A comment by Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam has become a butt of jokes for all Singaporeans. The DPM said in parliament on Thursday that a family with a household monthly income of just $1,000 can buy a flat in Singapore.
It did not take long for Singaporeans to make jokes out of that. Even when you read the Strait Times newspaper, you can literally hear the laughter from the reporters writing the stories. This was from the Strait Times, a mouthpiece of the government. Then without giving a chance for the flub to die down, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Tan Chuan-Jin made things worse on Friday when he took to Facebook to “clarify” the comment made by the DPM.
Mr. Tan “clarified” that the DPM was talking about a 2-room flat and then went on to breakdown how his statement is correct. He said that if the family wants to buy a 2-room flat with a selling price of $100,000, he can get 2 grants. One is the “Additional CPF Housing Grant” of up to $40,000 for first-time applicants and the other is “Special CPF Housing Grant” of up to $20,000, which is used for the down payment for the flat purchase. The person can then apply for a loan from HDB for the remaining $40,000, making a payment of $161 per month for the next 30 years.
There are so many things wrong with that clarification I don’t know where to start. Like can you get a flat in Singapore for just $100,000, even if it is a 2-room flat? Like who in Singapore would aim to buy a 2-room flat in the first place? Like can you get 2 grants from the Singapore government when you need to clear a mountain of paperwork just to get one? Like would the HBD give you a $40,000 housing loan when you earn just $1,000 per month? Like how the Additional CPF Housing Grant is only for first-time applicants and is only “up to $40,000”! Chances are you are not going to get the full $40,000. Like how after paying off a 30 year loan, what are your chances of retirement?
Look, this is a simple matter.
The DPM made a mistake. He wasn’t answering a trick question or anything. He was trying to put the screws on Workers' Party NCMP Gerald Giam on Thursday and got caught giving a bad example that had little to no basis in reality.
It was a mistake made on record, in parliament, and in public. The DPM should just dish out some apologies to the public and this will blow over. Any further “clarification” on the matter will just increase problems for the government. It’s a simple matter with a simple solution; just say sorry!