Man removes 'mini zoological garden' display after LTA order

Mr Cheong Boo Wee (centre) with his elaborate display outside his home.
Mr Cheong Boo Wee (centre) with his elaborate display outside his home.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
The elaborate display, which has become an icon in the neighbourhood, was dubbed the "Chempaka Mini Zoological Garden".
The elaborate display, which has become an icon in the neighbourhood, was dubbed the "Chempaka Mini Zoological Garden".ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Mr Cheong was instructed to remove all his personal belongings from the public footpath outside his home and reinstate the path to its original condition by March 15, 2019.
Mr Cheong was instructed to remove all his personal belongings from the public footpath outside his home and reinstate the path to its original condition by March 15, 2019.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Visitors, both local and foreign, had come to see the collection of sculptures and manicured plants along Jalan Chempaka Kuning.
Visitors, both local and foreign, had come to see the collection of sculptures and manicured plants along Jalan Chempaka Kuning.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - He is already dismantling the eye-catching collection of sculptures and manicured plants outside his home in Jalan Chempaka Kuning.

After more than a year of negotiations with the authorities, Mr Cheong Boo Wee, 63, has been asked to take down the outdoor display to comply with an ultimatum from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

He must remove all his personal belongings from the public footpath outside his home and reinstate the path to its original condition by March 15, or face further regulatory action, LTA said in a letter last month.

He was also asked to settle, by Feb 26, a composition fine of $1,400 from three Notices of Offences that the LTA had issued to him last year or face possible court action.

He has yet to pay the fine.

Ever since he moved to the semi-detached house in the Simpang Bedok area in 1993 , the semi-retired manufacturing consultant has been maintaining a collection of curios and knick-knacks.

Mr Cheong had dubbed his elaborate display, which spilled onto the pavement outside, the "Chempaka Mini Zoological Garden" and it has been featured several times in news reports.

It was a feast for the eyes as visitors, both local and foreign, came to see his labour of love.

On Sunday (March 3), he lamented the years of hard work that will now go to waste. He even wrote to the Prime Minister's Office to appeal after receiving the ultimatum but was unsuccessful.

Mr Cheong has already started moving his sculptures and artefacts back inside his home.

Next Sunday (March 10), he will cut down the plants and cover a piece of turf with concrete.

LTA said in reply to The New Paper's queries last week that Mr Cheong's personal belongings, which included bulky items such as pots and statues, inconvenienced pedestrians and drivers, and that they were also a public safety concern.

LTA's spokesman said: "In addition, the unilateral conversion of part of the public footpath outside Mr Cheong's premises to grass turf without a formal application or approval from LTA or relevant authorities is a contravention of the Street Works Act."

The LTA said it had engaged with Mr Cheong more than 10 times since 2017, sending letters and meeting him face to face, to seek his cooperation to remove his belongings from the public footpath.

"Despite our best efforts to engage Mr Cheong, he refused to comply," it added.

Mr Cheong said: "The important thing is not the money, it is the joy and the passion. When you see people enjoy it, the children enjoy it, you feel good."