by Kee Kai Wen
In light of a massive plot of land in Kranji Woodland being erroneously cleared without approval, it is highly concerning that the authorities only instituted a stern warning to the contractor company, Huationg.
Given the several adverse repercussions stemming from the contractors’ actions, it could be too lenient for the authorities to simply impose a stern warning, instead of issuing harsher punishments on them.
If a lenient attitude is used as an approach to deal with these offenders, it will not serve as an effective deterrence. Harsher policies and punishments should be imposed on contractors that irresponsibly clear land without approval.
For instance, higher fines may be a way to effectively prevent future companies from repeating the same offense.
In addition, companies should implement more stringent standard operative procedures (SOPs) prior to proceeding with their tasks. Parties involved in the project should also partake in more consultative sessions to improve and facilitate communication.
As we all know, Singapore is a small country with limited access to resources, especially in terms of land. Thus, prudent use of land should be maintained instead of just frivolously clearing it.
This is even more egregious given how the contractor was able to clear an immense proportion of the land without the authorities realizing it.
Inherently, we should value every area of the natural green spaces we own in Singapore as these are places serve as habitats and serenities for the wildlife.
Clearing the land has also led to external costs to society. The clearing could exacerbate the effects of global warming and cause a displacement of wildlife. Animals residing in that forest will either have to move to other forested areas or ‘integrate’ themselves with us by roaming in the city areas.
Thus, the inflicted costs arising from this unapproved clearing is actually much higher.
Irreversible damage, also known as the sunk cost, has already been done to the green space where the costs incurred cannot be recovered. Reparative financial measures have to be put into place to restore the land back to its original state.
The resources spent on reparation could potentially be channelled to other uses instead, such as developing new green urban spaces for the community.
If there are no substantial punitive measures put in place, it will undermine the integrity of the authorities, and manifest distrust among citizens.
Hence, for an effective deterrence to take place, higher fines should be imposed.