The caretakers of a shrine along Science Centre Road in Jurong have been given an ultimatum by JTC, National Parks Board (NParks), and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).
The three government agencies said the shrine's caretakers have been issued a "final notice" to vacate the site by Monday, Dec. 12, in a joint statement issued on Nov. 29.
"Illegal encroachment on public land"
According to the statement, the shrine occupies a site located on public land, and is an "illegal encroachment".
The site of the shrine is part of the Jurong Lake District Masterplan, and is required for "land preparation and infrastructure works", said the three agencies.
The agencies' statement described the shrine as being located "on a roadside green verge along Science Centre Road".
According to images on Google Maps street view dated May 2022, there is a structure located near a heavy vehicle parking area along Science Centre Road.
Mothership understands that this is the shrine requested to vacate the site.
The structure comprises plastic sheets held up by metal and bamboo poles, and appears to have several sections, including a washing area.
There are also multiple potted plants, as well as furniture at the site.
The shrine apparently contains statues of various deities.
Multiple extensions of initial deadline
The final notice by the authorities comes after previous engagements with the caretakers, with an initial deadline of Dec. 13, 2021 set for the site to be vacated.
Between end-2021 and January 2022, the deadline was extended multiple times, after reasons such as Covid-19 restrictions were cited by the caretakers.
The agencies said in their statement that Dec. 12, 2022, has been set as the "final deadline".
They noted that the date is "a full year after the very first extension deadline was granted."
Timeline of events
The authorities' statement outlined the following timeline of events:
- Jul. 28, 2021: The agencies engaged the caretakers, and requested them to relocate the shrine. The engagements continued into August 2021.
- Aug. 19, 2021: An advisory was issued, requesting the caretaker to vacate the site by the end of the month. The caretakers appealed to the authorities.
- Sep. 14, 2021: The agencies held a "joint engagement" with the caretakers, who shared their difficulties in searching for a new site for the shrine. An extension of four months was granted, and the caretakers agreed to move by Dec. 13, 2021.
- Sep. 28, 2021: The caretakers told the agencies they would not be able to meet the December 2021 deadline due to Covid-19 restrictions.
- Oct. 6, 2021: The agencies requested the caretakers to provide details of the challenges they were facing. The caretakers did not show any documentary proof.
- Dec. 13, 2021: The agencies granted another extension to the caretakers, and informed them they had to vacate the site by Jan. 13, 2022.
- Dec. 25, 2021: The caretakers appealed to NParks to allow the shrine to remain at its current site. The request was rejected.
- Jan. 3, 2022: The agencies reminded caretakers to vacate the site by Jan. 13, 2022.
- Jan. 5, 2022: The caretakers requested an extension of the deadline so they could seek legal advice.
- Jan. 19, 2022: A third extension, till Feb. 13, 2022, was granted at a meeting between the agencies and the caretakers.
- Nov. 29, 2022: Final notice issued to caretakers, with a final deadline of Dec. 12, 2022 set for the site to be vacated.
What happens if the Dec. 12 deadline is not met?
"The government has provided the caretakers ample time to look for alternative sites for the shrine and to facilitate its removal. However, despite the multiple extensions and engagements with the shrine’s caretakers, the illegal shrine remains on site," said the statement.
The statement then outlined what would happen if the Dec. 12 deadline is not met, saying that "agencies will have no alternative but to issue formal enforcement notices under the State Lands Encroachments Act and the JTC Common Property Rules to compel the caretakers to vacate the site."
However, the agencies added that they "will continue to provide the necessary assistance to facilitate the removal of the shrine with due respect and sensitivity."
Top image via Google Maps street view