Pulau Ubin: Rent will increase at 35% p.a.?

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Pulau Ubin will remain in “rustic state” but residents will have to pay rent” (Straits Times, Apr 17).

Have to pay $6 – $35 rent now?

It states that “Kampung residents on Pulau Ubin who have to pay rent from now will pay an estimated $6 to $35 per month in the first year, with 90 per cent paying less than $20 a month. This rent, which is subsidised, will be increased to the market rent gradually over five years to assist the residents.
From the sixth year onwards, the residents are expected to pay between $31 and $205 per month, with 90 per cent paying less than $120 monthly.”

500% increase in rent?

The increase of $6 to $31, $20 to $120 and $35 to $205, being the lowest, 90th percentile and highest rental in the next 5 years, works out to an annualised increase of 32.8, 35.8 and 35.3 per cent, or as much as 500 per cent in 5 years.

“Subsidised” rent?

On what basis did the HDB and SLA come to the conclusion that the rent is “subsidised”?

35% p.a. increase?

On what basis did the HDB and SLA determine the rental and gradual increase in the next 5 years?

Has the HDB or the SLA ever charged anyone ever in the history of Singapore – rents that increase at this whopping rate of 35 per cent per year?

What happens after 5 years?

What will happen after 5 years? Will the rent continue to be increased at about 35 per cent per annum?

Why need to pay rent all of a sudden now?

As some of the residents have been staying there for decades, why impose rent all of a sudden now on them?

If can’t pay?

I saw a video interview on Razor TV with one of the residents, a 75 year-old lady and her daughter, who gave the impression that they have no income and have been living off the land for food and water.

So, what will happen to residents who have difficulty paying the increasing rental? Can they see their Member of Parliament (MP) or approach Comcare for financial assistance?

Have any of these options and processes been made known to the residents?

Forgot to compensate residents for 20 years?

As to “Then (in 1993), the state had acquired land on the island to build recreational facilities, including expansion of the Outward Bound School grounds. As a result, the land which the affected residents occupied became state land. They were therefore entitled to money but also had to start paying rent to remain in their homes.The planned developments were completed, but the 22 households which received the notice in March had not claimed their benefits or paid rent, the authorities discovered in a recent review”, I find it rather strange that none of the 22 households have claim the benefits that they were entitled to 20 years ago, in the last 20-year period.

1 cent rent in 1993?

Can the HDB and SLA explain how such a lapse could have occured? How much were they entitled to – when the State acquired the land? Will they now be compensated with interest for the past 20 years? How and why did the HDB and SLA  fail in their duty to collect rent in the last 20 years? I am also curious as to what was the rent that they were supposed to collect – 1 cent to 3 cents (working backwards at 35 per cent annualised increase from 1993 to 2013, to get to today’s rent of $6 to $35)!

Maybe need another apology?

With regard to”“We acknowledge that the notification could have been more carefully worded and the language updated to reflect the eventual development. We apologise for the anxiety caused to the residents involved” – in view of the above – perhaps another apology may be due to the residents!