Kranji Woodland was formerly a barren land back in 2008 based on satellite images

Feb 21, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Satellite images dating between 2008 and 2018 revealed how the forest came to be at Kranji Woodland.

On a Facebook post published early this morning (Feb 21), CSI-extraordinaire SMRT Feedback explained how Kranji Woodland was a barren land back in 2008 before an invasive species of trees populated the area.

Land was barren up till mid-2010 before the rapid growth of the Albizia trees

Cutting through Kranji Woodland - formerly a scrubland - is the former KTM railway tracks operated by Malaysia.

Railway service ceased in 2011 before Singapore took over and earmarked it for future redevelopment into an Agri-Food Innovation Park.

Based on satellite images, a would-be forest begin to form only in late-2012 to mid-2013. According to SMRT Feedback, the forest is populated by a species of trees known as the Albizia (Falcataria moluccana).

The Albizia, one of the fastest growing species of trees in the world, can reach more than 40m - about 11 storeys. It was first introduced to Singapore in the 1870s.

It regenerates freely from seed which are held in dry, light-weight seedpods that get carried on the wind over short distances, usually not far from the parent plant. Its ability to easily disperse its seed and its fast growth rate can lead to the formation of dense stands in a relatively short time.

In fact, the barren land at Kranji Woodland completely regenerated into a forest within 7 to 8 years.

An 'accidental forest' is still an important habitat for wildlife

Kranji Woodland is part of a 24km green corridor stretching from Tanjong Pagar in the south to Woodlands in the north of Singapore. The area in Kranji itself is about 70 hectares - about the size of almost 100 football fields.

About 18 hectares had been set aside for the first phase of development for the Agri-Food Innovation Park.

A survey from the green corridor found 47 resident and migratory bird species that account for 12 per cent of Singapore's total records.

Some endangered and rare species that have been sighted in the area include the crested serpent eagle, Malayan box turtle, and even the pangolin.

Satellite images showed Kranji Woodland destroyed as early as March last year

Satellite images show that the Kranji woodland was destroyed as early as Mar. 1 last year.

Work halted between March and August 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The area cleared remained the same throughout those months and more logging was only made starting from September 2020.

By Jan. 25, 2021, green patches of at least 8 hectares - or 11 football fields - were cleared.

The JTC Corporation - who is responsible for the development of the Agri-Food Innovation Park - said on Tuesday (Feb 16) the affected area had been "erroneously cleared" by a contractor, Huationg, before an environmental impact assessment could be carried out.

The JTC Corporation spokesman said it takes a very serious view of the incident.

"The land 15 to 20 metres to the left and right of the rail corridor has been safeguarded to protect biodiversity within the belt of the existing forest," said JTC.

The National Parks Board (NParks) said it was investigating the unauthorised clearance.

It is illegal to fell a tree with a girth exceeding 1m growing on any vacant land, whether within or outside a tree conservation area, except with the approval of NParks, according to the Parks and Trees Act.

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This commentator thinks MCI ad should not have featured poor Malays

May 12, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership
A Hari Raya advertisement by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) was 'cancelled' by certain netizens online for depicting lower income Malays according to reality.

"Message for Syawal", a two-and-a-half-minute video published last month (Apr 30) captures moments in the life of a low-income Malay family living in a rental flat.


Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

The video, which is peppered with Malay proverbs, shows the family moving out of their rental flat to a new home several years later where they celebrate Hari Raya.

The father of the family works as a mover while the mother is a housewife.

Their young son, Syawal, skips school to earn extra income for his family before a teacher flags his absence from school to his parents.

The mother in the video later decides to return to work to alleviate her family’s financial difficulties while the father gets a new job.

Pictured: Screenshot from MCI video "Message for Syawal"

Why some netizens are outraged

The video sparked backlash online, with some viewers saying that it contained stereotypes about the Malay community.

The stereotypes:
  • The father works as a mover - commonly perceived to be a low-income job
  • The mother is jobless
  • The son plays truant
  • The family lives in a rental flat for low-income earners

Commentator implied that poor Malays shouldn't be portrayed in public to prevent stereotypes

Pictured: Screenshot from Homeground Asia video

A video commentary by The Homeground Asia went further by criticizing how the video propagates the narrative that Malays are poor and lazy, and that the ministry should have created a video that is more relatable to both the less fortunate and the more affluent Malays.

Adi Rahman, one of the interviewees in the video went further by making sweeping assumptions that the ministry lacked cultural intelligence and did not consult the community on the narrative.

Ironically, in talking about inclusivity, Adi implied that the realities of poor Malays should not be shown in public.

For example, his rationale suggested that the video contained characters (the mover, jobless mother and the son who skips school) that contribute to the problem of other races seeing the Malays in a stereotypical and reductive light.

In other words, show the good stuff but not the reality.

Adi even accused the ministry for not consulting the Malays in the vetting of the video narrative.

His accusations were without merit, however, when the Ministry said in a statement (Apr 30) that Malay-Muslim viewers - presumably a focus group - had seen the video prior to its release, and perceived the story to be heart-warming, although some expressed reservations.

Pictured: Adi Rahman - one of the commentators in Homeground Asia video

Stereotyping or masking reality?

The ministry said last month (Apr 30) the video was meant to show "a family’s journey of resilience in facing challenging circumstances and how mutual support and encouragement could nurture the process”.

Other netizens felt it was an overreaction and that low-income families shouldn't be dehumanized in a way that they are removed from the conversation. They felt that the video was a call-to-action for those from the underprivileged to strive for a better life through hard work and seeking help that's already available.

The only missed opportunity in the MCI video was perhaps the suggestion that Malays in low income families living in a rental flat could not celebrate Hari Raya unless they get a flat on their own.

But of course, like Homeground Asia, that is also a sweeping assumption.