Budget 2020, Committee of Supply Debates, Ministry of National Development, 4 March 2020
Committee of Supply 2020 Debate, Day 4: Anthea Ong on overcrowding in public rental flats
It's not healthy for five or six people to share a single bedroom flat. This concern with the problem of overcrowding…
Mr Chairman, HDB has an occupancy cap for renting out flats and commercial property: a maximum of 6 occupants in 4- and 3-bedroom HDB flats, and 4 occupants in any smaller flats.
These standards do not apply to the Public Rental Scheme. Under this scheme, only 1 or 2-bedroom flats are available. 2-bedroom flats are available only to families of 3 or more, with some income. If a family is not earning any income, they are only eligible for a 1-bedroom flat, regardless of the number of family members in that family. This results in families of 5 or 6 squeezing into a 1-bedroom flat, or even families of more than 10 in 2-bedroom flats.
Research demonstrates that overcrowding has a deep and adverse impact on both adults and children. There are significant associations between the number of persons per room and an index of psychological health. Family ties erode: the parent’s authority over the child diminishes as they are unable to accomodate the child’s needs. Adult family members prefer to stay outside the home till late. Conflict occurs more frequently in the home. Children do not have enough space to play, rest, and study, which directly impacts their academic performance and overall development.
In light of the above, I have 3 specific question for the Minister:
- What is the reason for there not being an occupancy cap for homes under the Public Rental Scheme?
- How is the act of placing children in 1- or 2- room HDB flats with 3–10 other people in line with Singapore’s obligation to primarily consider the best interests of the child under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?
- Will the Ministry consider allocating 3-room flats and above to families of 5 and over under the Public Rental Scheme?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)
The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and climate change in Parliament.
She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).
Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at www.facebook.com/antheaonglaytheng