Forum: Letting developers carve leasehold properties out of freehold land is against public interest

Housing as seen from Whampoa estate.
Housing as seen from Whampoa estate.PHOTO: ST FILE

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing recently mentioned that Singapore should be careful not to let private developers' interest override that of the wider public interest (Chan draws lessons for Singapore from HK situation, Nov 19).

He added that transfer of land ownership and properties across generations cannot be at the expense of depriving future generations of opportunities to be rewarded based on hard work and capabilities.

I agree with the minister. For this reason, the Government should not permit developers with freehold residential land to parcel it out as leasehold properties. This allows developers, especially privately owned entities, to perpetuate ownership of precious land banks. It deprives aspiring home owners from owning freehold property. Only the Government should be allowed to parcel off freehold land as leaseholds.

There are other concerns that purchasers of such parcelled-off leasehold properties should take heed of. The possibility of a collective sale will be much diminished. The Government, in the interest of urban renewal, will likely top up the lease of leasehold land for redevelopment at a reasonable price, unless the land is required for other purposes. Would a private land owner do the same? It would rather let the lease expire to reclaim the land.

I understand that there are very few condominium developments with leaseholds carved out of freehold land. But the authorities should still stop this practice as it is contrary to the interest of the public.

Anthony C.H. Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2019, with the headline 'Letting developers carve leasehold properties out of freehold land is against public interest'. Print Edition | Subscribe