The affordability plea

A stay at home mum, Cheryl Lee, wrote to the ST forum pleading to the govt to make housing more affordable. She is a graduate, a professional but is being forced to stay at home to look after children and work part time. She lamented the days when as a fresh graduate her starting salary was only $800. Though the salary of graduates has quadrupled, housing prices have gone up by at least 10 times. A 5 rm flat then was $35k but $450k today. Are we really better off?

To her this is not affordable. To the govt it is, very affordable. It depends on what is meant by affordable. We know, it shifted from one income and a 15 year mortgage to two incomes and 30 years of mortgage. Funny, why is this kind of arithmetic seen as being clever and even brilliant? And people in high places can tell the people straight in their faces that they are not lying, that it is affordable!

And this Cheryl Lee is making a plea, to make housing affordable in terms of one income so that mother can stay home and look after their precious children, and not leave them at the mercy of strangers that may be deranged or have very poor childcare skills, or even bad attitude or values.

The children are the most valuable gift of life, the blessings that no amount of money can trade for. (Bullshit. What children, only softies and losers are sentimental about children). But this gift of life is being neglected, put at risk, because of our enslavement to money and material goods. We are willing to sacrifice the bringing up of our children, good parental care and bonding, for money. Actually no. It is the first world and most envious social economic system that we have created, minus happiness and human warmth, that we believe is the best for us. This is the best system in the world, all glitters, all money and nothing else. This is what life and living is all about.

The plea by this stay at home mum that values her time and relationship with her children will go to the wilderness. She will be very lucky if they did not extend the mortgage to two generations or four incomes to service. To return to the days of one income and 15 years is a never, even if it is a one income for 30 years. That is our meaning of progress and world class standard of living. And it is good.

Did we compromise anything that is really valuable to life and living? No, money is everything. Material well being is everything. Children and their welfare are only lip service. Don’t believe in them. If we don’t have more head counts, we can buy them, import them, to feed our labour force. That is what children are meant for.

And the parents should continue to be in the workforce, to raise the GDP. That is the only thing that counts. And be prepared to work till one drops dead. That is our meaning of a well lived life, minus the irritating stuff of bringing up children. Keeping pets could be better option. But no, we still need children for our workforce.


Anonymous said...

It was just announced(broadcasted) that a 3 Rm DBSS at the Western Corner is 375Ks and a 5 Rm is 750Ks.
In a few years time, all Singaporean house owners will be millionaires. Prepare to celebrate Singaporeans.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

$750k versus $35k, that is more than 20 times. Even taking into account better material and design, is it really reasonable given that salary then and now did not go up by 4 or 5 times?

Even using two incomes, salary is up by 10 times. Ok, double the mortgage duration, just about 20 times. Yes it is affordable!

See, I also agree it is affordable. When one cannot beat the logic of authority, one has to go with the winning logic.

Anonymous said...


pleading is the lousiest form of response to bully. It is most ineffective and only as good as begging, it also attracts more bullying.
Be like other graduate mothers, reject all the perks offered and be yourself. Look not and envy not at the manipulators. Show them You despise their pretensions.
Not all offers are benign and some kindness are baits and traps.


Anonymous said...

Kind of hypocritical and unrealistic about the author isn't it?

The main theme is quality of life has been compromised because of costs. But you all agreed to pursue quality. How can you have quality without higher cost? Higher cost produces more rich people and they in turn drive up cost of living when they pursue even higher quality of life.

So it comes down to YOUR....fundamental LUSTS.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is the modern-day Sparta - we are breed to fuel the economic juggernaut!

Anonymous said...

Name me a rich city with cheap housing and I will concede that housing prices should backtrack to the 80s or 70s.

Anonymous said...

i think London, Sydney, New York, Vancouver, Tokyo, Dubai and Shanghai housings are cheap.

Anonymous said...

Quality of life is not just material comfort. Life, the children, are very important to those who treasure them and want to bring them to this world. They are not digits for the workforce.

While people spent millions and millions on material goods, should not some of this money be spent to care for the children, to allow the mother and family to have more time together and play together.

Can material wealth equate to the joy, love and emotional attachment to another child, another life?

