An article appeared on The Diplomat by Kirsten Han as a report on Singaporean’s campaign against the government on the development of a cemetery site, Bukit Brown. Situated in the heart of Singapore, Bukit Brown lies just next to two major housing areas, north of the city shopping district as well as south of one of the city’s green lungs, MacRitchie Reservoir. When the government proposed to clear about 5,000 graves in Bukit Brown in order to build a dual four-lane road to ease the traffic in the area, conservation groups sprung up to protest at the lack of discussion over the decision. Here’s the website for one of the group, All things Bukit Brown.
Han’s article pointed out that Singapore’s land scarcity is a serious issue which the government has to tackle. A quote in the article by Eisen Teo, a freelance researcher asks if the government can use other areas for the project. He pointed out that the golf courses and military camps in Singapore takes up much of the country’s land, up to 1,800 hectares for the 18 golf courses alone. However, he forgets that size is not the only consideration here. Bukit Brown sites at the crossroad. Lornie Road, a busy motor way which jams every peak hour curves and meanders between MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit Brown. While it may be less painful to cut more land from golf courses, there is no golf course to cut through in the area that makes sense. In the planning of golf course in Singapore, they are usually in areas where the high-rise buildings are not possible, like near airfields and reservoirs. I would think that land planning is a serious and deliberate process in Singapore, not as careless as the article suggest.
I would also like to point out the photo used in The Diplomat’s article which shows a man walking through a forested area. I am not sure what does it seek to signify, but if I were to look at it without prior knowledge, it looks like the government is cutting down prime forest in the middle of nowhere to build highways which no one may use. That is not the case for Bukit Brown.
In any case, the government is in the consultative process and alternative routes have been suggested by the Bukit Brown advocates. Let’s go into the discussion with a calm mind rather than heated passion.