Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the opening of Bishan Park - ABC Waters, 17 Mar 2012

17 March 2012

Dear Residents


1.    What a beautiful morning; what a beautiful Park this is! We should be enjoying ourselves here, but let me have five minutes to make a very short speech. Two years ago, we launched this Active, Beautiful and Clean Waters programme in Bishan Park. At that time, we didn’t have a river here; we just had a concrete canal along the edge. On the other sides were the flats, on this side was the grass. In two years, the canal has been completely transformed. There is a meandering river with landscaped banks and gentle slopes. People can walk along the river; old folks can exercise; young people can bring their boyfriends and girlfriends here; children can play; and families can all enjoy themselves. Plants and animals are here too. There is biodiversity, so we have got all kinds of water birds here – purple heron; all kinds of plants – basil is growing. There are fish, I am told. Please don’t go and catch them all. I am sure there will be butterflies – a little bit of nature in the middle of our city.

2.    This new Bishan Park is part of our vision to make Singapore a “City in a Garden”. It is not just a Garden City (花园城市), but City in a Garden (花园中的城市). That means, all around us, in the middle, in our lives, you have a large tropical habitat where you have plants, you have trees, you have birds, you have something beautiful, calm, peaceful, tranquil and good to live in. We are doing this all over Singapore – parks, gardens, park connectors; long-gangs become monsoon drains before; now monsoon drains become beautiful waterways. We are building a 150 km-long Round Island Cycling Route to connect up our whole population – historical, cultural and recreational attractions – all together. And we are building more parks like Bishan Park – “Destination Parks” in other parts of Singapore, each with its unique attractions. If you saw the exhibition just now, you will know where the parks are going to be. There is going to be one at Admiralty in the north; there is going to be one at Jurong Lake in the west; and there is going to be one at East Coast Park – the park is already there, but we will put in more things, make it more fun for everybody to go to. So all over Singapore, whether you are downtown, in the Marina Bay – which is very beautiful, or whether you are in the neighbourhoods, whether in the north, in the east, in the west – there is nothing south of Marina Bay, unfortunately – we will be able to have nature, we will have Active, Beautiful and Clean (ABC) waters.

3.    We have already completed 20 ABC projects; five more are in progress; and another 20 projects are planned over the next five years.

4.    We call it ABC Waters programme, but it is not so simple as ABC, because you need creativity to imagine what it can be; you need commitment to make it work; and you need hard work by many people – the planners, the builders, also the residents and grassroots leaders who must take care of it and make sure it becomes truly beautiful. But for this Park, I think I should mention two special people who played a big part in creating it. One was Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, who used to be Minister for Environment and Water Resources; now he is in MICA. He saw the untapped potential of our reservoirs and waterways, and led the Government’s move to open up these blue spaces. The water can be enjoyed, not just kept untouched, and we encourage the public to get closer to our waters. The second person is Mr Mah Bow Tan, who saw the potential for residents to enjoy the interesting flora and fauna in the Park and backed this Bishan Park project wholeheartedly. Minister Yaacob is not here today, but Bow Tan is here with us, and I think we should thank them both especially. Thank you very much.

5.    After this Park has been developed, I think it deserves a fresh launch. For many years, it has been shared between the residents of Bishan and the residents of Ang Mo Kio. The boundary between the two constituencies is along Avenue 1 on this side, but actually the Park is shared between the two of us. And every morning, people come down, they do taiji, they exercise their dogs, they bring their kids here. Many people have suggested to us to call it a suitable name, so that both sides can feel that the Park belongs to them,. I think that is a very good idea, so we shall rename the Park Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. And we put it like that because Bishan got here first. We hope it will attract many residents here in, and not just residents, but Singaporeans from across the country too. When I am free on weekends, I make a point of visiting the parks and these facilities and nature we have gradually been creating over the last few years. And I have been to many of the park connectors. Recently I went down to the Labrador Park Connector, which is just being completed. I went down to Marina, where the Marina East Park is just taking shape. And I am very happy to see people there, from all over Singapore. They come, they bring their kids, they ride little scooters around. I think here in Ang Mo Kio and Bishan, we can also attract people from all over Singapore to see our little…we shall call it the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio River.


6.    This is one example of how we are making Singapore the best home for ourselves and our families. After all, Singapore is not just defined by tall buildings or skylines, or even exciting events like F1, but rather, by the places where we grew up, the memories we have, the people we meet daily and the community spaces we enjoy together. So we must improve our living environment, especially the heartlands where we raise our families, forge new memories and strengthen our emotional ties.

7.    We have many programmes to do this. We have upgrading programmes for our housing estates. We are creating new growth centres all round Singapore – Kallang Riverside, Paya Lebar Central, Jurong Lake District. And we are improving our amenities and our public transport networks, building many more train lines and improving our bus system.

8.    But this is not something which the Government can do alone; all of us have to take ownership of our shared home. We have to take care of the common spaces. It looks green today, please keep it like this. Don’t go and help yourselves to the flowers or the fruits. Don’t go and litter. And if your dog comes along, please make sure the dog goes back and takes everything with him. Help us to create our national plans together. Share with NParks your ideas on what you want to see in your parks. Do you want to see more facilities for old people? Do you want to see more slides for young people? Do you want it to be exciting, like nature? Or do you want it to have more food and drinks? What ideas do you have? Not just ideas for the physical landscape, but also for developing an open and neighbourly culture to accommodate the different peoples and cultures among us. And work hard to make this a truly inclusive society.

9.    It is happening here in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. For example, RI – Raffles Institution – has developed an ABC Waters Learning Trail, so that students can learn about the waterways and the plants which are here. We have a group called Friends of Kallang River@Bishan Park, and they are a volunteer group who patrol the Park on weekends, share some fun facts about the Park with the community, and clean up the Park quarterly. The Bishan grassroots leaders and the Police are engaging residents to be ambassadors of the Park to promote safe and responsible use of the Park and river.

10.    These are all good examples of active citizenry, and I hope to see many more such examples, because Singapore is our home and it is up to all of us to make the best of it.


11.    May we all enjoy the new Park, and may the Park bring Singaporeans much happiness and much contentment and satisfaction for many years to come. Thank you very much.

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