Leowell Gonzales Photography said...

what can I say, a rich city has always have a high cost of living. geez not to mention the rising tuition on kindergarten.
modern day slavery

Anonymous said...

Go and convince the people that they should not covet after the iPad, the Nike shoe, the Chanel and prada, the Spa treatment, the BMW, the Cartier, the Alaska vacation, ...goodness the list is unending...before you let go your sermon on being the next Bhutanist

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Leowell Gonzales, welcome to the blog.

While everyone is in the pursuit of material well being, don't forget that life and living are equally important. Some may seek spiritual well being.

Living life, having children and enjoying them are happiness in different forms and are not mutually exclusive. There must be a balance.

Anonymous said...

Honk Kong homes are cheap. Maybe we should migrate there.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi anon 11:05, don't worry, there are many people out there who will work for an ipad, a great home, the BMWs etc etc.

There are also people like Cherly who would just want a decent 5 rm flat and all the children running around.

There will be people who will be very happy with their BMWs and bungalows and their pets.

Different people have different preferences, just like some chose to be atheists, some this religion some another.

Not everyone will just be contented to live a life of material abundance and not wanting a life with happy children around them.

Sure there will be those who just did not want to have any children. Then our system of material pursuit is perfect to them.

Anonymous said...

Then you failed to understand the dynamics of the market place.

The people who want yo be rich is far far greater than those who want to slow down and smell the flower.

People like Cheryl are the "happy boomers" and had made enough money to talk about going back to the days of catching spiders in undeveloped state land.

But the reality today is, the young wants to catch sparrows in high rise condos

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Many Sinkies have forgotten to question the ills of the word affordability and have happily accepted it as something natural. When times are good, everything seems fine.

What Cheryl Lee brought up is that there is a need to redefine affordability. In the first place, affordability is used to rob the Sinkies of their money in the CPF and their future earnings. Public flats need not cost so much. The cost of building public flat is stil a state secret, too shameful to be disclosed.

As such, Sinkies are being depleted of their savings with flats priced according to how much they have and how much they are going to earn. So CPF savings will not be enough for retirement.

Then the future income better be there for two income earners to service the loan. Breaking this chain will mean the flat is no longer affordable.

The other long term consequences will be the well being of the young and the institution of family. How this will play out eventually only the future will tell. When both parents have to work to keep a flat, which is not necessary if the definition of affordability is changed, and if Sinkies think this is the normal, their lifestyle will have to adapt to this normal.

Just like the consequence of stop at two or China's one child policy. The price to pay will come in the future.

The western world are paying the price for their gluttony for material comfort and spending forward. All govt policies have long term consequences. The crying wolf about an ageing population is real and is going to hit the country. Why need children when one can find happiness in an ipad or a BMW?

Anonymous said...

Why have to pay so much for housing? Can housing be priced lower?

notanotherspinstory said...

Don't forget to mention that the HDB floor area are getting smaller too.
Price per area is sky high.

Now that we MUST have dual income and pay hefty 30 year mortgage for a pathetic 3 room HDB flat, we have become economic slaves. Slaves to the PAP.

Anonymous said...

The good thing is that public housing need not be so expensive. The bad thing is that daft sinkies are happy to be fleeced, and did not know why?

notanotherspinstory said...

"Just like the consequence of stop at two or China's one child policy. The price to pay will come in the future."

This are the long term consequences of PAP's brand of "affordability".
Our Singaporean families will get poorer and poorer. Next generation cannot own HDB, have to rent it.
If you are single parent, sure gone case. If you are graduate, still struggle to pay. If you are not graduate forget about owning a flat, rental only. Next generation of young workers in heavier debt, unable to take care of their old folk. Is this the Singapore we want?

Anonymous said...

She has her 55 inch led tv...her 10kg load washing machine...her 600 liter refrigerator...and entire house aircon in her fully paid up apartment( probably cashed out on her HDBs several times) ...and now she sigh...as a woman...I want to go hightea with other tai tai while my hubby slog it out in a dog eat dog world....yeah rite.

just ask your hubby to earn more lah lol

Anonymous said...

Next GE we will be another landmark------ HDB no less than $1 million and Condo $1.5 million.

