Census survey or eviction letter – let the people judge

Singapore Democrats

TheFacebookpost from SLA has said that the Young Democrats’ (YD) report ofour visit with the residents at Pulau Ubin is “mischievous andirresponsible”. We disagree. Ourreport is based on oral interviews with the residents and thedocuments they presented to us.$CUT$

In Mr Chua BingQing’s case, despite the SLA’s denial that it was not an evictionletter but only a “census survey”, we note that the letter fromHDB dated 12 March 2013 was titled “Clearance scheme: Clearance ofstructures previously acquired for development of adventure park inPulau Ubin.”

The letter goes onto say that

Click for Larger ImageSLA has sought HDB Land Clearance Section (LCS)’s assistance to clearthe above squatter house. In connection with the clearance, officersfrom LCS/SLA will visit your premises to conduct a census survey forthe purpose of determining your eligibility for resettlementbenefits. (emphasis added)

The letter adds:”Please note that the resettlement benefits offered is strictlyex-gratia (‘by favour’ or ‘no obligation’).”

Wethink that this letter (click on photo to enlarge letter) determines clearly if it was simply a “census survey” or eviction notice. Readers can judge for themselves.

TheSLA subsequently issued a clarificationon 17 April 2013, stating that there was no plan to evict theresidents – “in the foreseeable future.”

As for MadamSamiyah’s case, the information about the lawsuit came from her.While Madam Samiyah may or may not be the owner of theland title deed, she told us that she was a resident on the island and the land she was living on was acquired.

Please Click For Larger ImageIn thecase of Mr Lim Cho Tee, we reported that the SLA charged him amonthly rent, or Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) fee, of $473. Hetold us that the SLA was demanding rent. The SLA says that it is “untrue” that it was demanding rent payment.

But the renewal notice
(click on photo to enlarge letter) sent to the Lim family states: “Please note that itis an offence for anyone to occupy or use State land/property withouta valid TOL.” Whether such a notice constitutes a “demand” is for Mr Lim toexpress and others to judge.

The SLA alsosays, in its 17 April statement, that

The TOL fee is determined based on the gross area and land areaoccupied. To assist the residents, the TOL fees will be phased inover five years. This means households will only have to pay the fullTOL fee in the sixth year. The estimated fees during the first yearwill range between $6 per month and $35 per month, with 90 per centpaying less than $20 per month. From the sixth year, the TOL feeswill range between $31and $205 per month, with 90 per cent payingless than $120 per month.

The renewalletter that Mr Lim showed us clearly states that the TOL charge is$473. Even if we assume that 2013 is the sixth year of the scheme(which we very much doubt), the amount should only be between$31 and $205 per month. Why the big difference?

Our fear is that the Government is charging high rents to compel the residents to give uptheir land. Coupled with the contention that theresettlement benefits will be offered on an ex-gratia basis – meaning that the quantum is left entirely to the Government – the YD isconcerned that families in Pulau Ubin will not be properlycompensated.

We appreciate theSLA’s clarifications but we stand by our article. The SLA should stickto presenting facts and logical argument, not indulge inname-calling.

We note that theSLA says in its statement the “planning intention is to keepPulau Ubin in its rustic state” but ominously and ambiguouslyadds: “for as long as possible.”

The YD’s stand isthat Pulau Ubin must retain its rustic ‘kampung’ feel forposterity – not just “for as long as possible.” Theisland is one of Singapore’s last hold-outs of our historical past.

We have demolishedand rebuilt almost everything there is to demolish and rebuild on ourtiny island all in the rush to make way for a 6.9 million population.And we continue to do so with places like Bukit Brown. We have alsoobserved the transformation of a once beautiful and tranquil islandcalled Pulau Belakang Mati into a casino.

We should pause andrecognise that Pulau Ubin’s charm and history must be retained beforeit is too late.

Clarence Zeng
For and on behalf of the YoungDemocrats
Singapore Democratic Party

For the Chinese text, please read: 人口普查还是驱逐信 – 就让人民评判吧!

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