Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng has recently visited the koi tank built into steps outside a ground floor Tampines Street 41 flat.
MP Baey posted in a Facebook post about his visit, a day after the Housing and Development Board (HDB) had requested for the tank to be removed as it poses a safety hazard that “could potentially lead to injuries or fatalities”. These concerns include the risk of the glass tank shattering or children climbing into the tank.
However, the owner of the tank is hoping that it can be retained and is currently working with the Tampines Town Council to address safety concerns.
The owner installed glass panels to the walls around the four steps to house around a dozen pet fish, but was not aware that he needed permission to make alteration.
Responding to The Straits Times (ST) queries on Wednesday (16 January), MP Baey said HDB had valid worries regarding public safety, and that the town council is working together with the resident to try to address these worries.
He said, “We are in the midst of putting up an appeal to keep the tank. We need to sort out some details…we need to address HDB’s concerns, and we hope that HDB can be a bit flexible.”
The MP noted that there are some preliminary ideas in response to HDB’s feedback on safety concerns, and the town council hopes to put together the appeal within the next two months.
As for the concerns on the glass shattering, tank uses tempered glass, which does not shatter into sharp shards as compare to regular glass, he said.
In response to the risk of children falling into the tank, MP Baey said that the tank is not extremely deep and anyone who is able to climb into it is most likely tall enough not to drown. However, one way to avoid this risk is to build railings around the tank, he suggested.
“It’s all about how we strike a balance. We home that this can be a test case where all parties come together to work towards a win-win situation,” he added.
When ST visited the flat on Tuesday night, the owner, who refused to be named, was adamant that the area was his private space and that he should be allowed to keep the tank.
“It doesn’t cause any obstruction to people and the laws should be applied on a case-by-case basis. If I go to any other unit, I will also find broken laws, such as plants on the stairs,” he opined.
He even mentioned that the tank has drawn visitors from as far as Jurong and Bukit Batok.
Over on social media, netizens gave a mix reaction on this issue with some agreeing with HDB to get rid of the tank.
However, some said that the fish tank can be kept as long as it's not blocking anyone's path and having an aquarium refreshes the environment since most people live in concrete boxes.