Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trouble down on the (Singapore) farm

Ivy Singh-Lim is one of the few real characters in the rather staid public life of Singapore. An outspoken former head of Singapore's netball association, she has spearheaded attempts to revitalise Singapore's farming hinterland (yes it does have one) in the north of the densely-populated island nation.

I wrote about her mission and her rather unflattering views of the Singapore government in a big feature I did for the Far Eastern Economic Review before it closed down last year (available here).

Unlike some of the other independent voices in the politically repressed city-state, Singh-Lim is plugged in to the establishment. Her husband is a former head of NTUC Fairprice, a leading supermarket chain run by the government "trade union", and she has some influential friends within the ruling regime.

But her drive to turn her farm, Bollywood Veggies, into an "agro-tourism" destination seems to have ruffled some feathers. Her business is currently being prosecuted for allegedly flouting building regulations. Her defence counsel has claimed that she is the target of a malicious prosecution by the Building and Construction Authority.

Ivy is not the sort to back away from a fight so it will be interesting to see how this one turns out. In a recent posting on her website, she says:

Dear Valued Customers,

Some of you may be concerned about the recent TODAY article stating that the gentle-warrior farmer has been "hauled to court" because Bollywood Veggies did not comply with building inspections mandated by the BCA. I was not hauled to court but rather asked politely to appear.

The newspaper reporter did not ask for our side of the story so it was not mentioned that we had already complied with the inspections last year. Please be assured that our farm and bistro are safe to visit. However, if you are worried, please bring along a crash helmet or call us to provide you with an organic "coconut husk" crash helmet.

Mrs. Ivy Singh-Lim
Gentle-warrior Farmer

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