Archive for October, 2012

Modern Singapore’s founding father

October 28, 2012

Dear Mr Willie Cheng,

I refer to your 26 Oct 2012 Straits Times article [1] which began with a reference to Mr S Rajaratnam as one of modern Singapore’s founding fathers.

Many books refer to Sir Stamford Raffles as the founder of modern Singapore in 1819: [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]. If modern Singapore was founded in 1819, it couldn’t have been founded again in 1965. To avoid ambiguity, you must be referring to the founding of independent Singapore. But what exactly did the founding of independent Singapore entail? In the case of United States, founding meant going to war and triumphing over their British colonial masters. Americans honour George Washington as their founding father because they are indebted to him for their independence. In the case of India, founding too meant going against British colonial masters and forcing them to hand power over. Indians honour Ghandi as their founding father because they are indebted to him for their independence. In the case of Singapore however, not only did we not have to fight anyone, our leaders didn’t even want independence. Independence was thrust upon us against our wishes when we were kicked out of Malaysia by Tungku Abdul Rahman. Our independence was thus by courtesy of the Tungku, not Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues. Since we not indebted to Lee and his colleagues for our independence, why should we be beholden to calling them our founding fathers?

We were gifted with independence; we received the nationhood of Singapore. Merely receiving the gift of nationhood cannot be equated to an act of founding. Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues were the recipients, not the founding fathers of independent Singapore. Instead of fighting for our independence, Lee actively courted and married us into Malaysia but we ended up getting divorced from them. Exchanging a British master for a Malaysian one hardly counts as a step towards independence. The group that did fight the British for our independence were the so-called leftists. They and others like David Marshall pressured the British into gradually conceding power, culminating in Singapore achieving the status of a state in 1958 / 1959. It is they whom we should be grateful to for the independence that we enjoy today.

[1] Straits Times, When Market Values Rule Society, 26 Oct 2012
FORTY years ago, Mr S. Rajaratnam, one of modern Singapore’s founding fathers, warned against the “moneytheism” trend of the day.

[2] Stamford Raffles Founder of Modern Singapore, AsiaPac Books, Zhou Yimin (illustrator), Geraldine Goh (translator)

[3] A History of Modern Singapore, 1819-2005, Constance Mary Turnbull

[4] Iberians in the Singapore-Melaka Area and Adjacent Regions (16th to 18th Century), Peter Borschberg, page 96
the present chapter will once again cast a critical eye on the maritime routes plied prior to the founding of modern Singapore in 1819

[5] Singapore in Global History, Derek Heng and Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, page 19
the raison d’etre for the founding of modern Singapore in 1819 and its development through the nineteenth century was the changing global trading milieu in which the port of this tiny island – specifically the modern mega-port along the Singapore River – was to play a major role.

[6] World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services, Robert Wedgeworth, page 777
The history of Singapore libraries began soon after the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 as a trading post of the East India Company.

[7] The Business of Politics and Ethnicity: A History of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sikko Visscher, page 301
There were 140 years of modern Singapore history before the PAP came to power

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Our right to peaceful assembly

October 27, 2012

The primary force that delivered Singapore’s independence was public demonstrations by courageous Singaporeans who cared for Singapore, not Lee Kuan Yew or the PAP who benefitted from that force instead. Once in power however, PAP illegalised public demonstrations, including peaceful assembly, and made them to be evils. Today, protests are restricted to writing letters and petitions. If Lim Chin Siong’s independence movement consisted of writing petitions to the Queen, we would still be singing God Save the Queen today.

No regime would willingly relinquish power. Only by demanding it can the people gain power back from the autocrats. Peaceful assembly is one such tool that people can use to demand power back. Singaporeans have many grievances but they are seldom heeded. Despite the 2011 watershed elections, nothing substantive has changed. More than just writing letters, we need the right to peaceful assembly to effect greater change. Public demonstrations empower people; keeping people isolated from one another renders us powerless.

The right to peaceful assembly is not some Western concept far removed from bread and butter issues. It is embraced by South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and even Malaysia. The people of Hong Kong stopped GST and Malaysians successfully pushed for minimum wage through democracy. Our lack of peaceful assembly puts us in the same league as North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

All of the 40,000 who turned up for the 2007 Bersih movement broke Malaysia’s illegal assembly law. But if we look at this year’s, almost carnival like, Bersih movement where young and old alike participated, quite clearly the people aren’t doing anything wrong. Just because the government passed an unfair law doesn’t mean it is right to follow it. The Malaysian government tried to paint the Bersih movement in as bad a light as possible. But in today’s era of instant citizen journalism, it is difficult for the government to manufacture an incident and then blame demonstrators for it.

The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by our constitution which is the supreme law of our land. Any law that contravenes our constitution is necessarily illegal. It is a right, not a privilege accorded by the government. Exception can be made temporarily in times of war or insurgency but it should not last for half a century.

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaims that “everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”. The UDHR is now part of customary international law recognised by every government in the world save the most autocratic regimes. Singapore voted in favour of a resolution to establish the UN Human Rights Council in 2006, a resolution which stipulates human rights to be universal.

Singapore signed the Commonwealth Principles on the Three Branches of Government pledging to protect fundamental human rights, including equal rights and opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief in 2003. In that case, how is it that whiles the NTUC can protest against the US embassy in 1998, PAP women MPs can march on International Women’s Day in 2005, CASE can demonstrate for consumer rights in 2007 but SDP can’t march in a group of five?

The opposition should stand together and not join in the PAP in condemning the SDP for engaging in public assemblies. The SDP defended WP’s James Gomez in 2006, spoke up for NSP in 2010, defended lawyer M Ravi and so on.

