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Tanglin Halt Residents Condemn the Gahmen for Destroying their Kampong

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Disappointment and anger at Tanglin Halt, as residents oppose the HDB taking away their homes.

The area had been selected for the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS), which is a move by HDB to renew older housing estates.

According to Facebook page, My Queenstown, 90 percent of residents prefer to stay and not move to new flats which the government has offered.

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An open letter on My Queenstown condemning the move by the government reads as follows:

“Selective Enbloc Redevelpment Scheme (SERS) is a redevelopment strategy employed by HDB which demolishes old precincts and optimises land use. In theory, it is an excellent scheme which offers fresh leases, compensation and flat subsidises for affected home owners.

However, in Tanglin Halt, HDB is poor in the execution and continuously ignore the residents’ needs and concerns. Given a choice, an astounding 90% of Tanglin Halt residents prefer to STAY and not move to their new flats.

Problems faced by residents:
(1) A large proportion of Tanglin Halt residents are part of the pioneer generation above 65 years old who possess long and deep attachment to their neighbourhood. They foresee difficulties in relocating and renovating in 6 years’ time. It pains us to see that many elderly folks have started worrying about their homes even though relocation is some time away . Why does HDB subject our pioneer generations to such pain and anxiety?

(2) In HDB SERS Guide for Tanglin Halt residents, a “Joint Selection Scheme” theoretically allows up to 6 households to choose flats on the same day by assigning a single queue number to participating households. However, many residents have complained to the MP and My Queenstown that they and their neighbours are denied from participating in the scheme. They are assigned different queue numbers from their neighbours and can no longer live together. Why does HDB lie to Tanglin Halt residents?

(3) Unlike the British-planned Tanglin Halt, their new homes at Margaret Drive lack amenities such as wet market, parks and common spaces. Despite earnest appeals from the residents, HDB rejected their concerns even though there are acres of undeveloped land along Margaret Drive. The demography of Tanglin Halt residents also suggests that a large proportion of residents are less mobile and unable to travel beyond their neighbourhood since not all the replacement sites are located directly next to a MRT Station. Why does HDB ignore residents’ concerns?

(4) Shopkeepers who rented or purchased a shop house in Tanglin Halt were given low compensation ($10,000 to $20,000) and a replacement shop unit. No living quarters were offered and some of them are made to purchase a new flat.

(5) In 2009, My Community and My Queenstown were told by former MP Baey Yam Keng that Block 38 Commonwealth Avenue wet market was zoned as a future civic and community site. A heritage museum and community/civic centre was proposed at the conserved wet market. However, in 2014, this community site was reduced to a paltry 70 sqm and My Queenstown/My Community is blocked from looking at other possible locations. The community museum is meant to provide a community space for the residents to gather. Why does HDB flip-flop in their policies?

In the name of development, many Singaporeans are displaced from their home. The situation will be much better if HDB engages the residents and community groups rather than worries about a small proportion of residents profiting from SERS. It is baffling that HDB continues its “i know it all” approach in communicating with Tanglin Halt residents and Singaporeans at large.

Have HDB lost its way in promoting the building of active and cohesive communities?”

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The HDB says that Tanglin Halt residents affected by the SERS will have first bite of the cherry when it comes to picking new flats in Dawson Estate.

It says the new flats will be sold at subsidised prices and frozen at the time of the SERS annoumcent.

Still, longtime Tanglin Halt residents say the HDB can shove that sweet offer where the sun don’t shine.

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