SINGAPORE - A foreign worker from Bangladesh caught plucking the leaves of a tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens earlier this month has been issued with a warning by the National Parks Board.
His employer had successfully appealed to NParks against a Notice of Offence issued to the worker.
In a statement on Monday (Jan 29), NParks said it had been in touch with his employers, who submitted an appeal on his behalf.
Said a spokesman: "We have considered the mitigating circumstances related to the case and assessed that the damage caused by plucking the leaves off the tree was minimal.
"Therefore, while an offence had been committed, we have decided not to take further action... Instead, we have issued him with a warning not to repeat the offence."
A photo of a Notice of Offence issued to the worker on Jan 14 for plucking the leaves of a Syzygium myrtifolium tree - also known as the Kelat Oil, Kelat Paya or Red Lip tree - as well as a photo showing the default $2,000 composition fine on an AXS machine have been circulating on social media, with netizens commenting on the amount of the fine.
The Syzygium myrtifolium tree is native to Singapore and can also be found in north-east India, Myanmar, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines, according to the NParks' Flora and Fauna Web.
In its statement, the NParks spokesman reminded the public that damaging or removing plants, or parts of plants, from parks and gardens is illegal.
Offenders have also been taken to court.
In one case, an offender who removed two critically endangered Kopsia singapurensis saplings from a park was prosecuted in court and fined $3,000. The Kopsia singapurensis - better known as the Singapore Kopsia - is a small tree that grows in freshwater swamp forests, and can only be found in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia.
Under the Parks and Trees Act (Cap. 216), it is an offence to cut, collect, or displace any plant within a public park. The offence carries a maximum fine of $5,000.
Correction note: The article has been updated for clarity.