My Perfect Weekend: Minister Desmond Lee loves nature and the outdoors

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee at the unveiling of the Rail Corridor (Central) in March 2021. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

WHO: Mr Desmond Lee, 45, is Minister for National Development (MND) and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration. He graduated in 2001 in law from the National University of Singapore and holds a master's degree in law from Oxford University. He is married with three children.

"On a typical weekend, I would be taking part in community as well as ministry-related activities to stay engaged with Singaporeans. This allows me to help form strong social bonds in the community.

At the same time, I also make it a point to spend quality time with my family. We love nature and the outdoors. Like many Singaporeans, we find respite in our parks and green spaces, especially during Covid-19 restrictions. So, a "perfect weekend" could mean going on a walk to explore nature with my wife and our three kids aged seven, nine and 11.

Some of our favourite places include the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Labrador Nature Reserve, where there is so much to learn about native flora and fauna.

There are also wonderful play areas in some of these places. Or we could just kick a ball around in a nearby park before ending our day with some ice cream.

When I get some "me-time", I like to tend to my orchids, which has been my hobby for more than 30 years. I also try to exercise whenever I can, by running or brisk walking in my neighbourhood.

I enjoy kayaking especially in MacRitchie, where I can immerse myself in nature while getting a good workout.

There are still many green spaces I have not had time to fully explore with friends and family. One such area is the central 4km-long Rail Corridor, which MND recently reopened after closely consulting with Singaporeans.

The larger, full 24km-long Rail Corridor used to be home to the old railway line from Singapore to Malaysia, but we have since retained it for nature, recreation and community while ensuring the preservation of its rail heritage.

Another stretch I hope to explore is the 36km coast-to-coast trail, which runs from Jurong Lake Gardens in the west, through the recently unveiled Lornie Nature Corridor in the centre to Coney Island Park in the north-east.

There is an app that guides you along the trail, with various checkpoints of interest and augmented- reality animal characters that come to life to share educational information.

As announced in Parliament recently, we will establish and curate more of these recreational routes in the years to come, giving Singaporeans even more opportunities to explore nature and the outdoors.

As part of Singapore's Green Plan 2030, we will extend and enhance our natural capital from nature reserves, intensify nature in gardens and parks across our island, integrate nature into our built environment, and strengthen connectivity between our green spaces.

This will not only make Singapore more green and sustainable, but it will also give Singaporeans a better living environment, where we can enjoy our City in Nature."

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