It was democratic leaders in South Africa, India and communist Europe who freed people through non-violent but necessary action. Conversely, it was the obedient Germans and Japanese who slaughtered millions in WW2.

Singaporeans are against or even hostile to the idea of non-violent action for we prize order above our constitution. We accuse dissidents as being too aggressive and we advocate a softer, non-confrontational approach. But there is a danger that what we think is right or wrong has been conditioned over decades by a media dominated by the state. We must not let the state dictate what is right or wrong.

Rahman (not his real name), 70+, works as a cleaner six days a week, from 7am to 1pm or 2pm and earns $400 a month. When he was a young man, he was told that if he didn’t support unions, didn’t clamour for rights and trusted the PAP, he would be better off. Today, he is told he must not think of retiring because he does not have enough CPF. He is told to work for less pay. He is not alone. What has these people gotten in return for giving up their rights?

Civil disobedience is not breaking laws and challenging authorities on whim and fancy. It is not unruliness and anarchy. Those engaged in protests know that the government has done wrong, not them. The fight is not a political one, it is a moral one. It is a fight for justice, for the thousands in Singapore living like serfs than citizens.

Nearly all of the above ideas are taken from the book “Democratically Speaking” by Dr Chee Soon Juan.

Four-room flat has remained at 90 sq m since the mid-90s?

October 21, 2012

The 3 May 2012 Straits Times article “HDB hasn’t shrunk flat sizes, says Khaw” reported that a four-room flat has remained at 90 sq m since the mid-90s [1].

The following are 310 HDB resale transactions of four-room flats between Sept 2011 and Aug 2012 where the lease date is 1995 or more recent and the floor size is between 75 and 89 sq m:

