Would you pay 60 per cent tax just to buy an apartment in a city which is already the most expensive in the world (“Singapore doubles foreigner property tax”, Report, April 28)? Economists sometimes may find it difficult to explain demand and supply.

Thirty years ago a newly Nasdaq-listed furniture king could still afford to buy a good piece of land in Singapore island’s posh residential area to build a grand mansion. Ten years ago a monthly apartment rental at Dalvey Estate, next to the quiet and lush green Botanic Gardens, could cost no more than S$6,000 — nowadays barely enough to rent a humble 80 sq metre flat in the Woodlands, a stone’s throw from the neighbouring Malaysian state of Johor.

Maybe a Japanese animation can explain the phenomenon of Singapore, once called Temasek — “a thriving sea city” in South East Asia. The richest people in Asia, especially from Greater China, have been attracted there, but are now like a giant squeezing into a tiny little bottle. Eventually the property-hungry giant will find more comfortable accommodations across the Causeway in Malaysia.

In the meantime it is not too late for the city state to build more houses to allow the locals to enjoy some extra income as landlords.

Khaw Wei Kang

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