No need to cut down trees on vacated land

At Seletar Airbase, there was a large and perfectly healthy noni fruit tree around which I used to do wildlife photography.

It was suddenly cut down. The tree stood on vacant property, which is now managed by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

Last week, when I visited a friend who was preparing to vacate the premises leased from the SLA, I was amazed to be greeted by rows of felled fruit trees.

He said that upon the expiration of his tenancy, he had been instructed to remove all fruit trees.

Those trees were mature and productive. Some had been lovingly cultivated for more than a decade.

Is the requirement for exiting tenants to fell fruit trees really part of official policy?

The trees in question contributed much to the ambience and enjoyment of the surrounding areas.

Their fruits were not only eaten by people, but also attracted many species of interesting wildlife, such as squirrels and beautiful birds.

Was the instruction to remove them based on the fact that the removal of such local attractions would also lessen gatherings of people and pesky animals?

After all, if there were no fruit trees, there would be no visitors, no need for security supervision and no need to clean up any mess.

If the Government prides itself on trying to create a garden city, it could surely instruct the SLA, when taking back premises, to leave mature fruit trees in place.

Future tenants can then devise ways to fit them, as far as possible, into their new plans. Or the Government itself can transplant the trees to other locations.

By insisting that vacated premises be handed over barren, the SLA might make its own job easier. But would this result in a better outcome for our nation?

Lee Chiu San