Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Pandering to "the Greed of Developers": 10 Year Predictions - Parliamentary Debate on 1999 Amendment to LTSA

In the middle of 1998, the Parliament debated on an amendment to the LT(S)A, to facilitate enbloc sales. Primary change in this 1999 amendment was the 90%/80% to 10 year old estates which we're all aware of.

A kind reader dug up the Parliamentary debates from 1998 and sent them to me. I read through them with horror.

Some of the criticisms raised in Parliament about the potential negative consequences of this 1999 amendment, they are the very reality we live in now. Opposition MPs, NMPs have talked about the arbitrary nature of 10 year age limits for estates, the need to factor non-material considerations, the need to have courts mediate enbloc sales and not STB, etc.. these were ALL raised almost 10 years ago, and ignored.

An interesting quote from Mr Shriniwas Rai, then a practising lawyer and an STB member, which relates to the previous post on the Constitution. He said:

We have got limited land supply and community interest must take precedence over that of the individual right. As I said earlier, one of the advantages that we have is that because we did not enshrine in the Constitution the right to own property, as some other countries did, we have this development.

I do not have what he said earlier, and I assume "this development" refers to the proposed enactment of the LTSA amendment. But is he right - is it that the right to own property is NOT in the Constitution, as he pointed out? This would seem to contradict Mr KS Rajah's point (see previous blog).

I'll try to upload the documents when I can, but I'd like to quote this excerpt from a speech given in Parliament by a well known opposition MP (initials starting with J and ends with J):

Mr Speaker, Sir, let us not make any pretence. This is not a case of a minority or even a single man holding out against the society. It is not a question of society's interests that will be adversely affected if we give way to the man's wish and freedom to do what he wishes. This Bill simply panders to the greed of the developers and the other co-lessees who see, as has been said, a way to get rich quickly. That would appear to be the only reason for this Bill. There is no question of any national interests coming into this. There is, as has been pointed out, the Land Acquisition Act and even there, let me say, it is felt by many that that Act itself is being abused from its primary, original purpose which was that it should only be used for national interests; it is used for lots of other reasons now. So let us not pretend that a minority, even if it be a single man, is holding society to ransom.

This adds another instance to the list that is already growing in Singapore where the citizen is coerced. He is coerced to do something against his will, against his freedom to do what he wishes to do. Is that the kind of society we want in Singapore where a citizen is coerced at every turn and corner? Or is it a society where the citizen feels that he is free to make his own choice provided of course it does not harm the society at large? I am sure the answer to that must be quite plain.
My objection to this Bill is on principle. I think it is wrong to force one man to give up his property. I do not want to go into the reasons why he may be against the sale. Some reasons have been advanced but whatever it is, it is the principle. Do we rob a man or woman, as the case may be, of his or her freedom to do what he or she wishes to do with the property? Why is that necessary in Singapore? As I said, in a number of things, citizens are now being coerced. I think there should be a limit to this coercion.

Excellent words right there.


Anonymous said...

"Or is it a society where the citizen feels that he is free to make his own choice provided of course it does not harm the society at large?"

there lies the point of contention you failed to work out.

Anonymous said...

Greed is what makes modern Singapore ticks. Thank you PAP!

Anonymous said...

how does wanting to keep my home harm society at large?