Koi tank outside HDB flat dismantled after failed appeal

The now bare staircase landing (above) outside a Tampines flat, after a fish tank (left) built on it three to four years ago was removed this week. Citing safety reasons, the HDB said the owner could not keep it.
The now bare staircase landing (above) outside a Tampines flat, after a fish tank built on it three to four years ago was removed this week. Citing safety reasons, the HDB said the owner could not keep it.ST PHOTO: TOH TING WEI
The now bare staircase landing (above) outside a Tampines flat, after a fish tank (left) built on it three to four years ago was removed this week. Citing safety reasons, the HDB said the owner could not keep it.
The now bare staircase landing outside a Tampines flat, after a fish tank (above) built on it three to four years ago was removed this week. Citing safety reasons, the HDB said the owner could not keep it.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Owner declined town council's offer to assist in process, relocate fish to pond

A Housing Board flat owner who converted his doorstep into a fish tank for his koi carp has dismantled it after his appeal to keep it was rejected.

The Tampines Street 41 resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan when approached by The Straits Times previously, had attached glass panels to the walls around the four steps leading to his ground-floor unit to house about 10 fish.

The structure was put in place three to four years ago, and the owner was unaware that he needed permission to do so.

Residents of the flat with the blocked doorstep used to enter it through an adjacent unit which has the same owner.

The fish tank was featured in the media in August last year. Subsequently, in January, the HDB, citing safety reasons, said the owner could not keep it. He lodged an appeal after working with Tampines Town Council on measures to address the safety issues raised by the Housing Board.

The HDB rejected the appeal earlier this month, stating as a key reason the fact that the stairway is common property.

Under the town council's by-laws, it is an offence to have unauthorised fixtures on common property.

When The Straits Times visited Mr Tan's house yesterday, the tank had been dismantled.

When approached, Mr Tan's wife declined to comment.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of National Development told The Straits Times that it would ask the HDB to discuss with the town council suitable sites in the precinct that can accommodate a community garden which could involve Mr Tan and other like-minded residents.

It added that this initiative would have to be done separately through a proper process and not by "individual encroachment onto common property".

But Mr Tan's response was lukewarm. "It's not just about digging two holes. You need to think about what is the attraction there and what is really useful for the community. Hopefully, something good will come out of it. I am a bit tired of this," he said.

A spokesman for Tampines Town Council told The Straits Times on Tuesday that the resident had declined its offer to assist with the dismantling of the tank. "We have also approached the resident to relocate the koi fish to a community pond, but he was not keen to explore further," the spokesman said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2019, with the headline 'Koi tank outside HDB flat dismantled after failed appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe