PM Lee replies to turtle museum owner's appeal

The outdoor pond in the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum in the Chinese Garden. The museum must move by March 31 when its lease expires. Owner Connie Tan turned to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong via a Facebook post after appeals to various agencies fa
The outdoor pond in the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum in the Chinese Garden. The museum must move by March 31 when its lease expires. Owner Connie Tan turned to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong via a Facebook post after appeals to various agencies failed.ST FILE PHOTO

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday replied to a Facebook post by the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum, which faces eviction from its Chinese Garden premises at the end of the month.

"Thank you for your post, which I have read. Please be assured that MND (Ministry of National Development) and the agencies are looking into your case," said Mr Lee.

Museum owner Connie Tan had on Sunday made the post which was shared over 4,000 times in a day. "When he responded, I was so touched. Hopefully someone will call me soon," Ms Tan told The Straits Times.

She is in a race against time to find a a new site for the family business before her lease expires on March 31. The museum, which was opened in 2001, will have to make way for the development of the Jurong Lake District.

In the post, Ms Tan, 47, said she has reached out to four government agencies - the National Parks Board, Singapore Land Authority, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore and the Urban Redevelopment Authority - but has yet to arrive at a solution.

Reasons cited for the rejection include licensing and land use issues.

By next month, Ms Tan will shut down her 60-year-old events management company in Bukit Merah to use her office space to temporarily house the turtles. The company was her main source of income.

She is currently looking into a possible site at Sungei Tengah. "I'm trying to get a low-cost piece of land to keep prices down. In a commercial sense, I'm making the task a lot more difficult for myself," she said.

Admission to the museum costs $5 for adults, and $3 for senior citizens and children under six.

The museum is home to more than 500 turtles, tortoises and terrapins. They will lose their home with the redevelopment of the Chinese Garden and its surroundings.

Plans for the area's makeover were first announced in 2014. Jurong Lake Gardens will combine the existing Chinese and Japanese Gardens and Jurong Lake Park.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'PM Lee replies to turtle museum owner's appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe