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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

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Unsettled over re-settlement

I am getting all confused reading the Pulau Ubin reports. So the Singapore Land Authority doesn’t want to evict the residents; it just wants to give them some resettlement money – whether they stay or go and then start getting them to pay rent. By year six, the rents would be “market rates’’.

You can’t fault any of the residents for feeling unsettled. What would you think if you received a circular that states: “Clearance scheme: Clearance of structures previously acquired for development of Adventure Park on Pulau Ubin”. Seems clear to me.

Yet SLA sees no need to say sorry for throwing people into a state of panic. Never mind that. So how did this “clearance’’ notice come about? Get this…it’s some 20 year old legacy, how the G had then wanted to acquire land for a recreation park, 254ha of private land, according to the ST report, and residents affected were told they would get resettlement benefits whether they moved or not.

Now, if I get this right, some people moved out from private land to state land on the island, took that resettlement money and applied for Temporary Occupation Licence. Presumably they started paying rent. Yes? No? Or maybe they moved straight from island to mainland.
But some people didn’t move at all (maybe because their homes didn’t make way for “recreation’’), and didn’t apply for TOL. This means those people, 22 of them, are now really squatting on state land and should really be paying rent.

Somewhere along that 20-year period, somebody discovered the anomaly and now wants to correct this – in a ham-fisted manner.
So despite the SLA’s planning intention: “to keep Pulau Ubin in its rustic state for as long as possible as an outdoor playground for Singaporeans’’, some bureaucrat referred to some very old correspondence or meeting minutes and still thought an Adventure Park was going to be built.

Given the unsettled state of Ubin, it might be time for the SLA to tell all about Pulau Ubin, because people don’t quite trust what it says about preserving its “rustic nature’’. It is also very easy for laments to start about the destruction of the last kampong in Singapore. Look at how the MSM is going on about how people love their kampong homes and the online angst about supposed impending destruction… Also, it was reported that the resettlement money is $10,000! I wonder how those rents would be scaled over six years – would $10,000 cover that?

Perhaps the SLA should tell us more about its planning intentions and how these had changed since 1993. For good measure, it might want to say how many residents had moved to other parts of the island, or to the mainland. Perhaps, after its census in June?

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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