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Lim Kim San

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David Tan
Listing created by David Tan on October 18, 2012    

Lim Kim San (30 November 1916 - 20 July 2006) was a Singaporean politician. He was credited for leading the successful public housing program during the early 1960s, which eased the acute housing shortage problem at that time.


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(Updated: September 01, 2013)

Father of public housing?

Mr Lim headed the HDB's early efforts to build quality public housing for citizens who were mostly living in kampongs or slums. I'd rate his efforts as a huge success. By all accounts from my grandparents and parents, purchasing a flat was pretty affordable because back then, there was no such thing as resale flats, BTO (Build to Order), DBSS (Design, Build & Sell Scheme), or the dreaded COV (cash over valuation), all current inventions of subsequent heads of the HDB.

What Mr Lim was successful at was to build enough flats to house the masses. It was not perfect, construction methods were slow. It took a few years to build a block. Designs were kept simple to complement the construction methods and materials available.

Of course, those were enough for the masses back then. If flats were to be built now to spartan specifications of the 60s, nobody would be happy at all with public housing with rising expectations and I am sure that if Mr Lim simply doesn't age, he would work into meeting those expectations.

On that assumption, I believe that while Mr Lim would meet the expectations of the current public into what public housing should be, he would not have turned public housing into an investment piece like what Mah Bow Tan did. He would have kept public housing to be affordable, with prices that more accurately defines the term "affordable" without having any delusions that they are investment pieces.

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