Estate Block Street Name Storey Floor Area (sqm) / Lease date Resale price Resale date
Kallang / Whampoa 16 Jln Tenteram 06 to 10 75 2002 $410,000 Sep-11
Central 671A Klang Lane 01 to 05 75 2003 $480,000 Jul-12
Central 671A Klang Lane 01 to 05 75 2003 $490,000 Jan-12
Central 671A Klang Lane 01 to 05 75 2003 $495,000 May-12
Central 671A Klang Lane 11 to 15 75 2003 $508,000 Jan-12
Central 671B Klang Lane 06 to 10 75 2003 $510,000 Jun-12
Bukit Merah 13 Cantonment Cl 01 to 05 75 2003 $544,000 May-12
Bukit Merah 12 Cantonment Cl 01 to 05 75 2003 $550,000 Apr-12
Kallang / Whampoa 15 Farrer Pk Rd 11 to 15 75 2004 $565,000 Jul-12
Bukit Merah 11 Cantonment Cl 01 to 05 75 2002 $585,000 Apr-12
Bukit Merah 18 Cantonment Cl 01 to 05 75 2002 $610,000 Jul-12
Bukit Merah 11 Cantonment Cl 16 to 20 75 2002 $617,000 May-12
Toa Payoh 79E Toa Payoh Ctrl 36 to 40 75 2009 $648,000 Jun-12
Kallang / Whampoa 15 Farrer Pk Rd 06 to 10 76 2004 $550,000 Jun-12
Toa Payoh 79E Toa Payoh Ctrl 16 to 20 76 2009 $580,000 Mar-12
Toa Payoh 79E Toa Payoh Ctrl 06 to 10 76 2009 $590,000 Jul-12
Woodlands 436 Woodlands St 41 06 to 10 84 1996 $310,000 Sep-11
Woodlands 428 Woodlands St 41 06 to 10 84 1996 $325,000 Dec-11
Woodlands 429 Woodlands St 41 06 to 10 84 1996 $327,000 Jan-12
Woodlands 436 Woodlands St 41 06 to 10 84 1996 $330,000 Apr-12
Woodlands 437 Woodlands St 41 06 to 10 84 1996 $332,000 Sep-11
Woodlands 436 Woodlands St 41 11 to 15 84 1996 $340,000 Jun-12
Woodlands 437 Woodlands St 41 06 to 10 84 1996 $343,000 Jun-12
Woodlands 428 Woodlands St 41 06 to 10 84 1996 $345,888 Jan-12
Woodlands 437 Woodlands St 41 06 to 10 84 1996 $350,000 Apr-12
Woodlands 429 Woodlands St 41 11 to 15 84 1996 $352,000 Apr-12
Woodlands 665 Woodlands Ring Rd 01 to 05 85 2000 $360,000 Jun-12
Jurong West 621 Jurong West St 65 01 to 05 85 2000 $365,000 Jan-12
Choa Chu Kang 685C Choa Chu Kang Cres 06 to 10 85 2002 $366,000 Sep-11
Jurong West 276A Jurong West St 25 01 to 05 85 2002 $370,000 Nov-11
Bukit Panjang 616 Senja Rd 01 to 05 85 2002 $374,000 Sep-11
Jurong West 273D Jurong West Ave 3 11 to 15 85 2001 $375,000 Jan-12
Sengkang 184C Rivervale Cres 01 to 05 85 2003 $375,000 Oct-11
Sembawang 485 Admiralty Link 06 to 10 85 2003 $376,000 Jul-12
Woodlands 669 Woodlands Ring Rd 01 to 05 85 2000 $378,000 Nov-11
Jurong West 276A Jurong West St 25 11 to 15 85 2002 $379,500 Feb-12
Choa Chu Kang 685C Choa Chu Kang Cres 06 to 10 85 2002 $381,000 Oct-11
Hougang 980C Buangkok Cres 01 to 05 85 2003 $382,000 Aug-12
Woodlands 665 Woodlands Ring Rd 06 to 10 85 2000 $383,000 Mar-12
Woodlands 669 Woodlands Ring Rd 01 to 05 85 2000 $383,000 Aug-12
Sengkang 183D Rivervale Cres 01 to 05 85 2003 $384,000 Jun-12
Jurong West 276A Jurong West St 25 01 to 05 85 2002 $384,500 Apr-12
Choa Chu Kang 686C Choa Chu Kang Cres 11 to 15 85 2002 $385,000 Jan-12
Choa Chu Kang 685C Choa Chu Kang Cres 01 to 05 85 2002 $385,000 May-12
Sembawang 485 Admiralty Link 01 to 05 85 2003 $385,000 Oct-11
Woodlands 665 Woodlands Ring Rd 01 to 05 85 2000 $385,000 May-12
Woodlands 669 Woodlands Ring Rd 06 to 10 85 2000 $387,000 Jul-12
Sengkang 184C Rivervale Cres 01 to 05 85 2003 $387,500 Dec-11
Hougang 984A Buangkok Link 01 to 05 85 2004 $389,000 Dec-11
Hougang 985A Buangkok Cres 01 to 05 85 2004 $389,000 Aug-12
Bukit Panjang 618 Senja Rd 16 to 20 85 2002 $390,000 Oct-11
Bukit Panjang 618 Senja Rd 16 to 20 85 2002 $390,000 Oct-11
Woodlands 665 Woodlands Ring Rd 06 to 10 85 2000 $391,000 Dec-11
Jurong West 621 Jurong West St 65 01 to 05 85 2000 $392,000 Mar-12
Choa Chu Kang 686C Choa Chu Kang Cres 11 to 15 85 2002 $393,500 May-12
Choa Chu Kang 685C Choa Chu Kang Cres 11 to 15 85 2002 $393,888 Jul-12
Bukit Panjang 618 Senja Rd 01 to 05 85 2002 $395,000 Dec-11
Sembawang 508C Wellington Circle 01 to 05 85 2004 $395,000 May-12
Sembawang 485 Admiralty Link 06 to 10 85 2003 $395,500 Oct-11
Sembawang 485 Admiralty Link 06 to 10 85 2003 $397,000 Dec-11
Sengkang 183D Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 85 2003 $397,000 Jun-12
Sembawang 508A Wellington Circle 01 to 05 85 2004 $398,000 Aug-12
Sengkang 185B Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 85 2000 $398,000 Jan-12
Sengkang 185B Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 85 2000 $400,000 Oct-11
Sengkang 183D Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 85 2003 $402,000 Jul-12
Hougang 985A Buangkok Cres 01 to 05 85 2004 $403,000 Oct-11
Sembawang 589B Montreal Dr 01 to 05 85 2002 $403,000 Dec-11
Sengkang 185D Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 85 2000 $403,000 Nov-11
Hougang 985A Buangkok Cres 11 to 15 85 2004 $405,000 Sep-11
Jurong West 617 Jurong West St 65 06 to 10 85 2000 $405,000 Sep-11
Jurong West 668C Jurong West St 64 01 to 05 85 2000 $405,000 Jan-12
Sengkang 303C Anchorvale Link 01 to 05 85 2001 $405,000 Nov-11
Sengkang 184C Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 85 2003 $405,000 Mar-12
Sengkang 185B Rivervale Cres 11 to 15 85 2000 $405,000 Apr-12
Sengkang 185B Rivervale Cres 01 to 05 85 2000 $405,000 Aug-12
Hougang 980C Buangkok Cres 01 to 05 85 2003 $406,000 Feb-12
