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  Straits Times 9 Apr 07
Water city grand, but no barriers, please

Letter from Helen B.L. Ng (Ms)

I HAVE been following with great interest the news about turning Singapore into a beautiful water city and am looking forward to the changes.

Excited as I am, I am also rather sceptical that it will happen without the nanny mentality we have.

Potentially scenic views in various parts of Singapore are almost always marred by barriers and ugly walls that are meant to protect presumably half-witted Singaporeans from falling over cliffs (of which the highest probably is on our very tall and lofty Bukit Timah Hill) and falling into wild churning waters of our reservoirs and high seas.

I object strongly to such physical barricades not because they are merely physical but because I see them as a mental hindrance and real intellectual obstacle to freedom of the mind and body that will allow our people, especially our young, to venture out into the larger world beyond Singapore.

Why are we afraid they will fall and not pick themselves up but have to be protected and sheltered? Why do we think it's some ministry or another's job to anticipate and solve such 'problems'.

I believe it is the parents' rightful duty to do this. Parents - tell, warn and teach your children to be careful, cautious and alert to dangers. Teach them to cope and rise above the challenges of our small country. If they cannot do this, how will they face the increasingly global world which encroaches?

For those of us who can afford to go to faraway places on vacation, do we walk the cliffs of Dover clinging to a handrail? Do we enjoy walking along the shores of the crystal-clear waters of Pebble Beach or Monterey Bay with views marred by the kind of stone 'fortress' at MacRitchie Reservoir?

For those who go to places closer to home, there are still the highs and lows of mountains and seas. Do we go to these places hoping to be kept safe as we are at home?

Let the young fall (without mortal injury, hopefully) and they will learn to become stronger, better people. Let their parents teach them how to keep safety foremost on their mind. And don't let anyone tell whatever ministry there is that we need a wall here, a rail there because we may all fall off and into the unknown - or we WILL fall off!

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