Golden rice bowl

Posted: January 6, 2010 by fievel in Labels: , ,

The recent admission by Mah Bow Tan about housing prices in Singapore went something like this...

Speaking to MediaCorp, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan acknowledged it has been an exceptional period.

He said: "Nobody, no matter how prescient, no matter how clever, would have been able to predict that this is what is going to happen this year. All of us were caught off-guard... I did not expect the prices to go up. But the point is, are we able to respond to this change. And the answer is yes." 

Mah Bow Tan does not seem to have an ounce of grace nor integrity to admit his oversight which resulted in the current hyper-housing inflation situation in Singapore.

I had done a bit of research on supply and demand numbers a few months ago and you can revisit that post titled "Who let the dogs out" here.

As a quick summary, we were incepting an estimate of 70,000 new PRs and 20,000 new citizens in 2008. The number was about 50,000 new PRs and 15,000 new citizens in 2007. These figures do not take into account the natural demand from, for the lack of a better term, original Singaporeans. Yet, HDB gave the nation a measly supply of 2,000 to 3,000 flats per year as compared to former averages of about 8,000 to 9,000 new flats in the bygone years.. BTO supply was ramped up for 2009 only in the final quarter when prices were starting to worry as it got to a heated level, becoming a point of contention for Singaporeans' approval for PAP in the coming election.

Mah Bow Tan holds a Master's degree in Operations Research from UNSW in Australia [Read Wiki here]. Supply management should be child's play to him. Such utter mismanagement cannot be excused, million dollar salary or not. Either that, or the quality of UNSW's Master's degree in O.R should really be questioned, which for the record I do not purport to be the case.

Why is it that he does not get checked by other ministers or higher powers that be? Where is the accountability? Why isn't PM Lee making any statements about this problem? Why is MM Lee still saying it is a good thing that prices continue to rise? This is one reason why a lack of opposition is bad for you and me. Today, the problem is in housing. Tomorrow, it could be woeful economic policies or national investments or anything else going unchecked. The problems will be different, but the underlying cause for concern will be the same.

It's decidedly a very disappointing show of abilities for all the national ministries and ministers involved, and once again there is no need for heads to roll. "Golden rice bowls" indeed.


  1. Anonymous says:

    you get idiots like WKS still hanging around after the limping terrorist got away. you get PS who takes 5 weeks vacation to learn cooking and gets to brag about it. you have to love their job.

  1. Marc says:

    What is bad for you isn't necessarily bad for the government. Afterall rising housing prices means the HDB gets to charge more for their flats which in turn means more revenue for LKY to invest in more money losing investments overseas.

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you recall, Mah Bow Tan was trounced in the elections bu the opposition, and only got into the government on the tailcoat of the only man where he did not have to face any oppositions.

    Accountability - that will be the day. Cannot but concur with you that the lack of an opposition in parliament is bad for all of us in Singapore. Opposition per se should be one that takes up the issues and not succumb to be more mild? and think then that they are more credible.

    It will be good if there will be sufficient opposition to take on all the GRCs and single constituencies so that all the Singaporeans will have more chance to vote instead of having so many walkovers.


  1. Fievel says:

    Hi Soojenn,

    Actually I don't recall. That's because I used to be politically apathetic. I have never had a chance to vote before as it was always a walkover.

    The past 3 years have changed all that.

  1. keith yip says:

    It is the concern of everyone that the price of housing, especially public housing, is getting out of hand, that is not within the affordability of most of the heartlanders. Even though I am for a free market approach of Government, a certain regulated system has to be implemented ensure a healthy housing market, instead of solely fuelled by speculators.

  1. Fievel says:

    I have to correct you. A free market approach might not be a bad idea in Singapore's case. Currently, the supply crunch is caused by the govt's poor control supply and demand forces.
    Btw, the current price hike is not solely fueled by speccies...i don't's real demand...too many new immigrants coupled with too little new hdb flats...once supply meets demand, we will discover the true value of our flats are waaay lesser than what we are being forced to pay now.