Our Green Home

June 24, 2011 by  
Filed under News

By Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State for National Development, 15 Jun 2011 (this note was posted on his Facebook page).

“Home is where your friends are…where your family is.”

We have been having weekly brainstorming sessions at MND to study and discuss the issues facing us. We are moving on HDB challenges. We are re-looking at policies so that we can meet the needs of Singaporeans. These are unfolding and more will be shared when ready. We may not be able to meet all needs, but we can certainly do more than where we are today.

Looking at these issues have also sharpened my own sense about what home is for us. We are not really in the business of just building houses. It is about providing living space and common space amidst challenges that few countries face. I have always been struck by what Koon Hean, CEO HDB, shared about how there is little basis to compare us with Hong Kong, New York and other great cities. They are all part of a country whilst we are an entire country squeezed into slightly over 700+ square kilometres. Land is needed for: housing, recreation, industry, business, defence, catchment, heritage. Serious decisions are required. Trade-off is a bad word but that is what faces us all the time. Not easy. Few cities grapple with all these for they all invaribly have a hinterland to fall back on….we don’t.

When we build our flats and shape our overall development plans, our ideas of what is home must go beyond the four walls of our apartment. Our entire city is our home. The City in a Garden idea is a powerful one because it is a vision that seeks to tie in our environment, history and heritage with recreation and community space…Spaces where we live and play. Our Park Connectors and ABC (Active, Beautiful and Clean) Waters Programme aren’t ideas for their own sake. Just as we are wired virtually, these green and blue networks literally bind us in a continuous flow. Can we look forward to a day where we can traverse the island without stepping out in a big way to the mainstream road network? We will also be actively greening our unused space such as under viaducts, rooftops…for example, multi-storey carparks will see gardens on top.

Which brings me to our KTM railway line.

We have been rather quiet on this publicly as it would be prudent for us to let the agreement unfold and cross our July 1st milestone where the railway line would become an integral part of Singapore again. It remains a symbol of our close ties with our neighbours with whom we share much in common. However, quiet does not equate to being silent. We have had a good working relationship with NSS (Nature Society of Singapore). URA and NParks have been actively discussing with them on the future of our Green Corridor or as I see it, it is our spine that runs through and to the center of our homeland. I have read their report and proposal and it’s fascinating. Our future is promising (qualifier…not perfect but certainly promising!).

I believe that there are exciting possibilities to bring Singaporeans together as we embark on this journey to create our home even as we preserve our environment and heritage. We need our little pockets of solitude and countryside to retreat to from time to time, history to revisit and and, as one of the railway enthusiast I FB-ed with put it, these also provide the deep anchors that make this place home.

I will talk more on this soon. Will be meeting with members from the interest groups and will begin our outreach efforts in earnest in due course. I will be in Paris next week for some G20 Meetings and will visit Promenade Plantée to have a sense of possibilities. (http://www.paris-walking-tours.com/promenadeplantee.html) There is also the New York High Line project that is exciting in its own right.

I have flown over Singapore many times and have blogged about it before: http://www09.ndp.org.sg:9010/flyingoversingapore.php

We are alot greener and bluer than many realise. And we aim to find that happy balance to maintain what we can and still provide for our people’s needs.

There is much to do together. It is about creating this space where we, our family and our friends live. And this space is what we call home.

Source: Tan Chuan-Jin’s Facebook page

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One Response to “Our Green Home”
  1. admin says:

    Our reply:
    On behalf of The Green Corridor supporters, I would like to thank you for this open and positive note. We understand the difficulties of the government in balancing the needs of all Singaporeans. Similarly, we hope the government understand our needs in trying to preserve our feelings of home as our shared memories erode quickly in this urban and fast-paced city, and also our needs to work together towards a common shared vision of a Singapore where nature and our economic activities can co-exist. For Singapore to survive and prosper in the long term, it is necessary to have more opportunities in preserving our shared memories and creating our shared vision. And keeping the Railway Lands as a Green Corridor is one opportunity not to be wasted. We look forward to your meetings with interest groups and outreach efforts, do keep us updated. And enjoy your trip to Paris and Promenade Plantée! – Eugene Tay

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