PM joins 600 residents to plant trees in Punggol

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong plants a jelutong tree at the Punggol Waterway Park. With him are (from left) Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong; Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor; Minister for the
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong plants a jelutong tree at the Punggol Waterway Park. With him are (from left) Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong; Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor; Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli; and MPs of wards in Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council Teo Chee Hean, Teo Ser Luck, Charles Chong, Ng Chee Meng, Janil Puthucheary and Sun Xueling.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Some 600 residents of the North East District yesterday picked up shovels and watering cans, and planted 200 trees at the Punggol Waterway Park. Joining them was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who also planted a jelutong tree at the site.

The effort was part of a national drive to get more than 5,000 trees planted from August to December this year.

Ever since the campaign to plant trees was started by founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1963, it has become an important annual ritual, PM Lee said yesterday as he launched the Clean and Green SG50 Carnival.

"We plant trees not just because it makes a big difference to our living environment," he said. "It is a symbolic act, to remind us of our goal, to encourage every one of us to play our part to make this a clean and green Singapore, and to build a better Singapore for our children."

The carnival, which ends today, aims to make environmental consciousness second nature to Singaporeans.

Mr Lee also praised grassroots organisations and Community In Bloom ambassadors - who rally the community and help others enjoy gardening - for their efforts.

He cited Madam Foziah Yeon, 56, a programme coordinator at Muhammadiyah Welfare Home who helped to start a community garden in Temasek Junior College. She told The Sunday Times she has had a love for nature since her younger days and nine years ago, she decided to incorporate gardening into the home's programme for children aged 10 to 13 years old.

Gardening, she added, has taught her charges values such as patience and hard work.

Mr Lee also urged Singaporeans to work together to make the country cleaner and greener.

"If we nurture our trees, tend our gardens and protect our environment year after year, the trees and gardens will grow, blossom and bear fruit," he said. "We can enjoy the shade and their beauty. This place will be even more beautiful."

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said it was heartening that many Singaporeans have said they would like to contribute. He added: "Ultimately, we must aim for caring for the environment and for each other to become second nature to us - to become our way of life."

Meanwhile, the National Environment Agency said in a statement yesterday that two community challenges set at last year's carnival have seen progress.

There are more than 520 Bright Spots, or public areas where residents can take ownership of cleanliness through activities such as picking up litter. This is above the target of 500. And the No Waste Days challenge, which aims to get pledges from the public to achieve 50,000 days of reduced or zero waste, has garnered pledges from more than 15,500 people - amounting to 850,000 No Waste Days.

Walter Sim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 01, 2015, with the headline 'PM joins 600 residents to plant trees in Punggol'. Print Edition | Subscribe