1823 Trees: Rooting for a Greener Singapore

By Jason Nathaniel Sutio (22S06U) and Keiran Koh (22S06M)

Cover image courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society

Amid the torrential rain, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu was seen outside RI Boarding on 20 August 2021. 

She had planted a Gelam tree, which kicked off RI’s fundraising campaign “1823 Trees: Rooting for a Greener Singapore.” 

“This campaign rallies the Rafflesian community both past and present to commit ourselves to sustainability as part of the countdown to RI’s Bicentennial celebrations (RI200),” RI’s Advisor for Special Project and Alumni Relations, Mr S. Magendiran said.

Current Rafflesians and alumni can contribute to the campaign, and donations will go to the Garden City Fund charity, a registered charity established by the National Parks Board (NParks). This furthers NParks’ OneMillionTrees movement. It aims to plant more than a million trees across Singapore over the next 10 years. 

RI plans to contribute 1823 trees to this movement through this collaborative effort between RI and NParks by 2022.

Four more trees were planted by (from left to right) Mr Raymond Chua (Chairman of the Raffles Parents’ Association), Mr Dennis Foo (President of the Old Rafflesians’ Association), Mr Bey Soo Khiang (Chairman of the RI Board of Governors), and Mr Frederick Yeo (Principal).

(Courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society)

The trees can be seen in the garden next to the path after entering Gate 3. They were carefully selected based on their significance.

“It’s not just the number of trees, but rather [getting] Rafflesians talking and involved in the larger community of the sustainability movement,” said Ms Pearlynn Sim, an RI alumna from 2012 and the Streetscape Manager from NParks.

Mr Zhou Bo Yi, another alumnus of class of 2008 and Senior Manager (Corporate Strategy and Planning) of NParks, added: “In addition to donating, alumni and current students can also volunteer in native sampling and [physically] planting trees. They can also partake in outreach programmes as stewards of biodiversity.”

Highlighting the need for Rafflesians’ active participation, Ms Sim and Mr Zhou hoped that this event will galvanise them to have a vested interest in taking care of the environment.

Ms Sim also highlighted trees.sg, a site where donors’ names are linked to their trees. “Trees live a long time. People grow with it; 200 years from now their families can look back on their efforts.”

In a similar vein, Mr Magendiran pointed out that Rafflesians’ role to champion sustainability is about the RI identity, as part of the RI ethos to serve. 

“We take care of our country through sustainability. It is about who we are and who we represent.”

Mr S. Magendiran

After Minister Fu planted the Gelam tree, Mr Theophilus Kwek, alumni of class of 2012 and a renowned poet, recited his original poem, ‘The Gardener’.

Mr Theophilus Kwek reciting  his poem, “The Gardener”. 

 (Courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society)

Beyond championing environmental sustainability, the act of planting trees is symbolic of nurturing students.  “The gardeners represent educators,” explained Mr Kwek. “This poem appreciates those invisible hands that, through patience and faith in their students, built the city.”

“Educating children is indeed like planting trees,” Minister Fu commented. She emphasised the paramount importance of educators in order to cultivate a thriving crop of students.

Due to the rain, the ceremony was forced to come to a hasty close. Student Council President Wong Kin Feng (22S03L) presented a token of appreciation to Minister Fu to thank her for gracing the occasion.

Minister Grace Fu speaking a few words at the ceremony. Afterwards, the 41st Student Council President Wong Kin Feng presented the token to Minister Grace Fu .

 (Courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society)

Finally, Minister Fu congratulated RI on 200 years of gardening; and to 200 more years of being part of the solution. 

You can donate here: https://www.giving.sg/garden-city-fund/1823Trees

Note: All donations via 1823 Trees to the Garden City Fund (GCF) with a valid NRIC/FIN number (individual) or local UEN/Business Registration Number (organisation) are 2.5 times tax-deductible. Your donation details will be provided to IRAS and included in your next tax assessment automatically.

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