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Tharman says he has experience on ground but told everyone household incomes of S$1,000 can buy flat

Years ago, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, then the Finance Minister, stirred controversy by suggesting families earning just $1,000 monthly could afford a HDB flat. This claim was met with skepticism by many Singaporeans, leading to significant online debate. As the presidential election approaches, these past remarks remain a talking point among voters.



by Adam

Presidential candidate Tharman Shanmugaratnam told supporters on Tuesday (Aug 22) that he looks forward to a “fair, dignified and honourable contest” that focuses on Singaporeans.

In a speech to supporters on Nomination Day, Mr Tharman said, “It will be a more difficult and challenging future that we face, which is the reason why I have entered this contest to offer all my experience and capabilities on the ground for a few decades nationally and internationally.”

“I have a track record on the ground – nationally and internationally – which I believe allows the elected presidency to play a full role in the future for Singapore,” he added.

The other two candidates contesting the election are former GIC chief investment officer Ng Kok Song and former NTUC Income chief executive Tan Kin Lian.

Mr Tharman also said that he looks forward to a campaign that “unites Singaporeans and not divides us” but added that he has no plans for a physical rally.

Household incomes of just $1,000 can buy HDB flat

However, about a decade ago, a comment made by Mr Tharman in Parliament sparked an outrage among Singaporeans. He was then the Finance Minister of the People’s Action Party (PAP) government.

Responding to concerns by then non-constituency member of parliament (NCMP) Gerald Giam about Singaporeans being unable to afford a flat from the Housing and Development Board (HDB), Mr Tharman said that families with household incomes of just $1,000 could already purchase one.

“I would like to assure Mr Gerald Giam, who might not have caught up with all the developments, that our enhanced housing grants for lower income families are such that a family with a monthly income of as low as $1,000 can now purchase a small flat,” said Tharman, who added that a family that earns “a bit more, say $1,500,” can afford a medium-sized flat.

“The housing grants that we have been giving are more aggressive than what any other government would give,” he continued.

At the time, many Singaporeans remained unconvinced and took to social media to ridicule him. One reader wrote, “Hmm, any idea why my friend who earns $1k a month couldn’t even get a loan for his BTO flat?”

Another said, “Yes, it might be possible. If you don’t plan on eating, going anywhere or paying your bills, that is.”

One added, “It’s statements like these that make me wonder if the common citizens actually live in the same dimension as the PAP MPs.”

Even popular blogger mrbrown joined in and created an online meme with the caption, “MAKE $1K A MONTH / CAN BUY A FLAT”, to ridicule Mr Tharman.

With the barrage of criticism coming from Singaporeans, then National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan had to step in to give support to Mr Tharman.

Mr Khaw said Mr Tharman was referring to a two-room Built-To-Order (BTO) flat. That’s because such a flat would cost a first-time applicant – who earns $1,000 – about $40,000, after subsidies.

The mortgage payment, said Mr Khaw, can be fully paid through the applicant’s CPF, without incurring any additional out of pocket money. But he added that the median household income for the group of two-room flat buyers was about $1,400.

Then-Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who resigned recently over an extramarital affair, also chimed in via a Facebook post, giving an example of how households with a joint monthly income of $1,000 can afford a two-room HDB flat.

Using the example of a two-room Build-to-Order (BTO) flat in Fernvale Lea, Sengkang, which was listed in January of this year at a price range of $83,000 to $112,000, Mr Tan cited its midpoint price of $100,000.

He highlighted that first-time buyers with a cumulative monthly income of $1,000 are eligible for both the Additional CPF Housing Grant, which can provide up to $40,000, and the Special CPF Housing Grant, which can offer up to $20,000. These grants can collectively be utilized towards the flat’s down payment, effectively reducing the selling price by $60,000.

For the residual $40,000, Tan illustrated the potential HDB loan repayment plans:

  • Over 30 years: $161 per month
  • Over 25 years: $182 per month
  • Over 20 years: $214 per month.

In any case, even if a household with S$1,000 monthly income could buy a two-room HDB flat with their CPF and without incurring any additional out of pocket money, how is the family going to survive living in Singapore with S$1,000 a month?

Clearly, based on the online uproar at the time, many thought Mr Tharman was not living in the “same dimension” as the rest of Singaporeans.

Nevertheless, Singaporeans will go to the polls on 1 September, which has been declared a public holiday. It remains to be seen if Singaporeans would support PAP’s selected candidate, Mr Tharman to become the next President.

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“I have a track record on the ground – nationally and internationally – which I believe allows the elected presidency to play a full role in the future for Singapore,” he added.

That good for more FTAs and CECAs to be signed.!!@

I have a track record on the ground…” I believe he is referring to his locomotive ability to move about on the Earth’s crust. A very special trait indeed. As for understanding the plight of the average Singaporean and those less fortunate.

Well, nobody expects a millionaire to understand the realisation that comes when one has to choose buying the “house” brand instead of the well-known one because the cost of everything has gone up by too much.

He also told everyone who came across Ivan or Ivan the terrible in the 2020 election period…Ivan is a good guy….A VERY GOOD GUY!😆😆😆😆🤣🤣🤣😆😆😆

This Ah Neh is just a bridge for PAP to fully control the systems and the plumbing within.
I think we need to do him a favour and let him rest since his maths is quite bad for saying we can buy flat just by earning 1k per month. Maybe it’s time we retire him and let TKL take us forward.

He won’t reveal anything about the reserves or call for a COI . He will protect the establishment. He, though should be admired, should not be voted into the Presidency. He will strengthen the PAP’s hold on all the State institutions. We should save him to represent us in the UN or other world bodies. We can be sure he will do us proud.So vote for TKL.

If anyone notices, this time the election is held on weekday, instead of the usual weekend.
So coincidentally, it is held on 01-09-23, 1923 is the birth year of lky.
The ruling party also holds a 100th lky’s birthday anniversary for him this year.
Will lky comes back to watch the election???

Singapore’s presidents 9 August 1965–23 November 1970: Yusof bin Ishak46 2 January 1971–12 May 1981: Benjamin Henry Sheares47 24 October 1981–28 March 1985: Devan Nair48 2 September 1985–1 September 1993: Wee Kim Wee49 1 September 1993–31 August 1999: Ong Teng Cheong50 1 September 1999–31 August 2011: S. R. Nathan51 1 September 2011–31 August 2017: Tony Tan Keng Yam52 14 September 2017–: Halimah Yacob Malay 5 yrs Others 10 yrs Chinese 20 yrs Indian 22 yrs Already we have had Indians as president for 22 yrs. If you add Tharman if he wins it will be 28 yrs. Singapore independent only… Read more »