08 January 2009

Finding out plans for reclamation and coastal development

How active a citizen must an ordinary Singaporean be? To keep up with reclamation and other planned developments on our shores?

Here's what I found out.

We know that the President has to approve lease and reclamation of shores (foreshores and the seabed). And that the President's approval has to be gazetted.

Well, we can check the Current Notices on the online version of the Singapore Government Gazette for free.

There are no RSS feeds from this site so we have to actually check the site. And we have to do it regularly because if we want to search the archives, we will have to pay $2,597.08 per year for one viewing account.

This doesn't even consider yet that in the free Current Notices, we will have to plough through lots of other notices. To pick out the ones on land development from others about appointments, senior government officials on leave, road works, bankruptcies and a myriad other matters.

Say we find something intriguing, what happens next?

Like today, three notices (dated tomorrow 9 Jan 09) about the President declaring the leasing of foreshores and seabeds.

Notice no. 30: For 30 years to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (with effect from 1st April 2000) at Lot 3985M Mukim No. 6, "containing an approximate area of 3392 square metres".

Notice no. 32: For 25 years to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (with effect from 1st April 2000) at Lot 5229W Mukim No. 13, "containing an area of 3,149.5 square metres".

Notice no. 33: For about 60 years to Jurong Town Corporation (the notice was more precise "59 years, 3 months and 20 days with effect from 11th June 2008"), at Lot 2598L Mukim No. 34, "containing an approximate area of 620 square metres".

I got a question about why these declarations are back-dated, some for many years. But moving right along...

Before these declarations were made, there were earlier notices gazetted in Nov 08 with the purpose of calling for public objections to such plans. At least that's my interpretation of this paragraph in all the three declarations:
"AND WHEREAS pursuant to the provision of section 9(3) of the said Act the substance of the abovementioned lease with a sufficient description of the property intended to be demised together with a notice calling upon all persons having objections to the making of such abovementioned lease to send in their objections to the Minister for Law before the expiration of three weeks as from the date of the publication of the said notice ... in the Gazette..."
So we DID have a chance to say something about these plans (IF we spotted the earlier notice).

But WHERE are these affected areas? How do we translate "Lot and Mukim"?

From the SLA website,
Singapore including its smaller islands is divided into 64 survey districts known as Mukim or Town Subdivision. There are 34 Mukim survey districts and 30 Town Subdivisions survey districts. A "Mukim" is a district in the rural area whereas "Town Subdivision (TS) is in the city area. Each Survey District is further subdivided into smaller land parcels known as "Lots". Each "Lot" is assigned a number by the Chief Surveyor. The Registry's records are based on the Survey District and lot numbers

How to make a computerised search under STARS:

To access STARS, you can either
  • Sign up as a subscriber with Crimsonlogic and get the information online using your PC; or
  • Go to the service centres set up by Crimsonlogic to get the printouts. The service centres are located at Bugis Junction, Apollo Centre and the Registry, Supreme Court.
Most of the Registry's records are computerised. However, if the property you are interested in is not available online, then you must call at the Registry at 26th storey, Temasek Tower to conduct a manual search.

You will need to buy a search ticket from the auto-cashier machine. You should then fill in the Request Form available at the counter with the Title volume and folio numbers or the registration number of the document requested and submit it to the Counter Officer.
From the STARS site
Whole Land Register: $0.30 per minute/$15.75 per search
Estate & Land Description: $0.30 per minute/$4.70 per search
Particulars Of Proprietor: $0.30 per minute/$5.80 per search
Other Details of Land Register: $0.30 per minute/$11.05 per search
per minute is the time charge, per search is the info record charge
Thus it seems quite a challenge for ordinary people to find out about plans for our shores.

I'm not to sure what the purpose of the Gazette is, but if it is meant to inform citizens and engage citizens, it would probably be better if

(a) The online Singapore Government Gazette is free including the archives.

(b) The online Singapore Government Gazette has an RSS feed by subject matter so that active citizens can keep track of issues of interest to them.

(c) Where 'Lot and Mukim' are referred to in the Singapore Government Gazette, a diagram map of the location (like those found in a standard street directory) should be included so that active citizens don't have to spend time or money to find out where these locations are.

The online Singapore Government Gazette seems to be run by a company (SNP Security Printing and SNP Corporation) and it has no feedback channel.

It's been a long day, I give up here. For now.

Since the recent notices will soon disappear into archives, here's a screen shot of one of the gazetted declarations by the President. There are no maps attached to the notice.

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