Sengkang 184C Rivervale Cres 11 to 15 85 2003 $407,000 Jan-12
Jurong West 655B Jurong West St 61 01 to 05 85 2002 $408,000 Jun-12
Jurong West 617 Jurong West St 65 06 to 10 85 2000 $408,000 Jun-12
Hougang 985A Buangkok Cres 01 to 05 85 2004 $409,000 Feb-12
Sengkang 185D Rivervale Cres 01 to 05 85 2000 $409,000 Jun-12
Sengkang 249 Compassvale Rd 01 to 05 85 2000 $410,000 Sep-11
Sengkang 184C Rivervale Cres 01 to 05 85 2003 $410,000 Dec-11
Sengkang 247 Compassvale Rd 01 to 05 85 2000 $410,000 Jun-12
Hougang 980A Buangkok Cres 06 to 10 85 2003 $412,000 Jul-12
Sengkang 303C Anchorvale Link 01 to 05 85 2001 $413,000 Jun-12
Hougang 984A Buangkok Link 01 to 05 85 2004 $415,000 Jun-12
Jurong West 655B Jurong West St 61 01 to 05 85 2002 $415,000 Apr-12
Sengkang 303B Anchorvale Link 06 to 10 85 2001 $415,000 Sep-11
Jurong West 655B Jurong West St 61 06 to 10 85 2002 $416,000 Nov-11
Sengkang 185D Rivervale Cres 16 to 20 85 2000 $417,000 Jan-12
Sengkang 183D Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 85 2003 $417,000 Mar-12
Jurong West 621 Jurong West St 65 01 to 05 85 2000 $418,000 Apr-12
Jurong West 655B Jurong West St 61 01 to 05 85 2002 $418,000 Aug-12
Hougang 985A Buangkok Cres 06 to 10 85 2004 $419,000 Aug-12
Sengkang 183D Rivervale Cres 16 to 20 85 2003 $419,000 Jul-12
Hougang 984A Buangkok Link 11 to 15 85 2004 $420,000 Dec-11
Punggol 126C Edgedale Plains 01 to 05 85 2003 $420,000 Nov-11
Punggol 110A Punggol Field 01 to 05 85 2003 $420,000 Mar-12
Sengkang 303B Anchorvale Link 01 to 05 85 2001 $420,000 May-12
Sengkang 257B Compassvale Rd 01 to 05 85 2001 $420,000 Aug-12
Jurong West 668D Jurong West St 64 16 to 20 85 2000 $421,000 Feb-12
Jurong West 668D Jurong West St 64 16 to 20 85 2000 $421,000 Feb-12
Jurong West 668C Jurong West St 64 11 to 15 85 2000 $421,000 May-12
Jurong West 655B Jurong West St 61 01 to 05 85 2002 $422,000 Dec-11
Hougang 985A Buangkok Cres 11 to 15 85 2004 $423,000 Oct-11
Sengkang 249 Compassvale Rd 06 to 10 85 2000 $424,500 Apr-12
Hougang 984A Buangkok Link 06 to 10 85 2004 $425,000 Jun-12
Sengkang 185C Rivervale Cres 11 to 15 85 2000 $425,000 Jul-12
Sengkang 247 Compassvale Rd 06 to 10 85 2000 $426,000 Oct-11
Hougang 985A Buangkok Cres 11 to 15 85 2004 $428,000 May-12
Sengkang 303C Anchorvale Link 06 to 10 85 2001 $428,000 Dec-11
Jurong West 668A Jurong West St 64 16 to 20 85 2000 $430,000 Dec-11
Sengkang 322A Anchorvale Dr 01 to 05 85 2002 $430,000 Oct-11
Sengkang 324A Sengkang East Way 06 to 10 85 2003 $430,000 Oct-11
Sengkang 185D Rivervale Cres 16 to 20 85 2000 $430,000 Aug-12
Jurong West 655B Jurong West St 61 11 to 15 85 2002 $433,000 May-12
Punggol 171C Edgedale Plains 06 to 10 85 2004 $433,000 Dec-11
Sengkang 320A Anchorvale Dr 11 to 15 85 2002 $433,000 Apr-12
Sengkang 324A Sengkang East Way 01 to 05 85 2003 $434,000 Aug-12
Sembawang 508A Wellington Circle 06 to 10 85 2004 $435,000 Aug-12
Sengkang 322A Anchorvale Dr 06 to 10 85 2002 $435,000 Oct-11
Sengkang 249 Compassvale Rd 11 to 15 85 2000 $435,000 Oct-11
Sengkang 259B Compassvale Rd 01 to 05 85 2001 $438,000 May-12
Jurong West 655B Jurong West St 61 06 to 10 85 2002 $440,000 May-12
Punggol 106C Punggol Field 01 to 05 85 2003 $440,000 Jul-12
Sengkang 259B Compassvale Rd 11 to 15 85 2001 $440,000 Jan-12
Sengkang 249 Compassvale Rd 01 to 05 85 2000 $440,000 Aug-12
Hougang 984A Buangkok Link 16 to 20 85 2004 $441,000 Apr-12
Jurong West 668D Jurong West St 64 16 to 20 85 2000 $441,000 Jan-12
Jurong West 668D Jurong West St 64 16 to 20 85 2000 $441,000 Jan-12
Punggol 110A Punggol Field 06 to 10 85 2003 $445,000 Feb-12
Sembawang 589A Montreal Dr 11 to 15 85 2002 $445,000 Dec-11
Sengkang 202 Compassvale Dr 06 to 10 85 2001 $445,000 Nov-11
Sengkang 259B Compassvale Rd 06 to 10 85 2001 $445,000 Feb-12
Punggol 128A Punggol Field Walk 06 to 10 85 2003 $448,000 Oct-11
Punggol 171A Edgedale Plains 06 to 10 85 2004 $450,000 Dec-11
Punggol 202B Punggol Field 06 to 10 85 2004 $450,000 Apr-12
Sengkang 257B Compassvale Rd 06 to 10 85 2001 $450,000 Aug-12
Punggol 202B Punggol Field 01 to 05 85 2004 $452,500 May-12
Punggol 110C Punggol Field 06 to 10 85 2003 $455,000 May-12
Punggol 202B Punggol Field 06 to 10 85 2004 $455,888 Nov-11
Punggol 203B Punggol Field 11 to 15 85 2004 $456,500 Feb-12
Sengkang 324A Sengkang East Way 11 to 15 85 2003 $458,000 Feb-12
Punggol 172C Edgedale Plains 06 to 10 85 2004 $460,000 Mar-12
Punggol 106C Punggol Field 11 to 15 85 2003 $460,000 Jun-12
Sengkang 259B Compassvale Rd 06 to 10 85 2001 $461,000 Oct-11
Sengkang 261C Sengkang East Way 06 to 10 85 2000 $461,000 Nov-11
Punggol 106A Punggol Field 16 to 20 85 2003 $462,000 Jul-12
Punggol 173A Punggol Field 06 to 10 85 2003 $463,000 Aug-12
Punggol 110C Punggol Field 11 to 15 85 2003 $465,000 Feb-12
Punggol 196D Punggol Field 11 to 15 85 2003 $465,000 May-12
Punggol 126C Edgedale Plains 11 to 15 85 2003 $467,000 Apr-12
Punggol 202B Punggol Field 06 to 10 85 2004 $468,888 Jul-12
Punggol 173A Punggol Field 16 to 20 85 2003 $473,000 Jul-12
Punggol 203B Punggol Field 11 to 15 85 2004 $478,000 Jun-12
Central 672A Klang Lane 01 to 05 85 2002 $480,000 Dec-11
