Might housing buffer stock be an answer?

Dear editor,

I refer to your Straits Times review article on 10 Mar 2010.

You said Mr Mah Bow Tan has disproved a number of popular assumptions on housing in parliament. He has not. The figures used by Mr Mah represent only a tiny fraction of the total number of resale flat purchases by private property owners and immigrants and so is merely the tip of the iceberg. The supposed finicky applicants turn out to be not so finicky after all given the proximity of the rejected flats to the mosque. Unless you stay next to the mosque, you have no right to slam applicants who choose not to. Housing planning could have been better so that places of worship like temples and mosques can be located within the tranquility of parks and recreational spaces.

If these are truly unproductive aspects of the debate as you claim them to be, why does the minister continue to indulge in such unproductive debates? Hasn’t he got better things to do like building more flats? How can you expect to nudge the minister towards focusing on the refinement of supply stability when he is simply brushing away all the issues so that there is no issue as far as he is concerned?

Half of the supposed supply of 25,000 flats hasn’t even been built yet. The truth that was supposedly masked by high application rates and multiple rejections has already been revealed by your good colleague Ms Chua Mui Hoong on 11th Feb 2010 when she provided us with the figure of 95,600 potential buyers of HDB flats.

If our supposedly most efficient scheme in meeting demand leaves 95,600 buyers without a new flat, wouldn’t that make Mr Mah and his HDB hopelessly useless? If that is the best he can do, I cannot imagine what can be worse. Self praise is no praise so let’s leave the judgement of what’s best to the people.

While Mr Mah said it took the HDB five years to clear the stock of flats built in the 1990s, you are claiming that it took 10 years. Is it the purpose of the Straits Times to exaggerate the claims of the PAP? In any case, the flats were eventually sold so it is not the case of tax payers’ money wasted as Mr Mah had claimed but rather a delay in the HDB receiving money from the people.

Without a sufficient stock of flats available, any promise to meet demand would simply be empty promises. It is equivalent to the rice supplier promising a steady supply of rice when he does not actually keep any stock of rice in his warehouse.

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