Last of Joo Chiat's HDB blocks to go

Last of Joo Chiat's HDB blocks to go
Mr Lee Tien Hee (above), 82, has lived in an HDB flat in Joo Chiat since 1964, but will move out when the blocks are demolished, making Joo Chiat the first all-private-property constituency in Singapore.

SINGAPORE - Joo Chiat could become the first all-private-property constituency in Singapore when its remaining four Housing Board blocks are demolished under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme.

Its Member of Parliament, Mr Charles Chong, said on Tuesday: "Within the next two or three years, all the four blocks will be resettled and Joo Chiat will be the only constituency where it is 100 per cent private property - condos and landed property - which makes it a bit different from the other constituencies."

The four HDB blocks along East Coast Road are 48 years old and have a total of 129 housing units.

These are home to 1 per cent of the single member constituency's 37,000 residents.

Mr Chong was speaking to journalists about the single member constituency (SMC) ahead of a ministerial visit by Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong on Nov 17.

One of the key challenges Mr Chong faces in Joo Chiat, which he won with 51 per cent of the votes in the 2011 General Election - a margin of 382 votes - is how best to help a growing group of asset-rich, cash-poor retirees in the ward, who are part of the 36 per cent of its population above 50 years old.

They are worried about rising health-care costs, and some have little savings and no income, yet receive little in government help because their property values are too high.

Mr Chong recalled that in 2011, a retired teacher living in a house said he received $100 in GST rebates, while the neighbour's son who owned a car and lived in a four-room HDB flat got close to $1,000.

"He told me, 'He's got a car, I'm a retiree with no job, and they say I am better off than him?'" said Mr Chong.

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