Don't get carried away by biodiversity

ST Forum
Mar 31, 2012

Don't get carried away by biodiversity

I HOPE Dr Ho Hua Chew of the Nature Society (Singapore) was speaking for himself and his fellow members, and not the public at large ('Consider the impact on biodiversity, says Nature Society'; Thursday).

Even a nature-lover like me finds it hard to swallow Dr Ho's sentiments, crying out against the threat to Bukit Brown's biodiversity posed by plans to develop it.

We should not let romance with biodiversity cloud rational thinking about competing land use in Singapore, which has a total land area of only 778 sq km and a population of more than five million.

Transport and housing for the living should take precedence over conserving valuable flora and fauna - and even cherished cemeteries. For instance, the KK Women's and Children's Hospital now sits on what was once an old cemetery, because the sick and living deserve a place more than the dead.

My late mother was buried at Bidadari Cemetery in 1954, and when the HDB wanted the land, I was asked to remove her ashes to a little niche at the Choa Chu Kang Columbarium.

I knew her 'bungalow' at Bidadari had to make way for the living, and I willingly supported the HDB's decision despite the personal pain and my filial piety.

To prevent more pressure on land use for future generations, I have told my children to bury me at sea after I pass on.

People, like all animals, form cooperative groups to compete for limited resources. The natural tendency of any population is to surge, although this is kept in check by limited food supply.

The bottom line is that while we may cherish historic cemeteries and biodiversity, we should spare a thought for the burgeoning population competing fiercely for the limited land that we have been blessed with.

Heng Cho Choon