When something that is reasonable becomes ridiculous, or when something that is reasonable becomes so reckless. I chanced upon an old CNA report interviewing Chok Tong on the unhappiness over foreigners buying properties and driving up the prices. The quote is below.
‘Another radical suggestion put forward was to bar foreigners from buying private property but SM Goh noted developers would just build more high-rise private apartments to counter it.
"At the moment, our policy will be, condominium, private sector. They want to buy, let them buy because they actually bring in money for Singapore. They may not actually stay there but they bring in money.
"They buy from locals, locals are happy to get the money but it's not actually adding to space. In fact, that's actually ideal. They buy here, they don't drive cars, they don't live here, we just get their money! They're buying air!" laughed SM Goh.’
Actually Chok Tong got a point. If the foreigners are willing to bring in good money to buy air, why not? Our developers will be very happy and Singaporeans too will be very happy if they can sell their HDB flats to them as well. Now what is the cause of this happy problem?
The cause is so stupid and the solution so simple. Just build more and make sure citizens can buy their flats and at a really affordable price. And if citizens can then sell to foreigners, and buy again from HDB, citizens happy, foreigners happy, govt also happy. Every transaction will bring extra revenue to the govt in terms of stamp duties. The lawyers will be happy with the conveyancing fee, the designers and renovator will also be happy with more works. The buying and selling will find its own equilibrium when demand and supply balances out. Then buying and selling will slow down under the same economic and market forces.
See, it only needs a joker to stop building and want to earn as much from the citizens as possible and the happy formula failed. Make from foreigners not enough, still want to squeeze every penny from the citizens and refuse to build to exaggerate the supply and demand tension to justify higher prices to charge the citizens.
Why don’t the govt just liberalise the sale of all properties to foreigners(with higher stamp duties and some conditions, esp landed) and they only need to ensure that all citizens will get their public flats at citizen prices. A new status quo will be reached when the supply is there for the citizens(with limits on how many they can buy) and the demand by foreigners will also be limited by this supply. But make sure don’t anyhow give citizenship to every foreigner to buy public flats from HDB at citizen price. Let them be PRs and pay PR price and non citizen price.
The whole shit boils down to citizens not being able to buy affordably priced flats. If this is catered for, who cares if non citizens want to buy what and how high private property prices can go? Give the people a roof and the kpkb will end. But some sectors would want to protect the prices of their private properties and this could be why lesser public flats were being built. If only they care and make sure public flats are easily available to citizens, they could have the cake and eat it too, as long as the inflow of foreigners did not go crazy.