Punggol 202B Punggol Field 11 to 15 85 2004 $480,000 Feb-12
Kallang / Whampoa 19 Jln Tenteram 01 to 05 85 2004 $485,000 Nov-11
Central 671A Klang Lane 06 to 10 85 2003 $495,000 Sep-11
Kallang / Whampoa 18 Jln Tenteram 06 to 10 85 2004 $495,000 Jun-12
Kallang / Whampoa 19 Jln Tenteram 06 to 10 85 2004 $502,000 Aug-12
Kallang / Whampoa 19 Jln Tenteram 11 to 15 85 2004 $503,000 Dec-11
Kallang / Whampoa 16 Jln Tenteram 11 to 15 85 2002 $513,000 May-12
Kallang / Whampoa 18 Jln Tenteram 11 to 15 85 2004 $520,000 Mar-12
Kallang / Whampoa 19 Jln Tenteram 06 to 10 85 2004 $520,000 Aug-12
Bedok 180 Bedok Nth Rd 01 to 05 85 2006 $529,000 May-12
Central 672B Klang Lane 11 to 15 85 2002 $530,000 Aug-12
Geylang 47 Jln Tiga 01 to 05 85 2005 $540,000 Jul-12
Bedok 185 Bedok Nth Rd 16 to 20 85 2005 $570,000 Nov-11
Queenstown 56 Strathmore Ave 01 to 05 85 2002 $576,000 Aug-12
Bukit Merah 88 Telok Blangah Hts 11 to 15 85 2003 $583,000 Jun-12
Geylang 1 Pine Cl 06 to 10 85 2000 $585,000 Oct-11
Geylang 1 Pine Cl 01 to 05 85 2000 $585,000 Feb-12
Geylang 3 Pine Cl 06 to 10 85 2000 $588,888 Dec-11
Queenstown 58 Strathmore Ave 06 to 10 85 2000 $595,000 Dec-11
Geylang 35 Eunos Cres 01 to 05 85 2006 $596,000 Nov-11
Bedok 180 Bedok Nth Rd 16 to 20 85 2006 $598,000 Jan-12
Bedok 180 Bedok Nth Rd 16 to 20 85 2006 $598,000 Feb-12
Bukit Merah 69 Redhill Cl 16 to 20 85 2001 $605,000 Oct-11
Geylang 11 Pine Cl 11 to 15 85 2000 $605,000 May-12
Bukit Merah 88 Telok Blangah Hts 26 to 30 85 2003 $615,000 Jun-12
Queenstown 60 Strathmore Ave 11 to 15 85 2000 $618,000 May-12
Geylang 34 Eunos Cres 01 to 05 85 2006 $621,000 Jan-12
Kallang / Whampoa 2A Upp Boon Keng Rd 06 to 10 85 2006 $626,000 Jan-12
Geylang 34 Eunos Cres 06 to 10 85 2006 $629,000 Aug-12
Bukit Merah 69 Redhill Cl 11 to 15 85 2001 $635,000 Oct-11
Geylang 34 Eunos Cres 11 to 15 85 2006 $635,000 Mar-12
Geylang 34 Eunos Cres 16 to 20 85 2006 $636,000 Oct-11
Queenstown 55 Strathmore Ave 06 to 10 85 2002 $638,000 Jun-12
Bukit Merah 118B Jln Membina 11 to 15 85 2003 $640,000 Feb-12
Bukit Merah 68 Redhill Cl 16 to 20 85 2001 $645,000 Mar-12
Geylang 35 Eunos Cres 11 to 15 85 2006 $645,000 Jun-12
Queenstown 51 Strathmore Ave 01 to 05 85 2006 $645,000 Feb-12
Queenstown 50 Strathmore Ave 06 to 10 85 2006 $655,000 May-12
Queenstown 51 Strathmore Ave 01 to 05 85 2006 $658,000 Feb-12
Queenstown 59 Strathmore Ave 11 to 15 85 2000 $668,000 Dec-11
Bukit Merah 26B Jln Membina 06 to 10 85 2009 $670,000 Oct-11
Queenstown 89 Tanglin Halt Rd 06 to 10 85 2008 $670,000 Aug-12
Kallang / Whampoa 816 Jellicoe Rd 21 to 25 85 2003 $675,000 Dec-11
Queenstown 48 Strathmore Ave 16 to 20 85 2006 $682,000 Oct-11
Bukit Merah 27A Jln Membina 21 to 25 85 2008 $685,000 Oct-11
Bukit Merah 118B Jln Membina 21 to 25 85 2003 $688,000 Jan-12
Bukit Merah 118C Jln Membina 21 to 25 85 2003 $688,000 May-12
Queenstown 51 Strathmore Ave 26 to 30 85 2006 $690,000 May-12
Queenstown 59 Strathmore Ave 11 to 15 85 2000 $700,000 Jun-12
Queenstown 91 Tanglin Halt Rd 26 to 30 85 2008 $705,000 May-12
Queenstown 51 Strathmore Ave 21 to 25 85 2006 $712,000 Jan-12
Queenstown 89 Tanglin Halt Rd 36 to 40 85 2008 $722,000 Apr-12
Bukit Merah 26C Jln Membina 26 to 30 85 2009 $725,000 Dec-11
Queenstown 91 Tanglin Halt Rd 26 to 30 85 2008 $730,000 Jun-12
Bukit Merah 26B Jln Membina 26 to 30 85 2009 $740,000 Feb-12
Queenstown 89 Tanglin Halt Rd 36 to 40 85 2008 $743,000 Aug-12
Queenstown 48 Strathmore Ave 36 to 40 85 2006 $750,000 Aug-12
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 01 to 05 86 2000 $332,000 Oct-11
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 01 to 05 86 2000 $350,000 Nov-11
Sembawang 405 Admiralty Link 01 to 05 86 2001 $353,000 Jan-12
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 06 to 10 86 2000 $360,688 Nov-11
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 06 to 10 86 2000 $360,688 Nov-11
Sembawang 406 Sembawang Dr 01 to 05 86 2001 $362,000 Apr-12
Sembawang 479 Sembawang Dr 01 to 05 86 2000 $365,000 Mar-12
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 06 to 10 86 2000 $365,000 Jun-12
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 06 to 10 86 2000 $370,000 Sep-11
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 06 to 10 86 2000 $370,000 Sep-11
Woodlands 666 Woodlands Ring Rd 06 to 10 86 2000 $370,000 Mar-12
Sembawang 406 Sembawang Dr 01 to 05 86 2001 $374,000 Dec-11
Sembawang 405 Admiralty Link 06 to 10 86 2001 $374,000 Apr-12
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 06 to 10 86 2000 $374,500 Mar-12
Sembawang 406 Sembawang Dr 11 to 15 86 2001 $376,288 Jun-12
Sembawang 479 Sembawang Dr 11 to 15 86 2000 $377,000 Aug-12
Woodlands 666 Woodlands Ring Rd 01 to 05 86 2000 $380,000 Oct-11
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 06 to 10 86 2000 $382,000 Aug-12
Sembawang 405 Admiralty Link 06 to 10 86 2001 $383,000 Jul-12
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 11 to 15 86 2000 $385,000 Jan-12
Woodlands 575 Woodlands Dr 16 06 to 10 86 2000 $385,000 Feb-12
Jurong West 673A Jurong West St 65 01 to 05 86 2002 $400,000 Apr-12
