YD to SLA: Withdraw “mischievous” and “irresponsible” allegation

August 10, 2013
Singapore Democrats

This post is at least a year old. Some of the links in this post may no longer work correctly.

Singapore Democrats

We are glad that the SLA acknowledgesthe facts and data presented in our reply. However, the latest SLAresponse to my statement insists that there is no intention to evictPulau Ubin residents. If, indeed, there is no such intention, thenwhy the need to assess their eligibility for resettlement benefits?$CUT$

We note that the SLA has used the termresettlement “benefits” rather than “entitlements” and thesebenefits are offered on an ex-gratia basis. Taken together, it isclear that the SLA’s original intention was to evict the residents atPulau Ubin even though it denies this.

Whatever the original motivation, theSLA appears to have subsequently changed its stance after theresidents objected and issued a “clarification”on 17 April 2013stating that Pulau Ubin residents would not be evicted.

This statement was, however, heavilyqualified. Close reading of the statement shows that the SLA had noplans too evict the residents but only in the “foreseeable future”and that the present situation on the island would remain only “foras long as possible.” In other words, the residents are only giventemporary relief.

This brings me to the crux of the YD’scase: The residents are anxious and upset that they have not beengiven assurance that they can build their lives on the island inwhich they and their ancestors were born and grew up. How can they dothis when they are not given concrete assurances but only vaguetimelines like “foreseeable future” and “as long as possible”?

Such frustration obviously stillrankles the residents who expressed their views to us when we visitedthem a few weeks ago and this was what my colleagues and I reported.But instead of acknowledging that the matter is far from beingresolved, the SLA tries to paint the picture that the residents arenow happy and that the YD was “mischievous and irresponsible” inour report.

Even though the SLA said that it hadvisited the residents to explain to them that there were no evictionplans, it is obvious that the residents are still unhappy andanxious.

The SLA says: “We are thereforepuzzled as to why Mr Zeng insists on making reference to this letterand causing anxiety for the residents.” The cause for theresidents’ anxiety does not stem from our visit to the island but theSLA’s letter which leaves them in limbo.

It is obvious to anyone that if theresidents were assured by the SLA that they would be able to continuetheir lives without such uncertainty, they would not be anxious –regardless of whoever visits them.

This matter can easily be resolved bythe Government writing to the residents in English, Chinese, Malayand Tamil, and assuring them without qualification that they canstay in their homes for as long as they wish and that Pulau Ubin willbe designated a national heritage site with no plans for urbandevelopment.

As for the matter of rent, theGovernment may not feel that what it is charging the residents ishigh. The SLA has stated that it will charge affected residents a TOLfee of up to $205 per month over a period of six years.

This may not seem much to high-incomeearners but given the financial situation of many of the residents ofthe island, a rental of even $100 is unaffordable for many.

Based on the above, we, therefore, callon the SLA to:

  • write a second letter to the residents unambiguously assuring them continued stay on the island (if the SLA has already written a second letter, then it should make it public),
  • declare Pulau Ubin a national heritage site whose present state should be preserved,
  • publish the rent charged for each house on the island, including how TOL fees are calculated and the p.s.f. rental,
  • retract the childish name-calling of the YD as “mischievous and irresponsible”.

Clarence Zeng
Young Democrats
Singapore Democratic Party