Anonymous said...

@Anon Oct 25, 2011 9:20AM,

Well, what can we say? There are too many suckers who just live for today without any disregard for their future. Some just care about speculating to increase the value of HDB so that they can be paper millionaires without a thought to what it means and the serious negative consequences cos they are just too brainless and selfish.

That's why people will even pay 750k for a lease flat which don't even belong to them but they are renting from HDB.

So if there's demand despite 750k price tag, the govt will just take it that housing is extremely affordable cos those idiots are willing to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Once a property is owned, you can't tell the owner what price he should let go. So it is the OWNER who dictates the price, not the seller(the govt in this case).

If as a owner you won't sell away your flat cheap, why should you expect the govt to sell cheap?

For argument sake. Let say the govt has a block of HDB 3 and 4 rms for sale in a vacated lot next to downtown CK Tang. These are low and cheap quality flats and therefore you argued it should be sold cheaply at $100k to $ 200k.

Now anyone will tell you there are many who will be wiling to pay 10 to 20 times that amount to live in the heart of the city. Would the owner(not govt) sell it for less ?

Folks, owners(and rich buyers) are the ones driving up prices, not the govt.

And that is the fundamental RIGHTS of all owners. Who are you to tell them how much they should set their price for their dream home?

You jokers are asking the govt to price flats low so owners can make the difference in profit! Who does business that way? Your grandfather?

agongkia said...

How come graduates and professional still think that they need a 5 rm flat?
Mother should rightfully stay at home.But why need to plead.Chia Chee Swee Chee Chia Kou Swee Kou.
If you are Heng and materialistic,get to know those rich and powerful one.Otherwise leave it to fate and marry one that truly deserve your love.Stay rented,2 room or even in the park.
Cannot kpkb now and then.One day you make them angry,they will just ask you surrender your citizenship and go elsewhere.
Recently there is a case of someone telling his grievances.The other party just tell him directly to surrender his....So lets lead a normal life.Teach your next generation not to be high handed if they ever become powerful one day.Teach them to be humane and not abuse their power..That is more worthy than to have a 5 room flat.

Anonymous said...

RIGHTS of ownership we are talking here. How many are willing to forgo their right to make money?

Answer that before you talk more rubbish.

Anonymous said...

You can ask for $ 1000 000 COV. That's not a crime, that's your fukking RIGHT! Understand?

Anonymous said...

aiyah..go the north Korean way lah...they best..simple life and easier to solve simple life problems. don't let msm higong you to think they are worse than us..hahaha

Anonymous said...

Why are you so dense? A govt is not a private developer that buys and sells for profit. No other responsibility. People can die not their concern.

If your simplistic view is right, then Mah Bow Tan will still be a minister and HDB prices will keep going higher and higher. What do you think are the reasons for Khaw Boon Wan to be building more flats and stabilising prices?

Why the govt keeps saying they will ensure prices are affordable? Why don't they continue to sell at market price? The higher the better?

Anonymous said...

To those who can afford they will say it must go up because they will benefit the most, probably having multiple properties to speculate.

To those who cannot afford, they should understand that those who can afford have never been down to their level to understand the problem of trying to cope with paying for a house.

So, there will always be those well-off who champion price increases and deride the downtrodden, and there will be those who cry foul over price escalation.

But, in the final analysis, is the role of the Government to look after the rich who can look after themselves very well, by helping them get richer, or look after the poor who are left behind. Forget about the promise of nobody will be left behind. That's a big lie.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

To anon who is talking about his right to sell at any price he wants. Agreed it is your right to sell as high as you want.

For your info, Cheryl Lee is not demanding that you sell cheap. She is not talking about your rights. She is telling the govt to rethink on its housing policy.

Can you see the difference? She knows that the govt has a responsibility to manage the country for the general good of the citizens. And if the govt does not heed the wishes of the people, the govt will be booted out in the next GE.

The govt can take a gamble and believe you, that there are more people who want property prices to go higher and do nothing, not to be bothered by Cheryl or people who see things differently. But don't forget, for every family that owns one HDB flat, they may have two or more children who need to buy HDB flats later on. They can sell one at $1m, but if they have 3 children, they will need to cough out $3m and the game goes on, ever higher.

