25 September 2007

Singapore Short stories - The Chengal Tree

Sometime back in Aug 2002, Habitatnews, in response to URA's invitation to the Rustic Coast Draft Concept Plan, discovered a Hopea Sangal tree in Changi. It was the tree that was believed to have given Changi it's name. The Hopea Sangal tree was believed to be extinct, so naturally, it gained a lot of excitement within the botanical community. I suppose historians were equally excited since this tree was related to the naming of Changi. Unfortunatly, it was felled by a property developer on 20 Nov 2002. Subsequently, the developer was fined and ordered to pay to the state for illegally falling the tree. Prior to the discovery of Hopea Sangal, some other types of trees were also thought to have given the name to Changi. One in particular was known as The Changi Tree and was believed to the intricately tied to the fate of Singapore during World War 2.

According to the Kin Jio Leaf, in 1942, with the threat of WW2 coming to Singapore, the British army believed that the Japanese army would use it as a marker for artillery fire at the military buildings around the Chengal Tree. (Apparently, they depended on the Monkeys for the intelligence gathering). So they decided to take down the tree, with explosives. (Wa lau! Explosives is to be used on the enemy not on trees! Don't they know what's a chainsaw, obviously, another stupid suggestion by the Monkeys Evil or Very Mad ).

We, the orangutans, objected to this move because we know that the Japanese were using GPS oreadi (Yes, Ground Peanuts System, you just sprinkle some peanuts on the ground and the artillery shells will find its way there) so they don't need the Chengal Tree as marker. More importantly, the Chengal Tree had deep roots in Singapore and it's life was intrinsically tied to that of Singapore.

Well, the British didn't believe and went ahead to take the tree down...and eventually, Singapore had fallen into the hands of the Japs. Good thing was, we managed to save a seed and planted it in Changi. It took years before we can even see the seedling sprout - it's a special tree afterall Razz and so the years passed by. The Japs surrendered, the British balik kampong, Singapore merged with Malaya, Singapore got kicked out of Malaysia and Singapore gained independence...at the same time when the seedling grew to a young tree and need not depend on our tender loving care and can survive on its own. (Makes me feel like a proud parent watching his child grown to be a man Crying or Very sad ). However, like I mentioned, since the Changi Tree is intrinsically tied to the fate of Singapore, how did Singapore flourished in a leap while the tree grew slowly?

Well, although we planted that one special seed, there were also several not-so-special seeds from the Changi Tree. By itself, those seeds would not flourish (not enough special power, ya?). So, we place them all into a single spot and let them compete naturally. If there'll be one that manages to outgrow the others, by itself, proving survival of the fittest, it will be stronger and largi more powderful than the one special seed that received our tender loving care.

Somehow, the Monkeys got wind of it and wanted to disrupt our plans. They went to psycho the gahmen and ensure that those seeds would never grow. They made an elaborate proposal to the gahmen to build an airport around there. Well, airport has many aircrafts and tall structures are not allowed except certain predefined place. That got us worried, very worried indeed. Fortunately, the Khirsah then was very smart - if the monkeys can sway the gahmen, so can we. Eventaully, he managed to convince the gahmen to build a Singapore icon, the Changi Tower, right at the spot where we planted the seeds. As luck would have it, the seeds grew into saplings, the roots tied to the foundation of the Changi Tower and grew along with it. (Some magic happen there la, don't ask me why the Changi Tower don't have leaves and branches la, it's magic ok?)

The result is more than what we had intended-not only do all the not-so-special seeds managed to grow, they grew to be much taller and faster than what they could have been. And so, Singapore's growth sprinted like the Changi Tower or Tree...whichever way you want to call it.

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