Family lives being wrecked by en bloc deals

The Straits Times (Singapore)

May 29, 2007 Tuesday

AS A boy, I used to watch movies of the old wild lawless West where the theme typically centres on decent simple homesteaders being forced out of their homes and land by big cattle ranchers or crooked town planners bent on furthering personal wealth.

Of course, basic human decency almost always prevails in such movies in the form of a drifter cowboy who comes to the aid of these simple folks.

Fast forward to the 21st century in Singapore today where hot property prices have culminated in en bloc deal after deal.

It is not difficult to draw a parallel of the home-losing scenario between then and now. Except that now the process is legalised.

Dissenters of en bloc deals are reportedly subject to alienation by former neighbours, and the last man standing in one particular case had the book thrown at him in a court of law.

Alas, has Singapore come so far to reach the status of a near developed society but at the same time relegated back to a state where defending one's home could be illegal?

Is it morally right that the en bloc majority law that was meant to facilitate renewal of very old properties is now used to dismantle relatively new properties, and worse still, family lives?

To borrow a phrase from Charles Dickens: 'A Tale of 2 Cities' ... perhaps one day we'll look back and say: 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.'

Teo Hoon Seng