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No to nursing home, say Bishan residents
About 40 people signed petition to oppose MOH plan
By: Jessica Lim
NOT in my neighbourhood, please.
In the latest example of Singaporeans not wanting certain amenities in their estate, a group of Bishan residents are clamouring for a nursing home to be sited elsewhere.
The Ministry of Health plans to build a 260-bed nursing home on a 0.3ha site facing three blocks of flats in Bishan Street 13.
The Lions Home for the Elders will be six to eight storeys tall.
At a dialogue held at Bishan Community Club yesterday to discuss the issue, about 20 residents voiced their opposition.
Some wanted the Government to scout for other sites while others lamented the loss of the site which is now used as a football field.
This episode comes just over a week after residents in Upper Bukit Timah banded together in a bid to block the development of taller condominiums in their neighbourhood.
In another incident in February, residents of Toh Yi estate protested against the Housing Board's plans to build studio apartments there for the elderly.
This time, a petition with about 40 names was handed to a Health Ministry representative at the dialogue attended by about 200 residents.
Mr Wong Kan Seng, who is the MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, was also there.
The ministry had sent a circular to residents last week, informing them of plans for the home.
Retiree Seet Ker Lay, 70, said at the dialogue: 'My house looks directly down at the field. Our children play football there. If there is no football field, they will play in the void deck and stain the walls.'
Another resident, 41-year-old Bernard Lau, said 'the old folk will be groaning right into my home'.
He added: 'If their kids are going to skirt their responsibility and dump them there, then they can travel farther to visit them.'
Resident Cheong Weng Kit, 44, an IT manager who penned the petition, asked Mr Wong if he would pay his electricity bills.
The petition spells out a $7.56 million electricity bill that would supposedly be incurred by affected residents over 70 years.
The residents argue that if the home is set up, air flow to their homes will be blocked and they will have to use the air-conditioner more often to dispel the heat.
Mr Wong told the residents Singapore's ageing population means that residents have to be prepared for the building of more nursing homes. By 2030, every constituency will have one, he said.
Speaking to reporters after the two-hour event, he said it was 'quite normal' for residents to feel the way they did.
'Nobody who has gotten used to breeze and a piece of land on which their children can play football would want to see a building come up on it,' he noted.
He added that the home will have facilities for residents too.
It will, for instance, set aside five to seven beds for those who want respite from looking after their elderly relatives.
Bishan East is a middle-aged town, with 2,700 residents, or 11.3 per cent of its population, above the age of 65 - higher than the national average of 9.3 per cent.
Such statistics were shared at the dialogue helmed by the Health Ministry's group director of ageing planning Teoh Zsin Woon.
She said nursing homes are placed within communities to encourage visits.
The Bishan site was chosen because it was of an appropriate size and close to public transport options.
The distance from the proposed home to the nearest flats will be between 20m and 30m.
The ministry will consider all the concerns and suggestions for alternative sites before making a decision on where the home will be located in Bishan.
But not all residents are against the plan.
Full-time national serviceman Faraaz Amzar, 19, who plays football on the field, said he is willing to play elsewhere.
'As a young person, it seems strange to me that elderly people should object to building a nursing home that is meant to meet their needs,' he said.