Mah Bow Tan says acquisition of
    flat is "absolute last resort"

  Channel News Asia
February 29, 2008

NATIONAL Development Minister Mah Bow Tan assured Singaporeans in Parliament on Thursday, Feb 28, that compulsory acquisition of a HDB flat is the "absolute last resort" a serious decision carried out only after all other measures have been exhausted.

Mr Mah said this when he gave what he called "the full picture of Madam Judy Mitchell" whose plight was highlighted by her MP Ong Kian Min of Tampines GRC earlier this week.

The five-room flat Judy lives in with her mother and her daughter, an air-stewardess, is her third flat.

Mr Mah said she had bought and sold two flats previously, making profits of about S$190,000. She has also enjoyed three concessionary loans.

But Judy had difficulties servicing the loan for her third flat soon after buying it.

HDB has allowed her to defer her mortgage payments or pay only half the instalment amount on four occasions for six months each, over a period of two years.

But Mr Mah said Judy did not make any attempts to find a long-term solution.

He said: "She was not receptive to HDB’s suggestions to downgrade or include her working daughter to help to service the housing loan. As a result, her outstanding loan has increased beyond the original loan. They have to downgrade, while they can still obtain enough sales proceeds to afford a small flat.

"I would like to urge Mr Ong to persuade the family to please do the right thing quickly. If they cannot get a bank loan, I will ask HDB to consider providing a non-concessionary HDB loan for them."