SINGAPORE: Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC Indranee Rajah on Saturday met affected tenants of Pearls Centre, which will be acquired for the construction of the new Thomson MRT Line.
More than 240 tenants will have about two years to move out.
Many are concerned about the compensation they would get.
Ms Indranee gave the assurance that each case will be looked into individually.
Many residents at Pearls Centre, located in Chinatown, have a great attachment to the iconic building having lived there for years.
Some also own businesses there.
"We’re actually in the (business of) art lessons and education. It’s a very good location. We hope the government can actually add value to it and help us to acquire a place just like this, to carry on a business," said a shop tenant at Pearls Centre.
Mr Chok, a resident at Pearls Centre, said: "My parents and I have stayed here for many years. Maybe 30 to 40 years. So we are thinking if we can get units together, like two HDB (units), maybe just stay side—by—side, around this area."
Ms Indranee Rajah said residents will be helped.
"It varies, it’s not a blanket ’one—size fits all’ type of assistance. I think it’s important to see what each owner wants. Some may want replacement units nearby, some may actually prefer to downgrade, especially the older ones," she said.
Ms Indranee said authorities (HDB) will consider a waiver of the 13—month debarment period, in place for private property residents seeking to move into public housing.
One other major concern is the issue of compensation.
Negotiations for an en—bloc sale of the property had apparently been going on for a few months, and tenants are now worried that compensation by the government would be lower than what they would get, if the building had gone en—bloc.
Ms Indranee said she’s asked the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to see if the en—bloc issue can be factored into the valuation of the property.
"The fact that the en—bloc process had been initiated, meant that there was an increase in expectation of the price. Then the question becomes, can that expectation be factored into the legal requirement?" she said.
Ms Indranee urged residents to submit information on their property soon, for a valuation by the Singapore Land Authority.
She said such information may add to the value of the property, because it might not be within the valuer’s knowledge.
The SLA has said that compensation will be pegged to market value, as determined by professional valuers.
Despite the concerns raised, Ms Indranee said she’s heartened that almost everyone affected understood the need for the acquisition, in view of national interest.
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