can I transfer my home to you?

(warning: a long post...but if you persevere, there's a video at the end!)

The chinese word for "home" is 家 (jia1), and the chinese word for "house" is 屋 (wu1). They are clearly different, and folks who confuse the one with the other are heading for trouble! For example, while you may end up trading houses, I should hope you are not into trading homes.


Someone should point out this difference to HDB(Housing Development Board, the agency that develops public housing for over 80% of Singaporeans). On their website, its customers are classified as "home-owners" and "home-seekers".

This "mistake" is intentional.

It's no secret that Singapore's public housing policy is closely tied with our social policy. So for instance, folks who are single and under 35 are not eligible to purchase a HDB flat...lest you get complacent in the search for a mate. Of course, those who are single and over 35 are probably hopelessly unattractive any therefore deserve the consolation of a 100sqm house. For those who do find a mate but somehow come to the difficult and painful decision that a divorce is inevitable, please do so only after 5 years of marriage, otherwise the HDB will come knocking on your door to demand a rapid re-sale of your flat! If you can't keep a home, you certainly don't deserve a house. (*ampulets hope no one ever needs to go through a divorce, but given this fallen world, it happens)

view from J's bedroom window at night - photo by J

The government's reasoning, I guess, is that if all citizens own a piece of property on this island, they would be feel a greater sense of both security and belonging, hence subscribemore readily to national imperatives. Plus, it is important to get citizens to mate and reproduce. So it is beneficial for "the family" to be seen as the social equivalent of a physical property or house, since the latter is so desirable. And once citizens get into house-ownership, they will no doubt have to work the rest of their lives for the mortgage and the many furniture shoppng trips at Ikea.

But contrary to HDB's intent, mixing up "house-ownership" with "home-ownership" cheapens the idea of "home" instead. Because ultimately, a socio-political strategy is not the same as building a home. Without getting too metaphorical, I guess a majority of homes are started by 2 people who are committed to it - over time, they may welcome others to enjoy what they have built, and use it to build up other families, friends, and even strangers who miss and need whatever a home provides. Obviously, building a home is independent and a vastly different process from building and owning a house. The latter is a commodity, and I sure hope the former is not.

All this angst about HDB is because J and I have been trying to navigate the HDB bureacracy for a "home-ownership transfer". This is since J is under 35 and his co-owner had wanted out some 4 years ago, and since J and I plan to live in that flat when we do get married next year (?). So though J and I will eventually meet HDB's home=house equation, our atypical situation means that the application process is a tedious one.

But ok, end of gripe. And as promised...the video!

Remember this post about the flyers/junk mail left by house agents or folks wanting to buy a house that I collected from J's mailbox? I knew then that I would eventually find a use for this happy collection, and sure enough -

Ampulets give you here "My Home" or 买家. It's a 1min video we made one afternoon in Toa Payoh during our August break. The voiceover, for those who don't understand Mandarin, is the text from a few of the flyers I've collected. Hope you'll enjoy it!

To view it here, click on the play/pause button at the bottom left of the screen. If it does not work, click here to view it on


Tym said…

Reminds me of the political videos that Alfian and Nicolas presented at Rojak last week.
Unknown said…
nice video =) u may or may not kill me for this, but it reminds me of the type of videos we watch in primary school. hao gong ming!
ampulets said…
haha, so it's either political video or MOE social studies video? ;P

I wish this HDB issue can be settled as easily as a 1min's proving to be even more of a headache than expected, since there's another party involved (tym: you know lah.) *sigh* Oh well, I did say we are living in a fallen world yah? So J and I are just praying for a right, Godly response we can make to all this (sans blaming the "system").
wahj said…
I must've missed reading this post, but I just want to say YES, I agree with you, absolutely. There's a limit to how you can affect social relations with physical limitations - my own gripe with HDB begins with their classification of 'single mothers' as ineligible for certain flats, for social reasons.

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