NParks stepping up patrols at Jurong Lake Gardens after unauthorised signs soliciting donations surface

At least nine such signs appeared at various allotment plots, asking members of the public to scan a QR code and donate. PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN, COURTESY OF MR PAN

SINGAPORE - Scammers have allegedly solicited donations at Jurong Lake Gardens, claiming to be collecting funds on behalf of those who grow plants in allotment plots in the park.

Earlier this month, at least nine such signs appeared at allotment plots, asking members of the public to scan a QR code and make a donation.

In a sign seen by The Straits Times, visitors are told that donations are a show of appreciation for the hard work put in to take care of the plants in the garden.

However, these signs were not put up by individuals who leased the plots, a gardening enthusiast who wanted to be known only as Mr Pan, 41, told ST.

The private tutor and his family tend to a plot they lease in Jurong Lake Gardens, and he found one of those signs in his plot on Aug 4. He immediately alerted the National Parks Board (NParks).

In response to media queries, NParks confirmed that the signs are unauthorised and have since been removed. NParks officers have also stepped up patrols to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

Ms Kartini Omar, group director of Jurong Lake Gardens at NParks, said: "We have referred the matter to the police. Allotment gardeners have been reminded not to erect unauthorised signage, and to report such incidents to NParks."

Mr Pan said he was concerned after finding the sign as the allotment gardens are meant to be a space for the community.

Introduced by NParks in 2016, the Allotment Gardening Scheme offers gardening spaces close to Housing Board estates for the public to lease.

An allotment garden is a raised planter bed the public can ballot for on NParks' website. Those who are successful can grow herbs, vegetables and ornamental plants in the plot, which they lease for $57 annually for up to three years.

Mr Pan said: "These (unauthorised) signs were laminated, and the person who did this may have wanted to put them at multiple locations around Singapore."

As at July, there are almost 2,200 allotment gardens in 25 parks islandwide.

Ms Cassandra Ho, 54, who grows vegetables in an allotment plot in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, was upset when told about the alleged gardening scam.

Ms Ho, a part-time cook, said: "At the gardens, many of us grow vegetables for our own consumption, which will come in handy should Singapore ever see food shortages. But if people try to take advantage of this initiative, it is wrong."

Jurong Lake Gardens pictured on Aug 19, 2022. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Criminal lawyer James Gomez, an associate at Edmond Pereira Law, said that putting up these signs could be tantamount to cheating by personation.

Mr Gomez said: "The person who put up this sign is clearly representing himself as the individual leasing the plot, even though he does not have the authority to do so. Someone reading the sign will logically assume that the person soliciting donations is the one who is maintaining the garden."

For cheating by personation, an offender can be jailed for up to five years, fined, or both.

Mr Cory Wong of Invictus Law said that the act of putting up these signs without having obtained permission from either NParks or the lessee could amount to vandalism.

For vandalism, first-time offenders may be fined up to $2,000 or jailed for up to three years.

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