Sembawang 485 Admiralty Link 16 to 20 86 2003 $400,000 Jun-12
Sengkang 303C Anchorvale Link 01 to 05 86 2001 $405,000 Mar-12
Sengkang 184C Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 86 2003 $409,000 May-12
Jurong West 673A Jurong West St 65 06 to 10 86 2002 $410,000 Jun-12
Sengkang 322A Anchorvale Dr 01 to 05 86 2002 $410,000 Jun-12
Sengkang 322A Anchorvale Dr 01 to 05 86 2002 $410,000 Jun-12
Woodlands 669 Woodlands Ring Rd 06 to 10 86 2000 $410,200 Apr-12
Sengkang 184C Rivervale Cres 16 to 20 86 2003 $423,000 Feb-12
Jurong West 668D Jurong West St 64 06 to 10 86 2000 $425,000 Aug-12
Jurong West 655A Jurong West St 61 11 to 15 86 2002 $428,000 Sep-11
Bukit Batok 395 Bt Batok West Ave 5 01 to 05 86 2004 $440,000 Aug-12
Sengkang 322A Anchorvale Dr 01 to 05 86 2002 $440,000 Jul-12
Sengkang 303C Anchorvale Link 06 to 10 86 2001 $442,000 Mar-12
Sengkang 322A Anchorvale Dr 06 to 10 86 2002 $450,000 Aug-12
Sengkang 322A Anchorvale Dr 11 to 15 86 2002 $460,000 Aug-12
Bukit Batok 391 Bt Batok West Ave 5 01 to 05 86 2004 $462,000 Aug-12
Bukit Batok 395 Bt Batok West Ave 5 11 to 15 86 2004 $467,000 Jul-12
Kallang / Whampoa 16 Jln Tenteram 01 to 05 86 2002 $480,000 Nov-11
Kallang / Whampoa 16 Jln Tenteram 06 to 10 86 2002 $500,000 May-12
Geylang 11 Pine Cl 01 to 05 86 2000 $543,000 Jan-12
Toa Payoh 142 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 06 to 10 86 2001 $546,000 Jun-12
Bukit Merah 88 Telok Blangah Hts 01 to 05 86 2003 $550,000 Jun-12
Toa Payoh 141 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 11 to 15 86 2001 $555,000 Dec-11
Toa Payoh 141 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 06 to 10 86 2001 $565,000 Dec-11
Geylang 3 Pine Cl 11 to 15 86 2000 $570,000 Dec-11
Geylang 3 Pine Cl 11 to 15 86 2000 $570,000 Dec-11
Kallang / Whampoa 108C Mcnair Rd 06 to 10 86 2005 $585,000 Jan-12
Geylang 11 Pine Cl 06 to 10 86 2000 $588,000 Feb-12
Kallang / Whampoa 108B Mcnair Rd 06 to 10 86 2004 $590,000 Sep-11
Kallang / Whampoa 108B Mcnair Rd 06 to 10 86 2004 $590,000 Mar-12
Toa Payoh 146 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 01 to 05 86 2006 $590,000 Nov-11
Toa Payoh 141 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 16 to 20 86 2001 $595,000 Jun-12
Toa Payoh 141 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 16 to 20 86 2001 $595,000 Jul-12
Geylang 3 Pine Cl 11 to 15 86 2000 $600,000 Dec-11
Geylang 3 Pine Cl 16 to 20 86 2000 $603,000 Mar-12
Queenstown 60 Strathmore Ave 06 to 10 86 2000 $605,000 Mar-12
Toa Payoh 147 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 16 to 20 86 2006 $628,888 Jan-12
Clementi 454 Clementi Ave 3 06 to 10 86 2002 $650,000 Apr-12
Bukit Merah 131C Kim Tian Rd 16 to 20 86 2002 $660,000 Aug-12
Toa Payoh 152 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 26 to 30 86 2006 $670,000 Oct-11
Toa Payoh 147 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 26 to 30 86 2006 $671,888 Apr-12
Bukit Merah 131C Kim Tian Rd 21 to 25 86 2002 $680,000 Aug-12
Toa Payoh 145 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 31 to 35 86 2006 $705,000 Jul-12
Toa Payoh 147 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 31 to 35 86 2006 $708,000 Jul-12
Toa Payoh 152 Lor 2 Toa Payoh 36 to 40 86 2006 $710,000 Jun-12
Sembawang 479 Sembawang Dr 01 to 05 87 2000 $360,000 Jan-12
Sembawang 482 Admiralty Link 06 to 10 87 2004 $378,000 Sep-11
Sembawang 482 Admiralty Link 11 to 15 87 2004 $386,000 Oct-11
Woodlands 666 Woodlands Ring Rd 06 to 10 87 2000 $390,000 Jun-12
Sengkang 324A Sengkang East Way 06 to 10 87 2003 $450,000 Sep-11
Sengkang 202 Compassvale Dr 11 to 15 87 2001 $460,000 Sep-11
Punggol 176D Edgefield Plains 06 to 10 87 2003 $463,000 Aug-12
Punggol 176D Edgefield Plains 11 to 15 87 2003 $468,000 Jun-12
Bukit Merah 119B Kim Tian Rd 01 to 05 87 2002 $580,000 Jun-12
Queenstown 19 Dover Cres 01 to 05 87 2003 $590,000 Mar-12
Queenstown 17 Dover Cres 01 to 05 87 2003 $622,500 Jun-12
Bukit Merah 119C Kim Tian Rd 01 to 05 87 2003 $623,000 May-12
Bedok 220C Bedok Ctrl 06 to 10 87 2010 $650,000 Dec-11
Jurong West 273D Jurong West Ave 3 01 to 05 88 2001 $375,000 Sep-11
Sengkang 185B Rivervale Cres 01 to 05 88 2000 $393,000 Dec-11
Jurong West 273D Jurong West Ave 3 11 to 15 88 2001 $400,000 May-12
Jurong West 276A Jurong West St 25 01 to 05 88 2002 $407,000 Jun-12
Sengkang 303B Anchorvale Link 01 to 05 88 2001 $407,000 Nov-11
Sengkang 185C Rivervale Cres 06 to 10 88 2000 $408,000 Sep-11
Sengkang 185C Rivervale Cres 11 to 15 88 2000 $412,000 Nov-11
Sengkang 185D Rivervale Cres 16 to 20 88 2000 $430,000 Aug-12
Sengkang 303B Anchorvale Link 11 to 15 88 2001 $450,000 Dec-11
Punggol 173A Punggol Field 11 to 15 88 2003 $470,000 May-12
Woodlands 554 Woodlands Dr 53 06 to 10 89 1999 $360,000 Jan-12
Sengkang 121A Rivervale Dr 01 to 05 89 2000 $388,000 Jul-12
Sengkang 295C Compassvale Cres 01 to 05 89 2002 $400,000 Nov-11
Sengkang 295A Compassvale Cres 01 to 05 89 2002 $410,000 Aug-12
Sengkang 309A Anchorvale Rd 01 to 05 89 2002 $415,000 Jul-12
Sengkang 311D Anchorvale Lane 01 to 05 89 2002 $420,000 Jan-12

