Government has no plans to develop Pulau Ubin

Amanda Lee Today Online 10 Jul 13;

SINGAPORE — Several Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday urged the Government to preserve iconic kampung buildings on Pulau Ubin, with one suggesting that the island could be gazetted as a place of cultural significance for the Republic.

Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC) MP Penny Low, who mooted the idea, said some resources could be set aside so that buildings, such as the old kampung houses on the island, would not be “too run-down” in the future. “After this generation of home owners, I don’t think there will be a next generation staying there,” she said.

Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng sought the authorities’ assurance that Pulau Ubin could be kept in its rustic state “for as long as possible”, as she noted the changes in Singapore’s city scape with rapid urbanisation.

“Are there plans to recognise Pulau Ubin for its special place that it holds in Singapore?” she asked.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary (National Development) Maliki Osman assured the House that these suggestions would be studied by the various agencies, while keeping Ubin in its current rustic state.

The island was in the spotlight recently, after the authorities apologised for the poorly-worded notice that led many to believe that the residents were facing eviction. This led to MPs seeking clarification about development plans for the island and how they would affect the residents.

Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam asked if the Government would consider developing part of Ubin into a retirement village, with medical facilities and land set aside for farming so the elderly can retire on the island.

In response, Dr Maliki said there are issues associated with the idea. “We also want our retirees to actually age in place rather than go into an island. We want them to be part of the larger community because I think that’s where the social support ought to be made available also for our retirees,” he said. “For now, we are quite clear. We want to leave Ubin the way it is, for as long as we can.” Amanda Lee

Pulau Ubin to remain a rustic getaway: Maliki
Processes set up to avoid repeat of notice that upset residents in April
Poon Chian Hui Straits Times 10 Jul 13;

PULAU Ubin, a popular weekend getaway for Singaporeans and home to families who have lived there for decades, will be kept in its current state for as long as possible.

There are currently no development plans for the island, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman reassured the House.

"Our intention is to keep Pulau Ubin in its rustic state for as long as possible, and as an outdoor playground for Singaporeans," he said in his reply to Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) and Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam.

They had tabled questions after a scare in April, when 22 households on the north-eastern island received what they thought was an eviction notice.

Dr Maliki, an MP for East Coast GRC, which Pulau Ubin falls under, admitted that communication to households on the island could have been better.

The notice, which was issued in March, caused much worry because its subject topic read "Clearance Scheme: Clearance of Structures Previously Acquired for Development of Adventure Park on Pulau Ubin".

The families thought their homes were slated for "clearance".

But, Dr Maliki said, it was to inform residents of a census survey to determine how much resettlement benefits they are entitled to and the amount of rent they need to pay.

This is because the land that their houses occupy had been acquired by the Government in 1987 and 1993.

To continue living where they are, residents will in the near future have to pay for a Temporary Occupation Licence, which is the equivalent of rent.

Most households will pay less than $20 a month in the first year. This will go up to less than $120 a month in the sixth year.

Several MPs voiced concern over the misunderstanding. Nominated MP Faizah Jamal asked that in future such information be given to the residents in a language or dialect that they understand.

"Some of them have never been to school. This letter was in English and naturally they were concerned," she said.

Agreeing, Ms Ng asked how such a misleading notice could have been sent out in the first place. "Is there a process and system in place to vet important notices that go out to residents, especially those which are potentially sensitive and distressing?"

Replying, Dr Maliki said processes have been rectified to prevent similar incidents.

While the MPs welcomed the assurance that Pulau Ubin's rustic character would be maintained, they also put forward ideas to better preserve the cultural heritage of the 1,020ha island.

Ms Penny Low (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) said it might be "worthy" to gazette the place as a cultural heritage site. She suggested the Government help residents upkeep their old kampung houses.

Ms Faizah cited a resident who had put in effort to maintain her kampung house, which is open to visitors keen to learn more about village life there.

Madam Kamariah Abdullah, 54, had previously told The Straits Times she was worried she could not afford the rent. Dr Maliki replied he was open to further discussion on how to help her.

He, however, would prefer not to turn the island into a tourist attraction. "I don't like to see it as a tourist destination but as a destination for Singaporeans to experience what rustic life is about."

No plans for retirement village in Pulau Ubin: Maliki Osman
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 9 Jul 13;

SINGAPORE: The government is not considering developing a retirement village at Pulau Ubin.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Maliki Osman said this in Parliament on Tuesday, in response to a suggestion made by Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam.

There is currently no development plan for Pulau Ubin and the goverment's intention is to keep the island in its rustic state for as long as possible.

On the suggestion of a retirement village, Dr Maliki said there will be issues to consider when putting the elderly on an island.

For example, services and infrastructure need to be put in place.

Dr Maliki said: "There are other alternatives for our retirees to age in place. We also want our retirees to age in place, rather than go to an island. We want them to be part of a larger community because that's where the social support ought to be made available also for our retirees."

- CNA/xq

Ubin to be kept in rustic state
Adrian Lim My Paper 10 Jul 13;

The Government has no plans to develop Pulau Ubin and intends to keep the island in its rustic state for as long as possible, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman yesterday.

Dr Maliki, who is a Member of Parliament (MP) for East Coast GRC, which covers Pulau Ubin, added : "I don't like to see (Pulau Ubin) as a tourist destination, but...as a destination for Singaporeans to...experience what rustic life is about."

Replying to questions posed, he clarified that letters sent by the authorities in March to the 22 households on the island were not eviction notices.

Instead, the letters were to notify them of a census survey to determine their eligibility for resettlement benefits from land-acquisition exercises in 1987 and 1993.

The letters had caused some anxiety among 100 Ubin residents who believed they faced resettlement, earlier reports said. These letters were also circulated online.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Ministry of National Development later clarified in a statement that the notice letters made reference to the "past planning intent", which was originally described in 1993 as the development of an adventure park.

Dr Maliki said yesterday that both the SLA and the Housing Board have acknowledged that the letter could have been more carefully worded, and the language updated to reflect the eventual development on Ubin.

He said: "They had already apologised for the anxiety caused."

Ubin residents can also continue to remain on state land by paying a Temporary Occupation Licence fee, which will be phased in over five years. Most households will need to pay only less than $20 a month in the first year, and less than $120 a month in the sixth year. For those who have difficulties paying the rent, Dr Maliki said SLA will facilitate an assessment for them to receive financial assistance.

Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam asked if a part of Pulau Ubin could be developed into a "retiree village" with medical facilities and space for farming and growing flowers.

In reply, Dr Maliki said the suggestion was "quite a different proposition", adding that there would be issues such as costs, and putting in infrastructure and services to support an elderly community there.

He said: "It's a proposition worth considering later on, if it does (have) merit.

"We want our retirees to age in place, rather than go to an island... (so they can) be part of the larger community where the social support ought to be made available."

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