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  Straits Times 5 Aug 07
S'pore's last kampung worth $33m but landowner won't sell
By Bryna Sim

DURING this period when people are rushing to cash in on their properties, Ms Sng Mui Hong is determined to sit tight on her sizeable piece of land in Punggol.

The 12,248 sq m plot - about the size of three football fields - sits at Kampung Lorong Buangkok, off Sengkang East Avenue.

Valued at $33 million, it is jointly owned by four people - Ms Sng and her three older siblings. While her two elder brothers and one elder sister have married and moved into HDB flats, the 54-year-old Ms Sng has no plans to move or sell. She gets by on the approximately $300 in rent she collects from her tenants.

'My father bought this land, it has much sentimental value for me,' she said. 'I would feel trapped in a flat.'

The family land was purchased for an unknown sum in 1956 by her father, the late Mr Sng Teow Koon, a traditional Chinese medicine seller. Ms Sng was then only three years old.

The rent of the 20 families who live in the kampung's self-built zinc-roofed huts ranges from $6.50 to $30 a month. Their huts are an average of about 1,500 sq ft each, and range from three to five rooms, depending on how their dwellers chose to build them. They have basic utilities such as running water and electricity, and are surrounded by jackfruit and banana trees, as well as chilli padi and lime plants.

The kampung made headlines in March 2004 when it became flooded after heavy rain.

Mr Jamil Kamsah, 53, a make-up artist, has been living in the kampung for 40 years. 'I can have garden parties right on my doorstep!' he said.

The kampung residents also enjoy other benefits. Ms Sng said she has not increased the rent in 40 years. When her tenants are short of money, she lets them pay in kind - with rice and fruit.

Ms Sng spends her days gardening, clearing drains, cycling and chatting with her tenants. She has a television set, a washing machine, radio and a flush toilet. She seldom leaves the kampung. Relatives bring groceries during their weekend visits.

She lives with her two single nieces, both in their 30s. One of them, Ms Sng Li Jing, 34, works as a clerk at the Institute of Technical Education (Geylang Serai) and does not mind the one-hour bus journey to work. 'I enjoy the simplicity of life here,' she said.

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