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  Business Times 13 Jul 07
Goodbye, Earth; Hi, Green Heaven
By Jamie Ee

DEAR Mr Executioner, I take it that unlike most Singaporeans, love is not your favourite word in the English language.

I'm just guessing here, but I'm thinking you're more inclined to favour words or phrases like guillotine, swift blow, or perhaps in my case - big big saw.

Yes, it's me, the ill-fated Angsana tree on Braddell Road.

Today, you will read about me in the papers. Come Sunday, I will BE paper.

That's OK. My feelings are not hurt. I am not about to sneak across the Causeway and find alternative passage to an overseas sanctuary for displaced greenery. I'm in the way. I get it.

It's not like it's been an easy past two years for me either, you know. After all, I was just minding my own business when suddenly my land was acquired by the government because they wanted to build a flyover from Lornie to Braddell Road.

Of course, my neighbours couldn't say anything on account of them being chopped down before they could say 'compensation?'.

But me? I was lucky because the folks in charge were respectful enough of my age and standing in the community to spend $200,000 building a nice little concrete flower bed to protect me from oncoming cars. Or so they said.

However, I wasn't really happy. All my friends were gone. When we were all still part of a green lung, we could lean back and watch all the cars whizz by.

I would tell them that if I had a car, I would have a bumper sticker that said: 'I was a seedling, never a sapling.' Or: 'Original. Not Instant.'

Yet after the acquisition, I was alone.

I thought my new home lacked interesting landscaping. The authorities wouldn't let me graft myself to grow a few companions around me, for fear we would cause the concrete to crack.

I had to sniff the exhaust of little cars making like Lewis Hamilton around my flower bed in the wee hours of the morning. How embarrassing. For them, not me.

In the day, I had to contend with pollution and discrimination - not to mention dirty looks from passing motorists that said very clearly: 'What a stupid place to put a tree.'

Of course, no one paid heed to me when I tried to say: 'Stupid place to put a flyover.'

Still, you learn some things when you're in a position like mine.

First, you can put up a sign to say the speed limit is 40 kmh, but motorists will interpret that to mean driving real hard at 80 and then slamming on the brakes to drop to 40 in time to avoid hitting me.

Second, I can show you many trees and an equal number of people who do not know the meaning of 'bifurcated'. Although I am told it is the most favourite word of people who conduct studies for the LTA.

Third, I have this nasty feeling that it wasn't just the feedback of speed-limit-ignoring motorists which have led to my upcoming demise, but rather the anonymous letters sent by a similar aged bodhi tree which felt that I did not deserve special treatment because I am non-denominational.

So - fine. It's time for me to head for that big nursery in the sky.

So, Mr Executioner, take your best swing at me. I know it's nothing personal.

Let me just take this opportunity to tell you my favourite word in the English language: goodbye.

more links in
responses to plan to cut down Braddell Angsana tree
Related articles on heritage tree
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