They will grow back again: Jurong resident who had plants cut down by town council

Mr Kang Poh Kim said he had been growing the plants since he moved into the flat nearly 40 years ago. PHOTOS: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - Workers rappelled down from the rooftop of a Jurong West Housing Board block on Tuesday morning to trim overgrown plants which had taken over the exterior of a ninth-storey flat.

Three workers, suspended on cables attached to the roof of Block 426 Jurong West Avenue 1, took six hours to remove vegetation that had grown out of the balcony of the five-room flat. The area below was cordoned off for safety purposes.

The plants belong to retired engineer Kang Poh Kim, who said he was sad that his plants were cut down.

“I was watching TV then and I saw the workers come down,” the 74-year-old said, adding that he had been growing the plants since he moved into the flat nearly 40 years ago.

“I didn’t stop them or argue because I didn’t want to cause any trouble, but my plants are all gone now, so I’m very sad.”

A Jurong-Clementi Town Council spokesman said the overgrown plants from Mr Kang’s home was a longstanding issue and that Jurong GRC MP Xie Yao Quan, his team and the town council were aware of the situation.

“The town council, together with other relevant government agencies, had urged the resident on multiple occasions to do proper housekeeping and remove the plants if necessary,” said the spokesman. 

“As there had been no significant improvement to the situation, and in view of public safety and health, the town council decided to take further action to remove the plants by deploying workers on rope access to trim the overgrowth.”

The spokesman added that while the town council understood Mr Kang’s wish to keep his plants, they stressed that it was important for residents to keep the plants well-ordered to avoid posing any danger to the public.

Three workers took six hours to remove vegetation that had grown out of the balcony of the ninth-storey flat. PHOTOS: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

When The Straits Times visited Mr Kang’s home on Wednesday, photographs taken from his travels were plastered on every surface of his living room walls. 

All that remained in the balcony were the sawed-off stumps of the plants in a structure attached to the wall that Mr Kang said he constructed himself.

He said he made this wooden structure to allow excess water from watering the plants to drip out and flow into the drain.

He had told Shin Min Daily News earlier that his plants were similarly trimmed about two or three years ago and believed someone had complained then.

The sawed-off stumps of plants at the balcony of Mr Kang Poh Kim’s flat. ST PHOTO: WALLACE WOON

Retiree Anthony Kouh, 72, said the overgrown plants from Mr Kang’s balcony were a source of frustration for his neighbours.

Mr Kouh, who lives on the fourth storey of the block, said: “He’s been told many times by officials, but he ignores them. The plants breed mosquitoes and drip water down, so it’s much better now that they are gone.”

Mr Kang said that his only option was to wait for the plants to grow again, adding: “I have been growing them for so many years and now they’re all gone. But the roots are still here, so it’s a matter of time that they’ll grow back again.”

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