Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Tree Grows In Singapore

Let me "copy & paste" an interesting article by one of my spiritual teachers. However this post has nothing to do with religion. So read on:


[I have just finished the second volume of Lee Kuan Yew’s memoirs From Third World to First. At 778 pages it’s quite a read and volume one is almost as long. Lee knew or met almost every world leader from the 1950’s onwards and his book contains interesting and sometimes amusing cameos of some of them. Katherine Frank wrote of Moraji Desi that he ‘had all of Gandhi’s fads and none of his virtues’ an impression confirmed by Lee. He writes, ‘In December 1979, in the car taking us from Delhi airport to the Rasthrapati Bhavan, he said that thousands of years ago Indians had made a space journey and visited other planets, which the Americans were then doing. I must have looked skeptical, so he emphasized, “Yes, it’s true. It is by reincarnation. It’s recorded in the Bhagavad Gita."’

Singapore has long been ridiculed for its various campaigns to change its citizens’ behavior – the flush the toilet campaign, the don’t spit campaign, the be polite campaign, the don’t litter campaign, the don’t chew gum campaign, the say 'thank you' campaign, etc - but Lee defends these campaigns convincingly. ‘They laughed at us. But I was confident we would have the last laugh. We would have been a grosser, ruder, cruder society had we made no effort to persuade people to change their ways. We did not measure up as a cultivated, civilized society and we were not ashamed to set about trying to become one…It has made Singapore a more pleasant place to live. If that is a ‘nanny state’ I am proud to have fostered one.’ Who could argue with that?
But being a tree-lover (not ‘hugger’ please note), it was the 13th chapter ‘Greening Singapore’ that interested me most. After two months in India your eyes crave to alight on something clean and green. Bangkok’s last pathetic trees are slowly chocking to death in the smog. There is a suburb of Colombo with the lovely name of Cinnamon Gardens. Even in the 70’s it was still a bit green and shady. Now it’s all asphalt, grime, billboards and glare with hardly a tree in sight.

Singapore by contrast gets greener every year. Lee describes his determination to make Singapore a garden city, how he brought in experts to test the soil to find out how to make the grass grow greener, how he carefully selected trees that would not just grow well in the Singapore climate but also flower and the early tree-planting campaigns. Now Singapore even has ‘heritage trees’ which can’t be chopped down and recently they even slightly changed the route of a new highway to save a lovely old tree.

This is Jalan Dusan, just across the road from me, a fairly typical shaded, tree-decorated Singaporean street in a heavily built-up area.]

[A little further along is the Pan Island Freeway. Just imagine what this would look like without the trees and the trimmed hedges! ]

[This is East Coast Freeway. ]

[No barren paved parking lots in Singapore! All of them are shaded with trees, like this one covered with orchids and moss. ]

[And this is my favorite Singapore tree and I think the biggest in the country, a true ‘forest monarch’ (vanaspati), to use the Buddha’s term, the majestic Ceiba pentandra growing in the Botanical Gardens.]


Got the message?

1 comment:

cilipadi said...


refer to

I am a non-Malaysian which resides in Malaysia for long enough to be familiar with the politics of this country. I’ve been actively giving my views in Dr. Hsu’s Forum.

I witnessed how Umno / BN was and is running the country. Just look back during Mahathir’s rule, the main 3 pillar of significant, namely Legislative, Executive & Judiciary were being raped by the Executive which resulted in Legislative & Judiciary no more an independent institution of their own. It is very clear, one does not need to be highly intelligent to understand what I meant here. The recent Perak fiasco, Lingam Video case, Altantuya,autopsy reports of Kugan, just to name a few, are the very few examples that reflect how sick is this country that I adopted.

I agree with Andrew’s points to a certain extent, but what he said about Penang DAP led government are just peanuts compared to what Umno / BN had done to the country. Their sins are far more deplorable that warrant Malaysian people to somehow ‘casting their votes blindly’ to Pakatan Rakyat. Only then, these Umno and their goons can repent truthfully their wrong doings to this beloved adopted country of Malaysia.

To Andrew, I appreciate your views, if they are of clear conscience without any malice or hidden agenda. Keep criticizing PR if they do wrong so that they can fine tune their inexperience in their administration. Your vote to Pakatan Rakyat is still needed to teach Umno / BN a lesson that they country has been raped by them for far too long. Let them realize and repent their wrong doing. Only then, democracy of this country can thrives on healthy 2-party system that emphasize on ‘morality’.

Malaysian people need to go all out to support Pakatan Rakyat, ensure both Federal and State governments go to Pakatan Rakyat in next General Election. If not, you can see the mess that we witnessed in Perak fiasco. Federal agencies are being used at their whim and fancy to hang them on to their powers at all cost.

To me, a Malaysian Outsider, Pakatan Rakyat should concentrate on disseminating this message of mine to all Malaysian people. You guys are at losing end going to your Judiciary to seek justice.


Anil, I will re-post this comment of mine in Dr. Hsu’s Forum, The Middle Ground and blogs that I am familiar with so that more people get what I commented. I have no other motive but to let Malaysia has the chance to regain its past glory.


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