BY TEO MIN RU,·24 Feb 2016
Dear MPs of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC,
I am Min Ru, a resident of Bishan East ward. I am writing in to you regarding an issue very close to my heart as a Bishan resident — the proposed development of the Cross Island Line through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Allow me to first introduce myself: I am a nineteen-year-old student who just graduated from JC in 2015. I am currently applying to university, and I’m sure you understand what an exciting period of transition this is for my friends and me. Adulthood is upon us very soon; we are making crucial decisions about our lives that will affect several years to come. Most importantly, we are starting to have dreams not just for ourselves but also for Singapore in general. For me, I aspire to be an educator, since education is something I believe very strongly in. Through my work, I hope to build a Singapore that is more inclusive, caring and sustainable as a society.
While I am going through such an exciting stage in life, it is however with great dismay that I follow the latest news on LTA’s development plans for the Cross Island Line. The potential future of MacRitchie as a polluted and fragmented rainforest is not one that I envisioned for the Singapore I want to build, and the Singapore I want to live in. The negative impacts of even conducting soil investigation in MacRitchie are clear, as found by the Environmental Impact Assessment as well as nature groups. I believe that keeping our Central Catchment Nature Reserve intact and untouched by urban development is important, and hope that the MPs of Bishan-Toa Payoh can push for LTA to heed civil society’s calls, and re-route the line outside of the reserve instead.
Our CCNR is so important because no other green space in Singapore comes close to it, in terms of environmental and educational value. Each time I visit the place, I am always struck by the sheer immensity of biodiversity that our forests hold, and how important they are to us: they provide us with oxygen and fresh air, they act as natural water reservoirs and drainage systems, and some of their predator species even help us to regulate the population of mosquitoes. All the things that we learn as a student about forests, about biodiversity and ecosystems, about deforestation and climate change — they only gain tangibility and significance when we stand in a forest and see nature in its full grandeur. As a student and aspiring educator, I fully appreciate the importance of experiential learning especially in natural environments. The awe and curiosity that a primary rainforest invokes is not something that any textbooks, videos or even manicured green spaces can emulate.
Yet at the same time, I note with concern that the youth of our country are facing a crisis in terms of sustainable-mindedness. While our country’s negotiators are reaffirming Singapore’s commitment to carbon reductions at COP21, while our agencies strive to keep Singapore clean and green, many of us youth are becoming increasingly detached from the natural environment that we depend on. In public, I often see children as young as two being babysat by electronic devices; even when they grow up the only recreation they know is virtual rather than real. The ideals of environmental conservation and sustainability, which are ever more pressing given our present climate crisis, only become more and more alien to us youth. This is unsurprising, for many of us have only lived in a concrete jungle. Indeed, the stress of modern living and parenting are pushing us away from recognising our connection to the environment, and it will only become worse if we do not send a strong message to fellow Singaporeans that we are fully committed to sustainability and conservation.
I therefore appeal to you to voice our concerns, and help us to protect what little primary rainforests we have left by re-routing the CRL. It is not so much about sacrificing the needs of urban development, but rather making necessary adjustments to protect something that is equally important to us — the environment.
I have so many hopes for our country’s future. In ten years, twenty years, even thirty more, I hope to be able to bring my students to MacRitchie and tell them with pride, “Look at this beautiful forest. Our country has worked very hard to protect this place, and your lives are the better for it.” I want to show them the birds, the trees, the animals and insects, and tell them, “It will be your responsibility to preserve this for generations of Singaporeans to come.”
Thank you for working very hard to build Singapore, and I hope that this issue of the CRL is one that our leaders will allow due consideration to.
Teo Min Ru
(The above letter was emailed to the Members of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.)