[1] Straits Times, “HDB hasn’t shrunk flat sizes, says Khaw”, 3 May 2012
No, he said, HDB flat sizes have not shrunk in recent years.
While many believe that HDB flats have been shrinking, Mr Khaw said that flat sizes have in fact remained unchanged for the past 15 years.
A four-room flat, for instance, has remained at 90 sq m since the mid-90s, HDB figures show. HDB has also said that the amount of living space per person has risen, as the number of people in an average household has dropped.

Changes to HDB’s flat strategy will bear fruit?

October 21, 2012

In a letter to Straits Times [1], Mr Eric Lim described the valuation of resale flats as being based on demand and supply of a flat’s location, renovation and surroundings. But demand and supply are very much dependent on government decisions. When the government opens the immigration flood gate, demand is increased; when the government holds back immigration, demand is reduced. When the government builds more flats or releases more land for housing, supply is increased; when the government holds back on flat construction or land release, supply is decreased.

Mr Lim described how his parents profited from downgrading from a 4-room Tampines flat to a 3-room Bedok flat. The median price of a 4-room Tampines flat and 3-room Bedok flat between Sept 2011 and Aug 2012 are $450,000 and $332,000 respectively. So if today, someone were to do what Mr Lim’s parents did, he would pocket around $118,000. But if that someone had used $118,000 from his CPF to pay for his flat, the entire sum has to go back to his CPF leaving him with nothing to spend. Even if that someone already has $118,000 in his CPF, he would still have to top up his CPF to the minimum sum of $139,000 if he were to retire today. He thus has to plough back $21,000 into his CPF, leaving just $97,000 for his spending pleasure. Therefore, how much cash one gets from downgrading depends on how much CPF one has used and in the case of retirees how much CPF one has.

