Properties must be sold with original freehold status or 999-year lease

I refer to the article (Outdated ideas on home ownership and land shortage are crippling us; Aug 14), in which the writer calls for the discarding of the dead weight of outmoded ideas about home ownership.

One dead weight I would like removed is the right of developers to carve out 99-year leases from their freehold land or 999-year leases, and sell properties with only 99-year leases to individuals.

The buyers thus practically lose their option to sell their properties en bloc to the highest bidder. When the land has to revert to the original developer after 99 years, no other developer would find it worthwhile to buy from these individual owners.

As companies can outlive humans, they can, therefore, legally hold on to their freehold land forever or hold on to their 999-year leases till the next millennium.

This is unhealthy as we have a mechanism that allows a rich entity, with little or no effort, to be rich forever or for a millennium.

With countries all over the world grappling with ever-widening inequality, we should not retain this mechanism that favours such private entities.

Instead, private entities must sell their freehold properties or those with 999-year leases as they are.

Only the Government should have the right to carve out leases of any length.

Soh Gim Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2018, with the headline 'Properties must be sold with original freehold status or 999-year lease'. Print Edition | Subscribe