Pulau Ubin: No plans to Evict?

By Lim Jialiang

The government agencies explained, however, that based on a census survey last month, 22 households from Pulau Ubin were residing on state land without a temporary occupation licence (TOL).

“They can continue to stay on State land if they obtain a TOL from SLA, and pay a fee for the use of the land, similar to any other use of State land,” they said.

The fee would be pegged to the market rate, but given some households could find that difficult if their rent were to be revised immediately, SLA will phase the rent such that households will only pay full market rate from the sixth year onwards. Government will also provide other forms of assistance as may be necessary to those households that need it and qualify for it, the agencies said.

(Read more here)

The actions of MND and SLA when saying that they can apply for a TOL and pay rent is amazingly cruel. Can you imagine having to suddenly, after staying at a place for years on end, be faced with an uncaring bureaucratic face and asked to pay money? While they have said that they will provide subsidies and assistance for the rent, they have stayed suspiciously silent on how much the TOL will cost. There is a reason why the MND and SLA have stayed silent about this mysterious “process” that the Kampung Melayu residents have to take so as to be able to stay on the land that they have lived at for a large part of their lives, and it’s all in the math.

“A Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) is a Licence issued by SLA for the temporary use of State land or for the purpose of the retention of minor encroachment from private properties onto State land.The TOL issued can either be renewable on a monthly or yearly basis depending on the use. Examples of uses under renewable TOL are worksite, signage, showflat, landscaping, etc.”

They will have to firstly:

1. Make an application online (When they don’t have internet, or a computer for that matter)

2. Pay using GIRO (When they probably don’t have a bank account)

They will also have to pay for a:

1. Cadastral Plan ($27.55)

2. Application Fee ($173.25)

3. Licence Fee (Varies, calculated below)

4. Refundable Security Deposit

(Read more here)

Licence Fee 

As there is no rate for residental use, it means that the Kampung Melayu residents can be rejected simply on a technicality that this is not how State Land is permitted to be used.

Assuming that they are allowed to stay, fees are calculated on a daily basis psm (per square metre). Assuming an average Ubin Kampung home takes up about 200psm, the cheapest licencing fee (under Sports and Recreation) costs $0.45psm per day. This comes up to $90 a day, and $2700 a month. Yes, this is on their cheapest rate. Before GST. Even with Singapore’s current insanely high rental costs, this can easily garner you a five-room flat at a prime location. An example on calculation that they give on the website is as follows:

exampletol

 

You can read more about the various rates that they offer here

 

Hobson’s Choice

Whilst the MND and SLA are being factually accurate when saying that you can either relocate or you can rent, this is presented with the assumption that both choices are equal in every way, when they are not. The pressures they face are twofold: firstly, the complicated bureaucracy, and secondly the high TOL prices to stay on State Land. This is too exorbitant and too much for the Kampung Melayu residents who largely live off the land, selling drinks or low-density tourism by opening their houses for people to come and enjoy the “Kampung life.”

What both MND and SLA have failed to mention is that the details, when unmasked, only show the one realistic outcome: which is to move out of State Land, or stay there at the risk of economic and legal sanctions. This is highly disingenuous and left unmentioned in their press release. Neither are they providing possible channels for the Kampung Melayu residents, and instead leaving them to figure out the processes on their own. Assistance was said to be given to the rent, but not to the TOL, and that makes a lot of difference.

Why care about the needs of a hundred when you can potentially make money off a hundred thousand? That the acquisition has gone ahead means that the State has every intention to build an “Adventure Park” or whatever that crazy developmentalist brain of theirs will think of. When looking at the beyond 2030 Land Use Map, we see that much of Pulau Ubin being under the catch all known as “reserve space”, with a highway running through the Island, directly on Chek Jawa.

puluaubin

(Taken from here)

You would think that by now these few, rare spaces that record a life and a living of the past would matter, but obviously it doesn’t. Not to mention the historical, cultural and environmental cost that would be incurred because of your obsessive eyeing for the next quick buck. So yeah, don’t talk to me about the “Kampung Spirit” in some patronizing, sentimental tone, when you want to destroy the second last Kampung in Singapore. It is hypocrisy of the highest order, and it’s something I’m used to hearing from the State. Oh, don’t talk to me about cynicism too, you’re my source for it.

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This article was first posted on Lim Jialiang’s facebook page.