Blogger Yawning Bread recently wrote an article pointing out the possible inflated claims made in a Straits Times report titled “HDB rents at 10-year high” (21 July 2007 – just in case the link becomes inactive due to archiving, you can download a saved version in Word format). In it, he suggested that the media ought to be more responsible when reporting new records reached in rental rates because it may “fuel more greed among property owners and much despair among tenants”. The major bone of contention he had with the report was the claim that a 3-room HDB flat in Jurong East (public housing some 15 km from the central business district, for the uninitiated) would fetch S$2,500 in monthly rentals.
Even though I have left Singapore for more than two years and may not be in tune with the local rental market, I still find this pretty hard to believe. Just to put things in perspective, I am now staying in a 2-bedroom condominium (equivalent to a 3-room HDB flat because, in Singapore, the living room is counted as one of the rooms) in Makati (the CBD of Metro Manila) and I’m paying less than S$1,400 in rentals per month. On top of the price difference, I get 24-hour security, in-house maintenance, swimming pool, jacuzzi, gym, sauna, the works.
So, $2,500 for a run-down hole-in-the-wall (as Yawning Bread’s own investigation and photos showed) is to me an absurd claim that any self-respecting journalist should find it hard to commit to print. But if you have followed my previous coverage of the compliant mainstream media in Singapore, you will find that this kind of reporting is hardly surprising.