The govt can behave like private developers, acquires state land at the lowest fee and sell properties as high as there are buyers willing to pay.

Which side do you think the govt will take, your side or the side of Cheryl?

lynn marissa liem said...

it is affordable. full stop. u didnt look at every single angle. the govt is right.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi lynn marissa, welcome to the blog.

If your position is true, then the job of the govt will be a piece of cake. And Hsien Loong need not keep reassuring the people that it is affordable. And everyone will be happy.

Why then should housing be a hot issue? If the aspirations of the people are unreasonable, then the govt can just tell them so. The govt also does not need to worry about anyone from being left behind.

Anonymous said...

At this point in time some loaded people still say it is affordable?

We over here must have been looking at the wrong angle, maybe we should not be concentrating on the dollars and cents angle.

Perhaps some mirrors might help. To make it better add some smoke. Then everything will become magically affordable.

Fool stop!

lynn marissa liem said...

i dun understand why u say that cheryl lee is a stay at home mom (forced) ~ she has a maid all this while. and anyway i m her husband's cousin :) and i feel that she is not forced to stay at home :)

Anonymous said...

Firstly, you guys need wake up to the fact that your govt is the biggest business entity in the land ...much bigger than your private developer.

Secondly, is Mr Chua aware that housing prices begin from $70K upwards? That kind of bottom price is about what you would pay for 10 years use of a car only - csr not inncluded.

So you can't argue that homes are not affordable.

What these people want is to buy low and sell high. The govt cannot be that stupid right?

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Cheryl belongs to those that would want to balance worklife with family life. She values her time spent with her children and there is nothing wrong with that. Many people wanted more time with their love ones.

$70k for a 1rm flat is cheap or reasonable depends on who. Put it another way, would parents who put their children thru tertiary education be happy to see them driving taxis on graduation? Is it reasonable to expect our univ grad to live in a 1rm flat costing $70k? If it is a personal choice, that one does not want to live in a bigger flat, fair enough.

Unfortunately, being a graduate, the govt would not allow them to buy a $70k flat. And if their income exceeds $10k they must buy HUDC because the govt sees them as rich and can afford to empty their savings.

Public housing is not a laisse fair thing. A lot of controls, restrictions and artificial pricing fixed by the govt.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi lynn, tell your cousin to fight for what she thinks is good. It is the job of the govt to balance the varied interests of the people.

It is for the govt to manage the supply of goods and services and the aspirations of the people. They are not private developers and can suka suka sell at any price they want and tell the people to get lost if they are not happy.

joehancl/PRAY, it works said...

This is what OWS is all about. You, the 99% are slaving away, while the elite are enjoying the fruits. Sons and daughters of SG. You must have visions. When sons and daughters have visions, power returns to the people, only then govts. will listen.

Anonymous said...

Redbean, you have a crazy nut at hand, sticking to his one sided view and unable to follow other people's arguments.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is a democratic dictatorship. In a democratic dictatorship the government dictates, defines and interprete every thing. When the government acquires private lands supposely to be in the interest of the state and the people, it dictates the price of the land to be acquired. The government usually acquires private lands for the price of a song. In the past it paid only from ten to thirty cents per square foot. The government has acquired huge land banks in this manner. However when it builds blocks and blocks of high rise apartments on these cheap lands it sells to the people at a few hundred dollars per square foot. This is how the government acquires reserves of thousands of billions of dollars. But when these reserves are depleted in wild ventures of investing in toxic American banks, stocks and other shadowy financial products, the government holds to ransom the people's CPF. In this scenario the government has to control and manipulate high prices for government acquired lands or HDB apartments. The people do not matter but replenishing the state's reserves is of paramount importance and paying ministers millions of dollars in high insane salaries is even more important. The government should not be surprised if one of these days desperate citizens hold sit ins in Raffles Place, Parliament House or the Istana in peaceful show downs against an unfair insensitive government.


lynn marissa liem said...

