Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether the Ministry has completed its review of measures to ensure that the circumstances leading to the unauthorised clearance of the Kranji forest do not recur; (b) if so, what is the outcome of the review; and (c) what is the current status of the Sungei Kadut Eco-District project.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong
1. Taking a system-level view, the Ministers had asked Permanent Secretary Joseph Leong to review how agencies could learn from the incident and improve. The review found that the land clearance systems and processes are generally sound, but nonetheless made further recommendations to strengthen them. Agencies are already in the process of implementing these measures.
2. As for the Kranji land clearance incident in particular, four individuals have been charged in court for offences under the Parks and Trees Act and Wildlife Act in respect of certain actions which led to the unauthorised tree-felling. Minister Chan Chun Sing also informed the House on 10 March 2022 that police investigations had found that two of these individuals, who were officers in JTC’s project team then, had provided inaccurate information about the incident to their superiors at JTC.
3. As the criminal proceedings against the individuals involved in the Kranji incident are ongoing, I will not comment further on the details of this specific case, so as not to prejudice the ongoing proceedings. Suffice to say, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action when public officers are found to have committed wrongdoing.
4. JTC has reviewed its internal processes arising from the recommendations. I will next share with members the measures that JTC has implemented to strengthen its processes and capabilities in land clearance projects.
Capability and Process Improvements
a. First, JTC has established a Construction Regulatory Compliance Unit (CRCU) to oversee and check regulatory approvals for all JTC development projects. The CRCU serves as an additional and independent check to ensure proper project approvals have been obtained. The CRCU will report directly to the Audit and Risk Committee of the JTC Board. Concurrently, JTC has also established teams which will specifically focus on projects with environmental impact with the necessary expertise and training.
b. Second, JTC has set up an Environmental Planning & Design Unit (EPDU) to manage and coordinate biodiversity and environmental requirements for its land clearances. It will also oversee environmental planning, design, and studies at the master planning stage.
c. Third, JTC has further strengthened its project management through digitalisation. For example, JTC has extended its Integrated Digital Delivery processes, which are used to monitor building projects, to cover works such as land clearance. Doing so will allow JTC’s project managers, consultants, and contractors to better monitor the progress of all land clearance works on the ground.
d. Fourth, JTC will form a Biodiversity and Environmental Advisory Panel (BEAP), comprising Nature Group representatives and environmental experts, to strengthen its management of biodiversity and environmental issues in land planning and development projects. The BEAP will assist JTC by providing inputs for projects that may have significant environmental impact.
5. These measures will strengthen JTC’s capabilities and processes on land clearances, environmental protection, and project management. JTC will continue to ensure that officers uphold the highest standards of integrity and governance in carrying out their duties.
Sungei Kadut Eco-District (SKED)
6. The Sungei Kadut Eco-District (SKED) is a 500-hectare, multi-year project that will see one of Singapore’s oldest industrial estates transformed into a next generation estate supporting new growth sectors such as agri-tech and environment technology, as part of the planned Northern Food and Agri-Tech Corridor. It will create good job roles for Singaporeans, such as system engineers, plant scientists and aquaculture nutritionists. Although SKED is a mature industrial estate, it will feature vast network of green spaces, including parks, park connectors and nature ways that will facilitate ecological connectivity between the Central Catchment Nature Reserve to Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat.
7. JTC reaffirms the need to balance between nature conservation and development and will continue to work with the relevant agencies to implement SKED’s rejuvenation plans in a manner that is sensitive and sustainable, and minimise impact to greenery and wildlife. Development works at the Agri-Food Innovation Park will resume once all the required regulatory approvals have been obtained.