HDB flat buyers are home owners, not tenants

In a world where many people cannot afford housing in big cities, Singapore prides itself as a nation where 90 per cent of its population are home owners.

The Housing Board's 99-year contract is that between a lessor and a lessee.

The lessee owns the rights to the property for 99 years - that is ownership, and it is not a lie.

However, real estate agent Ku Swee Yong failed to mention that this same lease decay applies to 99-year lease private properties too (Outdated ideas on home ownership and land shortage are crippling us; Aug 14).

For that matter, you could also call a 999-year lease, a lease.

What is the purpose in trying to convince the people that the HDB and the Government have been lying to every citizen about their flat ownership, when it would cause only unhappiness, disillusion and more time wasted in a negative discourse without positive outcomes?

Again, everyone knew about the 99-year lease when they bought their flats.

Trying to persuade a nation's population that they do not actually own their flats but are simply renters can make people have a much lesser sense of belonging to their country.

However, changing the word from "owner" to "tenant" will affect the entire psychology of Singaporeans who are proud home owners.

Trying to persuade a nation's population that they do not actually own their flats but are simply renters can make people have a much lesser sense of belonging to their country.

We all know that land rights start with an inalienable sovereign right, and the land ultimately belongs to the state.

Even freehold rights to land are subject to acquisition or land taxes.

Mr Ku's point was to remind people that as the lease gets shorter, its value diminishes to zero.

That is an important message.

But to change the word from "owner" to "tenant" is not good for Singapore's psychological defence.

Jack Sim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'HDB flat buyers are home owners, not tenants'. Print Edition | Subscribe