For society to progress, sacrifices have to be made

I agree with Nature Society (Singapore) president Shawn Lum that having open and frank discussions with various stakeholders would help to achieve a better outcome ("Engaging with stakeholders the way forward"; Feb 26).

It is encouraging that the proposed Cross Island Line alignments have raised diverse viewpoints from both interest groups and residents.

Were it not for the ensuing vibrant public discourse and quality media coverage of the issue, Singaporeans would not have gained as much of an understanding of the cost-benefit analysis that is the crux of the issue.

I have personally experienced the costs and benefits of MRT construction, not once, but twice.

In the early 1970s, I was forced to give up my family-owned factory and land in the Kallang Basin to make way for the East West Line project. I was forced to relocate operations to what was then the remote Jurong Industrial Estate.

Nevertheless, the East West Line is now a vital backbone of our nation's public transport network. Indeed, it now serves the very same Jurong area that I previously complained to be inaccessible.

In the long run, the benefits of the East West Line to society have been more than apparent, outweighing the short-term pain and loss.

Now, construction for the Thomson-East Coast Line is under way mere metres from my residential estate. My neighbours and I have had to cope with nearly constant dust and noise.

Yet, I must acknowledge that once the line and its stations are open, I, as well as many others, will be able to enjoy faster or more convenient rail access to more of Singapore than ever before.

In life, there is rarely a perfect solution. For society to progress, sacrifices must be made, be it nature or residents of local housing estates.

If we were always so averse to inconveniences, there would be no MRT to serve us.

The crucial point is that society should have faith in its town and transport planners to take all relevant factors into consideration, and let the Cross Island Line project run its course.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi