Dear Editors,

In a sign of skyrocketing costs of living and business after this upcoming polling day, HDB had sent us a letter right after the election was announced warning us that they intend to raise the rental of our HDB rental unit by a whooping mind-boggling 37%! That’s more than one-third of our current rental and more than $700 per month! But that’s not all. It seems like the letter (see the attached) is a standard letter that is sent to all HDB commercial and industrial property tenants, so we are not the only tenant who is affected.

The PAP ministers had repeatedly claimed they wanted to help Singaporean businesses and workers thrive in Singapore. However, their actions speak louder than words. By increasing our rental by 37% and more than $700 per month, we will have no choice but to cut our workers’ salaries, retrench one of them, or increase our product prices to offset our rental increase so that we can stay in business and pay HDB the higher rental.

We are a small setup and we hire strictly Singaporeans only, so our labour costs are already much higher than our competitors who hire foreigners. We value our workers and we do not wish to put them out of job. But if you are in our shoes, faced with a worsening economy, increasing competition, declining business and skyrocketing rental, you will also have no choice but to take one of the above-mentioned courses of action or go out of business. Increasing our product prices will make our products less competitive and result in lower sales, so it is not an option. Cutting our workers’ salaries will lower their morale and they may quit in no time. Retrenching one of our workers is therefore the only option and the remaining workers will just have to share some of the additional workload. This is not an ideal situation but what else can anyone in our shoes do when forced by HDB to cough out more money for them?

As the largest landlord in Singapore, the PAP government, be it HDB, CapitalMall, Temasek Holdings or otherwise, wields the sole power to set our costs of living and business, and by extension, our quality of life. We elected them and pay them multi-million dollar salaries to work and fight for a better standard of life for us, not to make life miserable and worse off for us. As Mr Low Thia Khiang rightly pointed out, we are the owners of this country instead of the government. Why do we have to keep paying HDB, CapitalMall, Temasek Holdings etc. more and more to use our own land to do business or live?

SG50 is not working out well for us so far, so we cannot imagine how much worse SG100 will be.

Mai Kee Chiu
A.S.S. Contributor

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