Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Subang Jaya - my hometown

Below is the article I wrote for my monthly column in SJ Echo (June):

Let’s talk about greens. I never fully realized the importance of trees to a town until I became the state assemblyman. I started noticing the different species of trees in our neighbourhood and I would compare them with the trees I see in Shah Alam, PJ and KL. Whenever I’m on the road, my eyes are instantaneously fixed on the trees. I was always under the impression, less trees, less hassle. I remember how as a kid, I used to quarrel with my dad when he insisted that we should be planting fruit trees in our garden. Fruit trees? I thought that was just so un-cool! And dad would argue back then, ‘you know nothing about having shade, it’s so hot, we need more trees!’.

He was right. I knew nothing about having shade, until now. Sometime in November last year, I started asking myself questions. Why do we fight over-development (“OD”)? Let’s call it OD. What is so bad about OD? Will our kids benefit from OD? Apart from traffic jam, what else does OD produces? Climatic change and what else? How do we want Subang Jaya to be known as?

When I’m at the state legislative assembly in Selangor, whenever the assemblymen gather around for a brief chat, the topic which frequently comes up is traffic. Assemblymen from other places would say to me ‘the traffic jam at your place is very bad-la’. I would manage only a smile.

I do not want Subang Jaya to be known only for its traffic jam. So I started envisioning. Whenever I drive around Subang Jaya, I would imagine the town filled with beautiful shady trees. The power of imagination. Few weeks ago, I saw my imagination in reality (I know it sounds like an oxymoron). I was down in Singapore for a weekend and there was something different about this trip. I used to be attracted to only its shopping malls in Orchard Road and its public transportation but this time around I started noticing its trees! The trees didn’t appear to me to have just sprung up from nowhere. They didn’t just grow wild so beautifully on the streets. They can’t be. After all, we share a similar climate. Why didn’t they just grow wild beautifully on the streets of Subang Jaya?

Someone must have taken great care in planting these trees in Singapore and I’m certain it didn’t just happen in the last two years. These overgrown lush trees must have taken years to grow and they must have survived at least a generation. The closest to this which I have seen in Malaysia is probably the trees at the lake garden in Taiping.

Taiping happens to be my dad’s hometown. He beams with pride each time he drives past the lake garden. His typical remarks are: ‘look at these trees, look at their huge branches and the canopy of leaves above’. And the conversation would always end with this statement – “... and this is my HOMETOWN Taiping!

Subang Jaya is my hometown. I want to say this with pride to my children and grandchildren too. For this to happen, someone has to make a conscious decision to green this town. We need to wilfully green our streets and parks. We will start now. New trees have been planted on Persiaran Tujuan all the way from USJ 2 to USJ 12. Another 90 trees have been planted at USJ 11. Another 200 more will be planted in Millennium Park in SS13 this month and many more to come.

Globally, a major worldwide tree planting campaign has been initiated by The United Nations. Visit http://www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign/ to find out more. [The campaign identifies four key areas for planting: degraded natural forests and wilderness areas; farms and rural landscapes; sustainably managed plantations; and urban environments, but it can also begin with a single tree in a back yard.]

I want each young person in Subang Jaya to grin with pride when they speak of their hometown Subang Jaya. Enough of over-development. Mayors, councillors, assemblymen and politicians, they come and go. Some are remembered for how they wasted taxpayers’ money with white elephant projects and some for the way they so readily gave approvals for huge development projects.

I want to be marked differently. I leave you with this wise proverb:

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." -- Greek proverb

Just like the forefathers in Taiping and Singapore, I want to leave behind a green inheritance for our kids and their kids. Let the hallmark of Subang Jaya be the trees and not its traffic jam. The power to change that lies in your hands and mine. You do not have to wait till you’re old to plant trees. Young and old can start now. Start today.

p/s – To my Dad : this article is a tribute to your great wisdom in insisting to plant fruit trees years ago. I know you’ve been waiting to hear this, what more in a public statement; yes you were right! Have a blessed Father’s Day to all the Dads in Subang Jaya!

15 comments:

hmatter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
green green glass of home said...

We should start teaching kids how to develop new plants instead of depending on nursery to supply at high cost. This kind of initiative can start from two group, one the glassroot community and the 2nd are the schools.

Planting trees is fun and must involve the community.

Take care of the plant is important otherwise the tree might die, the tree might fall due to sudden heavy rain or lightning and also the tree might grow too big and posting a danger to motorist. If the tree die you need a replacement and this could be a tough job, to make it look as uniform you might have to transplant a big tree which cannot be done by individual or the community. This is where the town council & contractors comes in.

abi said...

Im glad that inspite of the normal issues you are taking a stand and looking beyond the obvious problems!

Tree's are a source of clean breathing air and shade which keeps us away from the hot days.

