The following is a comment posted on The Online Citizen by Mr Goh Juak Kin, the General Manager of the Ang Mo Kio-Yio Chu Kang Town Council, in response to media queries about the removal of the herb garden in Yishun. TOC has confirmed with the Town Council that Mr Goh indeed posted the comment.
In response to the media reports on the abovementioned, Ang Mo Kio-Yio Chu Kang Town Council would like to provide some clarification on the background of this matter.
The particular herb garden reported in the media was not a project by the Town Council nor Residents’ Committee (RC). Nonetheless, the Town Council allowed the garden to continue as we were appreciative of the residents’ commendable efforts to beautify their estate out of their own initiative.
Over the years, however, the maintenance of the garden was neglected, and very few people came forward to look after it. In spite of that, the Town Council did not take any action against the garden. This was until we received feedback from residents about the presence of rats in the vicinity.
On 3 October 2008, in response to the residents’ feedback about rats, officers from National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Town Council conducted a joint inspection at the said garden to investigate the source. Rat burrows were detected at the garden, which was found to be in a fairly unkempt state.
Our Property Officer then surveyed residents of Blk 819 around the garden area, and out of the 10 households spoken with, only 2 residents, Mdm Lim Loan and Mr Lim Ah Shuan claimed ownership of the garden. After our Property Officer explained to them the rodent problem and the need to upkeep and maintain the garden as responsible owners, both residents decided that they did not wish to keep the garden. However, they requested for some time to transplant some of the plants into pots, after which the Town Council could remove the rest of the garden. Other residents whom our Property Officer spoke with also indicated that they did not wish to maintain the garden anymore.
It was also explained to these residents that if they ever intended to take up gardening activities again, they could join the Community In Bloom garden a few blocks away at Blk 830. Community-In-Bloom gardens are a joint project between the Town Council and Residents’ Committees (RC), designed to foster camaraderie among community gardeners while ensuring proper management and central control. Mdm Lim and Mr Lim, however, declined to take up our Property Officer’s suggestion, citing old age as a reason.
On 20 October 2008, our Property Officer and horticulture contractor observed that the residents had already transplanted some plants into pots. The garden was eventually cleared on the same day, after having given the residents more than 2 weeks’ notice in advance.
On 23 October 2008, the Town Council received an email from resident Mr Mohd Rafiz Bin Mohyi Hapipi, expressing his unhappiness at the “sudden” removal of the abovementioned garden. On 24 October 2008, our Property Officer called Mr Mohd Rafiz personally to explain the Town Council’s actions, but he refused to accept our explanation and therefore reported the matter to the media.
While we understand Mr Mohd Rafiz’s sentiments, we wish to highlight the fact that the Town Council was willing to allow the garden to continue, but on the condition that the residents must take full responsibility to maintain it. Otherwise, it would be unfair to all the other residents in the vicinity, who would be faced with the rodent problem and the unwelcome consequences it brings.
We hope the above explanation has provided a more detailed background and objective sequence of events pertaining to the abovementioned matter. In spite of the fact that the residents had actually indicated to our Property Officer that they did not wish to continue gardening, the Town Council and the RC do indeed welcome all interested residents to join the Community-In-Bloom garden at Blk 830, Yishun Street 81.
Goh Juak Kin
Ang Mo Kio-Yio Chu Kang Town Council
Read TOC’s earlier report: Destruction of herb garden contradicts active ageing message, says resident.