The Government has no plans to develop Pulau Ubin and intends to keep the island in its rustic state for as long as possible, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman yesterday.
Dr Maliki, who is a Member of Parliament (MP) for East Coast GRC, which covers Pulau Ubin, added : "I don't like to see (Pulau Ubin) as a tourist destination, but...as a destination for Singaporeans to...experience what rustic life is about."
Replying to questions posed, he clarified that letters sent by the authorities in March to the 22 households on the island were not eviction notices.
Instead, the letters were to notify them of a census survey to determine their eligibility for resettlement benefits from land-acquisition exercises in 1987 and 1993.
The letters had caused some anxiety among 100 Ubin residents who believed they faced resettlement, earlier reports said. These letters were also circulated online.
The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Ministry of National Development later clarified in a statement that the notice letters made reference to the "past planning intent", which was originally described in 1993 as the development of an adventure park.
Dr Maliki said yesterday that both the SLA and the Housing Board have acknowledged that the letter could have been more carefully worded, and the language updated to reflect the eventual development on Ubin.
He said: "They had already apologised for the anxiety caused."
Ubin residents can also continue to remain on state land by paying a Temporary Occupation Licence fee, which will be phased in over five years. Most households will need to pay only less than $20 a month in the first year, and less than $120 a month in the sixth year. For those who have difficulties paying the rent, Dr Maliki said SLA will facilitate an assessment for them to receive financial assistance.
Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam asked if a part of Pulau Ubin could be developed into a "retiree village" with medical facilities and space for farming and growing flowers.
In reply, Dr Maliki said the suggestion was "quite a different proposition", adding that there would be issues such as costs, and putting in infrastructure and services to support an elderly community there.
He said: "It's a proposition worth considering later on, if it does (have) merit.
"We want our retirees to age in place, rather than go to an island... (so they can) be part of the larger community where the social support ought to be made available."