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Some affected Marsiling residents cite financial concerns, smaller size of new flats at HDB dialogue on govt acquisition

SINGAPORE — Mr Tan Chun Heng had just moved into his four-room Marsiling flat with his wife and 21-year-old son two weeks ago, after completing renovation works.

Mr Tan Chun Heng with his wife Kiong May Lee and their son Hugo. The family just moved into their Marsiling Crescent home in the middle of May 2022.

Mr Tan Chun Heng with his wife Kiong May Lee and their son Hugo. The family just moved into their Marsiling Crescent home in the middle of May 2022.

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  • The Housing and Development Board held a dialogue for Marsiling residents affected by the move
  • MP for the area Zaqy Mohamad said some residents have expressed reluctance to move due to financials and other reasons
  • Several residents who spoke to TODAY said that they have formed strong relationships with their neighbours

SINGAPORE — Mr Tan Chun Heng had just moved into his four-room Marsiling flat with his wife and 21-year-old son two weeks ago, after completing renovation works.

So when the news came on Thursday (May 26) that the Government will acquire his flat, which has been fully paid for, and his family will have to move again, he broke down.

The 48-year-old general manager told TODAY on Sunday: "I had a failed business, so I've done Uber and Grab jobs, consultancy jobs, one at a power plant. I finally found a job I liked and worked all the way up to a general manager (position). 

"It took 10 years to get to where I am right now. I don't want to go back to another housing loan, then back to a smaller room and pay for more renovation works." 

Mr Tan had collected the keys to his flat in late March this year and planned for this to be his "final resting place" because he lived in the area as a boy and he likes the size of the flat, which is around 104 square metres. The four-room replacement flat offered would be smaller, at about 90 sqm. 

"Assuming I want to fulfil my family dream of living in a larger space, I would have to opt for a five-room flat, which I have to top up for. I would have to struggle for a few more years," he said. 

Mr Tan is among the flat owners whose flats will be acquired by the Government to redevelop and extend the existing Woodland Checkpoint that borders Malaysia. 

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is holding dialogue sessions with Marsiling residents affected by the move. 

TODAY has reached out to HDB to find out more about what has been discussed and the concerns raised.  

Residents living in blocks 210 to 218 on Marsiling Crescent and Marsiling Lane — which include 732 flats, 53 rental flats, one rental kiosk, six rental shops and one rental eating house — will have until the second quarter of 2028 to move out, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said on Thursday.

HDB will build about 1,100 new replacement flats along Woodlands Street 13 for residents whose flats will be acquired.

The new flats are about a 10-minute walk away from Marsiling MRT Station — compared to the roughly 25-minute walk from the existing Marsiling Crescent and Marsiling Lane flats to the same station.

Speaking to TODAY at Block 213 Marsiling Crescent, where the dialogue sessions were being held, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, said that a majority of residents he spoke to seemed "quite positive" because of the improved accessibility of the new flats and the location.

However, he noted that some have raised concerns about their finances. 

"Some may have just recently purchased (their flats) and, therefore, do have existing loans and then need to weigh the options. Others, for example, do talk about comparing flat sizes but at the same time, they do also see the pluses and minuses," he said. 

He added that the residents with more concerns are those who have existing loans. "Every unit is quite different when it comes to financials because everyone is at different stages of their loan payments... It's a wide spectrum so we really have to get the details." 

Affected flat owners are entitled to several housing benefits, which include compensation based on the market value of their flat at the date of the acquisition and the option to buy a new flat with a fresh 99-year lease at a subsidised price.

They may also receive a grant of up to S$30,000 and take out a housing loan from HDB for the purchase. 

HDB will provide flat owners with a removal allowance, as well as stamp and legal fees, in order to help defray expenses incurred during the shift. 

WANT TO CONTINUE LIVING WITH NEIGHBOURS

Several residents who spoke to TODAY said that they have formed strong relationships with their neighbours, which has made them reluctant to leave come 2028.

Retiree Tan Bi Lan, 63, said: "I don't want to leave my flat because the neighbours are friendly, there is a good breeze and I am very comfortable here. The flat is also big, compared to the place I'd have to shift into." 

She said that she bonded with her next-door neighbours because of a shared interest in gardening and plants.

"I'd have to restart everything again when my family and I move out," she added. 

Mr Zaqy said that although most residents are "pretty okay" with the move, there were a handful of residents who told him that their flats have sentimental value. 

"They find this place somewhere they have lived for a long time and there's a bit of realisation that needs time to set in... it is not so much the package," he added. 

Residents may opt for a flat under HDB's Joint Selection Scheme, which allows them to select flats together with their neighbours if they wish to live near to one another.

Related topics

HDB Marsiling Woodlands Checkpoint property relocate

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