Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching’s recent remarks on public housing have drawn criticism online, with netizens asking why she is doling out advice on living in Housing Development Board (HDB) flats since she is neither a politician nor a political office-holder.
In a Facebook post published on Friday (18 Oct), Mdm Ho – who serves as CEO of Singapore sovereign wealth fund, Temasek, vouched for public housing and called on people to make a “smarter wealth choice” and opt to live in HDB housing.
Responding to a recent National University of Singapore (NUS) study that found that it is difficult for the sandwiched middle-class to move up the social ladder because of the “high price and also the lack of government subsidies” for private housing, Mdm Ho wrote:
“Errr…80% of housing is HDB. These come with various subsidies for first timers, for staying closer to parents, with excellent amenities minus the cost of maintaining private swimming pools. So families in the 60-80% income bracket may be making the smarter wealth choice going for HDB housing.”
Calling on policymakers to consider removing the income ceiling for first-time HDB buyers, she added: “Over time, we should perhaps remove the income ceiling for buying HDB flats for 1st time property buyers/owners.”
Painting the ownership of public housing as a beneficial opportunity and one that everyone should be able to take advantage of, Mdm Ho expressed her desire for everyone to own a HDB flat:
“Now that we have stabilised the HDB housing supply, we can perhaps add a premium to the posted HDB price for new builds, based on some % of the income above the current ceiling.
“That way, everybody who doesn’t already own a property can benefit from the opportunity to own and live in HDB regardless of income levels.”
Mdm Ho’s remarks have drawn backlash online, with many asking her why she is offering advice on public housing when she is not a politician. Some asked her to lead by example and live in a HDB house before giving advice to others while some wondered whether Mdm Ho’s views signal her intention to join politics: