Sudden removal of herb garden heartless, says resident

We received this email from Rafiz Mohyi Hapipi which he wrote to the Ang Mo Kio-Yio Chu Kang Town Council.

I am writing to express my deepest regret and unhappiness over the sudden destruction of the herb garden surrounding block 819 Yishun Street 81.

I have been a resident of this block and neighbourhod for the past 7 years. This was a peaceful and happy neighbourhood with a good mix of multi-cutural elderly, young adults and children. My two school-going children enjoy the company of Chinese and Indian friends as well as the care and concern of the eldery in the neighbourhood.

Since the day I moved into this neighbourhood, I have seen the elderly here tending to the herb garden that they have worked on for over twenty years. Others who retire later joined in and the herb garden became a regular routine activity that kept the elderly here active and cheerful. At the same time, while they were working on the garden or having their short rests in between, the elderly here lend their watchful eyes over the children. My own children grew up with their friendly smiles and hugs. They learnt the value of multiculturalism through experience away from force-fed curriculum of National Education taught in schools. My own parents who are themselves retirees, although not staying with me, frequented my place and enjoyed the company of people their age here.

The last few days have been traumatic for the elderly here. With much grieve they saw the herb garden that they have put their sweat and soul in for many years being destroyed heartlessly. I saw tears and heard voices of despair as some of the elderly tried to salvage whatever is left from the plants into pots. Some had given up. An elderly Chinese neighbour at the second floor shared with me, “Sudah Dua Puluh Satu Tahun saya jaga ini pokok. Ini bukan pokok bunga tapi semua ini pokok Ubat yang banyak gunanya. Siapa lagi yang tahu? Kita (orang tua) saja yang tahu. Saya sedih. Macam saya nak cakap suruh buang saja semua jadi saya tak nampak. Apa boleh buat? Diorang boleh buat apa diorang suka. Dua puluh satu tahun diorang takda peduli tapi sekarang semua buang.”

“It has been 21 years since I cared for these plants. These are not flowers but all these are herbs that have many uses. Who else would know (about the herbs)? Only us (the aged) would know. I’m sad. I feel like telling them to dispose of everything so that I can’t see (anything left behind – note: some small plant in pots were left behind). What can I do? They can do what they want. For 21 years nobody cared about this area and now every they dispose.”)

I personally share my tears and grieve with them. I find the whole episode appalling. It is an outright contradiction to the messages of Active Aging that have been sloganised over and over.

My own daughter who is only a kindergarten student was upset when she saw the workers grabbed and dumped the plants aside. I personally feel that the actions in this episode is a reflection of heartless and cold-hearted mechanical policies.

Twenty years of effort have been destroyed. The pride of the aged here has been badly hurt. This episode will definitely be part of my memory and the memory of my children as well as the children in this neighbourhood.

Please relay my message to the Town Council Advisor.

Thank You.

In Utmost Unhappiness,

Rafiz Mohyi Hapipi


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