Forum: Let HDB buy flat back from seller affected by ethnic quota at a small discount

I read with interest of how the unintended effects of the well-intentioned Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) have affected Forum writer Gerald Patrick's ability to sell his flat in the open market within his ethnic group (Update terms of ethnic quota to make it easier for minorities to sell flat, July 12).

I suggest a simple plan to help him and others in a similar situation, one that would maintain the racial quota within the affected block.

Flat sellers should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and the affected owner must have met certain guidelines so as to guard against abuse, such as having put the flat on sale for a certain period of time and showing evidence of having tried to sell the flat.

When a case is deemed admissible under these guidelines, the Housing Board would buy the flat back from the affected seller based on the current market valuation.

However, a small discount of, say, 2 per cent to 5 per cent, should be imposed on the sale price so that sellers know that this is an arrangement of last resort.

This "bought back" flat could then be sold back in the open market to buyers within the same ethnic group, thus maintaining the racial quota balance of the affected block.

If the flat is still unsold after a certain period, the HDB could release it as a refurbished flat to eligible first-time buyers within that ethnic group under its existing scheme for new home owners.

This arrangement would be seen as a move by the Government to soften the unintended consequences of the EIP and greatly alleviate the pain of affected sellers.

Keith Wong