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The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) announced on Tuesday (Jun 20) that the land will return to the state when the lease runs out at the end of 2020 – a first for residential properties in Singapore. The two-hectare area in Geylang has been earmarked for public housing development. Some of the 33 homeowners who still live in the houses are clueless about where they will go. Some, like 80-year-old retiree Yeo Chai, only realised that there is not much time left when SLA officers came knocking on his door on Tuesday to hand him a letter, and offer assistance in the process of moving out.

Mr Yeo Chai has been living in his terrace house for 56 years, and has no plans on where to move to, after the plot of land expires. (Photo: Natasha Razak)

“I’ve never thought of moving out because I have lived so comfortably here,” said Mr Yeo of the place that houses four generations. He lives there with his daughter, granddaughter and two great-grandsons, and said he will miss having family gatherings in the spacious terrace house.

Mr Yeo, who moved into the house after his previous one was razed in a fire 56 years ago, said he enjoyed the kampong spirit among residents when they were all still living there. Only 33 homeowners remain in the 191 terrace houses in Lorong 3 Geylang, with the majority of the houses rented out to foreign workers.

While he, like other residents, hopes to get some form of compensation from the Government, that will not happen as this is a case of the land’s lease running out. In other cases where the Government acquires land in the middle of a lease, affected residents are compensated with the value of the remaining lease.

Madam Tan Whay Seok, a 69-year-old rojak seller, hopes to find housing near her current home, as she works at the Geylang Bahru market. She is also used to the area, having lived there for over 40 years.

Owners and occupants living in terrace houses in Lorong 3 Geylang will have to move out in 2020, when the land occupied by these houses returns to the state. (Photo: Natasha Razak)

“I’m anxious, I don’t know where I can move to,” said Madam Tan, who lives with her husband and unmarried son. She said she applied for an HDB flat, but was unable to get it. She said money is also a concern, as her savings have depleted from having to pay for her husband’s leg surgery at a private hospital, after he had a knee infection.

Similar with Singaporean, although different country, Batam city island also copies the similar regulation on land lease and land management in Batam Indonesia. Every piece of land in Batam are managed by BP Batam with lease called UWTO or in English; “Yearly extortion money to BP Batam”. Furthermore, Deputy III BP Batam, RC Eko Santoso Budianto revealed, currently BP Batam has published Perka No. 1 of 2017 which is a revision of the previous Perka. And in the new Perka, the annual mandatory annual obligation fee (UWTO) has been set for 2017, 2018 until 2022.

Regarding the tariff increase of 4 percent per year in the Perka, Eko said, it also has been referring to letters from the Regional Council.
If the percentage of the tariff increase is good, the new allocation as well as the maximum extension of 150 percent. Although in the new law, the service tariff has been set, both for new land allocations and renewals per year, Eko asserts, the payment of fixed service rate is adjusted with the payment due date. “So, for example, the maturity date of 2022, then submitted an application for extension in 2020, still pay must use the tariff year 2022,” he said.

Batam municipality has a population of 1.164.352 in the 2015 intercensal survey. It is the closest part of Indonesia to Singapore, at a minimum land distance of 5.8 km. During the 2010 national Census,

This land lease never exists since the Dutch colonial in Indonesia. The capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta with its city management board, however, only have the rights to lease its own registered land and property. Batam is the only city island in Indonesia that conducts such Singaporean policy.

Compared to Singapore, Indonesia has an extensive number of unused land and freehold ownership with a mixed regulation of social-cultural land ownership and private ownership with yearly land taxes and premium. Batam is the only city in Indonesia that collect both yearly land lease and land ownership taxes to every of its citizens, which anywhere else only applicable for non-Indonesian citizenship.

Batam was the fastest-growing municipality in Indonesia the decade prior, with a population growth rate of 11% per year. In 2017 it has been reported the island suffered severe job losses, some 400,000 registered workers have been laid off. The question is, will Batam citizen have the similar uncertainty like Singaporean when the land lease expires? What a douche… The investor should consider investing more on Java island or Sumatera or Borneo Kalimantan with its firm land ownership and much cheaper labor force and access to the Indonesian market.





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