Nationally Speaking: This Land is Ours

By Bryan Ling (17S06C)

There’s this field next to the MRT station near where I live. It’s pretty nondescript as fields go – no trees, no defining features, just a flat plain of grass stretching out for an unimpressive few hundred metres or so. Save for the yearly pasar malam, the only activity it sees is the occasional impromptu picnic group and kite-fliers.

viewone

Not much to see here folks

I’ve never used it personally. It always puzzled me why people bothered going out on it at all – the ground’s quite uneven in places, and it gets pretty muddy when it rains. In my mind, it was just something that… was. Something that existed for its own sake.

As a child, I dreamt of buying up the land. To what end my younger self could not say – even back then I was more of an indoors kid, and despite the encouragement from my parents the idea of prancing carefree through the makeshift meadow never appealed to me. So it’s not as if the land held any special importance to me.

view2

The station sees more life than this field

But now, looking back, I think I’ve realised the cause of that strange desire.

I have no idea when the policy of marking out state land started – the closest thing I found in my internet trawling was a call to add more details to said signs. In my memory it’s always been there – an immutable part of the field, a manmade landmark on this little protected land of green.

staeland

It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it

As a child I thought “State Land” meant the same thing as public space – a simple reminder that this land was ours, keeping it safe from the machinations of hopeful private sector investors. But as I grew older it began to sit uneasy with me. Not because of any learned or taught distrust for government, to be clear, but simply because it made me feel so… helpless. Concrete evidence that some invisible hand did in fact own this land, and could take it back any time they wanted.

Land reserved for future development. A few years back they made good on that reservation, and started construction on “Upgrading Works” for the bus interchange. How exactly they plan to upgrade the interchange by building on a small isolated lot 500m away is beyond me, but I trust that they know what they’re doing.

upgradingworks

Progress

The construction area is small and isolated enough not to be an eyesore, and most of the time I even forget that it exists. I have no doubt that once it’s completed it’ll be a great boon to the bus interchange – whatever it is, whatever it does.

I don’t know what they’re going to do with the land. I don’t know what they should do with the land.

sheetsofwhite

Upgrading works

But I’ll never forget how I felt when I first saw those white sheets of metal erected up on my field.

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