Housing woes for a PR

Posted: February 25, 2010 by fievel in Labels: , ,

Woke up this morning to this piece of news...heard from my mother, the unofficial broadcaster of all family news, that one of my uncles, a Malaysian PR living in Singapore for the past 15years, decided to give up waiting for the housing prices to turn south and jumped into the resale market as rental costs continue to price him and his wife out. They used to rent a whole HDB unit but now can only afford to rent a room in a HDB flat; with new measures taken by the government, in what can only be seen as "too little too late", to cool the housing market, he is now required to pay up to 20% downpayment for this flat purchase. They are afraid of any further measures taken against PR's favor and so they are jumping in quicker than they can think. They paid their option deposit to the real estate agent and are now desperately going around the extended family looking for loans to help them with the $40,000 cash shortfall required for down-payment and other costs such as stamp fees and real estate agent fee.

I find this story to be rather disturbing, not just because it happened so close to me...but because I think this is a representative case of many other lower wage PR workers in Singapore and their plight. (I hate to digress but yesterday I was at a dental visit when a foreign indian couple with a pregnant wife decided against treatment because they can't afford it, and opted for just taking painkillers instead. Can you imagine being pregnant and having to live with a toothache so bad you can't sleep? (she told the dentist she couldn't sleep))

With my uncle's job being a heavy industry laborer in his 40s, I do not see how he can expect to be financially productive for that many more years. His wife works in a kopitiam and earns $1500 a month (only because she is currently on good terms with the boss and she runs the drinks stall) - she is also in her 40s. The flat they bought was a 3 room flat in Tampines that is 25 years old, looks rather dilapidated, and costs $30k cash above valuation at $300,000.

Their jobs are not the progressive type and hence their salaries have been stagnant for many years now. It doesn't really take a crystal ball for one to foresee that they will end up in dire financial straits a few more years from now, if they are not already in one.

So this is one of the social repercussions that people will have to deal with, just because of Mah Bow Tan and HDB's collective failure and lack of ability to "predict" market demand and supply for housing, afterwards using a slipshod measure to counter the problem. I really wonder if he did indeed graduate from Operations Research as his major. Supply management can be a very sophisticated science but the way Mah is doing it, swearing by his built-to-order mandate, is outrageously juvenile and borderline stupid...definitely nothing in the  multi-million dollar salary level intelligence going by most people's standards.

I hope my uncle will clear his head and simply return to Malaysia. He must have forgotten why he came out here in the first place - to create a better life for himself, and he is obviously not doing that here. Something is very wrong with the way Singapore is being run now. But of course you can also choose to ignore all that you've read online and pretend all is alright.


  1. Anonymous says:

    If the PR is a low wage PR then he is probably holding a job that should be held by a Singaporean of the same ability.

    If a PR cannot even afford a HDB resale flat, then why is he competing for jobs with Singaporeans?

    If the outcome is that low wage PRs leave, that this is the best outcome.

  1. sgcynic says:

    This representative case of many other lower wage PR workers in Singapore and their plight applies equally to many lower wage Singaporeans. Uniquely afforable Singapore!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe your uncle is very tulan with MBT so he purposely bought his flat in Tampines so that he is eligible to vote MBT out?

  1. Fievel says:

    Hi Anon@438pm,

    I don't think any PRs are to be blamed. They are just like you and me, trying to eke out a better living for themselves.
    I feel that the policy makers are the ones who should be held accountable for all that is happening here.
    An interesting thing happened today. I was at a coffeeshop when I overheard a table of Malaysian-accented Chinese complaining about the over-flooding of "foreign labor" in Singapore...turned out they were referring to China workers. This is what it has come to.

  1. Anonymous says:

    As a S'porean, I have no quarrels with M'sain PRs, they have been around for very long n in many ways very similar to S'poreans. It's sad that they are also crowded out by others, a sad reflection of the worsening situation.

  1. bw says:

    Interesting post. Thks for sharing it.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Spore share geographical, historical, and cultural ties with Msia. It is in Spore's and Sporeans' interests to build better ties with our immediate neighbour instead of placing our bet on faraway China.

  1. Hey Fievel,

    I hope things work out for your uncle's family. That's a lot of money to throw into that home. There are lots of reasons why people stay or leave. It is never clear-cut. Some people stay in spite of (what I would think) horrid conditions, and some people move to horrid and unwelcoming environments but choose to pursue their dreams in spite of them.

    So, here's something for you from my side of the pond. The story of immigration is so much richer once the stories of individuals are pieced together. It is of some inspiration to me to try at some point to dig at the story of my grandparents and my ancestral home in Canton, China:

    Faces of America

    PS: I love what Yo-yo Ma said in the 2nd episode, that money is not the most important thing one leaves to one's children.