It may not sound like a big deal till will loose the tree's. I hope your dad's dream and wisdom becomes a reality that you can fulfill.

Good luck and keep up the brilliant work you are doing!

Cheers,
Abinesh

PH resident said...

it's nice to have more trees, but it has to be the right species. not the current craze of planting palm-type trees. they're not useful in providing shades and greens.

Turtle said...

hey, I don't know your dad is from Taiping. I am from Taiping too!!

My wife (KL girl down to the last hair) was really impressed when I brough her to Taiping Lake Garden and Maxwell hill. You Subang folks have a lot of catching up to do. :)

Joshua said...

I am super eager to see Subang Jaya blossom :) thank you for your effort, I am only 20 but I love planting, I believe my generation of people should find time to plant too, instead of internet all day long!

Carol said...

Please make it more disable friendly. I have to go to PJ to everything. Paying bills. Buying food. Banking. Today going to the dentist was a real ‘pain in the neck’ the recommended dentist was on the first floor. Ended up going to a unknown one in Subang Prade & received unsatisfactory treatment, which was very painful. Subang Jaya is now my home - & it is a misery to move around. People here are so so arrogance about their homes & safety. I was very hurt today when no one offered to help me & my friend when we were looking for the dentist. My wheelchair put them off. I don’t get that kind of treatment when living in PJ………so pls tell me Hanna why is SJ people ill treating its wheelchair residents?

Anonymous said...

Hi YB,
As a Malaysian, I feel proud that Malaysia is having a very good YB like you, who do really cares about the Green World...

And I am fortunate that, we're being tagged in Nan Yang Siang Pau on today newspaper, 4th June 2009 on Central

kim said...

You are absolutely correct in saying that "Someone must have taken great care in planting these trees in Singapore and I’m certain it didn’t just happen in the last two years."
Planting trees is good, but it's the maintenance that's more important.Do we have qualified people in maintaining these planted trees?Most of us must have noticed here in Malaysia how the Town and/or City Councils trim trees - instead of trimming, you can say that they virtually bring down the whole branches.Learn how the Singapore authority does it. That's why their trees are so well grown that they actually provide shades.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Malaysian but I enjoy your blogs and the work you have done for Subang Jaya. I hope I can visit Subang Jaya one day.

JW said...

Many ppl are good at starting something but it is then forgotten when the hype is over... Look at the number of initiatives started and ended after a short time.

We must remember that a successful project doesn't end with the launch but also the maintenance and continuity. Without this, we can never reap the full benefit.

I stay in SG and u can see plant trimming, watering, etc activities going around the island. They even go around "polishing" thier strests :)

we need to take ownership. everyone one of us!

allurban said...

Hannah,

Your efforts are appreciated. I think of few people who would disagree with the idea of "more trees" in any community.

But then, when you are admiring them from afar, trees look pretty. But trees are not meant to be admired from inside a car. To really appreciate trees you must walk among them and touch them and breathe the cleaner air around them.

For most of us, planting them sounds "green" and "healthy" ... but how often do we step out and really admire them?

Let's plant trees as part of a whole package. More trees + safe walkways + safe, clean parks + more admirers + more community involvement = a better Subang Jaya community.

Regards,
Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
SS17

Anonymous said...

I agree whole heartedly with your article. but the trouble is, there isn't much area in which we can plant trees in SJ/USJ area as it "overdeveloped" as you say.

I have suggested to my councilor , Ms Theresa Ratnam Thong of the option of turfing the backlanes as a way to green the housing areas and she has forwarded the suggestion to MPSJ for their consideration under the existing bylaws.

Another option is beautfying the monsoon drains in area like in Singapore. Instead of concrete maybe we can plant plants on the banks of the drains providing more area for trees to grow.

Having said that the trees to be planted should be considered carefully as some have pointed out. I would suggest planting trees that do not shed leaves or a lot of leaves as it had been done previously. It would be better to plant local trees or even fruit trees to educate the young.

Warm regards

Eric

erina_z said...

Hi Hannah,

LOVING your passion! Totally agree that Subang has more than enough development and we should now go green.

Am currently studying in Sydney and it is quite dissapointing to see development going on EVERYTIME I go back. There's always construction going on and I never witness the result and get the chance to enjoy them.

Can't wait to get home and check out the new green subang ;) Will be calling out friends to join up more of your activities too. Way to go!

sarahkwok said...

hi hannah! i'm from fga kl youth ministries and from the environment team who's suppose to help you plant trees in subang jaya. i was browsing and so happens saw your blog!i copied some of your pictures for my presentation to the other members informing them what we are doing, i hope you dont mind!thanks a lot! i'm very impressed with what you're doing now because i have always wanted to help the environment too and become eco-friendly. :D