11 April 2013

Ubin villagers being evicted for development of "Adventure Park"?

Ivan Kwan has consolidated conversations and information shared on social media about how some villagers at Pulau Ubin were being served with notice of eviction, with a photo of one of these letters.
See Ivan's blog post for full text
Ivan shares more on his blog post and asks: What is this so-called Adventure Park all about? How much land will it cover? What will be constructed? When will construction begin? And is there some way to build the Park without affecting the villagers, say for example, by incorporating the villagers as part of the Park?

Read Ivan's post on the Lazy Lizard's Tails blog for all the details.

One of the villagers who was served with the eviction notice is Kamariah. She is renowned for hosting awesome events at her Ubin home that give ordinary people a taste of kampung life. Get a glimpse of these events on Ubin Kampung FaceBook
Photos from Kamariah's Ubin Kampung
Updates 12 Apr

Ivan blogged again, seeking views and comments on the question: "Why care about places like Ubin when you can still get the kampung experience in Malaysia?" Please leave your thoughts on his blog.

And the Straits Times carried the following article:

Letter informs Ubin residents of possible resettlement
Poon Chian Hui Straits Times 12 Apr 13; also on wildsingapore news
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."

There was also an article posted on Today Online which eventually disappeared, but not before it was captured on wildsingapore news

Update 13 Apr

The media carried articles about a joint statement by the Ministry of National Development and Singapore Land Authority on the issue with the main message that "there are no plans to evict the households currently residing on Pulau Ubin or develop an Adventure Park on the island. The planning intention is to keep Pulau Ubin in its rustic state for as long as possible as an outdoor playground for Singaporeans."

These media articles are consolidated on wildsingapore news.

Nevertheless, there remains some confusion and doubts which have been highlighted in Ivan Kwan's latest blog post Pulau Ubin: Explanation, and Final Remarks that consolidates the kerfuffle which generated lots of conversation and even resulted in an online petition, leading to the final official clarification. Ivan says "I am glad that there is finally some explanation, and even happier that it was not the worst-case scenario that many of us had feared. Still, in light of all this information, there are some points to be made."

Update 17 Apr

The media carried articles about a joint statement by the Singapore Land Authority and the Housing Development Board that Ubin residents who have to pay rent from now will pay an estimated $6 to $35 per month in the first year, with 90 per cent paying less than $20 a month. This rent, which is subsidised, will be increased to the market rent gradually over five years to assist the residents. From the sixth year onwards, the residents are expected to pay between $31 and $205 per month, with 90 per cent paying less than $120 monthly.

"We acknowledge that the notification could have been more carefully worded and the language updated to reflect the eventual development. We apologise for the anxiety caused to the residents involved," said the SLA and HDB. They also reiterated in their latest statement that the residents would not be evicted, and that Pulau Ubin would be kept in its rustic state "for as long as possible, to serve as an outdoor playground for Singaporeans".

These media articles are consolidated on wildsingapore news.

In addition there were several commentaries on the issue which raised interesting and important ideas:
While the goverment responded to online comments to the issue.
More media articles about Pulau Ubin on wildsingapore news.

Update 22 Apr

Tan Sijie shares on Facebook, details of how Ubin villagers are coping with HDB/SLA issue. Based on his Ubin visit on 21 Apr, spending 5 hours chatting with 3 villagers.

The incident had indeed caused confusion and distress. It also made me realise that we should not take Ubin for granted. Appreciate Pulau Ubin before it's lost!
From a tranquil trip savouring Ubin recently.
More about Pulau Ubin on wildsingapore: how to get there and what to see and do.

Upcoming walks and events at Pulau Ubin on wildsingapore happenings.

More media articles about Pulau Ubin on wildsingapore news.

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