Gov’t slams blogger over ‘misleading’ Pulau Ubin article

azliah
SingaporeScene

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has criticised a blogger's post regarding the recent developments happening among Pulau Ubin residents as "inaccurate" and some of its facts “misleading”.

In his article entitled, “Pulau Ubin: Rent will increase at 35% p.a.?” published Thursday on news site The Online Citizen, economist and statistician Leong Sze Hian said the government had forgotten to compensate residents for 20 years since the state’s development plans on the island began in 1993.

But in a statement to Yahoo! Singapore on Friday, SLA slammed this as “false” and explained that those who did not receive compensation were tenants and their owners have been renting out the properties since 1993. Therefore, these tenants are “not entitled to compensation from the government”.

However, SLA also stated that resettlement benefits were still provided to these tenants on an “ex-gratia basis” in terms of “money” and “priority for HDB flats”.

In the same article, Leong highlighted the 5-year increase in rent for Pulau Ubin residents and regarded the annual increase of 35 per cent per annum as too much, describing this as a “whopping” rate.

SLA said this was “highly misleading” as Leong had “ignored” the fact that the government" did not charge any rental in 1993 and for 20 years the tenants have been enjoying that”. The SLA statement added that “even now the Government has chosen to phase in the rentals over five years to mitigate the impact on the residents”.

The SLA also said the writer's formula in calculating the rent Pulau Ubin residents could have paid in 1993 as “factually wrong".

The government agency then reiterated that the census survey currently being conducted in Pulau Ubin and its residents aims to find out which other households are eligible for resettlement benefits offered in 1993, as well as to regularise property rents in the form of a Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) fee on those who wish to remain on the island.

The census survey is being conducted from 3 April until June and Pulau Ubin residents have been informed of this through a notice letter sent last month.

The notice letter which was headlined as “Clearance of structures previously acquired for development of adventure park on Pulau Ubin”, sparked concern among Pulau Ubin residents as well as those on Singapore’s mainland who thought that it was an eviction letter, said the SLA.

But the SLA and Housing Development Board (HDB) have since clarified it was a misunderstanding and admitted they should have “carefully worded” and “updated” the language used in the letter, adding that the “adventure park” was a term used back in 1993 when referring to developments such as recreational facilities.

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