What started five decades ago as a government-led project to build Singapore into a clean and green city, has today become a dialogue between the state and its citizens.
A Straits Times photo of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew launching Singapore’s first-ver tree planting campaign in 1963 best depicts how the idea of building Singapore into a Garden City first took root. As Mr Lee bent over to dig a hole with a changkol to plant a Mempat tree in Farrer Circus, Singaporeans stood around and watched — none of them offering a helping hand.
Fast forward to 2012, and one finds a different landscape of Singapore’s Garden City. In August, a group of residents in Limau estate petitioned the government to conserve a stretch of greenery near their homes instead of selling the land for development. This was not an isolated case. In that year alone, residents in Dairy Farm, Pasir Ris and Clementi also clamoured for green plots near their estates to be preserved, using what has since become a tried-and-tested method of engaging the government: banding together to write petitions and meeting their Members of Parliaments to convey their thoughts and concerns.