Speech by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at the Launch of Tanjong Pagar Town Council's Five-Year Masterplan and Opening of ABC Waters at Alexandra Canal, 19 March 2011

19 March 2011

           Tanjong Pagar GRC will be transformed in the next five years.  The government continually invests in upgrading the homes of its citizens, to increase their value for the owners. 

Home Ownership – Every Family

2.         Let me first explain our fundamental policy: home ownership for every family.  In 1959 when I took office, I noted that fast-growing cities in Asia lacked housing.  Homes in these cities were small rooms at high rentals.  Therefore, they decorated their cars as if they were their homes.  But these additions have no lasting value.  I decided that we must be different. 

3.         We wanted Singapore to be a home-owning society.  By the 1980s, we had housed 85% of the population.  It is a short time.  If we had not helped our citizens to own their homes, Singapore would be very different.  Society would not be so stable.  Our lives would have been  worse off.  

4.         They have valuable assets in their homes to protect against riots and civil commotion.  Three-room, $300,000; 4-room, $400,000; and 5-room, $500,000, higher if near city centre, especially near MRT stations.

5.         Our families own their homes and are rooted to Singapore.  Owning their homes gives everybody a sense of ownership.  Moreover, with NS, every family must have a stake in a property to defend. 

6.         We have met our people’s basic needs, we have to meet the rising aspirations of Singaporeans.

HDB flats as a valuable asset

7.         Singaporeans take great pride in their homes.  Thus, it is crucial to prevent our estates from becoming urban slums.  Singaporeans know that their HDB flats are valuable.  As Singapore prospers, the value of their HDB homes also appreciate.  Home ownership motivates Singaporeans to work hard and to aspire for a better future for their family, to upgrade to better and bigger flats.  

8.         The HDB story reflects the social mobility of Singaporeans. Minister Mah mentioned recently in Parliament about how Dr Maliki grew up in a rental flat in Toa Payoh, but worked hard and upgraded himself. Minister Mah himself did the same thing.

9.         HDB estates and its residents grow older through the decades.  In the late 1980s, younger families began moving out of the older HDB towns, for newer and more modern flats.  We did not want to keep building newer estates, and have people move out of the older estates all the time.  This would result in transients communities, and would not help in sinking roots as a community.

Estate Renewal

10.       In 1989, the government announced the HDB Upgrading Programme.  We planned to rejuvenate the older HDB estates. We provided new playgrounds, covered linkways, landscaped gardens and open spaces for residents to mingle.

11.       With an ageing population, we implemented the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) in 2001.  We are near the final phase of its completion, and works will complete by 2014.

Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS)

12.       In 1995, HDB launched the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, or SERS, to free up land in the older estates, and to replace them with higher-quality, higher-density flats.

13.       Many of you are beneficiaries of the scheme. You have moved to this new precinct from old blocks at Commonwealth Avenue and Margaret Drive built in the 60s and 70s.  Today’s welcome party marks a new beginning in your new homes.

14.       The new flats here at Strathmore are well designed and more spacious with new facilities.  More important, you did not have to move far away.  You still have a familiar environment with familiar faces.  You and your neighbours together moved here, and the strong ties built up over the years are kept.

Remaking Our Heartland

15.       We cannot allow public housing to become obsolete.  So, in 2007, HDB embarked on its plan to Remake our Heartland (ROH).  Starting with the pilot towns and estates in Punggol, Yishun and Dawson, HDB recently announced the next batch in Hougang, East Coast and the Jurong Lake areas.

16.       Here in Dawson, many of you would have witnessed how the estate has been transformed under the Remaking our Heartland plans. New life will be injected into the old town centre.

17.       The five-year plan for Tanglin-Cairnhill has seen the completion of SERS at Commonwealth Avenue and Margaret Drive.

ABC Programme

18.       Alexandra Canal, 1,200 metres between Tanglin Road and Delta Road, has been beautified under the ABC programme.  You have seen your immediate environment improved.  This has increased your property values.  We will regenerate the old estates with new housing; great projects for Skyterrace and Skyville at Dawson and Commonwealth 10 at Queenstown.  

19.       A Home Improvement Programme will refurbish your ageing flats that have spalling concrete and ceiling leaks.

20.       We have primary barrier-free access route to reach the residential precinct and the Town Council.  For all precincts, we will have upgrading of lifts so they will stop at every floor, and cars will have drop-off porches.  The Neighbourhood Renewal Programme will upgrade the quality of the older estates and will increase the value of your older flats.  The playgrounds like the Edu-tainment Park and the Children’s Fun Park, linkways and pavilions to residents’ estates, all these will add to the values of your homes. 

21.       We will be laying out the next generation nationwide broadband network by 2012 so that everybody will have easy access to the computer to all information that they will require, and they can video-conference with each other and with families abroad. 

22.       There will be many service centres like the Family Service Centre at Tanglin Halt, Eldercare Social Service Facilities at Kreta Ayer CC, Rainbow Centre in Margaret Drive and Family Link @ Lengkok Bahru.

23.       We will have Prime Upgrading Programme for CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent; extension to Zhangde Primary School; and upgrading of Radin Mas Primary School.  Community pavilions and Residents’ Corners will allow residents to come together to interact and increase community bonding.  They will also have multi-generation playgrounds and fitness parks, and lighting will be powered by solar energy.

24.       We must build upon the strong foundation laid;  continue to work hard, and share the fruits of our nation’s progress. 

25.       Finally, my congratulations on your new homes.  I am very happy to be part of this special occasion with you.

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