One aspect of the debate is whether Singapore citizens actually enjoy any advantages which foreigners and PRs in Singapore do not. It has been persuasively argued that in fact, it is highly disadvantageous to be a Singapore citizen in Singapore. For example, all male citizens are compelled to give up 2 years of their lives for full-time military service.
On the other hand, it has been pointed out that only Singapore citizens are eligible to buy new HDB flats. This is one of the rare advantages of being a Singapore citizen. Complete foreigners are not allowed to buy any kind of HDB flat, whereas PRs are only allowed to buy resale HDB flats.
However, it seems that this little benefit which citizens enjoy is also being eroded. The age-old HDB rules, once so sacrosanct, have changed. See the Straits Times article below.
For the first time ever, 100 new HDB flats have been offered for sale to PRs.
And who knows how many more new HDB flats will be offered to PRs in the months or years ahead? Don't forget - due to its previous miscalculations and highly flawed guesstimates, the HDB currently has a big glut of new flats on its hands.
What are the implications, if the HDB continues to ease its rules and offer more new HDB flats to PRs?
Firstly, due to the larger pool of eligible buyers (PRs as well as citizens), the price of new HDB flats may rise. Therefore Singaporeans may have to pay more for new HDB flats.
Secondly, if PRs are eligible for new HDB flats, fewer of them will be interested in resale HDB flats. If you are a Singaporean HDB flat owner, this means that the market value of your present home may fall. Especially if your present home is in the same areas where the HDB is handing out new HDB flats to PRs.
Either way, Singaporeans get poorer again.
You'll notice, of course, that the Straits Times largely skirted around the points I've discussed above. It is perhaps not very politically correct for the government-controlled Straits Times to mention that the new HDB policy benefits PRs at the expense of Singapore citizens.
But now you know why you must regularly come and read my blog, Commentary Singapore. It's because I read between the lines of the Straits Times. And I tell you the news - the way it really is.
May 26, 2005
Singles, PRs can now buy older, unsold HDB flats
By Tan Hui Yee
SINGLES and permanent residents who could only purchase resale Housing Board flats, have been given the chance to buy older, unsold homes.
They can now buy about 100 in Jurong West, Bukit Panjang and Sengkang for starters, under a scheme the Housing Board has introduced to clear some of its large stock of these units.
Most have been vacant since they were built about four or so years ago.
The flats, all five-room or executive units, are being put on the market as resale units after repeated attempts to find buyers for them failed.
Other groups of property buyers also stand to benefit if they plump for one of the units, which are being marketed by HDB subsidiary EM Services.
Those who currently own a flat they bought directly from the HDB will not have to pay a resale levy, while private property owners will be freed from having to wait 30 months after they sell their home.
If the scheme proves successful, the HDB said it could offer more unsold units and appoint more marketing agents.
At September last year, it reported a stock of 10,000 vacant flats.
Some of the 100 units are going for about $50,000 less than other resale flats in the three areas.
The Straits Times understands that one of these unrenovated, ninth-floor, five-room flats in Jurong West is being offered for about $210,000.
Typical renovated resale homes there would cost around $260,000.
Housing agents interviewed expressed concern that the lower prices will drag down the value of resale units in the area.
The managing director of C&H Realty, Mr Albert Lu, pointed out: 'Anybody considering buying a five-room or executive flat there will definitely go for these units because they're so much cheaper.'
But the HDB expects any impact on the resale market to be 'minimal' because of the small number of units involved.
Asked how the flats' prices have been determined, it said these are based on 'market value', determined by qualified valuers.
It stressed yesterday that its various measures to clear its stock of unsold flats, like allowing buyers to book a unit on the spot, have been 'generally effective'.
The new scheme is to move those which have been turned down 'despite repeated sales offers'.
Some of the units have been offered to private developers as well as Nanyang Technological University, and declined.
Singles like Ms Jessica Lee, who is in the market for a resale four-room flat, said she is open to getting a bigger unit.
'This new measure is good,' the personal assistant, who turns 35 in July, said.
'A resale flat is so expensive.'