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HDB to provide Mdm Lee with new stall

HDB compromises with Mdm Lee.

Update: Reprieve for ex-hawker by TODAY, Jan 15.

By Andrew Loh

“If you had a mother who’s been working all her life, would you still want her to work at such an advanced age?”, Ms Gina Lau asked when explaining why she had advised her mother to give up the stall at the Hougang Ave 1 hawker centre in 2003.

In return for giving up her business, Mdm Lee was given $18,000 by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) under its Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme.

(The Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme (HUP) was launched in Feb 2001 at an estimated cost of $420m to upgrade markets/hawker centres over a period of 10 years. - NEA)

4 years later, her good intentions have resulted in a controversial decision by the HDB demanding that her mother, Mdm Lee Ah Muay, return the $18,000 compensation given to her in 2003.

Ms Lau told theonlinecitizen (TOC) that business was poor in 2003 and that was another reason why she advised her mother to give up the stall. Mdm Lee made an average of $500 per month from her business of selling clothes then.

Letter of demand

The HDB, according to a TODAY report, said that “its earlier attempts to contact her since 2004 had failed”. However Ms Lau questioned how this could be so. “Why didn’t they leave any notes at my door at least?”, she asked. We also understand that no phone calls were made to Mdm Lee.

In September last year, an officer from the NEA visited Mdm Lee and informed her that “HDB had made a mistake with the payout and the money had to be returned”. Ms Lau questions why it took the authorities so long to find out about the mistake.

In Jan 2008, a letter of demand from the NEA was sent to Mdm Lee, giving her 21 days to return the $18,000.

Ms Lau had earlier said, according to the TODAY report, that she “regrets the advice she gave her mother” and she hopes the NEA “can help secure a new stall for her mother at the refurbished hawker centre” as her mother prefers to keep working and also that her mother’s friends were all there.