    PPS: I may yet change my mind about refusing to consult the ancestral almanac in China for the names to any children I may end up having. I intend to cast aside many traditions, but this one still tugs at my heartstrings. We will see.

  1. Anonymous says:

    sad to hear that... but if i were in your uncle shoes i will not buy a HDB flat here.. i rather find a house somewhere in JB or maybe even rent a house in JB..

    As myself as a singaporean.. sometime i feel tat we are just a salve that work for no tomorrow..... seriously this thought been pondering for awhile.. why not move out of sg and move to 3rd world country as such viet, mysia or even thailand.... at least you can really feel what is hard cash.. where else in sg... all your income are not Nett.. still have alot more to deduct and end of the day what you get? peanuts....

  1. Anonymous says:

    This PAP govt got confused with their constant change in their productivity tagline that they are messing up their policies in healthcare, education, transportation, housing and even labour. The problem with them is that they never believed they can make mistakes. However, if they would do away with their denials and stop all their messed-up policies by doing a total revamp of whatever is left things would gradually improve. To alleviate the sufferings and strugglings of Singaporeans to find secured jobs and putting foods on the table for their families, the govt should bring back all their investments' profits to help lower the higher costs of living here. The govt and NTUC should ensure their enterprises employ all Singaporeans, both young and seniors,and pay them fair wages for an honest day work.

  1. Anonymous says:

    No problem those low wage PRs can pack n go back their hometown anytimes if they find live is tough here......but many of us here got no choice jus only can work hard,pray hard (To strike lottery)or back to school study hard n hope life can be better in future!!.....5yrs?.......10yrs??......20yrs????????.......

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can understand after reading this article that MBT has done a good job. He is concentrating on the woes of the citizen first time buyer and leaving the untalented so called "FT" holding the PR status to fend for themselves. Now i feel it is worth being a Singapore Citizen.And as for PR's please air your expectations to your own governments.

  1. Anonymous says:

    As with anything in Life, it is never so cut and dry. The whole situation should be approached from both sides. Yes, the Singapore gov should look after Singaporeans first and foremost. However, as most people also know, the critical mass required to maintain this economy is also lacking. That is why many countries compete to import new immigrants in order to sustain and make their economies competitive. Perhaps the govt can take a 2 prong approach a) Have a smaller number of ready made flats/blks available alongside BTO units b) To give longer term PR's a special break. The ones that have been in Singapore for 20yrs and have contributed to singapore, having spent many yrs of their lives here. Versus, the many new immigrants that quite often use Singapore as a stepping stone to better overseas opportunities.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ya, i think your uncle and you should return to Malaysia if you find this place so difficult to survive. As a fellow Malaysian PR, I am so ashame of you having to cry here.

    This is land of opportunity and money is in abundance, just because you have no drive and ability to make more doesn't mean that the society owes you.

    Perhaps you'd rather live in a place where house prices never do up a bit over multiple inflation, just like in Malaysia. Then you can pack your bags and your uncle's to go home together, this is no place for losers like you.

    Crying foul here only disgrace fellow countryman that we as FT has no talent to even have a roof here.

  1. Fievel says:

    To the Anonymous shithead @ 10:38PM,

    Please don't come to my blog, or anywhere for the matter, and start calling me or anyone a loser. And don't you dare to ask me to "go back to Malaysia" because other than being born there, I have lived here my entire life and served the Singapore Army for 30 months. I am a Singaporean. A Singaporean who is being asked by a self-assumed "foreign-talent" PR like you to pack up and leave?? I think you are being too self-indulging...what a dickhead you must be in real life. By the way, why don't you use your real email and drop me a shout. I'll like to meet you in real life to have a look-see how you are talented.

  1. Anonymous says:

    The issue lies with your uncle who was not able to get a flat and he waited and waited for the price to drop. There is no issue here in Singapore.
    Singapore is willing to give your uncle a PR status which I think Malaysia will not even grant me one.
    Appreciate what you have and not complain what you do not have.
    A room rental is about $500 and I am not aware that you can rent a whole flat with that figure from the open rental market.

  1. Fievel says:

    I wasn't complaining. I was just reflecting on the whole situation from an observation point of view...about how many people forget why they started chasing their life goals in the first place.
    Do a happiness poll on the MRT train and the crowded feeder buses during peak hours in Singapore, and I have no doubt what the results will be.

  1. I just read out the article three times, its very complex and don't know what should say but still try to understand .
    Its not enjoy able reading but interesting and looking what come out.
    Final solution.