PM Lee plants tree, launches SG50 Clean and Green Carnival in Punggol

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong planting a Jelutong tree at Punggol Waterway Park with residents and other MPs, before launching the Clean And Green SG50 Carnival.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong planting a Jelutong tree at Punggol Waterway Park with residents and other MPs, before launching the Clean And Green SG50 Carnival. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Oct 31) joined some 600 residents from the North East District at Punggol Waterway Park to do their part for nature.

The 200 trees they planted will go some way towards achieving the target of more than 5,000 trees to be planted by more than 15,000 people from August to December as part of a mass tree planting exercise.

Tree planting has historical significance in greening Singapore, with the country's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew launching a tree planting campaign in 1963.

PM Lee said on Saturday: "We plant trees not just because it makes a big difference to our living environment.

"It's a symbolic act - it reminds us of our goal and encourages every one of us to play our part to build a clean and green Singapore, and to build a better Singapore for our children."

The late Mr Lee also started the Keep Singapore Clean campaign in 1968, which became Clean and Green Week in 1990, and then Clean and Green Singapore in 2007.

On Saturday morning, Mr Lee, too, launched the Clean and Green SG50 Carnival at the open field next to Punggol MRT station.

The two-day event, held in celebration of Singapore's Golden Jubilee, features an exhibition which traces Singapore's environment journey over the last 50 years such as the development of clean waterways and proper sanitation.

Besides archived photos, it also showcases a collection of 5,000 stories gathered through the Singapore Environment Story initiative.

With the theme "Cherishing Our Home, Safeguarding Our Future", the campaign aims to cultivate environment practices as second nature in Singaporeans.

It has also roped in non-government organisations and community groups, with the hope that visitors to the carnival will sign up as volunteers.

Mr Lee urged Singaporeans to each play their part, and work together to make the country cleaner and greener for each other.

He said: "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. We can enjoy the shade and their beauty. This place will be even more beautiful."

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said it was heartening that many Singaporeans have indicated they would like to contribute to a cleaner and greener environment.

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."

The event also celebrated grassroots organisations and members of the public who have done their bid for the environment, including "Community In Bloom Ambassadors" who rally the community and help others to enjoy gardening.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) also said in a statement on Saturday that two community challenges that began in last year's carnival has seen progress.

There are more than 520 "Bright Spots", which are public areas where the public takes ownership of the cleanliness through activities such as litter picking. This is above the target of 500.

And the "No Waste Days" challenge, which aimed to gather pledges from members of the public to achieve 50,000 days of reduced or zero waste, garnered pledges from more than 15,500 people amounting to 850,000 "No Waste Days".

In Tampines, the tree-planting this year was a tribute to the late Mr Lee, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in a Facebook post. 

Volunteers planted five of Mr Lee's favourite trees last Sunday - the rain tree, jelutong, kapok tree, tembusu and madagascar almond. Mr Heng added that over the next five years, about 2,000 trees and shrubs will be planted in Tampines.

waltsim@sph.com.sg