Monday, February 8, 2010


I have walked passed this shop along Eng Hoon Street many times and I always thought the way the place was being configured, it was going to be some office with many small rooms. 

And today, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to ask the worker what the shop will be.

"按摩" was what he said to me. (按摩 = Massage)

Instinctively, I SMS Resident Kelvin and Terence to check if they know anything about this this shop.

And both said it was going to be some TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) or 推拿 (Foot Massage)

I've never done a 推拿 before and so I had the perception that 推拿 was done in an open area. I don't think I will be very comfortable being 推拿 in an enclosed area.

But a 按摩 (massage), yeah, the set up at the Eng Hoon Street one is just about right.

There is enough privacy for everyone in those windowless cubicles.

Straits Times : More caught running illegal dorms

The Straits Times
Feb 8, 2010
By Melissa Sim & Mou Zongxiao

Private homes illegally converted to house foreign workers

MORE people were taken to task last year for illegally converting their private homes into dormitories, hostels and boarding houses as accommodation for foreign workers and students.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) investigated about 700 private residential properties and is still forcing boarders to vacate the premises of 140 owners. Overcrowding is common, making safety an issue.

The other 560 owners have since stopped taking in lodgers illegally.

In 2008, the URA investigated just 400 cases.

In particular, there was an 18 per cent increase in the number of unauthorised worker dormitories over the previous year, though figures were not available.

The illegal dormitories are being exposed as more people write in to the URA with their complaints, and tip-offs are provided by the public and other government agencies.

The URA said that private apartments and landed homes are meant for residential use and should not be converted into workers' dormitories, which need permission to operate.

Under the Planning Act, illegal conversion of premises can result in a maximum fine of $200,000 and a year in jail. If the offence continues after conviction, a fine of $10,000 a day may be imposed.

Despite URA efforts, checks by The Straits Times showed that illegal workers' dormitories are still prevalent, especially in Little India and Tiong Bahru.

Along Marne Road off Petain Road, The Straits Times found at least two terrace houses housing more than 10 workers each.

In Tiong Bahru, there were at least three such apartments. In other units, there were workers from China and Malaysia who refused entry to The Straits Times. But shoes outside the main door and the drying laundry were signs of the multiple occupants inside.

At three units, occupants said there were eight people living inside. One said the boss had obtained the flat for them.

One landlord, who wanted to be known only as Ms Huang, said she had rented her three-room unit in Kai Fook Mansion in Tiong Bahru Road to eight Malaysians at $1,700 a month.

She said she had nine tenants at first but was told by the URA in December that she could have only eight. Ms Huang said she had not made modifications to her flat.

Private homes as ad hoc accommodation have sprung up over the last few years because of a shortage of dormitories and boarding houses.

A single worker renting a room in one of these converted homes pays about $200 compared with $160 to $180 each month for a workers' dorm in Jurong.
In the middle of last year, the URA found that 140 units in Grangeford condominium in Leonie Hill had been subdivided into 600 units. The developer was taken to action to recover the units.

The Ministry of Manpower warned employers of foreign workers that they are responsible for the well-being of their workers, including providing acceptable accommodation while they are employed.

Employers who fail to provide acceptable accommodation for their foreign workers are in breach of the work permit conditions and may be fined up to $5,000 and jailed up to six months. Such employers could also be barred from hiring foreign workers in future.

Tiong Bahru residents interviewed said they were fine with foreign workers in their midst, but were concerned about the overcrowding in the walk-up apartments, which are about 800 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft and usually have two or three bedrooms.

Interior designer Jo Turner, 31, claimed that her ceiling sprang a leak because there were 10 workers sharing a toilet in the flat above hers.

Ms Turner, like advertising executive Eugene Yip, 38, was mostly worried about the workers cooking over an open flame. About a month and a half ago, unit 1P in Yong Siak Street, housing Chinese national workers, caught fire.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said the fire was accidental and from an electrical source. This could have been caused by a short circuit or overloading of power outlets.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Close @ Tiong Bahru 2

Get to know these two Tiong Bahru residents : Close @ Tiong Bahru 2

Friday, February 5, 2010

There is HOPE!

Reading the Straits Times this morning, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education Grace Fu, said that a study will look at ways to carve out more underground space - for possible use as public areas such as museums and galleries.

Hey! Ms Co-chair of the Economic Strategies Committee sub-committee on land productivity, could you start the study here with those abandoned Air Raid Shelters at Guan Chuan Street first?

These are semi underground and are ready for immediate conversion.

In that same report, architect, Tai Lee Siang mentioned that if underground space was promoted properly,  'people's acceptance... will change rapidly...

Maybe they should start promoting it properly to the HDB Bukit Merah branch office and the Tanjong Pagar Town Council first. 

Their mindset must change before any change can happen here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dangerous Junctions

Maps from Google Street View

This junction at Tiong Bahru Road and Zion Road is one of the 3 junctions in Tiong Bahru that is very accident prone.

Just this morning, an Olive Green Honda CRV almost crashed into a taxi. 

The CRV was at where the truck is and the taxi was at when the silver van was.

The CRV tried turning left from the right most lane while the taxi was going straight into Outram Road from the left most lane.

Everyday, this scene is repeated many times at this junction.

Some motorist will carefully edge into the left lane before turning into Zion road while some do so recklessly and with no regards to other road users. 

I'm always on full alert when I'm approaching this junction.

The other accident prone junction is the one at Outram and Seng Poh Road, just after the shell station and before Cape Inn hotel.

Motorists who are driving into Seng Poh Road must STOP and give way to the approaching traffic from Tiong Bahru Road.

Sometime, the opposite happens.

The motorist from Tiong Bahru Road will stop suddenly to give way to those who are coming in from Outram while those from Outram do not even bother to stop at the stop line.

I think the authorities must put a STOP SIGN THAT FLASHES to remind those from Outram to stop and GIVE WAY!

Once, I had a near miss accident here when a black Lexus zoom past me even though all vehicles had stopped for me to drive pass.

The following motorist wasn't that lucky

The third one is not as dangerous as the other two since vehicles do not travel at high speed here.

This is the one where Seng Poh Road, Lim Liak Street and Eng Hoon Street intersect.

If you know your high way code well, you will know that motorists who are coming into Seng Poh Road from Tiong Bahru Road or Zion Road will have the right of way at all times.

And since there are STOP LINES on Eng Hoon Street and Seng Poh Road, those vehicles has to stop and give way to traffic.

And since we go by GIVE WAY to the person on the RIGHT, the ones waiting at Seng Poh Road, along Tiong Bahru Market, must wait for everyone to go before moving on.

But many a times, I have to give way to people that are coming out from this lane and they gave me those dirty look like I'm some ugly Singaporean who doesn't want to give way.

Anyway, I can deal with this problematic junction as it is a matter of being patient and forgiving.

But I really cannot accept the traffic violations at the other two junctions as someone else's mistake could be fatal for another and it is not fair to expect the innocent party to pay with their money, limbs or life.