When I was reading through the biographies of the Workers’ Party candidates for the 2020 General Election, this section of the biography for Marine Parade GRC candidate Nathaniel Koh caught my eye:
Rekindle our sense of space. As we pride ourselves as a city in a garden, every plot of land need not be developed into another shopping mall or housing project. Green lungs should be well-maintained for the enjoyment and imagination of Singaporeans.
This resonates with me. A sense of space stemming from one’s experience of living and functioning within an urban environment is intangible, yet crucial to one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and one’s rootedness and sense of homeliness. While it makes economic sense to build on every inch of real estate, it does not contribute to a positive sense of space. People need variety in their surroundings. They need greenery and open spaces. They need to breathe.
And yet, these open spaces in Singapore are shrinking or disappearing with each passing year. Even the spaces that are left are not spared from pruning and manicuring - the consequence of an earnest desire to “put things in order”. I’ve been told of how large stretches of the beautiful Rail Corridor have been closed for redevelopment works, to “spruce things up”. To be honest, I thought the Rail Corridor was already fine enough as it was. Sometimes, less is more. No need to make every bush or shrub look neat. Nature by itself is beautiful. And we need to give the next generation a physical reminder of what old Singapore used to be.