While I agree with Forum contributor Hoong Jian Ming that the Government should expand its measures to keep public housing accessible, I do not think that flats in prime areas should be singled out (Apply some prime housing measures to current flat owners, Oct 29).
Any policy targeting specific precincts on the basis of market demand will encounter three serious problems.
First, prime location status tends to change over time.
It is common for districts to receive increasing interest alongside improvements to transport and social infrastructure.
It is also possible for districts to fall out of favour, owing to changes in the quality of life in any given location being overshadowed by that in adjacent areas or simple shifts in buyer preferences.
As a result, regulations pertaining specifically to prime flats could potentially create a new “lottery effect”, depending on whether one’s property is subject to the more stringent set of rules or not.
Second, choosing to reside in a prime location does not mean intent to profit from that location.
In mature estates, for example, most home owners obtained their flats well before the district acquired any significance on the resale market, making “strategic buying” a logical impossibility.
If the aim is to promote occupancy and curb speculation, length of ownership would be a far better proxy measurement than flat location.
Third, differential treatment goes against the principles of public housing.
A key strength of the Housing Board programme is its universality, providing a level playing field for Singaporeans who abide by the same rules and see comparable benefits.
The fairest and most transparent approach, therefore, is to establish a longer minimum occupation period and a fixed levy on resale gains for all HDB owners regardless of location.
Paul Chan Poh Hoi