Forum: Make Singapore more liveable, not just more beautiful

Naturalised waterway at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

During the early years of independence, much effort went into making Singapore clean and green.

In the last two decades, huge sums of money were spent on enhancing the city's attractiveness.

While we continue to make our city more beautiful, let us be mindful that $1 million spent on beautifying the city means $1 million less for other developments we need (Make our city even more beautiful, Nov 19).

For example, we need to improve the liveability of our nation, which would benefit everyone living here.

Despite being the 11th most beautiful city in the world, we are unable to get into the top 30 most liveable cities in the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2019 Global Liveability Index.

We are behind cities like Vienna, Adelaide, Perth, Honolulu and Auckland. These cities are also very beautiful without having to spend billions on man-made structures.

Five categories of living conditions were examined: healthcare, education, infrastructure, stability and culture. Singapore scored very well in infrastructure and stability, but not so well in education and culture.

We should be pragmatic and spend money to make Singapore not just nice to see, but also nice to work and live in.

Public housing estates should remain the main focus. Things and places that make Singapore unique should constantly be upgraded, such as hawker centres, wet markets, parks, playgrounds and community clubs.

With the number of senior citizens increasing in the future, we have to provide more space for them to interact.

We can also improve the decades-old rubbish collection method in public housing estates. Can we learn from the Japanese how to dispose of rubbish?

We can improve our transport system through better urban planning and introducing environmentally friendly vehicles.

Every morning, there are too many vehicles going from one side of the island to the other, or converging in the Central Business District. The Government must plan, lead and supply the resources to facilitate the improvement of liveability.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2019, with the headline Forum: Make Singapore more liveable, not just more beautiful. Subscribe