Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew planting a mempat (cratoxylum formosum) tree at Holland Circus (junction of Holland Road, Farrer Road and Queensway) to mark the beginning of his tour of Ulu Pandan constituency. The ceremony also signified the beginning of an island-wide tree planting campaign. – 1963. Photo : National Archives Singapore
Managed to find one of the Rambutan trees from the former Han Rambutan Orchard! Does anyone remember visiting this Rambutan Orchard? The orchard was also a place for the literati to meet and convene, away from the city, and had the best rambutan species from around the region. Old Upper Thompson Rd. 1003 Singapore.
To the chief Gardener of Singapore, Thank you for all the trees. Gardner at Botanical Garden, Hand-tinted, c.1910.
PM Lee Hsien Long on his father
“But there were other areas he felt very strongly about and let his views be known. For example, on greening Singapore, he had very definite (views), his determination that this place should be clean, green and beautiful is maintained till today. He planted at the first tree planting 50 years ago and he had just planted another one recently.
A couple of years ago, the Istana staff put up a proposal, somewhere along the boundary, the fence; they wanted to trim a few trees, to improve visibility and security. I was going to agree and he sent me a note to say, are you sure you need to do this? This place is green, and we make it a point to make this place green, and we have got birds and wildlife. You want to keep it like that.
So in the end, I didn’t cut the trees down but he felt strongly about (the issue).
Hand Tinted, Banana Tree, Singapore. Straits Settlements. #SG100
Every time his children suggested chopping down the tree, Haji Bakri withdrew into himself. He kept silent. They were unaware of just how strongly Haji Bakri felt about the tree. To him, the tree was his soul. The tree was his life. He was very sure that if the tree died, he would die; or if he died, the tree would die. It was strange how the human mind thought sometimes.
His children did not know that the tree was as old as him and had witnessed his life’s journey. “If the old tree is to be brought down, it means that this old person here ought to die too. I am old and useless too.” These words often plated in Haji Bakri’s mind. He felt offended every time his children mentioned cutting down the tree.
Last evening, when his youngest child Salimah had brought up the matter again as the family sat on the verandah, Haji Bakri had snapped.
“What sin has the tree committed that all of you want to cut it down? None of you can see what the tree has done for others. Look at those birds, the tree is the home they return to every evening. To passer-by, the tree provides shade from the hot sun. It may be old, but it is still useful. But all of you, what have you contributed to your race, religion and country? Haji Bakri had grabbed his walking stick and risen from the rattan chair.
“You do not understand how much the tree has sacrificed for me and all of you,” he continued. “And yet, it does not ask anything of you. It lives on its own, getting sustenance from Allah. Neither does the tree trouble you. You children should realize that the tree is me and I am the tree. If you cut it down, it means you are killing me.”
Excerpt from An Ageing Tree by A. Wahab Hj. Hamzah
Tenacity: Stories built to last, Pg 158-159
Translated from Malay, Sebatang Pohon Tua
With its girth of 10.2m, the largest tree in Singapore is located near the entrance of Shangri La Rasa Sentosa Resort. This angsana tree is believed to be planted by the British more than 100 years ago.
Former policeman Mr Yusri joined the resort as a gardener just 2 weeks after its opening and has been a caretaker of this tree since 1993. He loves it for the shade it provides with its large crown. In the early days, he and his team used to get up to the intersection between the branches to prune the tree, but as it got taller — it is now 27 metres high — they started to rely on contractors.
He also pays close attention to the tree’s health, regularly checking its fallen leaves to check if they are spotted, which is a sign of the fatal “Angsana Wilt” fungal disease.