All residential properties will be 99 years
Someone commented that the most effective measure to bring down property prices will be to convert all residential properties to 99 year lease. No more freehold, no more 999 years leases. Such a scenario or idea will send shivers down the spines to the landlords, the rich and powerful that have hoarded multiple freehold properties to last till perpetuity. Their ambition was to protect their wealth, to continue to be theirs longer than the life of dynasties that do not last a couple of centuries.
The ground rule has been designed by the rich and powerful to ensure that their family fortunes will last forever, or at least 999 years. That is normal as anyone in a position of power will only think of their own interests first. In many third world countries, the assumption to political power is like owning the right to be rich, to build their family fortunes.
Converting all residential properties from freehold to 99 year lease is unlikely to happen in the near future. No way will the rich and powerful allow this to happen as long as they are in control. Reality will see them consolidating their interests and wealth even more firmly, to the extent of being enshrined in the constitution.
The rich and powerful will continue to amass their fortunes in freehold properties. And with the removal of estate duties, there is nothing to prevent them from keeping their fortunes for many generations to come, forever. The new rich too will be doing the same, acquiring whatever freehold properties they could lay their hands on.
The unfortunate part is that the number of freehold residential properties is limited. A time will come when there will be hardly any left for the newcomers. The other unfortunate development is that the new rich and powerful would likely come from the HDB flat owners or 99 year leasehold owners. The super rich and powerful cannot be blessed with good fortunes forever. It has never been the case. All the good things must come to an end.
When the latecomers find themselves fenced off from the freehold properties they so desired and untouchable, it will be their turn to fiddle with the laws to give them a chance to acquire them. When all the freehold properties are no longer available, and no new freehold properties can be created, the new power brokers are going to do things to get a hold of the freehold properties. If they can’t buy them, they will change the laws to get them.
One possibility is to amend the land/property ownership laws to make all residential properties 99 years. If such a change takes place, no one needs to bother about estate duties anymore. The wealth and fortunes of the old rich will be recycled more regularly and the cycle is shorter. And it will be their own selfish wrong doings, to corner everything for themselves to the point that the new rich and powerful will be left with nothing but force to manipulate the law and the system to get what they want. By then the situation will be so ripe for a property ownership revolution.
It can happen and will happen when the new rich and powerful are shut out from their desires and wants. In human nature, all schemes are designed to self destruct no matter how superficially brilliant they appeared to be. Because of greed and selfishness, all such schemes will breakdown eventually.
What could be used as the excuse is the need for more land with an increasing population. The Land Acquisition Act will be reintroduced to acquire all landed properties in the Bukit Timah and Tanglin areas for redevelopment. The interesting part will be that these properties would by then be worth several hundred millions each and the govt of the day would not be able to compensate them adequately. History would be re-enacted when such properties would be acquired at a pittance to the govt on grounds of national interests. The carefully crafted laws and social political system to protect these properties till kingdom comes will go up in a wisp of smoke. Why not, when empires and dynasties could crumble, why can’t such inequitable laws make ways for a more equitable system? The more intractable is the system, the more unjust it becomes, the faster it would be done away with. The law of natural justice and social justice must prevail. Man proposes, heaven disposes.