Residents come and go in ECP 'kampung'

MyPaper AsiaOne 10 Oct 16;

More than 50 homeless people live in tents that line the beach at East Coast Park.

Some tents were dismantled and the occupants moved out.

But new ones would move in, pitch their own tents and "squat" in them for as long as they need to.

And so the unlicensed tented community at a secluded part in Area D of East Coast Park, which popped up years ago and has shaped up to look like a "kampung" now, continues to exist.

It is where anyone without a home might come and set up their abodes among others.

Many living in the so-called "Tent Kampung" are new faces, who claimed they had moved in only recently, according to Shin Min Daily News.

A cleaner, who did not want to be identified, said she moved into the "kampung" after returning from Tianjin, her home for five years with her Chinese husband whom she had divorced.

She told the Chinese evening daily that she had fallen out with her family since coming home and did not like living in a rented house with others.

"Now I live here with a male friend.

"We have a quiet life, we keep the surroundings clean, and we do not create trouble," she said.

A man in his 60s said he is living now in the "kampung" with his wife as he is out of a job after injuring himself at work.

"If I am allotted a flat, I will immediately move in," added Mr Chen.

A man, who gave his name as Muhammad Ahmad Rahman and claimed to be the unofficial "penghulu" (village head), said the place consisted of more than a dozen families.

"We're all forced by different circumstances to come here. The tents are our home so please don't take picture," the 29-year-old told Shin Min.

"We commit no crime and rely on ourselves. Sometimes, an MP or volunteers from some family centres will come visit us," he added.

The "penghulu" noted that he did not like living in a welfare home as his freedom would be restricted.

But he admitted he had been issued tickets for "illegal camping in public" by the authorities many times.

Mr Muhammad said he spent only $100 to set up his "home", the purchases being the canvas, the tent rods, a chair and some drawers.

He revealed that he had been without a stable home for 11 years and is alone as his parents had died and his siblings were married.

Shin Min observed that all the homes there look self-sufficient, all containing essential items such as mattress, blanket, kitchen utensils and drying rack.

Some families even partitioned their homes into sleeping and living quarters.

But none has children, it noted.

The "kampung" is situated near a public toilet where the occupants could go to and have their daily baths.

According to the National Parks Board, camping without a permit in public parks is liable to a fine of up to $2,000.

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