Chinese newspaper Zaobao reported that East Coast Park is now a “tent village” where not only more than a dozen people have set up camp, but is also headed by a 29-year-old “village headman”. Most campers were forced into this “temporary shelter” while they wait for their rental HDB flat.
Newspaper received readers informed that the area along the east coast there are many large tents, as a self-sufficiency of the “village.”
According to the newspaper, the “Tent Village” is in a location which is hidden from most members of the public, not far from a construction site, but near public toilets, which is convenient for the campers.
The “village headman”, Muhammad Ahmad Rahman, who declined to be photographed said they were all forced to live there as they did not have anywhere else to go. he said that there were more than a dozen families which lived there.
He added that the campers were not thieves and lived by the beach as they preferred to be self reliant. Members and volunteers from the Family Service Center also visit the campers from time to time to provide food rations.
Rahman said that moving to a shelter would mean that they would lose their freedom. Most campers are on several financial assistance schemes. The campers have also been fined several times for camping illegally. Rahman insisted that no one wants to live under open skies in a tent.
National Parks Board told the newspaper that the public is only allowed to camp in certain areas of the park and only with a permit.