February 1st, 2011

Single in S’pore: “HDB system outdated”

The letter below was written by Chew I-Jin, chairperson of AWARE’s Sub-committee on single women. It was sent to the Straits Times Forum pages in late January. The editors received it but did not publish it.

Dear Sir/Madam,

AWARE supports call for singles to own flats at 25

I refer to the Forum Page letter “Let Singles Own HDB Flats at 25” ( ST; Jan 25th) by Dr Lau Geok Theng.

AWARE appreciates the point raised by Dr Lau that offering HDB flat ownership earlier to singles does not mean that children will be less filial to their parents or abandon them. Singaporeans in the age group of 25-35 are typically in their career-building stage. They might seek to live independently of their parents and often wish to channel their money into owning a property in this climate of escalating prices rather than see their hard-earned wages go into rentals (HDB resale prices rose about 75 per cent over the last 5 years, as derived from the HDB resale price index and the cheapest HDB 3-room flat with 2 bed-rooms that a single Singaporean can rent is about S$1,500).

The current policy of making home ownership available to singles at the age of 35 and above is based on a false premise that this delay will increase filial piety or reduce the chances of younger adults engaging in pre-marital sex. Independent living is not a sign of non-filial piety as pointed out by Dr Lau. Further, in some cases the family home is no longer a conducive environment or cannot accommodate the young adult.

The current HDB regulation remains outdated and discriminatory to a section of the community – young singles aged 35 and below.

It is a blunt policy that does not take into account the maturing and diverse culture in Singapore and how younger women and men are striving to find a space of their own without having to get married to secure a flat.

In fact, AWARE contends that a provision to offer flat ownership to those 25 and above can also mean developing an HDB landscape of mixed precincts for families, the elderly single and the young single, thus nurturing a lively ecosystem of housing for diverse Singaporeans of all ages and stages of life. AWARE believes that this a more constructive way to develop inter-connectedness with independent lifestyles, and so build the ‘vertical kampong spirit’ that Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong spoke of recently.

AWARE supports the call made by Dr Lau and asks for HDB policies to be adjusted to eliminate discrimination against young singles in Singapore.

Chew I-Jin (Ms)
Chair
Singles Sub-committee, Research & Advocacy,
AWARE (Association of Women for Action & Research)

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