Taman Tugu – why reinvent the wheel?

Taman Tugu – a green elephant

COMMENT As a nature lover who likes nothing better than a day trekking in the jungle, I can testify to the unique heritage of Malaysia’s ancient and richly biodiverse natural forests, complex ecosystems of flora and fauna which are in desperate need of protection and conservation.

It was with alarm that I read of the plan to create Tugu Park in the capital city centre with transplanted flora and fauna and other “tourist attractions” at a cost of RM650 million.

I just don’t get it. Nature has granted us the priceless unique gift of tropical jungles only twenty minutes from the city centre, so why even try to reinvent the wheel here? At what cost and for what purpose?

Even suggesting that such a park project should be a priority reflects a terrible tendency amongst town and city planners for grandiosity and tokenism.

If the proposed park is intended to serve a similar purpose to that of London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park, then surely another park like Lake Gardens with minimal maintenance requirements would serve the purpose well and at a fraction of the cost of this proposal.

Destroying real forests to create fake forests?

The fact is that outside of the capital city, developers with the collusion of the municipal councils have destroyed and built on any green spaces they can lay their hands on.

More than ten years ago, a vast tract of the Bukit Sungai Putih Permanent Forest Reserve (gazetted in 1932) just twenty minutes from the city centre, and adjoining our taman, was secretly degazetted and destroyed for housing projects.

More recently, a housing developer has destroyed the remaining green lung in our housing estate, a forested hill with 45+ degree gradient.

Jungle paths on nearby Bukit Apek are now threatened with “development” despite the fact that hundreds of Malaysian city folk flock there every weekend for the wellbeing that comes from hill climbing in pristine natural surroundings.

Tree cutting scam

Besides this destruction of green lungs in and near our taman, we have observed the felling of so many large old trees by our local authorities that we suspect it to be a tree cutting scam.

One of the most beautiful and cooling features of Malaysian towns and villages is our heritage of banyan tress and even these are not being spared. Just recently, three huge healthy looking banyan trees were hacked down near our local market.

One excuse for this tree cutting spree is that they are diseased and cutting them down prevents contamination.

When, some time ago, our residents association had asked the local Kajang Council to prune the trees around the only playground in our taman the council responded by suggesting they cut down all the trees instead.

And although we said, ‘No way’, a short time later the council came and felled all the trees around the playground that were at least forty years old. Their excuse was that the trees were diseased.

When we notice the many ‘Nak Potong Pokok’ (to cut a tree) signs around the area, we realise that it costs ratepayers a few thousand ringgit to have an imperious banyan tree cut down in its prime!

How are these decisions being made? It is vital that the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia steps in to investigate whether trees cut by local councils in Malaysia have indeed been stricken by some form of tree-inflicting disease.

Taman Tugu – a green elephant
14 Sept 2016 – malaysiakini


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