Updated: Sep 6, 2019
Dear Ms Sim,
I grew up in the 70s in Tanglin Halt Blk 57 around the corner from where former Prime Minister Goh used to stay. That was the time when, with the end of monsoon rains, the toads used to sing baritone in unison and silver puddles of water would be filled with their little tadpoles. We would go down to the drains to catch guppies for our fish tanks and spiders to keep in little matchboxes to fight in school when our teacher’s back was turned. There is no doubt that the 3 room flat where I slept on the floor was much poorer surrounds than the condominium in Bukit Timah that I live in now but decades ago we had a connection with nature and our environment that is so rare today.
Former PM Lee understood the importance of space and greenery in our small island so much so that he made it a point to value trees. I remember tree planting day and how the cabinet would roll up their sleeves to plant trees. I believe PM Lee understood that beyond the material and the social there is an intangible almost spiritual connection between a person and the environment. A connection that is borne of a sense of person’s place and time within God’s creation. It is the same sentiment that led me and my wife to mourn one day in Tampines when we came home to find that the town council had cut down four trees in front of our HDB flat because someone complained about red ants. As pragmatic as PM Lee was in most areas of his life, he understood the need to feed a person spirit and the fundamental truth that being alive is not the same as simply living.
I try to impart to my 11 year old son a sense of his world and our environment. When he was younger he used to follow me while I played golf at old Fairway Green Golf Course and he would run up to the putting green with he plastic putter and insist on putting the ball in the hole. We used to play at the old Royal Tanglin Club as well until that turned into a construction site.
The Turf City area has so much promise with tall trees, wild life and secondary forest. There is so much that can be done with the run down hostel beside the riding school and so much potential to develop the under used golf course, to a nature park or a mountain biking track for the public. On Saturdays my son plays rugby at Turf City with hundreds of children enjoying the space to play football, tennis, cricket and rugby. As I walk down Turf Club Road on weekends I see dog owners training their mutts and young ladies dressed in equestrian gear heading to the riders lodge. There is something special and unique about Turf City and its surrounding. I know it is something that brings many people joy.
I understand that URA wants to turn Turf City into a residential area. I suppose they think that they can bottle the magic. Please don’t let that happen. What I know for certain is that the magic cannot be bottled it can only be destroyed