MPs to raise issue of HDB flat defects

A construction worker walking through the narrow common corridor of an apartment block at Pasir Ris One.
A construction worker walking through the narrow common corridor of an apartment block at Pasir Ris One.PHOTO: ST FILE

The recent spate of complaints about shoddy workmanship and defects at new Housing Board (HDB) flats will be addressed by the National Development Ministry on Monday, when Parliament sits.

Four MPs have tabled questions asking, among other things, about the HDB's role in ensuring quality control at these Build-to-Order (BTO) and Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) projects.

Many owners of BTO flats in Punggol and Bukit Panjang, and of DBSS flats from projects such as Centrale 8 in Tampines, Pasir Ris One and Trivelis in Clementi have complained of defects or design flaws such as narrow corridors, wall cracks, uneven tiles on floors and choked toilets.

The HDB said last month that most flaws in the new BTO flats are "surface imperfections". The DBSS, where HDB flats are designed and built by private developers, was suspended in 2011 after a public outcry over the pricey units.

One of the MPs raising the issue is Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC), who told The Straits Times that residents at a new BTO project in his constituency had alerted him to severe leaking and flooring problems.

"The quality of some of these projects is quite worrying, and there has been quite a lot of unhappiness.

"I wanted to understand if the issues are symptomatic or if they are one-off."

Also in the spotlight is last month's Sabah earthquake, which claimed the lives of 10 Singaporeans: seven pupils and two teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School, and an adventure guide.

Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) asked if the Government would consider giving the two teachers, Mr Terrence Loo and Mr Mohammad Ghazi Mohamed, a posthumous national award like the Medal of Valour.

"The nation mourns for those who perished in the earthquake," she told The Straits Times.

"At the same time, we are grateful for all those who have returned safely. We should honour the bravery and selflessness of the two teachers."

Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) also asked if there were any lessons to be drawn from the tragedy.

Two questions at the start of the sitting are set to catch all-round attention. They centre on whether the committee that reviews electoral boundaries has been formed.

The answer will bring greater clarity on when the next general election will be held. It must be held by January 2017 but many expect it to be called this year.

These, as well as questions on slowing job growth, Singapore's preparedness to deal with the Middle East respiratory syndrome and regional concerns like the Rohingya migrant crisis, are among the 88 questions tabled for an oral reply.

Eight new Bills will also be introduced, including the Home Affairs Ministry's Organised Crime Bill.

This will give law enforcement agencies the powers to detect, investigate, prevent and disrupt organised crime activities, and deprive the mobsters of the benefits of their crimes.

The Finance Ministry will introduce the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Bill. Singapore signed the AIIB charter last week, and the Bill will let Singapore subscribe in the bank's starting capital.

Parliament is also set to debate the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill.

If passed, Temasek Holdings will contribute more to the Government's coffers as Singapore prepares for more social and infrastructure spending.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2015, with the headline 'MPs to raise issue of HDB flat defects'. Print Edition | Subscribe