Reply by Minister Desmond Lee in response to Adjournment Motion by MP Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar on “Preserving Green Spaces and Heritage in Jalan Kayu Constituency”

Oct 2, 2017

Sir, I thank the Honourable Member for her speech on Kampong Lorong Buangkok and the future Buangkok Drive Extension. 

Kampong Lorong Buangkok is one of two remaining traditional kampongs in Singapore. The other is on Pulau Ubin.  The Member may be aware of the work we are doing on Ubin, together with the Friends of Ubin Network, to enhance the rustic, nostalgic and authentic feel of the island.  This includes the heritage and living community in the kampong. In July this year, we launched a multi-year programme to restore and repair vacant kampong houses on the island, and will be looking into how we can breathe new life into these returned homes.  We are also studying how we can work with the community to better support the villagers still living on the island.

So the Member will know where my personal inclinations lie, on an issue such as this.  But for today’s purposes, allow me to set out the position as it currently stands.  

Sir, the Master Plan, which the Member referred to in her speech, guides Singapore’s physical development over the medium term.  It is regularly reviewed every five years to take into account the changing needs of Singaporeans, which may affect our future land use.  In the 2014 Master Plan, Kampong Lorong Buangkok straddles four land parcels.

Two of the land parcels have been safeguarded for a primary school and a secondary school. Another land parcel will form part of a park. The last portion of the kampong site has been earmarked for a major road to Seletar. 

However, I must emphasise there is no intention to implement these developments in the near future.  For instance, we will look into the need for the planned road only when we are ready to proceed with the longer term development of Seletar.  This is likely to be several decades later. 

Sir, when the time comes for us to finalise our plans for the entire area, the Government of the day should work closely with relevant stakeholders to ensure that developments are carried out in a holistic and coherent way. 

This must involve deep engagement with the kampong families living there at that time, to understand and consider their needs and interests. Some may not want to move away from the kampong.  But they may also not want their community to be turned into an educational or heritage attraction, drawing crowds of curious visitors. 

We will also consider the wishes of Singaporeans who want the heritage and educational value of kampong life to be properly documented, retained and celebrated. Yet, we cannot simply develop the surrounding areas around the kampong, isolating it from the rest of the community. 

I wish to put on record our appreciation for the Member’s initiative to compile visual and oral history accounts from the kampong residents. Indeed, kampong life can impart valuable lessons to Singaporeans about living together in gotong royong.  We should all continue to foster and encourage this spirit of cooperation, bonding, neighbourliness and mutual help in our community. 

Sir, I now turn to the issue of Buangkok Drive.  The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is planning to build Phase Two of the Buangkok Drive Extension on a strip of land just north of Gerald Drive. The Member has suggested that this strip of land be converted into a linear park instead. 

MND has considered the Member’s proposal in consultation with the relevant agencies.  The HDB and the Land Transport Authority have assessed that there is a critical need for this road because almost 10,000 new homes, including HDB flats, will be completed in Fernvale, Sengkang West and Hougang between now and 2022, which is very soon. This road will serve as a vital connection across Sungei Punggol and help relieve potential traffic congestion problems for Singaporeans living in Sengkang and Hougang Towns, where the existing road network cannot support the higher resident population in the future. 

Moreover, there is already provision of green space for residents in and around Gerald Drive, including existing HDB common greens and neighbourhood parks.  The Park Connector Network also runs along Sungei Punggol, linking the Gerald Drive area to Sengkang Riverside Park, which is a large town park. 

Mr Speaker sir, I would like to thank the Member for her suggestions. If she has further queries and concerns, she can raise them to us, and we will get the URA and all relevant agencies to take her through the plans in detail.