Letter informs Ubin residents of possible resettlement

Poon Chian Hui Straits Times 12 Apr 13;

SOME residents on Pulau Ubin appear to be facing resettlement to make way for a possible adventure park.

They have been sent a letter telling them that their homes are slated for "clearance".

The Housing Board document said officers will visit their premises to conduct a "census survey" and determine their "eligibility of resettlement benefits". It also suggested the houses will be making way for an adventure park on the 1,020 ha boomerang-shaped island, which is home to some of Singapore's last kampungs.

No details were provided but the last time a project like this was mentioned was in 1993. Back then, it was reported that the Government would acquire 254 ha of the private land on Pulau Ubin within the following year, partly to create an adventure park.

Today, about 100 villagers live on the island. They are mainly older folk, some of whom depend on farming and fishing for a living. Others run small businesses, such as bicycle rental shops, to serve the 300,000 visitors who come every year.

The HDB said in the letter that the Singapore Land Authority had sought its assistance to clear the houses. It asked residents to prepare several documents, such as birth certificates, property tax bills or proofs of ownership of their houses.

These should be presented to officers who will visit their premises to conduct the census survey.

Responding to queries, the relevant agencies said they would provide more details at a later date. But affected residents said the exercise started a few months ago.

It is not yet known how many people are affected. HDB's Land Clearance Section officers are also involved in the survey. This department is the principal agency involved in clearing squatters from state land on behalf of the Government and other statutory boards, for public development.

Long-time Ubin resident Chai Tien Soong, 67, said officers came to inspect his house about two months ago and he showed them documents proving that he owns the place.

The driver, who has lived in Pulau Ubin since he was 17, was given approval to continue living in his current premises. But he said people from about five Malay kampungs have been asked to move out, or pay rent. It is understood they were offered compensation.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Chai said: "Everyone is having a headache over this now."

Dismay at Pulau Ubin houses possibly being cleared for development
Eugene Neubronner Today Online 12 Apr 13;
[Comment: shortly after this article came online, the link no longer takes us to the article.]

SINGAPORE - Residents and visitors on Pulau Ubin have reacted with dismay about the possibility of the squatter houses being cleared by the authorities.

It is understood about 10 houses are affected, all along a small stretch of road near Murai Hut on the island.

A letter, dated March 12, has been put up at the door of these houses. It said the Singapore Land Authority had "sought HDB Land Clearance Section’s assistance” to clear the squatter houses. It added that officers would visit the premises to conduct a census survey “for the purpose of determining (the owner’s) eligibility for resettlement benefits”. It’s header suggested that the homes would make way for an adventure park.

A resident, Miss Amidah Awang, who is in her 50s, said she was born on the island and had lived there all of her life. "It's cool, quiet, what food we need we can get from the forest or from fishing... I don't really want to move (to the mainland)."

She added: "If they really ask us to leave, we'll have to go to my sister’s house in Singapore.”

One of the houses affected is being used by cookerymagic.com to conduct Malay cooking classes on weekends there.

Senior Art Director Brice Li, 44, who was visiting the island with some friends from the United States, said he visits the island regularly.

He said that it would “very sad” for the houses to make way. Nevertheless, the silver lining was that wildlife had flourished now that there are fewer people living on the island, he said.

Related links
Eviction of residents at Kampung Melayu, Pulau Ubin: What's happening? from The Lazy Lizard's Tales blog: a compilation of conversation and information shared on social media about this issue.

More about Pulau Ubin on wildsingapore: how to get there and what to see and do.