More appeals made for waiver of HDB's ethnic integration policy

More appeals made for waiver of HDB's ethnic integration policy

Man in park near HDB flats
File photo of a man sitting at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. (Photo: TODAY/Christopher Toh)

SINGAPORE: Home owners made a total of about 1,600 appeals between 2015 to 2017 to waive the ethnic integration policy, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 2).

Mr Wong was responding to a question from Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh, who asked if there were statistics on how much feedback the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has received from minority races on the inability to sell their flats because of the policy.

The 1,600 figure is higher than the roughly 1,200 appeals received between 2013 and 2015, according to statistics previously revealed by the ministry. Four in five appeals were not successful.

"For most of these unsuccessful cases, the applicants did not cite any reasons for their appeals, hence there was no basis to consider their requests," the ministry had said in a written parliamentary reply in 2016. 

Mr Wong did not reveal the number of unsuccessful cases for the 2015 to 2017 period, but invited Mr Singh to ask more questions if he wishes to, in a separate parliamentary question. 

The ethnic integration policy (EIP) was introduced in 1989 to ensure a balanced mix of ethnic groups in HDB estates. It applies to the sale and purchase of all new and resale HDB flats, and is implemented for all ethnic groups.

There are no plans for HDB to buy back flats from home owners who claim they are unable to sell their units due to the EIP, Mr Wong said in response to a question from Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan. 

Mr Lim had raised concerns about a "squeeze" in demand because of EIP, which may cause prices to go down.

"The saleability of a flat in the open market is dependent on many factors, and not just the EIP," said Mr Wong.

"While home owners may have their own expectations of how much their flat can sell for, flat attributes like location, storey height, physical condition of the flat, remaining lease and market sentiments would naturally be considered by prospective home buyers."

MP Chong Kee Hiong, meanwhile, asked if there are measures to help home owners who have tried unsuccessfully for months, or even years to sell their flat. 

Mr Wong emphasised that for those who are unable to sell their flats, HDB may grant them an extension of time. 

"We do monitor the situation carefully,"said Mr Wong. "We will extend assistance to those who need more time and we will continue to exercise flexibility for those who are in extenuating circumstances.

"The EIP is an important policy that is applied to all ethnic groups consistently."

Source: CNA/mt/(gs)

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