Did the PAP mischaracterise the WP’s working paper on lease decay? An English test will answer this question.

did the pap mischaracterise the wp working paper on lease decay an english test will answer this question

Before COVID-19 in 2020, HDB resale prices had been going down, down and down. 

In fact, prices had fallen for six consecutive years. Analysts at that time were divided over whether prices would continue to fall in 2019. 

You can watch the video here: 

Against this backdrop, the Workers’ Party published their Working Paper on lease decay in 2019. 

And it is also against this backdrop that the WP and their housing experts asked if there would be an over-supply of BTOs resulting in a vacancy rate. 

The WP published the working paper 'Counting down to zero: are there alternatives to VERS?' in 2019

How did the WP's working paper do its calculation?

According to the working paper, the resident population grows at approximately 30,000 a year since 2010 and 2011 (see photo above). The paper assumes an average household size of 3.3. Based on this assumption, it calculated that 9,000 new dwelling units are needed annually.  

Hence the Paper asked:

Will the HDB have a vacancy rate problem, compounded by a still steady streams of 16,000 to 17,000 BTO units in the last few years which will continue to increase supply up to 2022

The working paper expected a surplus of new BTOs in the period running up to 2022 based on the rate HDB was building. 

Fast forward to 2023

Fast forward to 2023, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, resale prices have gone up. 

Construction had ceased for many months during the height of the pandemic and resumed slowly due to a manpower crunch because of closed borders and supply chain disruptions. Projects’ completion were delayed. Waiting time increased. More people decided to apply earlier for BTOs because of longer waiting time, pushing demand even higher. 

Despite HDB building more than 17,000 BTOs a year and still, demand exceeds supply

WP forgets their working paper..

With soaring resale prices, the WP grasped the opportunity to take potshot at the Government

In Parliament earlier this year, the Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh said that resale prices have risen because the HDB did not build enough BTO flats to meet demand, even though this “should have been known and calculable notwithstanding COVID-19 related delays”. The ‘sacred cow’ of not building new HDB flats ahead of demand is ‘one that needs to be slaughtered’, he said. 

Mr Singh had completely forgotten that his party’s Working Paper had calculated that only 9,000 BTOs were needed annually. The paper had expressed concerned about an over-supply. 

Mr Singh’s criticism earned him a response from National Development Minister Desmond Lee who reminded him that the WP’s Working Paper had raised concerned of an over-supply and recommended that the number of BTOs built be tapered down. 

The Minister told Mr Singh that the shortage today would be much worse if the government had listened to the WP and tapered down the construction of BTOs


WP claimed 'no time frame attached'

Instead of admitting that they had made a mistake in their prediction, the WP claimed they were misquoted. 

Amazingly, Leon Perea asserted that  while the paper had highlighted a risk of BTO vacancies if the Government continued to build in the same pattern, it did not attach a specific timeframe.

Yet it is clear from this sentence “Will the HDB have a vacancy rate problem, compounded by a still steady stream of 16,000 to 17,000 BTO units in the last few years which will continue to increase supply up to 2022” that a time frame is referenced. 

Leon Perera’s assertion flies in the face of logic and plain English comprehension. Why is he misleading Singaporeans

The WP said they would let the people judge if they were misquoted. Yet interestingly, they did not reproduce the paragraph concerned so that people could read and judge for themselves if a time frame was attached.

In any case, screencaps of the paragraphs in their working paper had been circulating widely in various social media platforms. 


No shame in admitting their mistake. No one could have predicted the pandemic.

At the budget debate this year, DPM Lawrence Wong told the WP that there was no shame in admitting that they were wrong. 

“Let’s all show some humility in this. What happened could not have been predicted and let’s refrain from passing judgment of the benefit of hindsight,” DPM Wong said. 

WP can do no wrong??

Unfortunately, the ego of the WP did not allow them to admit that their prediction of over supply was wrong. They decided to play victims of falsehood. 

Was there any mischaracterisation of the WP working paper? A plain reading of the text shows that a time period was referenced when the paper expressed concerned of an over supply

English Comprehension Test. Try it.


Q1. Based on the working paper, how many new dwelling units are needed annually?

  1. 16,000
  2. 17,000
  3. 9,000
  4. Not specified

Q2. How is the number of new dwelling units calculated?

  1. Based on resident population growth and average household size
  2. Random calculation
  3. Not explained. 
  4. I don’t know.

“Completions within the same period have far exceeded the resident population growth.” (1st paragraph) 

Q3. This sentence implies that supply exceeds demand.

True or false?

Q4. ‘the same period’ in this sentence refers to

  1. time period is unclear
  2. the period from 2010/2011 to the time the paper was published

Q5. Paragraph 1 expresses a concern that there could be a vacancy rate problem if HDB continues to increase supply up to 2022. 

True or false?

Q6. Paragraph 1 is understood with referenced to a time frame.

True or false?

Refer to the 2nd paragraph to answer Q7 – Q9. 

Q7. The second paragraph gives a recommendation on how demand from new family formation (9000) can be met. 

True or false?

Q8. The 2nd paragraph suggests that demand from new family formation can be met not by creating new towns but from the balance of old flats that the government should buy under the WP’s USB (Universal Sale and Lease Back scheme). 

True or false?

Q9. ‘rather than creating many new towns’ implies the number of new BTO launches should be reduced. 

True or false?

There, you have it. There is no mischaracterisation of the WP working paper by the PAP


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