Saturday, April 21, 2007

Your house is not your home


In Singapore, you still hear of people being thrown of our their homes. No, we are not talking about destitute families where members cannot earn their keep and pay their rents. In Singapore, we have a situation where the relatively well-off (meaning the lower to middle middle-class folks) are being thrown out of their houses and homes because they do not agree with 80% of their neighbours in their Condominiums which have been sold en-bloc for re-development. According to the law, when 80% says "sell!", then you, who are in the minority 20% will also have to parrot "sell". There is, at this moment, absolutely no recourse to reverse this. The best you can get is a bit more money from the sale than if you were to sell on the open market as a single unit. But some may have become attached to that house and home, one which they had always thought would be where they would live and spend the last days of their lives.

So isn't it an irony that the better the apartment you own and live in, the more insecure you potentially are. If you lived in public housing - the HDB apartments that are so ubiquitous on this island - then you have peace of mind because there is no one who can touch your house, no 80% majority rule, not even debt collectors can force-sell your house. The law is 100% behind you as far as your HDB apartment is concerned.

So the lesson to learn is if you prefer cradle to grave houses, stay in public housing (or, for those of us fortunate and rich enough to do so - buy your own land and build your own house). Upgrading to a condo might spell heartache some time in the future.

From a wider perspective, it is sad that Singaporeans are getting more materialistic, preferring to go after the money than to retain and nurture relationships, neighbourliness and heritage. The rush into the casino business, not only in Singapore but regionally, spells a preference for life oriented towards material rewards. As more and more Singaporeans are brought up in an environment where gambling is seen as the way to make money and earn a living, the work ethic that was integral to the early successes of Singapore will eventually be eroded. Therein lies the truth of the prophet Micah's words:

"And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage". Micah 2:2 (Old Testament Bible)

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7 comments :

Dr Minority said...

Re your comment on HDBs not subject to en bloc. Not true - they have the SERS or Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme which targets old HDB estates for redevelopment. The good news for them is - the definition of 'old' for HDBs is 30 yrs, whereas 'old' for condos is 10 yrs.

Odd innit :)

Epilogos said...

You are right, of course. But SERS is so rare that one forgets (like me) that it exists. And since the Government only targets very old estates for redevelopment, I'd imagine that residents' attitude would be 'good riddance', I'd rather start over with a full 99-year lease HDB apartment.

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