Statement to the Ministry of National Development issued by the Community for Bukit Brown on March 19, 2012
1) This is a statement on behalf of the community which had requested for a meeting to discuss the plans for Bukit Brown in a letter dated January 18, 2012, addressed to Mr Chew Hock Yong, Chief Executive of LTA and copied to relevant agencies.
2) The original meeting was scheduled for February 20 with LTA, NParks and URA and 31 representatives from our groups. On February 14, the government agencies requested for a postponement. On March 14, MND sent out invitations to today’s meeting, but only to a few of the original 31 representatives. This is different from what had been planned for the original February 20 meeting.
3) There is a diversity of individuals and organisations seeking to engage in the protection of Bukit Brown. We were looking forward to a level of genuine engagement that would result in a better understanding of the various studies conducted, including biodiversity and hydrology reports, as well as projections on population changes, housing and transport. We hoped that such an opportunity would help to open up a broader consideration of Bukit Brown’s future. We had looked forward to offering alternative possibilities at this meeting.
4) However, we were informed that there would be no time at today’s session for presentations apart from those put forward by the various official agencies. We regret that this meeting has largely turned out to be a unilateral dissemination of information by particular agencies.
The fact that this meeting is held after LTA’s announcement of plans for the new highway demonstrates the old practice of presenting decisions as fait accompli to concerned groups instead of genuine engagement and discussion.
5) We also believe that the tone of engagement has been altered by two new developments:
a. First, the decision to allow only those invited by MND to this meeting instead of the original list of concerned individuals.
b. Second, the decision to limit the representation of groups and NGOs to one person per group.
We welcome the involvement of other concerned individuals and groups. But in the context of the initial postponed meeting, these two decisions give a strong impression of the lack of good faith on the part of MND.
6) We thank MND and its agencies for the briefing which reiterated plans for Bukit Brown. However, it is unfortunate that the briefings did not go into the substantive issues of concern about the current plans for Bukit Brown and its future.
Since our expectations did not materialise at this meeting, we would like to register our dismay and disappointment on record for the minutes of this meeting.
We regret the inadequacy of efforts at genuine engagement and discussing alternatives; that our presentation time was denied; and that this meeting has been severely limited to a select few.
7) We formally request for a moratorium on all works at Bukit Brown. This moratorium should be in place until there is clarity over long-term plans for the area and discussions over alternatives have been exhausted. Given on-going national discussions over housing, transportation and immigration, there is room for policy adjustments. Plans to develop housing and transport infrastructure in the greater Bukit Brown area cannot be made when these discussions are underway and before the public has had an opportunity to fully consider the details surrounding such proposals including the release of detailed findings over studies conducted on biodiversity, hydrology, as well as projections on housing and transport.
8 ) This statement is signed by the Nature Society (Singapore), the Singapore Heritage Society, Asia Paranormal Investigators, All Things Bukit Brown, SOS Bukit Brown, Green Corridor, and Green Drinks.