HDB may set up compensation panel for Rochor Centre residents

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said Tuesday that HDB may consider setting up a committee with Members of Parliament and grassroots leaders to look at compensation policies and help residents.

He was replying to Moulmein-Kallang GRC MP Denise Phua's question on whether the board would consider setting up a small workforce to relook its compensation policies as "residents lose the choice of time they would prefer to sell and also the choice of their preferred dwelling".

Mr Khaw replied that the Government is "extremely mindful that this is an acquisition" and that they'll be as fair as they can.

The Government had announced last year that the 34-year-old Rochor Centre would be acquired for construction of the southern stretch of the North-South Expressway scheduled to be completed in 2020.

567 HDB flats in four blocks, as well as 187 shops and eating places would be affected.

Residents were assured of new flats near Kallang MRT station on top of additional discounts for eligible households.

However, some residents expressed unhappiness that their replacement units were not an equivalent substitute for their centrally located homes.

Ms Phua also asked if these residents would be given priority in buying build-to-order (BTO) flats other than the Kallang ones.

In reply, Mr Khaw said the needs of Rochor Centre residents would need to be balanced with those of other public applicants, adding that HDB was studying the proposals carefully.

HDB would also need to maintain some consistency as this was not the first acquisition in Singapore, he said. Otherwise, previous owners would point out the differences in treatment of affected residents.

However, HDB will certainly try to vary or improve some of the terms if there was good reason to do so, Mr Khaw added.

No more pasting of acquisition notices

Mr Khaw also said that the Ministry of Law will now replace pasting of acquisition notices on the doors and walls of the Rochor units with publish notices in at least four daily newspapers in each of the four official languages.

Ms Phua had questioned why this was necessary as the Government had received feedback that the owners found the pasting of notices unpleasant.

The HDB will also work with community leaders to help residents, especially the elderly, understand their rights under the law, Mr Khaw said.

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