SINGAPORE: Singapore does not have to sacrifice green spaces to be a beautiful and sustainable city, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.
He added Singapore can become a role model for the world to achieve this.
Dr Balakrishnan was speaking to the media during his visit to the Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre on Sunday morning to unveil a new lift for the centre.
He said high density living is the most sustainable and green way of life on the planet and which Singapore can take the lead.
He said: "The most amazing thing about Singapore is that almost half of our land is covered in green. But equally, you realise that this has been achieved because we have been able to go high—rise. Because so many of us live in apartments, and that also give the fantastic landscape, cityscape of Singapore and the bright lights at night.
"So the point I’m making is we have to stop thinking in terms of zero—sum games, that I can only have this or that and not go, but to actually exercise imagination and to make it even better."
On Sunday morning, Dr Balakrishnan, who is the adviser to the Bukit Timah Grassroots Organisations and the area’s MP Sim Ann unveiled a new lift for the centre, which they hope will provide easy access for customers and stall holders with heavy goods.
Ms Ann said: "We do have a number of elderly residents and it is a mature estate and I think for them to climb up and down the stairs especially after having done their shopping is not very convenient. Some of them have also told me it is quite painful to do that, so I think with the lift, it improves the situation."
Dr Balakrishnan said the government has improved this food centre over the years based on feedback from patrons and stall holders and will continue to do so.
He added that Singapore will need many more of such places with an authentic identity of its own.
Dr Balakrishnan said hawker centres can be cosy and unique places within the high density urban environment Singapore is moving towards.
His vision of the city, he said, is to make most things, including school, eating places and work, within a walking range of up to 400 or 500 metres.
On the negative reactions from some Singaporeans towards the Population White Paper, Dr Balakrishnan said the high level of emotions is a good thing as it shows Singaporeans care deeply about the country.
He said: "Well, actually part of me is actually quite glad because it shows that the people loves Singapore, people care deeply about the future, care deeply about what happens to our identity our children our livelihood and to our senior citizens. So the level of emotions to me is a good thing. I would be far more worried if people say I don’t care, so let’s recognise and give credit to Singaporeans for that. That we all care and care very deeply."
He added: "At the end of the day, the government has to do the right thing for the long term good of our people but has to convince our people. If we cannot convince people, then these plans will not work."
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