Saturday, 19 January 2013

Housing tops concerns in PM Lee's weekly Meet-the-People Sessions

By Jessica Cheam, The Straits Times, 18 Jan 2013

HOUSING was the top concern even as job worries eased among residents who went to Mr Lee Hsien Loong's Meet-the-People Sessions (MPS) last year.

Revealing the statistics of his MPS cases on Facebook yesterday, the Prime Minister said the weekly sessions saw nearly 2,800 residents and over 5,500 letters of appeal were written. Just under half the cases live in Teck Ghee itself, while the rest were from other parts of Ang Mo Kio GRC.

More than a third of cases handled concerned housing, such as buying and selling of flats or requests for rental flats.

"HDB has a tough job, but it is making progress building more BTO (Build-to-Order) flats and shortening waiting times for rental flats," he wrote.

Housing has been a top concern since it emerged as a key issue in the 2011 General Election. Prices of HDB resale flats hit fresh records recently, with estimates of a price rise of 2.5 per cent in the last three months of last year.

The HDB has been responding by keeping prices of new BTO flats stable and ramping up supply. Last week, the Government also announced a fresh round of property cooling measures.

Mr Lee said other common appeals were for financial assistance (14 per cent of cases), immigration matters (12 per cent) and traffic or parking issues (9 per cent). Just 3 per cent came looking for help finding jobs. He said: "Fortunately, we encountered not many requests for help to find jobs, reflecting our low unemployment."

Less than 2 per cent were on medical bills. He added: "I know that people worry a lot about health-care costs and we will continue to monitor them closely."

He also wrote about success stories, posting a picture of resident Koh Chek Heng thanking him after the PM had written to the National University Hospital to help him get a medical report.

"We always seek to give residents a full and sympathetic hearing, and to help them as best as we can. Even if we can't fully solve all their problems, we can often at least lessen them."

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