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No plans to evict Pulau Ubin residents

SINGAPORE — Contrary to online speculation and some media reports, the authorities yesterday clarified that “there are no plans to evict the households currently residing on Pulau Ubin or develop an Adventure Park on the island”.

SINGAPORE — Contrary to online speculation and some media reports, the authorities yesterday clarified that “there are no plans to evict the households currently residing on Pulau Ubin or develop an Adventure Park on the island”.

Issuing a joint statement, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) reiterated: “The planning intention is to keep Pulau Ubin in its rustic state for as long as possible as an outdoor playground for Singaporeans. Given this, there is no need for the residents to move out.”

The speculation started after some residents on the island received a notice signed off by an official with the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) Land Clearance Section, which carried the header “Clearance scheme: Clearance of structures previously acquired for development of Adventure Park on Pulau Ubin”.

The authorities clarified that on March 12, the HDB, acting on behalf of the SLA, informed the residents of a census survey in Pulau Ubin. They added that these households had been informed as far back as 1993 that they would be affected by a public development project, which included the development of a recreation park.

“To align with the rustic nature of Pulau Ubin and its planning intention, outdoor adventure elements were included in the recreation park, for example, trails for cycling and hiking, campsites and amenities like shelters and toilets,” the MND and the SLA said.

These facilities were completed in phases between 1994 and 2005.

In a review, the SLA had found that not all 22 households had claimed the resettlement benefits they were entitled to. Hence, the census survey was meant to “re-establish whether these residents were eligible for resettlement benefits and ascertain whether they had the intention to remain or relocate”.

The survey started on April 3 and will be completed by June.

The MND and the SLA said that the affected houses sit on what is now state land, and the households were now residing on state land without the required Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL). If they wish to stay on, they would need to obtain a TOL and pay rent — generally pegged at market rate — to the SLA.

“However, we recognise that some households could face financial hardship if their rent were to be revised immediately to full market rate. Hence, SLA will phase in the rent such that households will only pay full market rate from the sixth year onwards,” the MND and the SLA said.

The MND and the SLA also said they had “met with (the households) on March 23 to explain … the purpose of the exercise and to emphasise that they were not being evicted”.

They were also informed of the available Government assistance and what they needed to do to continue living there.

They added that most of the affected households have contacted the HDB for a site appointment, and the authorities would be in touch with them to see if they require additional assistance.

When TODAY visited some of the affected households at the Malay kampung yesterday, most residents were not at home. The two residents TODAY spoke to said they were unclear about what was going on, and had thought the letter — pasted on the wall outside their homes — was an eviction notice.

Mrs Jariah Binte Garib, 75, said in Malay that she could not understand the notice, which was in English. She added that she has not been approached by any Government official. She also said she believed the land belonged to her, as it was her parents’ home, and added that the HDB had not asked her for the deed yet.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WOO SIAN BOON

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