Beware of Falling Trees



Director (Streetscape) of National Parks Board – Simon Longman’s reply published on Today dated 16 Mar 2012 Page 24.

“We refer to Mr Ronald Koh’s letter, ‘Leaning trees along Bedok South Road’ (March 14), and thank him for his feedback.

We have inspected the roadside trees mentioned by Mr Koh and wish to assure him that they are stable and pose no danger to the public. Roadside trees are inspected and monitored regularly by our trained staff. Where necessary, pruning will be carried out to ensure that the trees are not overgrown.

Members of the public can contact us at our 24-hr helpline at 1800-4717300 if they have feedback on our trees.”

That is a standard template reply given to a concerned public spirited citizen who wrote in to alert the authority about those trees. A pathetic reply. Might as well don’t reply.


I know that area Bedok South Road well. I used to travel on that road. My office is just nearby at Tanah Merah MRT station. Sometimes, I would ride my bike there for my meals or coffee.

Just look at those trees along the road. The roots are protruding out above the ground. Those trees seem quite old with big branches spreading towards the road. Worst, they are leaning precariously at an angle towards the road.

I believe those trees are “instant” trees. In fact, I would venture to say that almost all the trees found on our roads and everywhere are “instant” trees! Just plucked them from the nursery and plant them by the side of the road. You can see lots of them in the compound of newly built HDB estates, condominiums, schools or even buildings.

Unless you go to the Bukit Timah Hill reserve, catchment area near to the reservoirs or some undeveloped parts of Singapore, chances are that you will find lots of instant trees sometimes temporarily prop up with sticks and poles to stabilize them.

Instant trees do not have roots that grow deep and far into the ground. Especially along the road, the roots can’t extend due to the construction nature of roads. The roots burst out unable to penetrate the concrete or cement underneath the road giving rise to protruding roots holding flimsily onto the earth.

When the trees grow higher and bigger, they become heavier. With those roots not deeply entrenched are they able to support and hold its weight?

Those trees may be healthy and strong without any disease or sickness. But with roots not firmly and deeply entrenched, will it hold its weight during heavy rain storms? It’s common here to have huge tropical torrential rainfall and sudden gush of wind. Will those instant trees be uprooted?

Let’s look back at the havoc caused by past fallen trees.

SCDF reports on fallen trees with casualties…

“At 0901 hrs, CTE towards Yishun (between Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 and Ave 3) – A case involving a tree falling onto vehicles. SCDF dispatched 2 ambulances and conveyed 2 casualties (a man and a woman, both Chinese) to TTSH.

At 0934 hrs, Kampung Bahru Rd towards Keppel Distripark, near KTM – SCDF dispatched 1 ambulance and conveyed 2 casualties (a man and a woman, both Chinese) to SGH.


Look at the witness account and descriptions of some fallen trees.

Fellow blogger Victor Khoo’s report on the havoc caused by fallen trees.

17 trees uprooted on a Sunday morning!

Now let’s go back to the original letter written by the member of public. Do you not agree that the reply given by Director of NPB is pathetic? His lackadaisical attitude towards public safety. What should we do with him?

NPB should have taken the immediate step to trim those leaning trees along Bedok South Road to lessen its weight and mimimise the chances of fallen trees. Usually the job is outsourced to contractors. Is NPB short of budget or pending funds allocation? Or they just take things for granted and if any mishap due to a fallen tree were to happen, just push it to mother nature or “Act of God?” just like that joker who said “once in 50 years’ Orchard River?” It has become a quotable quote.

Those highly paid ‘iron rice bowl’ bureaucrats should be taken to task if those trees at Bedok South Road were uprooted in a thunderstorm resulting in injury or death to the motorist or pedestrian. By then it will be too late cuz no preventive action was taken. What is the use of convening a COI after an incident or disaster? As it is we already have an orgy of COIs!

It’s only a matter of time – waiting for an accident to happen. I wonder who will be the “lucky” person in the news to hit the headlines! As usual, the Head or Director will just issue a statement , “We are truly sorry. We fully sympathise with the family for such an unfortunate accident beyond our control against mother nature. It’s an act of God! stupid” That is the usual modus operendi adopted by the government.

Assuming that in this particular case can the victim or next of kin sue the government for being negligent?

Members of public have given feedback yet nothing is done except to give a standard template reply. Can we hold the government or the relevant authority accountable?

In the meantime, since the relevant authority refuses to do anything on those bending trees along Bedok South Road what can we do? See the MP? Or sign a petition to get them do something before an accident happen? Any other options available? Are we at the mercy of the powers to be? Really langgar!







About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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4 Responses to Beware of Falling Trees

  1. agongkia says:

    Sometimes,it not easy for one to admit he had overlook the safety risk .Telling you and admit its a genuine risk and thanking you will mean that one is admitting that he is not doing his job and need public feedback to know the risk.Usually action will likely be taken secretly after the reply to say that there is no risk and you must understand the culture here.
    Many of you seems to think about the risk is only about tree uprooting, branches falling during heavy rain etc.Think out of the box on other possible risk.

    Tree with strong foothold that dun fell may not necessary pose no risk.
    Remember sometimes back,a double decker travelling along the side of a road in the east hit the tree branches and if I am not wrong,someone in the upper deck was injured seriously ,likely and possibly fatal.
    Trees that grow fruits.This is a risk to tempt poor man like me.Can tempt me to pluck it and being made me chargeable in Court.Not because I am greedy but I always feel wasted to see it dropping on the ground when it can be eaten.A fruit given to my junior at home means I can save 50 cents .
    Risk of fruits falling on a infant on her mothers arm while the mother is walking below it.Dun think its impossible just because there is no reports.It may not necessary mean death but permanent injury is enough for one to suffer.
    There are other risk ….but I know you will say I another Loso if I carry on…

  2. Hi agongkia,
    Thks for your interesting comments. You see the same thing from many angles. Yes I totally agree with you on your other risks. Pls do not feel loso. I have learned something from you.

    Yes, I remember the tree was in the cutting process when an accident involving a double decker at Bedok Rd neat to the PIE. A man was killed with many injured. Sad case.

    One day, I may compare those instant trees with our instant immigrants. They just planted here without any roots here unlike us born and bred here with roots deep here. We can withstand whatever storms that come our way unlike those instant immigrants they will just pack up and leave to their hometown.

    We have got lots of instant immigrants in the hundreds of thousands on this tiny piece of Rock. KNN ! Really langgar.

  3. patriot says:

    There are ‘instant settlers’ and there are ‘instant parliamentarians’
    as there there are ‘instant’ noodles and ‘instant’ trees.

    The instant tree does not provide shade safely, the instant noodle
    only fills the stomach without providing nutrient.
    The instant parliamentarian talk and jest in Parliament Debate
    with little or no substance and the instant settlers come in to upset
    the native Singaporeans.

    Anything instant does not give much comfort.


    • Oh yes totally agree with you. One day, we will be overwhelmed by those instant citizens! They got no roots here. They came with their own agenda and culture. They can’t blend into our local customs and culture creating lots of friction and unhappiness! When the govt is so stingy with giving more to the poor and helpless local citizens, yet they willing to spend millions of dollars to organize programmes to integrate new citizens! So u see the people are furious! What sort of govt are we having here?

      I was born here. U were born here. Our roots are firmly entrenched here. Where can we go? We will live our life here even if there is a war or huge storm. We have been thru those hard times. I lived in a kumpung with no electricity before. I know what I’m talking! Those instant citizens got a place to seek refuge cuz their roots are not here but in their country of origin! Langgar!

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