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RC Restrictions Force Out Uncle Tan from 14-Year Community Herb Garden Project


UNCLE TAN: I would like to let everyone know that my association with the Nanyang zone 2 Residential Committee (“RC”), community herb garden at Jurong West St 91, Blk 938 had ceased on 31st May 2017, with much regret.

People have asked me why I am “closing down” the Blk 938 herb garden; a community project that I had devoted much of my time and energy, cultivating, sharing and exchanging knowledge on herbs with my fellow Singaporeans for the past 14 years. It was indeed a tough and difficult decision to leave all my herbs behind, knowing that the years of hard work of all my volunteers would likely be demolished.

I would like to take this opportunity to let my volunteers understand the circumstances behind my decision, and also abolish the notion that I have been “bullied” by the RC chairman, Mr Sam Ng or other committee members. Indeed, there were some misunderstanding and petty arguments between us in the last few years, and it became increasingly difficult (administratively) to operate the herb garden thereafter. However, being the chairman, he has the full discretion to decide how community projects should be run, which I should have dutifully complied.

Ultimately, my withdrawal from the herb garden was due to irreconcilable differences with the RC, in terms of how the herb garden should be run, which contravened with my personal values and beliefs.

The RC felt that the Blk 938 herb garden had expanded beyond the original aim and remit of a community garden and should be scaled down accordingly.

Over the last 14 years, the herb garden became increasingly popular, with many visitors and volunteers coming from all parts of Singapore, seeking/learning about the usage of herbs. The small herb garden, in the past decade had slowly evolved into a “pay-it-forward” model that allowed Singaporeans from all walks of life to obtain herbs either free of charge or at a token sum, with the surpluses channeling back to the herb garden so as to help more people.

The small garden became a victim of its own success, as the RC felt that the garden had expanded beyond its original remit, citing potential legal implications of unlicensed herb usage as its main concern; the RC is worried they would be liable for any complaint from the public (based on imaginary and unfounded fears). For the first time in my 70+ years, I have been told that too much charitable work is actually bad !!! ??

As a result, the RC imposed a set of restrictions/conditions with the intention to scale down the activity of the herb garden; some of which I could not agree to. Among the long list of conditions imposed, here are the few standout ones:

1) Residents outside Nanyang are not allowed to volunteer at the herb garden.

2) Part of the existing herb garden will be converted for other type of usage (RC to determine the exact size)

and the list goes on …….

With these conditions, I have no choice but to leave the Nanyang zone 2 RC and seek a new piece of land to restart a new garden that is truly inclusive and embodies the selfless kampung spirit of the pioneer generation of Singapore. Starting a new garden is back-breaking and involved a lot of hard work, I am already 73 year old… it is unlikely that I have another 14 years….. however, I will persevere and persist …because I want to show the younger generations what it means to be brave and selfless; always putting the society before oneself !!

The future of Singapore is bleak if our younger generation of leaders all lack the courage to take on risks or responsibilities for the greater good of our society. What will Singapore become if our leaders’ decision making is guided by risk-aversion or self-preservation as their main priority?

During the meeting, the RC said that they would be happy to let the herb garden continue in its current form if someone in a high position with authority is willing to step forward to take responsibility.

Do you guys know of any MP or Minister who would be wise and brave enough to bear the responsibility of this garden so that we can continue to operate in its current form ?

Well I guess, its all too late by now…

Lets move on to a bigger and better herb garden at Kranji !



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