She is a graduate, a professional but is being forced to stay at home to look after children and work part time. _ see this??? you wrote this....i was v surprised to read that she was FORCED? hence i replied to your blog...somehow i usually dun read or go into blogs...but this one really caught me by surprise. anyway my dear cousins noe i m a hardcore PAP supporter even if they are bad boys. LOL!!! and dats why they thanked me for supporting them in nation building when i paid my taxes! LMAO!

Anonymous said...

I have no sympathy for graduates because they embraced modernity with open eyes. Furthermore, the opportunities are there for them to exploit. I believe it is still possible for most to live within their means.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi lynn, I used the term force in a broad sense, not literally being forced into it. The high cost of living, maids, housing etc have limited the choice of people, thus forced in a sense.

This high property price is a death trap to many. And if Malaysia is smart and prepares to open up, liberalises economic cooperation, make JB a more hospitable place, Singaporeans will swarm in and buy properties and stay there if the inconveniece of travelling and security is no longer an issue.

If that happens, our property prices will collapse. Sell one HDB can buy a landed property there and with cash to spare.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Oh, I am glad that I have a hard core PAP supporters here. You are welcome: )

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

I don't really envy the plight of the graduates today. The cost of an education is so high but return is not that great. Wait till they churn out more, many graduates are going to end up driving taxis and take up lower level jobs.

Graduates used to be able to afford better housing, cars. Now they are going to live in 4 rm flats and maybe no cars.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi joehancl, welcome to the blog.

The financial system of the western world is waiting for a big revamp. Paul Krugman just wrote an article that the Europe problem is unlikely to be resolved with all the stop gap measures as the hole is too big to be patched.

Just wait for the next Greece.

Anonymous said...

You guys deserved to be fukked. Sorry, no sympathy.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Haha, some are enjoying every minute of it: )

Anonymous said...

When Sin becomes Venice Of the Far East or Tuberculosis City, one can buy property for a song.

Don't say no such luck.

joehancl/PRAY, it works said...

Immanuel Kant,a 200years ago philosopher, wrote "The world is headed for Perpetual Peace brought about by a catastrophe so disastrous there is no other option but for the world to come together."

Anonymous said...

True, that is the reason why me suggests the homeless elderlies get themselves into the big bungalow at Changi for free shelter, food and medicare.


Anonymous said...

"I don't really envy the plight of the graduates today. The cost of an education is so high but return is not that great. Wait till they churn out more, many graduates are going to end up driving taxis and take up lower level jobs.

Graduates used to be able to afford better housing, cars. Now they are going to live in 4 rm flats and maybe no cars."

Anyone with average intelligence can get a degree and that's why we have so many degree holders. At the end of the day, they form the huge middle class segment who live in high quality public housing.

Walk into these HDB flats, they can be tastefully done and very comfortable.

Great investment and worth every dollar.

Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken, many graduates are taxi-drivers.

Wonder whether that Phd guy is still a taxi driver?

Anonymous said...

Let me says that we Singaporeans play fair in the way we live. Supposing me am given 3 hundred dollars, it should be my freedom to go to a restaurant for a meal or eat prata and fried beehoon for 10 meals. $300 wont get me anything more than 20 meals(with not a cup of tea or coffee O) anywhere in Sin.
I can also cook porridge to eat with cai pore(minced preserve raddish), salted egg or plain soya sauce and save the rest for medicare if me wants to suffer longer for living longer.

Singaporeans should also allow our leaders to enjoy their greed, brinkmanship, glory and fame. Allow them to fulfill their egoes, satisfy their wants of wealth and power. They may haunt us for a long time, but liked Gaddafi, Idi Amin, Suharto, Mubarak, Marcos and the liked, they will be gone.

Liked them, we also will be gone too. So keep the peace for the city and for our ourselves, those bloody scenes we see on tv were not nice to watch.

So take it easy folks; let our rulers have free play with their talent and conscience, if they have.


Anonymous said...

personally, i would like to know how much prices of HDB flats have increased - on a per sq ft basis. giving just the price of a flat without knowing its actual area, which has shrunk, doesn't really give the true picture of rising cost.

a 5-room flat may be, say, four times the price of one 10 yrs ago, but the flat floor area may have been reduced 20%. so the flat price wld actually have risen more than 400%.

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