Bukit Brown trumps all popular parks here

TODAY Voices
Mar 21, 2012

Bukit Brown trumps all popular parks here

Letter from Robin Bond

It is sad to read of the demise of Bukit Brown. The Minister of State (National Development) has foreclosed discussion of the issue, but given the criticism from several civil society groups, that would be unwise.

It is time to start real discussion, on a matter of long-term importance, way beyond the short-term pressures. Perhaps it is a matter for independent assessment, such as through a public enquiry.

Representations, to date, have concentrated on heritage reasons for Bukit Brown's preservation and have been well made. What has not been aired sufficiently is the character of the area as a natural park.

It retains its original topography, unmodified by bulldozers. There are real valleys and hills, which, even if some survive the development, would not be visible because of the eight-lane bridge and road.

It is quiet. Birdsong is the predominant sound. But that will not be so with eight lanes of traffic whizzing by.

It is parkland, not jungle. The land between the trees has been tended for at least a century and a half. The trees are enormous, spreading beauties and not straight, narrow trunks straining to reach light at the top of the canopy.

Singapore is developing parks for popular use, such as the newly reopened Bishan Park, but nice and popular as it is, it is not "natural".

Trees were felled, allotment gardens were abolished, and above all, a meandering, rock-strewn riverbed has no place in the natural world. It is man-made.

Bukit Brown is natural, beautiful and without equal in Singapore; we will be poorer from its destruction.

In a century's time, when car usage would have decreased due to unsustainability, it would be lamentable if Bukit Brown was no longer there.