Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

April 23, 2008

Are days numbered for Malay Village?

Filed under: General — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:38 am

URA says future plans for Paya Lebar area are being studied and will be revealed next month

THE Malay Village’s kampung-style houses on stilts promise a quaintness from the days of old Singapore.

But they are run-down, and visitors are welcomed by swarms of mosquitoes instead of retailers running businesses there.

The 2.2ha attraction in Geylang Serai was set up in 1989 to showcase traditional Malay village life.

The Malay community, among its harshest critics from the get-go, said the place would be a white elephant. Five changes of management and 19 years later, the prediction seems spot on.

Industry sources who spoke to The Straits Times on condition of anonymity said plans are afoot to tear the place down and replace it with a mixed development when its 20-year lease ends.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority declined comment. Its spokesman would say only that plans for the next decade or two are being studied for the Paya Lebar area, of which the Malay Village is a part. These will be revealed next month.

The 70 shop units there, which include restaurants and food stalls, are languishing. When The Straits Times visited last week, most units were closed, although many had signs proclaiming opening hours from 10am. Many units were vacant and bore ‘For rent’ posters.

Madam Y.J.Zhang, 70, who runs a provision shop, griped in Mandarin: ‘There are more mosquitoes here than people.’

She said she barely makes $20 in sales on a good day, and her monthly rental is $1,300.

For Madam Junainah Ikbal, her toiletry and clothing shop sells nothing on most days. To make matters worse, the rent has gone up, from $3,200 to $3,500 this month, she said.

‘How can we tahan?’ she asked, using the Malay word for endure.

Tenants said that Malay Village Pte Ltd, the current management for the place, promised to hold events and promotions to pull in the crowds when it took over in 2006, but these did not materialise. The company could not be reached for comment.

Ms Ng Lee Li, a section head at Tourism Academy @ Sentosa, said the attraction’s problem could lie in its lack of focus and appeal.

An industry observer, who declined to be named, said it could be that the Chinese running the place have not been able ‘to give it depth’.

Madam Zhang, who has lived in Geylang for over 40 years, said: ‘It is sad what this place has become.’

Source : Straits Times – 4 Apr 2008

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