Public Housing in Singapore: Interpreting 'Quality' in the 1990s

Siew Eng Teo, National University of Singapore
Lily Kong, Singapore Management University


While writings exist on various aspects of public housing in Singapore, recent developments in the 1990s have not yet been given any serious academic attention, Our intention in this paper is to focus on such developments, paying particular attention to the government's policy of providing quality housing, After setting the context of efforts at providing quality in the first three decades of public housing by the Housing and Development Board, we turn our attention specifically to the 1990s, focusing on three areas in which attempts are being made to improve quality, namely, the physical upgrading of older estates, the privatisation of HUDC flats, and the invention of new schemes such as the executive condominium concept, In the final section, we argue that, as in earlier decades, such efforts belie a hegemonic intent, essentially to manage Singaporeans' growing aspirations and thus to gain political legitimacy for the government. This we term the 'politics of quality' in public housing. We then discuss briefly some reactions to such attempts at hegemony.