Monday 7 November 2011

Don't sell your HDB flat, Mr Lee Kuan Yew tells resident

Former PM gives advice during visit to Sers project in Holland Drive
By Andrea Ong, The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2011

BUSINESSMAN Lim Tow Nam, 53, moved into his new, spacious flat on the 38th floor of Block 18C in Holland Drive earlier this year, after living in his old flat a stone's throw away for around 20 years.

He and his family love the breathtaking view from their five-room flat - they can see as far as Sentosa and Keppel Bay.

Holland Village is nearby, while the new Holland Village MRT station and Buona Vista MRT station are both within walking distance.

Mr Lim's parents and two sisters live in three separate flats in the same block. The family have dinner every night at his parents' flat.

Mr Lim bought his new flat for just $380,000 - a subsidised price for residents under the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers). His old flat had cost him about $165,000.

The Sers project rehouses residents from six old blocks near Holland Village in four new high-rise blocks in Holland Drive.

Yesterday, Mr Lim had words of advice from none other than former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who visited him in his flat in the early evening.

'He told me, don't sell. The price will go up,' Mr Lim told The Straits Times.

'I think he loved the view and felt happy about our asset enhancement,' he added.

Mr Lee, together with Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, also attended a community party for residents of Buona Vista Court.

Mr Chan is MP for Buona Vista ward, which is part of Tanjong Pagar GRC. Mr Lee helms the GRC.

Both men urged residents to do their part in building a cohesive community even as the Government does its best to provide good infrastructure and living conditions.

Said Mr Lee: 'A community, like our nation, is not made up of concrete infrastructures. It is made up of people with passion and the heart to look out for each other, care for each other and help each other.'

The Housing Board and town council can build hardware like roads and playgrounds, but it is up to residents to 'develop the software, to turn a house into a home... an estate into a community', said Mr Chan.

In his Chinese speech yesterday, Mr Lee reiterated his view that HDB flats here are a 'treasure' for Singaporeans.

'Your flat is your most precious property,' he said.

The Government can help to raise the value of flats, but Singaporeans must also look after their property and surroundings, he added.

The Buona Vista Court Sers project is an example of 'good forward planning and financial discipline' practised by the Government, said Mr Lee.

With a disciplined and cohesive people working hand-in-hand with the Government, Singapore has transformed from shanty towns to pleasant HDB estates with clean waterways and a green, landscaped environment, he added.

Yesterday's community party was held in conjunction with Tanjong Pagar GRC's annual Tree Planting Day.

Mr Lee began the tradition 40 years ago in his Tanjong Pagar constituency. The event is held on the first Sunday of every November 'before the rainy season sets in', he said.

This year's event was initially planned for Saturday because of Hari Raya Haji yesterday, but 'I protested and said, back to Sunday,' Mr Lee said.

Yesterday, he planted a tree commonly known as Bintangor Mintak, marking the first time that the tree, whose new leaves are pink, is being planted in an HDB estate.

Noting that the Yellow Flame tree he planted in December 1971 still stands today, Mr Lee praised the National Parks Board for 'greening up' roadsides and highways all over the island.

He said: 'Imagine what Singapore would be like without this greenery. Just another city of concrete, tarmac and pavements, ghastly to look at and unpleasant to live in.'

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