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Speech by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development at the Clean & Green Week Celebrations (12 November 2005)

22 Feb 2006 Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen, A very good morning to you. I am glad to be here with you for this Clean & Green Week celebration on a beautiful Saturday morning. I observe the forest surrounding us and I reflect upon how privileged we are to be the beneficiaries of this legacy of trees. They are ours to protect and a legacy we owe to our next generation. Hence, even as we are constantly faced with the dilemma of competing land needs, we have always taken a pragmatic approach to nature conservation. Our Nature Reserves serve not only as a refuge for our native biodiversity, they also function as a venue for recreation, an outdoor classroom for our school children, and a location for research in tropical ecology. The writer Alex Kerr, in his latest book, describes the drive from Changi Airport to downtown Singapore as ?one of the pleasures of the modern world?. I quote him: ?You whirl along a highway lined with a canopy of spreading trees ? all newly planted in the past few decades ? and under bridges from which flowering vines trail.? Visitors to Singapore will leave with lasting memories of our lush greenery. This reputation did not come about by chance, but is the result of a commitment to making Singapore a garden city, and backed by decades of investment in our green infrastructure. Going forward, as cities around the world become more competitive, we need to transform Singapore into a vibrant and distinctive city. We have worked out bold, exciting plans for the Marina Bay which include building an integrated resort, waterfront gardens, and a business financial centre. There are also innovative ideas to revitalize Orchard Road and the Bugis areas, and rejuvenate older HDB estates. But to be distinctive, we need to complement these ideas with the enhancement of our soft infrastructure. This includes enhancing the clean and green environment that we already enjoy today. In the area of greenery, our vision is to develop Singapore into a ?City in a Garden?, a city with a unique green matrix of parks and green spaces all inter-connected to add value to other developments, and ensure an inviting and aesthetically pleasing environment. To realise our vision, NParks has put in place various major initiatives. NParks will continue to develop and redevelop our parks, enhance the greenery along our streets and encourage property owners to build rooftop gardens. NParks will also be organising an international garden and flower show in Dec 2006. Today, I want to take this opportunity to update you about the progress made on two of the key strategies, namely, building the Park Connector Network and promoting Community Gardening. Park Connector Network To bring us closer to becoming a ?City in a Garden?, NParks is developing an island-wide Park Connector Network. Tree-lined park connectors will also provide convenient and pleasant access to nearby parks, bus stops, MRT stations, and other community facilities. They are wonderful venues for grassroots organisations, private companies, schools and organised groups to hold healthy lifestyle and community activities. Besides being a place for people to relax and enjoy the greenery, park connectors are ideal locations for jogging, cycling or roller-blading. I am pleased to announce the completion of the coast-to-coast Connector linking Pasir Ris Park to East Coast Park. This 10km route will pass through Sunplaza Park, Tampines Town Centre, Bedok Reservoir Park, Bedok Town Park, as well as Kembangan and Telok Kurau housing estates. The work on park connectors will continue. In ten years? time, we will enjoy 170km of such park connectors, providing loops and links all over our island. Community Gardening To achieve our vision for a ?City In a Garden?, every one of us has a role to play. We need to have a nation of people who share the vision. We need the community to be actively involved in, and take ownership for moving Singapore towards becoming a ?City In a Garden?. Having a community which is passionate about, and take pride in, our greenery achievements will ensure that NParks? efforts are sustainable. Having ideas and initiatives that blossom from the people and private sectors will multiply what NParks alone can do. In this regard, NParks has launched a community gardening program to nurture a gardening culture, and to introduce gardening as a healthy hobby for everyone. I am heartened to hear that the response to NParks? ?Community In Bloom? program has been very encouraging. Community gardening is more than a fun outdoor activity that relieves stress. It is also a way to help bond community and create identity. When I visit community gardens, I see not only the plants, but also people who gather to mingle with their neighbors. Schools are using the gardens as outdoor classrooms. Communities that have vegetables and herbs gardens, share their produce among neighbors and charitable organizations. I see people and communities that are proud of what they have created. Today, 74 public housing estates, 21 private housing estates, 37 schools, and 18 other organizations have set up community gardens. Of these, 107 groups submitted entries for the inaugural ?Community In Bloom? Awards. I am told that some communities are even holding competitions of their own. Your investments of time and resources to sustain the gardening spirit within your community will play an important part in transforming Singapore into a ?City in a Garden?. I commend your efforts, and hope many more will follow your good examples. Green Fingers For those who have yet to take an interest in gardening, today presents a good opportunity to start. We are launching the ?Green Fingers? programme. You can obtain a pair of specially designed Green Gloves packed with a packet of fast sprouting seeds. The experience of planting seeds and watching them germinate and grow, will help us feel a greater connection with nature. Funds raised by Green Fingers will go to support worthwhile greenery projects. I would like to conclude by congratulating the ?Community In Bloom? award winners, and officially launch the ?Green Fingers? programme. Let us all work together to make Singapore a truly unique ?City in a Garden?. Thank You. *** View other speeches
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Last updated on 19 November 2014

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