Chance at waterfront living for all

The Tanjong Pagar and Pulau Brani container terminals are part of the Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW) area, slated for rejuvenation. Stretching over more than 30km of Singapore's southern coastline, the GSW offers over 2,000ha of land for potential
The Tanjong Pagar and Pulau Brani container terminals are part of the Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW) area, slated for rejuvenation. Stretching over more than 30km of Singapore's southern coastline, the GSW offers over 2,000ha of land for potential redevelopment, almost six times that of Marina Bay.PHOTO: AFP

The mandate of the Housing Board is to create high-quality and affordable public housing for all Singaporeans. This mission does not entail arbitrary restrictions on location.

Which is why I strongly disagree with Mr Soo Weng Keong's views on HDB flats within the Greater Southern Waterfront area (Govt subsidy should not go to luxury seafront homes, Aug 30)

When applications for public housing exceed demand, a lottery is the fairest method of allocating scarce resources. The notion that future property values should factor into the process is unreasonable.

If the HDB were to, hypothetically, manipulate the difficulty of securing a new Sengkang flat compared to a new Jurong West flat based on a spurious forecast of prices down the line, it would throw any semblance of equal opportunity out the window.

Rather, the measures that the HDB should undertake are more generous concessions, as it has done recently, to allow more young buyers access to purchase their first flat, and not introduce shorter leases or restrictive minimum occupancy rules.

At worst, individuals who chance upon flats in opportune locations are merely sharing in the nation's prosperity.

Mr Soo's proposal instead raises the existential danger of enclaving by socio-economic class.

We cannot afford to have Singapore so cleanly divided between "rich" neighbourhoods - private residences and resold million-dollar public flats - and "ordinary" neighbourhoods for the "plebeians".

As our nation is actively grappling with such inequalities, we should be creating more shared spaces for private and public housing dwellers to intermingle, which necessitates public housing in "prestige" precincts.

Just as Abraham Lincoln cautioned that a house divided cannot stand, we too must not stand for divided housing.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi