Marsiling's mature trees may be spared

Esther Ng Today Online 3 Dec 09;

SINGAPORE - All may not be lost for the fruit trees at Marsiling Rise.

Sembawang Town Council (SBTC) will propose some ideas to residents and the Residents' Committee, to see how it can meet residents' love for nature and yet keep the estate clean.

"For existing appropriate mature trees, we could consider allowing the trees to be adopted and cared for by the residents. We're also considering planting more fruits trees in the vicinity for adoption by residents," said its public relations manager, Dorothy Cheung.

SBTC was responding to queries from MediaCorp about any plans to cut trees planted by residents from Blocks 109, 116 and 117 of Marsiling Rise.

"The Town Council does not act only in the light of complaints. Haphazard in-ground planting is not allowed in the common areas, as it may also lead to mosquito breeding and pose other maintenance problems," explained Ms Cheung.

"We believe this is a more balanced approach in catering to residents' interests in gardening, maintaining a pleasant and safe environment, and at the same time, helping enhance community bonding."

It clarified that most of the haphazard in-ground planting include shrubs, bushes, trees and other plants and "none of these plantings have been removed yet".

Member of Parliament (Sembawang) Hawazi Daipi also clarified that he was aware of the matter when he was overseas last month, but had not seen the petition from residents appealing to the authorities to save the trees when MediaCorp contacted him on Tuesday.

"We encourage residents to work with the RC in collaboration with the town council," he said.

Mr Hawazi, chairman of SBTC, said it will look into "improving the environment and beautifying the area".

"It's better to do this the communal way than individuals planting trees in the ground in an uncoordinated manner," he said, and added that there were avenues to meet residents' interests.

Unauthorised planting is not unique to Marsiling, though. When Hougang Town Council found "unsightly" illegal plantings, for example, it improved the landscapes of 12 blocks, it said in its annual report.

When MediaCorp visited Blocks 116 and 117, most of its residents were in favour of preserving the trees.

"The trees aren't dangerous to people - the neem tree has many medicinal values - so why cut them down," said Mr Lau Peng Kong, 56. "If you have to cut a tree, cut those which are sick and dying like the banana tree."

However, Madam Hamisah Saaid, 46, who lives on the third floor, wants all the trees cut.

"They're all over the place - it's not a pretty sight," said the resident of six years. "It makes my flat dark. It's creepy at night, and my son is scared of the banana tree."

Mdm Hamisah is not against greenery - she yearns instead for a more aesthetic surrounding.

"Why can't we have pretty plants with colourful flowers?" she said.

Related article
Town council to remove trees at Marsiling But some Marsiling Rise residents say the garden is source of community pride Esther Ng, Today Online 2 Dec 09;