STRESSING the importance of family ties as the bedrock of a strong society, the Government yesterday rolled out two new initiatives to encourage married children to live with their parents or near them in housing estates.
The first is to strengthen the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS) to give higher ballot chances to married children who apply to live with their parents in a new HDB flat.
The second, known as the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS), allows married couples and their parents to buy a flat with a nearby studio apartment or two-room flat. This allows both parties to be close together while still according each a measure of privacy. (My experiences with my grandparents convinced me that it will be better to stay under the same roof. I always looked for my grandparents to talk at night, so did my siblings – the older one gets, the lesser one sleeps. Also, my grandfather fell down pretty often at night when he weny to the toilet during the last stage of his life. So, since my room is next to his, I followed him to the toilet every night. How could I have done that, if we had stayed in different houses?!)
Announcing these schemes in Parliament yesterday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that many Singaporean families want to live together, or at least near to one another. (I would think that the best solution would be to build more flats with 4 proper bedrooms, with 1 junior master that is specifically for the grandparents. The current EAs do not have 4 proper bedrooms. The last bedroom is very small and impractical. I suspect that many MPs themselves do not stay with their own grandparents. Hence, it took them so long to realize all these.)
‘This forges strong families, besides making a lot of practical sense. Grandparents help to look after their grandchildren… Children set good examples of filial piety. (Yes, I agree with this. Filial piety has to be demonstrated, not just demanded off. My parents set a very good example of that. They demonstrated to me how to be filial. Grandchildren, I think, are gifts to grandparents and vice-versa. Because grandchildren keeps their minds active, and allow them to live healthy for a few more years. Grandparents are gifts to grandchildren because they impart wisdom – this is strongly lacking in the younger generation – whether it is by their actions or their words. That I think, is the main reason why there is this saying: it takes a village to raise a child. My experiences tells me that there is a whole range of wisdom that grandparents impart to their grandchildren. It allows them to see for themselves what happens when one grows old. It showed them why one needs a family around you when one gets old – because it can get very lonely at night. It allows grandchildren to see for themselves that time flies, nobody stays the same forever, everyone will grow old and forgetful and lastly, what it means to be old. Hence, the grandchildren become more focus on their lives, with the intention to build a family, and have kids. There will be better bonds between siblings because all will know that eventually, they may not remember their own siblings, so they should treasure the times that they are still able to recognize each other. They will also understand that they are setting an example for their children so they will automatically demonstrate filial piety to their children. Of course, all these are based on my personal experiences.)
‘These are strong values which we must inculcate,’ he added. (These values have been deteriorating because most couples are not staying with their parents. Their children, hence they did not see for themselves what happens when one grows old. Hence, they became intolerant, and inconsiderate and generally, have no compassion. The same children who became adults, treat their parents exactly the way their parents treat their grandparents. Many think that they are demonstrating filial piety when they bring their parents out for meals, for holidays and buy branded things for their parents. These are just bonuses. What your parents want is to enjoy a meal at home – preferably cooked by you – with you and your children everyday. They also want to be included in all the family activities. And they want to stay with you and your children. I have observed that most problematic families are from those who do not stay with their parents. The government should have consulted the agents since we are the ones who are really on the ground. I have known these issues during the first year that I joined the real estate market. And it took the government so long to discover it.)
Under current MCPS rules, a married couple buying a flat for the first time will have four ballot chances, and a second- timer two chances, if they want to reside with, or within 2km of, their parents.
The new rules, which take effect from this month’s launch of new Build-to-Order (BTO) flats, will see the ballot chances for a first-timer couple increase to six chances and a second-timer three chances, if they live with their parents in their new flat.
The new MGPS was introduced in response to MPs’ suggestions that the HDB build more integrated flats to encourage family bonding.
The scheme was piloted at SkyTerrace@Dawson, where a larger flat was paired with an adjoining studio apartment, allowing extended families to live next to each other.
Mr Khaw said HDB will launch 250 pairs of such flats in various estates this year, starting with the Bedok BTO project in March.
It will launch more if the scheme proves to be popular.
Given that the elderly parents of married children tend to live in mature HDB estates, Mr Khaw said his ministry will build more new BTO flats in these locations so that the young and old can more fully take advantage of the new schemes introduced.
‘This year, there will be BTO launches in Bedok, Kallang, Whampoa and Geylang,’ said the minister.
‘Indeed, 30 per cent of BTO flats to be launched this year will be in mature estates.’
HDB is expected to roll out some 25,000 new flats this year.
Flats in mature estates are normally more sought after, as they come with amenities like schools and shops, and good transport links.
Applicants under the MGPS will have priority over others, as they will have the first dibs on choosing a flat nearby.