Saturday, June 13, 2009

Don’t tarnish image

WE WRITE in response to recent reports regarding the declining quality of life in the conserved Tiong Bahru estate.

Since the gazetting of Tiong Bahru as a conservation site in 2003, committed residents have consistently collaborated with grassroots leaders and the town council to improve its heritage value. We are deeply distressed that current developments will reverse much of this work, and are dismayed that government agencies have shown a lack of regard for the concerns of the community.

We are extremely concerned that the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has allowed Hotel 81 to
operate in close proximity to the Tiong Bahru residential area. Without prejudice to the hotel, we naturally fear the exposure of our families to potentially negative activities, which may be linked to the availability of hourly- stay rates. We also do not want the image of our estate tarnished.

We are disappointed with the lack of response from STB when queried by the media, and call on STB to explain immediately. We similarly call on Hotel 81 to clarify its intentions – to many of us, having this hotel adjacent to residential property is simply not acceptable.

A second concern relates to landlords and agents in the estate who operate illegal workers’ dormitories without any thought of the noise, litter and fire hazards. We request that the Housing Board, Urban Redevelopment Authority, National Environment Agency and Singapore Civil Defence Force respond urgently to enforce the law to eradicate what is a persistent and festering problem.

These issues continue to adversely affect the heritage value of this gazetted conservation estate which should, in fact, receive special attention from policy- makers and enforcement agencies. The estate has already suffered a loss of heritage – the treasured and historic Bird Corner now relocated to the Link Hotel – due to poorly regulated commercial development and conservation efforts.

As a community, we hope to continue collaborating with both the private and public sectors to maintain the quality of Tiong Bahru estate as a national heritage. We do not want to see a heritage site – Singapore’s first public housing project – irreversibly destroyed.

We welcome urgent engagement by the organisations concerned and are eager to contribute constructively to reach a resolution acceptable to all.

Margaret Chung (Ms)
(This letter carries 33 other names)

Source: Straits Times, 13 Jun 2009

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