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Letter

NIMBYism in Singapore’s urban planning

A letter criticizes the ‘Not in my backyard’ mentality in Singapore while highlighting the challenge of land scarcity and the need for communal responsibility in accommodating necessary facilities.

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by Teo Kueh Liang

I refer to TODAY’s Commentary, “’Not in my backyard’ — when some groups can protest more loudly, the most vulnerable ones suffer” (Jan 25, 2024).

A few good points from the article are worth to be probed further and discussed.

In December 2023, the announcement of plans by The National Environment Agency (NEA) to build a new columbarium in Mandai was really snookered by some nearby residents.

While most Singaporeans accept that spaces for the dead (such as Crematoriums and Columbariums), spaces for Elder Care Facilities (various old folks homes and nursing homes) and spaces for foreign workers (dormitories) are needed, many do not want them built close to where we live.

Thus, the thought and attitude of having ‘not in my backyard’ further identifies the selfishness, self-centeredness, prejudice and ignorance of human nature.

Singapore has been facing the issue of land scarcity (merely a total land area of 734.3 square kilometres) and shortages of natural resources, hence, it opts to be fully commercialised, industrialised and relying upon its export-oriented economy for its survival and prosperity. Inevitably, it is heavily compact and urbanised.

Similarly, Singapore lacks space for graveyard usage. Thus, the relevant authority has to strongly advocate the importance of crematorium funerals as the replacement for burial funerals. Also, the Government has to extend the present Mandai crematorium and columbarium facility to its neighbouring areas.

If we buy the arguments from the objectors who cite apprehensions about the negative effects of new developments such as increased noise, traffic congestion and loss of open spaces as reasonable excuses, then we would set a bad example for the people to use this incident as an excuse for avoidance with any future similar or related developments.

For example: Would it be fair and reasonable for people who live in private residential properties and HDB flats near Changi Airport, Changi Prison Complex and Drug Rehabilitation Center (DRC)/Addiction Treatment Center to complain, rant or whine about similar situations or reasons as mentioned above?

In short, it is quite reasonable and effective for labelling an act as Nimby-ism is similarly an accusation of individuals being narrowly self-interested and harming the broader public good because they oppose the siting of undesired facilities near their homes.

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Singapore is not small
Singapore is not land scarce
Go take a ride from Changi to Tuas on the
MRT or a GRAB or a bus, it will take more than 1 hour.
If that is small, why people do not want to work in Tuas
but are willing to work at Changi..???
Just build crematoriums or old age homes
next to MRT stations.

But they wont… and you know why.

Since the G talk about Needs and Wants. Then they should know Columbarium, some elderly facilities, too many shopping malls etc are Wants Not Needs … No?!?

Let talk about this issue highlighted “While most Singaporeans accept that spaces for the dead (such as Crematoriums and Columbariums), spaces for Elder Care Facilities (various old folks homes and nursing homes) and spaces for foreign workers (dormitories) are needed, many do not want them built close to where we live.” Crematorium and Columbarium a biz model for unnecessary space. Creamatorium probably becos we need to burn the dead but the urn can be brought back home. No?!? And you dun need to travel to pay respect to the dead since at your home. Eldercare facilities wasn’t around till it… Read more »

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