I refer to the article “Don’t assume all old HDB flats will become eligible for Sers, warns Lawrence Wong” (Straits Times, Mar 24).

It states that “National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has warned home buyers not to assume that all old Housing Board flats will be automatically eligible for the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).

He said in a blog post on Friday (March 24) that the Government will continue to maintain the strict selection criteria for blocks eligible for Sers, noting that only 4 per cent of HDB flats have been identified for Sers since it was launched in 1995.

He said that Sers is offered only to HDB blocks located in sites with high redevelopment potential. “These are typically sites where the land has not been well utilised. It is also subject to the availability of suitable replacement sites for residents and the Government’s financial resources.”

Asset enhancement policy?

Since Singaporeans have been subjectef to the consistent rhetoric for decades that our HDB flats are a good “asset enhancement” policy – shouldn’t the priority for Sers be on the age of the flats, rather than “located in sites with high redevelopment potential”?

Revenue to Govt more important?

Are we saying that the redevelopment revenue to the Government is more important?

Govt’s financial resources?

As to “the Government’s financial resources” – we have an estimatef $1 trillion in the reserves and just had a Budget surplus of $5.2 billion last year.

With regard to “Noting that the Government will retain this strict selection criteria, Mr Wong said that for most HDB flats, their leases will eventually run out and the flats returned to HDB, which in turn surrenders the land the flats are on to the State.

“As the leases run down, especially towards the tail-end, the flat prices will come down correspondingly,” he said. “So buyers need to do their due diligence and be realistic when buying flats with short leases. This is especially important for young couples, who have to plan for a much longer future”” – how can HDB be a good “asset enhancement” policy, when it will decline to arguable zero value when the typical 99 year lease expires?

Why never tell us before?

If anyone from the Government had said what is being said by the Minister now in the past – would so many Singaporeans have put in so much of their CPF and cash into their HDB flats?

Leong Sze Hian

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