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The Young Democrats (YD) set out on a trip to Pulau Ubin in May this year to look into the concerns of the residents there following media reports about the development of an adventure park on the island.
Riding rented bicycles, the YDs visited Kampong Jelutong where they met Mr Chua Bing Qing (
蔡炳庆) who has been living on the island for 50 years since he was 7 years old.
Mr Chua had worked for a construction company. He now earns his keep by selling aluminium drink cans.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) had approached Mr Chua in 2009 to evict from the island but found out that the house he lives in belonged to his mother. The URA later decided to charge him rent for the use of the land.
The YDs also met Madam Samiyah at Kampong Chek Jawa. Madam Samiyah’s relatives manage a charming alfresco fresh coconut juice store. She was evicted from her house 15 years ago because her area was slated for land reclamation.
Her property comprised ten acres of land. But Madam Samiyah said she did not back down; she engaged a lawyer and lodged a case against the Government.
She was eventually paid $400,000 for the sale of her land. She now lives in Bedok, working as a cleaner and visits her relatives on the island.
Another resident, Mr Lim Cho Tee, said that he had received numerous notices from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) which were posted on his door, demanding rent payment.
Mr Lim has been paying $473 per month in rent which does not include the electricity and water costs, which he gets from a diesel generator and wells respectively.
The Government seems to be trying to play down the eviction of the residents. By charging Ubin inhabitants high land rent, the Government’s objective seems to get these Singaporeans out of the island. Newspaper reports of the low rent that the Government charges are not accurate.
Like the Bukit Brown Cemetery which is slated to make way for an expressway, the building of an adventure park on Pulau Ubin is another project that seems to be catering for the 6.9 million population that the Government is pushing for.
Such urbanisation of Ubin adversely impacts the ecology of the island and adds to climate change. This is the reason why the YDs have decided to look into urbanisation issues faced by the inhabitants of Ubin.
Even if the development of the island is justified, there is also the issue of proper compensation for the displaced residents.