By: Phillip Ang
Decades ago, Lee Kuan Yew had a vision of a garden in a city. And so our civil servants started planting trees in every corner of Singapore as if there was no tomorrow. Till today, even though he’s been dead for about 18 months, his grand vision lives on.
LKY had forgotten trees are living things: they grow old/diseased and die. In 1967 when his garden city vision was introduced to make living in a concrete jungle more pleasant, trees were young and therefore the maintenance cost was peanuts. But now, after almost 5 decades, hundreds of millions of tax dollars are needed annually to maintain his vision.
NParks can no longer afford to plant the same species and their numbers need to be reduced. NParks should also conduct proper inspection on trees which were not planted by the government. In view of climate change, the status quo cannot be maintained.
On 13 September, a 30-metre tall tree, probably the tallest, fell on an apartment block. Six apartments were damaged but fortunately, no one was injured. When was the tree was last inspected? Nobody knows. Would anyone be held accountable if found to be negligent? Probably not.
Mature trees now pose a danger to the public as they have been falling in record numbers and even resulted in a couple of fatalities.
More than 5600 man-years may have been lost, impacting productivity.
A coincidence all three fell at the same time?
While there’s no denying we need to plant new trees, lots of them, proper inspections must be conducted. Whether mature trees should be cut down, it would be better for NParks to err on the side of caution. One fatality is one too many.
In view of climate change, is there justification to spend hundreds of millions to maintain LKY’s vision? Aren’t we inviting another fatality?
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