15 May 2017
A Collector of Goodwill

For Mr Chia Young Chuan, it's all about patience and going beyond the call of duty.

At the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Mr Chia Young Chuan is a Team Head under the Land Acquisition and Purchase Division – or, as he’s more commonly known, a Collector.

“Collectors are responsible for the land acquisition process,” explains Mr Chia. “Our work includes working closely with affected owners and other stakeholders, such as lawyers and professional valuers, on matters related to claims, compensation and other forms of assistance.”

Land acquisition is carried out for public purposes, such as to facilitate public infrastructure building and comprehensive redevelopment. Private land is acquired only when absolutely necessary. This process is provided for in the Land Acquisition Act; since April 2007, landowners whose land is acquired are paid market value compensation under the Act.

In the course of his work, Mr Chia often deals with distraught owners whose property has been acquired. “As Collectors, we often have to bear the brunt of owners’ frustrations and anger,” he says. “However, we need to be able to manage the owners’ expectations and continue to work with them in a professional manner.”

While working on a case when six semi-detached houses were acquired to facilitate the construction of the Thomson-East Coast MRT Line, Mr Chia’s professionalism went beyond working hours – he made sure to remain contactable via mobile at all times, in order to answer queries and listen to feedback.

He also contacted the property owners regularly to update them on the acquisition’s progress. “I acted as the single point of contact for the owners when they needed to liaise with their banks on mortgage issues,” recalls Mr Chia, “and also with other public agencies, such as the Housing and Development Board, on housing issues.”

As one of the property owners was based overseas, Mr Chia kept him in the loop via overseas calls and emails after office hours. His efforts did not go unappreciated, as one of the property owners later wrote in to SLA to say that Mr Chia had, “made the whole process a little more bearable and less painful.”

According to Mr Chia, the key to managing a difficult process such as land acquisition is patience, and putting himself, “in the owners’ shoes.”

“These are people who had to give up their homes for a new MRT line, a development that will benefit all of us,” he explains. “Nobody likes to have their home taken away from them. During this process, I see myself as being there for the property owners. It’s my job to soften the impact of land acquisition on them.”

THIS IS WHY WE SERVE: Mr Chia is one of the recipients of the PS21 Distinguished Star Service Award at this year’s Excellence in Public Service Awards (ExPSA) ceremony. Look out for more coverage of this year’s ExPSA recipients!

Featured Gallery