When privatisation is a fear word
Privatisation used to be the key word to symbolise improved efficiency, better quality of products and services and a necessary evil, higher cost. The last part is always unspoken. No body wants to talk about it. Two letters by Ang Ah Ho and Zhuang Kuan Seng in the Sunday Times were literary pleading for mercy against HDB and privatisation. They questioned the role and responsibility of HDB in a tender exercise for Sengkang wet market. It went to the highest bidder, Renaissance Properties, at $500,001 pm. All these make business sense as the new tenants will definitely improve the efficiency of running the wet market as well as improving the quality and services. The residents only see fear of higher cost of basic food that they will get from the market. And they were concerned even in the way HDB framed its reply in a nonchalant way. But they were barking up the wrong tree. HDB is no more a govt organisation. It is privatised, just like the wet market is going to be. And profit is one of its key goals. They must remember how the second batch of Duxton Pinnacles flat owners have to cough out another $200k for each unit because the prices of similar flats have gone up. The residents in Sengkang should look at the brighter and positive side of things. Life style will improve with new concepts in wet marketing. The fish, meat and vegetables will be fresher and of better quality. And the stall holders will probably say thank you when they buy from them. And the higher cost of living is just part of the deal. It has to be. But it will be very affordable. All new housing estates have better quality food courts than the heart of Raffles Place and Chinatown. The food centres at Golden Shoe, Hong Lim and Chinatown are much cheaper, $2.50 can get one a bowl of noodle or rice, mixed vegetable rice or chicken rice. But the quality must be not so good as the food courts at HDB estates, and no aircon some more. Soon everyone will be frequenting food courts in HDB estates. I pray and pray that these hawker centres will not be privatised. Personally the quality of their food, at $2.50, is damn good. But I am biased. And so must be all the happy customers, some wearing ties and Prada frequenting them. Please do not privatise them. Not everybody has a first world income and want to pay first world prices for basic needs. As for the Sengkang residents, they are welcome to Raffles Place to enjoy a $2.50 meal, if they can afford the train or bus fare. For the time being, they should count their blessings. Actually we must be very thankful that the govt did not privatise all the ministries. Of course the quality and efficiency will improve, but the cost of their services will be much higher than now.