Saturday, March 04, 2006

Tragedy Lies in Waste

In his book Youngblood Hawke, Herman Wouk wrote these words:

Death is only a sadness.
Tragedy lies in waste.

Although he was referring to the death of a young man, I think his remark applies to some extent to all living things. Those of you who are nature or animal lovers will find what you are about to read a tragedy of no small proportions.

Ever since I took up brisk walking as an exercise, I have frequently walked past a huge piece of vacant land not far from my home. Can you guess where this place is by looking at the pictures below. (Hint: This area used to be heavily wooded. A narrow and winding road once ran through it)

A short stretch of the old road still remains, though not in use

A narrow winding side road used to link to this temple

Give up? It is called Old Holland Road. It joins Ulu Pandan Road to Upper Bukit Timah Road.

About 7 or 8 years ago, they cleared this huge swathe of land – apparently for a housing project – and since then it had been lying vacant. Every time I walk past this place, I feel a certain sadness because I am reminded of Mr Wouk’s words. I think of all the hundreds, maybe even thousands of trees and shrubs which provided a habitat for countless insects, birds, lizards, snakes and squirrels that have been needlessly destroyed.

I am also reminded of an animated movie called Watership Down . Anyone of you remember this rather sad movie? It was produced in the late 70’s. The story was about a family of rabbits which were forced to leave their homes because the field they lived in was being developed for a housing project. The movie’s theme song, Bright Eyes, sung by Art Garfuunkel was also one of my favourites.

But an even greater tragedy happened here slightly more than 20 years ago. I wonder how many of my readers remember the rape and murder of a Catholic Junior College student who was jogging along this lonely stretch of road. I believe this case has not been solved up to this day. Let’s pray that the long arm of the law will catch up with the wicked perpetrator of this evil deed some day.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

Footnote: I hope none of this girl’s loved ones are reading this blog. In case they do, I apologize for stirring up sad memories.

17 comments: said...

Hi Chun See, would you like to submit a review or opinion-piece on either of the books mentioned? Both are available at the lending libraries. If you are interested in doing a review for High Browse Online, I can get hold of them and arrange for you to pick up at your convenience.

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry Ivan. Nowadays I seldom read fiction. Mostly Christian books and those related to my work. I have several books waiting to be read. Otherwise, I am quite curious about Watership Down. Based on what I remember from the movie, I think the message is very relevant for today.

Lionel Tan said...

This is is wasteing...can send feedback to HDB.

fuzzoo said...

I think Watership Down is a Classic story; the movie was based on the story. I don't remember if I saw the movie but I do remember reading the story.

Victor said...

Chun See, when I saw the photo of Lorong Sesuai in your last post, I was reminded of an incident that happened there not so long ago but which was similar to the one that happened to the CJC student. So I find it strange that you mentioned about her in this post. I think both cases have not been solved to date. It's so sad.

Anonymous said...

Now there are still pockets of land and islands left unused and eventually all the land will be occupied. After that what will happen ? We cannot keep on reclaiming land.

Lam Chun See said...

Yes I remember the rape/murder case at Bt Batok Nature Park.

But my previous post about events that took place more than 30 years ago at the Ford Factory. So I didn't want to digress to talk about something so recent and nothing to do with Ford.

Victor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Victor said...

Chun See, I listened to this morning's Breakfast Show on 93.8 Live radio about There was an interview with Mr Walter Lim and one with you too. So I have seen your photo (on your blog) and also heard your voice even before first meeting you face to face. The marvels of technology.

Anonymous said...

On the same subject of tragedy and death at Old Holland Rd, I think the authorities also exhumed a number of graves just at the start of the steep climb, before clearing the trees.

Anonymous said...

Hi there.
I just would like to know some inquiries on the old holland road.
I know about the murder case which happen 20 years ago.but is there any other murder or missing people reported in that area beside the Winfred teo case?
would really need help in this matter.

Mont D'or said...

Have no impression of Watership Down, but the haunting melody of Bright Eyes brings to mind an era that is long gone.

" Death is only a sadness.
Tragedy lies in waste. "....this also appropriately describes the 'well-intentioned' enbloc of old flats as well, where old homes that we had grow up in, which store alot of fond memories with our families are being torn down in the name of development. But only to find those land lying vacant ever since.

Anonymous said...

Winnifred Teo Suan Lie was a young 18 year old female student from Catholic Junior College who was murdered on 23 May 1985 while out jogging next to her home near Holland Road and the newspaper article dated 24 May 1985 is found here :

Lam Chun See said...

Thank you for the link.

It's now 2012. Another 6 years have gone by since I posted this article; and the land is still idle. Just think, if they had left the trees alone, how much benefit it would have brought all these years; to the wildlife and to Spore as a whole.

Anonymous said...

another 6 years gone past, reading it just out of curiosity, 06.09.2016

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