The irresponsibility of our incompetent part-time, estate-manager MPs will soon cost taxpayers and HDB residents dearly. Last month, the government announced a $450 million Lift Enhancement Programme (LEP): HDB will foot 90% of the bill while the balance 10% will be borne by ‘owners’ through an increase in S & CC akan datang.
On the surface, it appears the government has been overly generous. But the fact is ‘owners’ are being scammed. Again.
The elephant in the room – there is no such a thing as a HDB ‘owner’. Every ‘owner’ is in fact only a ‘lessee’, tenants of our HDB landlord. ‘Owner’ and ‘lessee’ have been used interchangeably for decades despite the fact that both have entirely different meanings. Which citizen can own public property?
How the PAP went about this is by redefining ‘lessee’ as ‘owner’ via the HDB Act. This is the explanation given to me by HDB’s Principal Legal Counsel. But the fact remains that all the rules pertaining to HDB ownership are drawn up by HDB. The HDB Act does nothing but obfuscate the true ownership of public property. So long as ‘lessees’ continue to ‘feel shiok’ believing they are owners, they are willing to pay for the maintenance of public property and HDB assets. To better understand the difference between ‘owner’ and ‘lessee’:
When one buys a car, ownership is transferred from the seller with no attaching conditions on its usage. But when one leases a car, the leasing company imposes conditions, similar to what HDB does. The car (HDB flat) still belongs to the the leasing company (HDB).
When it comes to renting out our HDB flats, again the legally correct term ‘sublet’ has been used because ‘owners’ are in fact only tenants of HDB. We are also required to inform HDB because it is our landlord.
Does an ‘owner’ of a private apartment need to inform anyone when he/she decides to rent out the property?
The lease agreement states very clearly that HDB is the lessor and ‘owners’ are only ‘lessees’. There is no confusion.
The reason for the ‘owner’ label – delegate the cost of maintaining HDB assets to ‘lessees’. Over decades, this has resulted in billion$ in savings for the PAP government, eg 30 to 35% contribution to the sinking fund. Lifts, pumps, block repainting, sweeping and washing of common areas, etc are all the responsibility of HDB, the real owner of our flats.
Remove the illusion of ‘ownership’ and we have the lowest home ownership rate in the universe.
In the upcoming LEP, the government could have easily foot the total cost of $450 million instead of only 90%. But why should it when HDB ‘lessees’ have continued to mistake themselves as ‘owners’, willing to pay and pay?
HDB ‘owners’ have been fleeced for decades and must start to speak up or we will continue to pay for the upkeep of public areas and assets which belong to the government. Recall Roy speaking up against the immoral retention of our CPF which resulted in a 20% lump sum withdrawal at age 65? The government knew there was no basis in retaining our retirement savings and had therefore agreed to return billion$ to their rightful owners.
Similarly, if we don’t speak up against shouldering the maintenance cost of assets belonging to the government, collectively, billions will go into the government’s pocket. This is neither fair nor right. PAP seeks control of public housing and it has to pay the price for control, not HDB lessees.
In short, all the rules pertaining to HDB flat ‘ownership’ are dictated by HDB: it is therefore self-insulting to consider oneself an owner. Which individual can own public property?
HDB ‘lessees’ are merely long-term tenants of HDB and we only possess a super long-term lease, nothing more. Maintenance of HDB assets such as lifts is the responsibility of the government, not lessees.
Elected MPs should speak up and not allow HDB ‘lessees’ to be perpetually fleeced by the government. The HDB Act acts against the interest of public housing tenants and has to be revamped.