The title of the letter “changes to HDB’s flat strategy will bear fruit” is strange considering that Mr Lim was describing how the current HDB strategy of asset enhancement bore fruit for his parents and how he was arguing for the current system to stay, not to be changed. Moreover, bearing fruit is not the right way to describe the outcome of that strategy since the fruit is not ‘borne’ but taken from another. It is a beggar thy neighbour strategy that transfers wealth from buyer to seller so that the country as a whole gains nothing. One might see this as a neutral strategy since there is no net gain or loss. But that is not the right way to see it. The following table shows the HDB resale price index and the corresponding weighted average HDB price over the last three years:

Quarter HDB resale price index Weighted average HDB resale price
2009 III 145.2 $353,465
2009 IV 150.8 $367,097
2010 I 155 $377,322
2010 II 161.3 $392,658
2010 III 167.8 $408,481
2010 IV 172 $418,705
2011 I 174.8 $425,521
2011 II 180.3 $438,910
2011 III 187.2 $455,707
2011 IV 190.4 $463,497
2012 I 191.6 $466,418
2012 II 194 $472,261
2012 III 197.9 $481,754

The weighted average resale price has increased by $128,289 in three short years. That’s 1 year 8 months of our median household income. Sellers gain an extra $128,289 if they sell in three years; buyers pay an extra $128,289 if they buy three years late. This is clearly not a neutral strategy but one that favours the seller over the buyer. One might argue that there are more sellers than buyers since 80% of our population are HDB owners. Again, that is not the right way to see it. There cannot be more sellers than buyers since every transaction always comprise one buyer and one seller so the ratio is always one to one. Another way to see it is to recognise that the 80% HDB home owners who stand to gain from asset enhancement have children who stand to lose from the policy. Whether more gain or more lose will depend on whether society as a whole has more or less children.

Besides being not neutral, the notion that there is no net gain or loss hides the fact that with each rise in property price, more of society’s money gets locked away in property and becomes unavailable for enhancing quality of life. For example, if A buys at $1 million and sells to B for $1.4 million, A’s gain of $0.4 million is matched by B’s loss of $0.4 million so there is no net gain or loss for society as a whole. But while A had $1 million locked away in property which is released when he sold to B, B now has $1.4 million locked away which becomes unavailable for use until he sells to C. Thus, as property price increases, more of society’s money gets locked away. This eats away at wage increase and decreases our standard of living.

[1] Straits Times forum, Changes to HDB’s flat strategy will bear fruit, 28 Aug 2012, Eric Lim
After my brother and I were married, my parents sold their flat and bought a resale three-room flat in Bedok. As they were downgrading and relocating in an older estate, they could afford to pay off that unit and hold on to some profit.
My brother and I now have our own children. My parents are happily retired, shuttling between our two homes on a half-weekly basis. The Bedok flat has been rented out and provides them with a stable source of income.
The valuation system is based on the demand and supply of a flat’s location, renovation and surroundings.
Why limit agent transaction cost when it is already lower than that of many other places? My friends in other countries say their agent’s fee is as high as 7 per cent of the transacted price. Singaporeans pay a maximum of only 2 per cent when selling.

Global interest rate driving HDB resale flat price?

October 20, 2012

It was reported that resale flat prices could rise beyond sustainable levels because of global low interest rates [1]. Only citizens and PRs can buy resale flats, there is no way global investors can take advantage of low interest rates to buy resale flats and drive their prices up. PR numbers are determined by the government, not by interest rates. Furthermore, only a family unit or a single above 35 can buy resale flats and can only buy one flat unit so there is no way Singaporeans or PRs can take advantage of low interest rates to hoard up resale flats and drive their prices up. Recent laws that prevent private property owners from buying resale flats further restrict resale flat buyers to those in genuine need of a place to stay. Singaporean or PR families are unlikely to be primarily motivated by interest rates in their decision to buy a resale flat. Flat price and COV are probably more important consideration factors. It has become fashionable to blame any kind of property price rise to low global interest rates. But in the case of HDB resale flats, because of the numerous restrictions put in place, it is unlikely that low global interest rates will be the key determining factor. More likely than not, it is the acute imbalance between demand and supply that is the key force driving price up.

[1] Straits Times, ‘Not out of the woods yet’ on resale flat prices, 16 Oct 2012
THE property market shows signs of stabilising, but “we are not out of the woods yet” when it comes to the rise of resale flat prices, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon yesterday.
He warned that prices could “rise beyond sustainable levels” because the global environment of low interest rates looks set to continue, owing to monetary expansion in the US and Europe.

Public servants are citizens too

October 16, 2012

It was reported that public servants have to get official permission to talk about government policies publicly [1]. But public servants are invariably citizens too. They do not cease being citizens simply because they are serving the public. We are not talking about state secrets or sensitive information but public policies that affect us all. Citizens, including public servants, are the rightful owners of this country who should have the final say on the policies they want for this country. The country belongs to citizens, not to the government, the political party or the politician. Citizens, including public servants, have the right to say what they want for this country simply because they own this country. If they are muzzled and prevented from saying what they want to say, it means their rightful position as owners of this country has been usurped from them. We must not let our country degenerate into one where the people are doing the state’s bidding rather than the other way around. Public servants serve the public, not some political masters. They should be allowed to speak up on behalf of and in the interest of the public.

[1] Straits Times, Civil servants can take part in dialogues, 16 Oct 2012
A GAG order on some 76,000 civil servants has been lifted so that they can contribute to the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) dialogues.
They can now talk about government policies publicly at these dialogues. Previously, they would have had to get official permission to do so.