Minister Khaw Boon Wan has made me feel young again. In a blog post on Boxing Day 2013, he admits to being outdated, that his assumption that people get married first and then get a home is no longer valid. Instead he appears to have been caught off-guard when told by his YOUNG Sembawang activists, that Singaporeans now buy an apartment first before getting married. I don't know how young his young activists are, but this is certainly not news to me. I have been married 21 years. I remember that one of the first things I proposed to my fiancee (now my wife) was to put in an application for a HDB apartment. It was like dowry, except that it is shared by the couple - both fork out their CPF monies. Marrying and renting just wasn't "on the cards" for us. We were young, just starting out on our careers, and didn't make a pile of disposable cash. So every dollar was valuable, which we would rather put away for tomorrow than spend it today. And so it was for my generation then. The received wisdom then was to head on over the HDB, not the ROM, to get married. And that was more than 20 years ago. At that time, Singapore was not exactly awashed with available HDB apartments. I had to ballot for mine.
So I was amused when Minister Khaw reported his ignorance. I wonder how young his "young activists" are. Is this another case of being fed the wrong and/or outdated information from the ground or being out of touch in the first place, or perhaps both?
Yes, I agree with Minister Khaw that couples, while waiting for their flats could get married, rent an apartment, get a head start in making babies, and then move into their newly minted HDB BTO (whatever) castle. But the argument against this has always been that the money spent on "non-recoverable" rental could have gone into payment for/investing in a HDB apartment, so why spend when you can invest, right? This was exactly what my fiancee and I thought when we embarked on our marital journey more than 20 years ago. From the wisdom of the young activists I see that nothing much has changed all these many years.