SINGAPORE: Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said public housing has to keep up with the rising aspirations of Singaporeans and that the facilities and design of older estates should also not fall behind newer ones.
Mr Lee was speaking at a tree planting event at Havelock View on Sunday.
Many residents of Havelock View turned up to welcome Mr Lee Kuan Yew who was there as part of the Tree Planting day celebrations.
Mr Lee said he had taken a special interest in greening Singapore and for which the National Parks Board was set up.
He added that the city’s greenery differentiates Singapore.
"I started this campaign 50 years ago in the 1960s, I saw Hong Kong — concrete and tarmac, no trees, no grass, nothing. I decided we will not be like that. We became different, trees everywhere, opens spaces with grass, children’s playground and a clean and safe environment," Mr Lee said.
Beyond green spaces, public housing in Singapore has also been transformed over the last 40 to 50 years.
Mr Lee said the standard of living has improved and public housing must keep up with rising aspirations.
Older estates have benefited from a range of programmes such as the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) and the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP).
"Everybody owns their own homes and the value of their homes go up as development takes place. Some are unwise enough to sell their homes, thinking they can buy another one, they then find they can’t and have to rent a flat.
"But those who held on to their homes, I’ve seen their property values going up, five times, 10 times, 15 times, 20 times. This was the plan which we had from the very beginning, to give everybody a home at cost or below cost and as development takes place, everybody gets a lift, all boats rise as the tide rises.
"We are investing to bring it up to date and you pay a token sum, the government carries the rest and HDB has been doing a fine job to give you an environment that you have today," Mr Lee shared.
But he said however nice the buildings may be, forging neighbourliness is also important.
"If neighbours don’t cooperate to keep a bond of ownership of the place, it will not succeed."
And where development is concerned, residents of Havelock View have given the thumbs up, based on recent survey results conducted by HDB between July and August this year.
Of the over 250 households surveyed, nine in 10 said they were satisfied with the precinct’s facilities, such as the elderly wellness station and playground. About eight in 10 were also satisfied with the overall flat design and features.
The seven block of flats — blocks 52 to 58 Havelock Road — completed in December last year were built as replacement flats for some residents in Zion Road — of blocks 88 to 92 — under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).
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