Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Homeless in Singapore

This was published in Straits Times Forum (Web) Letters on 15th July 2017:

Difficult for returning S'porean to get HDB flat

When I decided to come home to Singapore after 26 years abroad, I began my search for long-term accommodation for my husband and me.

Years ago, when I tried to apply for a HDB flat, I was made to understand by a HDB officer that I did not qualify because there was no record of my marriage to my husband (who is a non-citizen) in Singapore. Hence, we put off trying to buy an HDB flat.

Friends suggested that if HDB deems me a single, I should buy a resale flat as a single.

But, the HDB now says I am definitely "married".

While it does allow joint applications with a non-citizen spouse, it is only for a two-room flat.

However, I am told that my husband has to sell his overseas property.

But if we do that, where is our teenage son, who could not come back to Singapore because he was not granted citizenship, going to live?

The only possible solution seems to be to divorce my husband - that is, to regain my single status - just so that I can buy a resale flat, after which I can settle to find work here.

With so many foreigners in Singapore, I am sure I am not the only one in this predicament.

===

The original:

Divorce (verb) to return to Singapore

After more than two infuriating hours at the HDB Hub I came to the conclusion that the only way for this reluctant migrant to return to Singapore permanently (after 26 years abroad) is to divorce her husband.

I cannot afford to work in Singapore until I get a home. Thus I began my search for long-term accommodation for my husband and me.

Years ago an HDB officer told my sister that I could not apply for an HDB flat with my husband because there is no record of my marriage in Singapore.

As such we put off trying to buy an HDB flat.

Friends suggested that if HDB deems me a single, I should buy a resale flat as a single.

HDB now says I am definitely “married”.

HDB does allow joint applications with a non-citizen spouse, which seems a very enlightened step, but only for a two-roomed flat.

However it reverts to the Dark Ages by requiring my husband to sell his overseas property.

Where is our teenage son going to live if we are forced to sell this, his only home?

Our son is not coming with us because he has not been given citizenship. (I am an inferior woman Singaporean married to a foreign man.)

The only possible solution seems to be to divorce my husband (ie regain my single status) just so that I can buy a resale flat, after which I can settle to find work.

With hindsight I did not have to declare my married status, nor that my husband owns an overseas property. But we are honest Christians who don’t know how to lie.

Perhaps it is far easier for me to get a divorce from Singapore.



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