Former Minister Mentor threatenedSingaporeans that if we don’t start having more babies, his party willreplace us with foreigners: “Do we want to replace ourselves or dowe want to shrink and get older and be replaced by migrants and workpermit holders?”$CUT$
Forget, for the moment, that it was hewho had brought about this dangerous outcome with his God-playingStop-At-Two policy.
Forget, for the time being, that it was his ideaof driving up the cost of living that has made having and raisingchildren in Singapore unaffordable.
Forget, for now, that it was hissuffocating and autocratic system that has caused thousands uponthousands of Singaporeans to leave this country.
Forget all that presently. We will hold Lee and his party accountable for their policies at a later time. For now, we have a problem to solve –a big one. And the SDP knows how.
The prices of HDB flatshave escalated to the point where many younger Singaporeans cannotafford them. As a result, these couples end up having to stay withtheir parents and in-laws. The lack of privacy and space constraintsin such an arrangement is a major hindrance to these couples havingchildren.
To remedy this, the Singapore Democrats propose a publichousing policy initiative that would facilitate couples ofchild-bearing age to purchase their HDB flats in the quickest timepossible.
Presently, those applying to buy HDB flats for thefirst time are given priority over other applicants. These buyers,under the Build-To-Order (BTO) scheme, are then given a queueposition – determined by a computer ballot – to book aflat.
Under the SDP’s proposal, married couples who havechildren or are expectant and who are applying for flats innon-mature estates will be divided into the followingcategories:
Tier 1: Couples who have two or more childrenunder the age of 12
Tier 2: Couples with one child under the ageof 12 and expectant couples
Tier 3: Other first timeapplicants
Tier 4: All other applicants
Booking and buyinga flat for the above categories of potential homeowners will beprocessed under two new schemes:
I. Young Families PriorityScheme-Sales of Balance Flats (YFPS-SBF)
Buyers in Tiers 1and 2 will be eligible for YFPS-SBF where they will be placed at thetop of the queue for the Sales of Balance Flats (unbooked flats fromearlier BTO exercises, Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Schemereplacement flats, and repurchased flats).
This Scheme iscrucial to first-time homeowners who are looking to have their firstchild or to have more children because waiting times for BalanceFlats are shorter as they are already under construction or nearingcompletion.
If the number of Balance Flats are less than Tier1 and 2 applicants, the unsuccessful applicants will automaticallyjoin YFPS-BTO (see below) and placed in pole queue positions for theBuild-To-Order flats.
II. Young Families PriorityScheme-Build To Order (YFPS-BTO)
In any one applicationperiod under this phase, HDB will give buyers in Tier 1 the highestqueue position to book a flat without having to go through a computerballot. This will be followed by buyers in Tier 2. The queuepositions of buyers in Tier 3 will be determined by ballot, followedby those in Tier 4.
Such priority allocation will ensure thatcouples who have children or are waiting to have children will beguaranteed a home in the shortest time possible. In addition, theyget to choose the best flats available: high floor, best-facing,nearest MRT, etc – benefits which are considerable.
This willbe strong encouragement for married Singaporeans of child-bearing ageto have children as it will make child-rearing less prohibitive andallow parents of young children more space and less stress. Theurgency and absolute priority given to young couples to buy theirflats in the SDP’s proposal reflects the seriousness of theregenerational problem in Singapore.
Moreover, it is simpleand quick to implement. In fact, the procedure can be administeredimmediately at the next HDB ballot launch.
Such afamily-friendly and pro-population growth-rate policy will not onlystem the current downward fertility trend but also create anenvironment conducive to bringing up well-adjusted families. The neteffect is a psychologically, socially and economically healthySingapore.
The SDP recognises that there are other factorsaffecting the procreation issue in Singapore such as the price of HDBflats, the cost of living in Singapore, the education system and soon. These subjects will be tackled separately.
The policyinitiative highlighted in this present article is but one of severalmeasures that should be implemented if we are to see a healthy andsustainable population growth rate in Singapore. It is an effectivealternative to the PAP’s dangerous and misguided policy of increasingour population size through importation of foreigners.
It is also part of the SDP’s PublicHousing Plan which is currently under development by our HousingPolicy Panel and which we expect to publish by the end of this year.
If the Government genuinely desires aNational Conversation, the SDP welcomes it. Let’s start with thisproposal.