come to their own conclusions.”

WP said that it “hopes that the Government would focus its energies on instead is — in words of the Worker’s Party’s amended motion in Parliament earlier this week — on intensifying its efforts to make HDB flats more affordable and accessible for the good of all Singaporeans”.

WP clarified its policy and not rebutted by Desmond Lee

During his closing speech on the two motions put forth on Singapore’s public housing, Mr Desmond Lee cited the WP’s Housing Paper, “So in 2019, the Workers Party was recommending that HDB should only build 9000 dwelling units or so. To put this into context. HDB launched around 16,000 flats per year before the report in 2018. 15,000 flats in 2019 and 17,000 flats in 2020.”

Mr Lee added that if the Government listened to the recommendations by WP and its experts, Singapore would be facing a greater shortage of housing today.

After Mr Lee’s closing speech, Mr Chua clarified that the context of the paragraph cited by Mr Lee was really in the context of urban renewal, and WP had clearly stated that the BTO project should continue, just that it will be supplemented by supply from flats acquired under the Universal Sale and Lease Back (USB) scheme.

Under the WP proposal, the USB will be made available to any flat with 30 years of lease remaining. This is provided that no more than 20 per cent of the home loan is outstanding, and the flat owner doesn’t have other properties.

“So in the context of supply of public housing that would be from BTO projects as one source and also from the USB as another source,” said Mr Chua.

While Mr Lee said a lot of things in response to Mr Chua’s clarification, he did not address Mr Chua’s point about the supply coming for the USB scheme, which made his point about WP’s housing policy meaningless.

Attack on WP by PAP’s supporters

Since the end of the debate on 7 February, social media channels such as the Fabrication about PAP and Singapore Matters, which Ho Ching usually shares on her Facebook page, have been repeating the claims made by Mr Desmond Lee without referencing Mr Chua’s clarification made in Parliament.

A Facebook page, Critical Spectator, run by a Polish blogger, also chimed in on the matter, attacking WP without giving a full picture of the exchange that took place on 7 February.

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