Fernvale saga 'shows Govt prepared to reverse decisions'

PAP MP Lam Pin Min
PHOTO: Starhub

The Fernvale columbarium saga in Sengkang West showed that the Government would not shy away from making the right decision and reversing it if necessary, said PAP MP Lam Pin Min.

Dr Lam, who is defending his Sengkang West single seat, acknowledged that the issue could be brought up by the opposition in the days ahead and could affect voters "to a certain extent".

However, the Minister of State for Health also said the matter has since been largely resolved. He was speaking on the sidelines of an SG50 carnival in Fernvale yesterday morning, where an emergency response kit for various constituencies was launched.

Dr Lam is likely to face software engineer Koh Choong Yong from the Workers' Party. Mr Koh contested the single-member constituency in 2011, and received 41.9 per cent of the vote against Dr Lam.

The columbarium issue had sparked controversy back in December last year, when plans to build one next to a Build-To-Order residential project in Fernvale Lea met with protests from buyers.

They said sales brochures had not mentioned it. Questions were also raised about the decision to award the tender to a commercial firm on land earmarked for religious use.

In January, the Government shot down plans by funeral services firm Eternal Pure Land to build the commercial columbarium. Earlier this month, a second tender for the site closed with four bidders.

Dr Lam said he personally spoke to Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan on many occasions on some of the issues raised by the residents.

When asked about infrastructure in the estate, Dr Lam said there will be a new integrated community facility where the current one-storey Fernvale Point complex stands. The site was initially slated for residential use. Last Friday, Dr Lam wrote on his Facebook page that the Urban Redevelopment Authority has since re-zoned it for civic and community use. In future, the site could house a community centre and a hawker centre.

He said he is working to address other concerns in the new estate, where 30,097 people will go to the polls. Among his goals is to better engage young residents. "A lot of activities usually cater to the elderly, the young children. So the young families are one group we have to work very hard to engage," Dr Lam said.

He said residents can also look forward to a new jumbo childcare centre in Fernvale Lea, which will have a capacity of 500. It is scheduled to be ready by the middle of next year.

In the works as well are dual-carriage LRTs and better bus services that are likely to be rolled out by next year.

This article was first published on Aug 31, 2015.
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