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Illegal Kranji land clearing: CPG Consultants vice-president gets S$26,000 fine for role in felling trees without approval

SINGAPORE — The vice-president of consultancy firm CPG Consultants, Jimmy Liu Wing Tim, was handed a S$26,000 fine in court on Thursday (Jan 19) for his role in a case involving the excessive clearing of a forest parcel in Kranji.

A file picture of the construction site for the Agri-Food Innovation Park in Kranji.

A file picture of the construction site for the Agri-Food Innovation Park in Kranji.

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  • The case involves a 25ha site in Kranji, which was set aside for the development of the Agri-Food Innovation Park
  • Trees in over 7.3ha of the plot were erroneously cleared without approval from the National Parks Board
  • Two officers from JTC were concerned that following NParks would further delay the development of the site
  • Jimmy Liu Wing Tim, vice-president of CPG Consultants, and his director, agreed to the officers' plans to carry out tree felling works without approval 

SINGAPORE — The vice-president of consultancy firm CPG Consultants, Jimmy Liu Wing Tim, was handed a S$26,000 fine in court on Thursday (Jan 19) for his role in a case involving the excessive clearing of a forest parcel in Kranji.

Liu, 63, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Parks and Trees Act, and a single charge under the Wildlife Act.

Three other charges were taken into consideration for the Singaporean’s sentencing.

At the centre of the case is a 25ha site in Kranji, which was set aside for the development of the Agri-Food Innovation Park. It is part of the 500ha Sungei Kadut Eco-District.

The tree clearing that happened without approval from the National Parks Board (NParks) involved more than 7.3ha of the plot, out of the 11.9ha that had been cleared.

The matter came to light after a member of the public published a set of photographs on Facebook in 2021 showing a before-and-after aerial comparison of the parcel of land.

In the wake of the forest clearing, industrial developer JTC, which oversaw the development of the Kranji site, released a detailed timeline of the works. It then said that trees were erroneously cleared before the completion of a biodiversity baseline study and an environmental monitoring and management plan.

Aside from Liu, three other officers are involved in this case. They are: former JTC deputy director Chong Pui Chih, her then-subordinate Neo Jek Lin and director of CPG Tan See Chee.

Chong and Neo were each fined S$30,000 in November, while Tan's case is at the pre-trial conference stage.

The prosecution told the court on Thursday that Liu remains employed by CPG to date. 

THE CASE

The court heard that JTC had engaged CPG as the civil and structural consultant and quantity surveyor of the earthworks and infrastructure project.

This meant that CPG was responsible for the design and construction works in accordance with approved designs.

The consultancy also had to ensure that the necessary approvals were obtained from the relevant authorities as required before works were carried out.

Court documents stated that Liu was appointed as the qualified person representative and superintending officer representative, to assist Tan, who was the qualified person and superintending officer.

Under the Parks and Trees Act, a qualified person has a statutory duty to ensure that works are carried out in accordance with the law, and to notify the commissioner of parks and recreations of any contraventions.

On Aug 21, 2020, the quartet of officers found out from NParks that they needed to put in place certain wildlife-related requirements before approval would be given by the commissioner for tree felling in the various plots at the Kranji site.

These requirements included JTC working with NParks to develop an appropriate fauna baseline study, putting in place proper earth control measures and erecting proper fencing or hoarding to prevent animals from wandering into the worksite.

JTC was also to allow NParks to conduct plant salvaging before the start of any physical works.

However, as the development of the Kranji site was already delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the quartet decided to go ahead with the tree felling without first putting in place such measures.

JTC's Neo and Chong suggested that they carry out the tree felling and site clearance works while efforts were made concurrently to satisfy the wildlife-related requirements.

Both Liu and Tan agreed to this, despite knowing that it contravened the law.

They gave orders to the contractor involved to perform tree-felling works at various plots in the Kranji woodland.

A total of 362 trees with girths exceeding 1m and growing on vacant land there were cut down as a result.

Anyone convicted of cutting trees above a 1m girth, which are growing on vacant land or a tree conservation area, without approval can be fined up to S$50,000.

If convicted of producing false documents to obtain approval from the commissioner of parks and recreation, the offender can be fined up to S$30,000.

If found guilty of hindering the director-general of wildlife management under the Wildlife Act, Neo could be jailed for up to 12 months or fined up to S$10,000, or punished with both.

Related topics

Kranji land clearing CPG Consultants crime court

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