10 July 2013

Fate of Pulau Ubin discussed in Parliament

Several Members of Parliament raised the issue of Pulau Ubin. According to news articles today, "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."
See Ivan's blog post for full text

It was Ivan Kwan who first blogged about the notice, and his blog recently won an award.

Here's some highlights of news articles about the parliamentary discussion.

Full articles on wildsingapore news.

Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng asked “Are there plans to recognise Pulau Ubin for its special place that it holds in Singapore?”

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.

Non-Constituency MP Faizah Jamal 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.

Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman and MP for East Coast GRC, which Pulau Ubin falls under, said "Our intention is to keep Pulau Ubin in its rustic state for as long as possible, and as an outdoor playground for Singaporeans." He also 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."

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."

Non-Constituency MP Faizah Jamal shared this on her facebook post
Today in Parliament. Second day of a two- day sitting for this month. The issue of Pulau Ubin came up.

MP Irene Ng and NCMP Lina Chiam asked about HDB's notice to the Ubin residents and the TOL.

Snr Parl Sec for MND Maliki Osman affirmed again what is now public knowledge - that the letter was not communicated well, that the notice is NOT an 'eviction', that rents are to be paid only after the 6th year and even then it will be minimal as a start ( he mentioned the sum of $20), and that there are NO plans to 'develop' Ubin and that it will be kept as rustic as possible.

MP Penny Low and MP Irene Ng's supplementary questions include mooting the idea of recognising Ubin as a 'heritage area'.

My 3 Supplementary Questions to the Snr Parl Sec are - (a) Considering that some of the residents not only do NOT speak or write English, but are in fact illiterate, can we have assurance that in future communications, government officers at the very least personally talk to the villagers, and that such communications, notices etc be in the language and/or dialect that the villagers understand; (b) bearing in mind that there are families like those of Kamariah Abdullah who not only have been living there for 4 generations, they have also played a major and valuable role as educators of heritage and history for local and foreign students and tourists, could the Ministry actively recognise, encourage and support such residents, in their efforts to maintain the 'kampung spirit' that we all seem to say is important; (c) can the Minister give assurance that in planning the future of Ubin as a 'rustic' island, all stakeholders including environment groups AND especially the present residents, be engaged.

Snr Parl Sec Maliki gave his assurance to all of these concerns and said he is personally also interested in the issue as he is the MP for Ubin.

So here's a thought for all of us concerned about Ubin - I would like to initiate an engagement process with Snr Parl Sec Maliki as well as MPs Irene Ng and Penny Low and all stakeholders in some serious discussions asap!

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