Netizens want DBSS scrapped altogether: Yahoo! poll


The Centrale 8 DBSS development in Tampines. (Yahoo! photo)

The results of a recently-concluded Yahoo! Singapore poll revealed that a significant majority of netizens are against the Housing and Development Board's (HDB) Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats.

A total of 13,943 netizens participated in the week-long poll, which asked what the next step should be in the wake of the Ministry of National Development's (MND) recent suspension of DBSS land sales.

In the poll, which offered five possible responses on what should be done about the highly-debated scheme, an overwhelming 58 per cent voted for the elimination of the DBSS system.

A further 22 per cent of respondents voted to do away with the tender system for land sales, as it artificially inflates prices of flats that are put up for sale -- the second most popular option chosen in the poll.

The remaining options were to tighten ownership rules, raise income ceiling for buyers, or that there was nothing wrong with the scheme. These received 9, 6 and 5 per cent of the votes respectively.

The highly-discussed housing scheme was thrust into the spotlight when a series of five-room DBSS flats developed in Tampines by Sim Lian Group Limited was opened for sale at a hefty S$880,000.

The price of the 708-unit development, entitled Centrale 8, was initially clarified by Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan as being a category of public housing between ordinary HDB flats and executive or private condominiums.

In addition, the fact that DBSS flats are designed and built by private developers pitches them at a higher price, as price control is not part of DBSS land sales projects.

However, criticism from the public in response to the initial prices stated for Centrale 8 drove its developer to slash prices by up to S$102,000, triggering more questions and discussion about how prices for these flats were determined. Newly-appointed MP Tin Pei Ling also entered the fray, speaking against the free market-style pricing leverage given to private developers.

A subsequent Business Times (BT) report claiming that DBSS developers received high profit margins from the sale of their housing projects contributed to more public outcry against the scheme.

It led to Minister Khaw responding to the errors and inaccurate figures used in the BT article, pointing out erroneous calculations leading to inflated figures. DBSS developers also released a joint statement in response to the report and the online fracas that followed.

In light of the developments that unfolded, Minister Khaw has suspended all DBSS land sales until an ongoing review of the scheme by the MND.

The HDB also announced its withdrawal of the land sale tender for a DBSS site in Sengkang, in line with the suspension announcement.