Appointment of Perm Sec to head Kranji forest disaster unacceptable

February 26, 2021
Singapore Democrats
Part of Kranji forest is gone
Part of Kranji forest gone. Photo credit: Google Earth

The SDP said in our first statement that the logging of the forested area could not have been done “by mistake” because the project had to be carried across government ministries and agencies.

What is most telling is that the government had not only announced the project to be built in the area but moved quickly to develop the land there.

On February 2020, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing launched the Sungei Kadut Eco-District (SKED) masterplan which is part of the Agri-Food Innovation Park (AFIP) that would occupy the redeveloped Kranji forest.

On 2 March 2020, authorisation clearance for the first portions of the forest began.

At about the same time. then Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon announced that work to develop AFIP (the size of about “33 football fields”) would begin and that the first phase would be ready by the second quarter of 2021.

More plots of the forest were cleared in the months ahead. Whether NParks had authorised the clearance of some of the areas remains unclear.

The above developments signal, at the minimum, that the government had every intention to clear the forest. The only questions were what was cleared and by when.

It also remains to be determined who gave the green light to start the logging and which ministers were involved in the process?

All these questions are not difficult to answer because there must have been emails sent, minutes of meetings recorded, documents approved, contracts signed and payments made.

Such communication records should be released immediately for public scrutiny. It should not have to take three months, as announced by Mr Chan Chun Sing, for investigations to be conducted.

Also, the person to head investigations should not be Permanent Secretary (Defence) Joseph Leong. As the matter involves questions regarding the public service system and Dr Leong is part of the public service, his leading of the investigations is unacceptable. A neutral body should be appointed to conduct an unbiased investigation into the mess.