Learning from Singapore’s HDB efforts a right move for M’sia, says foundation

PETALING JAYA: Singapore has one of the most successful affordable housing models in the world and it is the right move for Malaysia to seek assistance from the republic, said Yayasan My First Home Foundation (YMFH).

"YMFH is in full support of the idea as the foundation believes that Singapore has one of the most successful affordable housing models in the world," said its general manager Nambee Ashvin Nambiar.

YMFH, which was launched last year, was founded by tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan, who is also the founder of Berjaya Corporation Berhad.

It aims to promote and facilitate the development of affordable housing and home ownership by the B40 group, including squatters and the indigenous community.

Nambee said that findings by YMFH found that Singapore managed to provide a good public housing system for its citizens and data has shown that nearly 80% of Singaporeans are living in flats administered by their Housing Development Board (HDB).

The remaining 20% citizens from the upper middle class and the rich, are living in private developments such as condominiums and landed properties, which made Singapore one of the countries in the world with almost 100% home ownership.

"One of the most attractive models that make the housing situation in Singapore unique is the fact that the land is owned by the government for a 99-year lease, taking off the land cost, which in return reduces the housing cost and makes it affordable.

"This method ensures that most of its population is sheltered," said Nambee.

Nambee also noted that homelessness, attributed to the high cost of house ownership, remained a big issue in developed countries such as the US, Taiwan and France.

"In Singapore, however, you don’t have that issue as the government has made housing accessible for most of its citizens; this shows that the Singapore government ensures that no one is left behind when it comes to housing, it must be the most successful housing policy in the world," Nambee added.

Nambee said it was the right move for Local Government and Development Minister Nga Kor Ming to invite representatives from Singapore on the matter.

According to Nambee, YMFH believes that house ownership should be a fundamental right but unfortunately, in Malaysia, housing costs have risen faster than incomes.

"We have an exemplary model close to home; we must now understand the concept and localise it to suit most Malaysians.

"We do not want to run into a long-term problem where people do not have a comfortable home and must keep renting and moving from one place to another due to cost.

"We run into other development-related problems, such as when a child has to move school, the child may find it difficult to adapt to the new surroundings, which could hinder the progression of a child."

Nambee said YMFH wanted to work with the ministry in tackling this issue, saying the foundation had already assisted those with related issues in owning a home.

For more information, please visit www.yayasanmyfisthome.my for details.

On Jan 17, Nga had said that his ministry would examine case studies and best practices to tackle the affordable housing issue for Malaysia.

Nga also said that the Singaporean government is allowing the republic’s HDB flat contractors to visit his ministry next month to share their knowledge about building affordable houses.

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