Time for PAP to fix our broken public housing system

Singapore’s bestest public housing system is all propaganda. It is in fact broken as broken can be.

Public housing has to be affordable (no frills, cheap and good) to serve citizens. But how could public housing be affordable (according to PAP) and yet cost over a million bucks?

The present HDB is a far cry from what it used to be before the corporatisation of its Building and Development Division (BDD) in 2003. One year later, HDB Corp was acquired by Temasek Holdings and in 2005, its name was changed to Surbana Corporation Pte Ltd.

After more mergers among Temasek companies with BDD now part of Surbana Jurong, there’s no trace of its HDB origin.

Without a BDD in HDB, not only have building costs escalated, there are no public servants looking after the interests of HDB residents. Understandably, an increasing number of worsening screw ups akan datang.

Even with a BDD, flats constructed in the 70s and 80s were already having issues such as facades falling off HDB blocks.

Tampines flat constructed in the late 1970s.

Just this week, a large concrete slab about the size of a mahjong table fell from the kitchen ceiling of a Marine Parade flat completed in 1974, missing an elderly resident by only 2 metres. link

Should Marine Parade TC issue an umbrella to each resident?

The broken public housing system claims that the mahjong-sized concrete slab fell because of “wear and tear”. If “wear and tear” was the cause, then every 43-year old Marine Parade flat must be immediately vacated or kitchens and toilets made inaccessible.

Last month, there was yet another serious case of falling concrete slab which had injured an 80-year old man.  Are there no structural issues?

There are also many SIT flats – with no mahjong-sized concrete slabs falling off – constructed more than 70 years ago, decades before HDB was formed.

Year of the Rooster doesn’t mean HDB should talk cock.

Last year, the government decided to conduct proper maintenance and upgrade HDB lifts only after a fatality in Pasir Ris and a number of injuries had occurred elsewhere. Is the government now awaiting falling concrete in our homes to claim another life before conducting proper inspection of all HDB flats, say, older than 30 years?

Today, a for-profit HDB has become a joke. Not to be beaten by SMRT’s waterfall feature in trains, HDB lifts seem to have the same feature installed. Watch video here.

The town council involved, Tanjong Pagar Town Council, has only issued self-insulting statements to mask HDB’s incompetence and avoid holding civil servants accountable. Waterfall lifts are considered a mystery which took some 18 months to solve.

But Singaporeans should not even wonder why it took so long because HDB, with most functions outsourced, is now as good as a shell company. If all the building experts have not been transferred to Surbana Jurong, it would have taken at most weeks to resolve this simple issue.

Flat buyers should not blame HDB for any issue we face as HDB’s main function is to generate profits for the government.

Design defects? Blame developers. Shoddy workmanship? Blame contractors. Lift defects? Blame Sigma. Waterfall in lift? Blame the weather. Etc.

Unique BBQ pit at Pasir Ris One, a DBSS flat.


It’s not that HDB is not bothered about oversight but it doesn’t have the manpower. And any work done by Surbana incurs a cost, so cutting corners is preferred.

With foreign construction companies employing almost 100% foreign workers to construct our HDB flats, many issues are to be expected.

Was it a coincidence that “500 new DBSS flat buyers (were) upset over poor quality of flats”?
At another DBSS project in Tampines, why must there be so “Many problems, so (that) DBSS flat owners may get goodwill package”?


While the PAP cheers ever-higher public housing prices, it has continued to ignore our broken public housing system. PAP had better start to fix our broken public housing system before another fatality occurs.

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7 Responses to Time for PAP to fix our broken public housing system

  1. Halimah Yakult says:

    no lah. let a few fatalities occur so that the 70% can wake up their idea and start be responsible voters who can vote out incompetent PAP party.

  2. Phillip Ang says:

    I hope there won’t be fatalities but there has to be for the monkeys in white to take belated action. Overpaid PAP ministers and top civil servants only have time to check their ‘monthly’ CPF accounts. 😦

    • Confused says:

      I think they will only check their bank account, no need to check CPF as they have already hit the ceiling and the monthly contribution would remain the same.

  3. Confused says:

    BCA introduced Clerk-of-work (COW) scheme (now termed RTO) many years back supposedly with the presumption of ensuring high quality and more protection to the buyers who are the end-users.

    However, with this scheme, I believed it has also enriched a lot of COW in the past or RTO in the present. One reason why the construction productivity has been so low all these years is that a lot of unnecessary cost go to not only pay OT for COW for night concreting, but main bulk goes to pay for concrete pump (which was idle in the day), workers, food and etc for OT works.

    Smart contractor would resort to pay the COW privately to cut other losses but there too are many do not want to appear on the take but continue with the conventional way of enriching themselves. This say so much about the industry.

    If the authority really cares, they should investigate those construction sites where it involves a lot of night works requiring RTO’s supervision.

    • Jeesoh says:

      No lah, construction cost is still a small fraction compared to what developers earn. The reason why we have low productivity here is the excessive supply of cheap foreign workers. Instead of high quality precast structures, we have cast in situ everywhere. Labour cost is cheap. Too cheap that good people don’t want to work in yhis industry.

  4. Confused says:

    “Just this week, a large concrete slab about the size of a mahjong table fell from the kitchen ceiling of a Marine Parade flat completed in 1974, missing an elderly resident by only 2 metres. link”

    The spalled concrete thickness from the bottom up to where you could see the BRC mesh/rebar is what we term as concrete cover in concrete design, it plays a part in the capacity calculation of the concrete section and should therefore pose a structural problem as it reduce the strength of the portion. Of course, the authority can claim that the factor of safety adopted in the design would have catered for this but nevertheless, it is still an issue.

    Look at the Tembusu tree at Botanic Garden, it was supposed to be safe but what happened now???

    • Phillip Ang says:

      No place in Singapore is safe now except maybe for Parliament House and Istana. Even ministers’ houses with their Gurkha guards may not be safe, I mean the building structure. 🙂
      What are we to expect when we have third world safety standard + jiak liow bee ministers and top civil servants?

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