No choice, nursing home has to be in Bishan East
The New Paper
By Benita Aw Yeong, Jennifer Dhanaraj
SINGAPORE - A new nursing home for the elderly will be built in Bishan East on the fringe of the empty plot along Bishan Street 13.
In May this year, some residents raised objections but in a letter distributed to them, the chairman of Bishan East Division Citizens' Consultative Committee, Mr Chua Thian Poh, announced that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has decided to proceed with the building of the home.
It will be operated by non-profit organisation Lions Home for the Elders.
Construction of the 260-bed home will begin next year and is expected to be finished by the end of 2014.
The building is being capped at six instead of eight stories, following complaints from residents that the views from their homes will be blocked.
The letter, dated Sept 21 said that following a dialogue with residents in late May, MOH consulted various planning agencies, including HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), on whether alternative sites suggested by residents could be used.
However, these sites had already been earmarked for other uses, or were currently occupied by other organisations, wrote Mr Chua.
"To transfer the Lions Home to these sites would displace and dislocate other uses that have already been scheduled to occupy these sites, and result in suboptimal use of scarce land resources," he wrote.
In May this year, about 40 Bishan East residents signed a petition to the MOH asking for the home to be located elsewhere.
The petition was handed to an MOH representative at the dialogue session attended by 200 residents.
Several residents complained that building the home would result in restricted air flow and view from their homes.
Others objected because the plot of land it will sit on is currently a large, open field residents use to play football.
Dubbed the Nimby (Not In My Backyard) syndrome, it sparked debate on the attitude of Singaporean society, and was flagged as a worrying trend by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who saw it as standing in the way of a cohesive community.
Other manifestations of Nimby include objections raised against plans for infrastructure for the elderly near Toh Yi Drive and Woodlands.
In addition to the Bishan East home, six more homes will be introduced in the heartland by 2015.
There are plans to build two new ones in Buangkok and Jurong West, while the rest are existing homes relocating to residential areas, reported The Straits Times in May.
There are now about 65 nursing homes with some 9,400 beds. The Health Ministry aims to increase this number to 15,600 by 2020.