Singapore’s increasing home prices, poor locations and limited choices are becoming nagging issues that will no doubt be highlighted in the upcoming election.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, who is in charge of Singapore’s public housing, is aware that he is in the hot seat.

In an interview with The New Paper, Mr. Mah said that out of 100 people applying for a public flat, 10 to 20 applicants tried several times but were unable to acquire the flats they wanted.

While Mr. Mah admitted that home prices are rising, he attributed this to the booming economy.

“If prices come down, it can mean only one of two things: either we do silly things, we make silly decisions or the economy goes bad, unemployment is high, confidence is down. Then, property prices will surely come down.”

“So we have to be careful what we wish for,” he warned.

He cited this as reason the government is committed to help preserve and add value to public housing by building new infrastructure in estates.

“Because their house is their biggest, most valuable asset. Something that they’re going to live in for a long time and hopefully one day monetise to support their retirement. So we must make sure their flats are preserved in value. That’s why we upgrade, that’s why we put in infrastructure.”

Citing the Tampines estate 30 years ago and today, he said that “with all the infrastructure, with the regional centre, with the MRTs, with the schools, with the malls, facilities — of course, prices have gone up. But is that a bad thing?”

Mr. Mah believed that housing issues will not be the greatest challenge he faces in the upcoming election.

“My biggest challenge is to convince voters we will be able to do a good job for them overall.”

“Housing will be one of the issues that will be raised. The Opposition will raise other issues — cost of living, immigration and so on.”

“They won’t talk about the jobs that have been created, they won’t talk about the economy that has rebounded strongly from the recession, they won’t talk about the houses we’ve built, the upgrading we’ve done.”

“And yes, there are problems but we are doing something about them. House prices have gone up but we’re doing something to moderate it.”