Thursday, January 04, 2007

Artificial Turfs for our Schools

ST Forum
Jan 9, 2007
Plastic grass? You can't be serious, MOE!

As John McEnroe once said, 'You cannot be serious!'

Exactly my sentiment with regard to the article, 'Goodbye muddy pitches, hello synthetic turf' (ST, Dec 30).

Amidst Straits Times columnists (Janadas Devan: 'Time to wake up to global warming', Jan 5; Ho Hua Chew: 'Don't neglect the green, green grass of home', Jan 5) writing about the effects of global warming and getting more in touch with nature, the Ministry of Education is attempting to make one or more (foreign) producers of plastic grass very, very rich indeed.

Wake up, sanitized Singapore!

Dirt is good. The English have a saying: You must eat a peck of dirt before you die. I believe there is a Hokkien equivalent: 'dirty eat, dirty grow'. For what it's worth, the hygiene hypothesis postulates that our quest for utter cleanliness has played a part in the rise of asthma and allergic reactions amongst young children.

Plastic is bad, especially for the environment.

How do you clean this plastic grass? Detergent and bleach have been suggested. These require precious water to wash it away, poisoning the ground.

How do you dispose of this grass at the end of its life (15 years at best estimate)? Burning plastic releases toxic dioxins into the air.

The economic/maintenance argument is myopic and I agree with Chen Bin ('Don't rob our children of naturally green grass fields by going synthetic', ST Online Forum, Jan 5).

Take the UK economy where the manufacturing sector has shrunk dramatically in the last decade and thousands are still left without jobs because they do not have the wherewithal to do the 'knowledge' jobs that are available.

In the UK welfare state, people do not starve. But while their bodies are well-fed, their souls are famished. Joblessness (just as an excess of material goods) leads to spiritual emptiness, which might go some way in explaining the rise in anti-social behaviour. People have nothing (else) to aim for.

Many in colder and dryer climes would envy our weather that gives us such verdant grass growth. Would the Inuit buy a snow-making machine? Have we Singaporeans gone barking mad?

Is the grass really greener on the other side? If it's synthetic grass, then from the health, economic/social and environmental perspectives, the answer is a definitive 'no'.

After the next heavy rain, smell the sweet smell of wet grass that plastic grass does not give. It is good for the soul.

Dr Lee Siew Peng

Again I think the Ministry had overdone it again. Spoiling our dear children.

Is it necessary to go for artificial turf at all our schools? Siew Peng and several others had wrote to the forum to express their view against the plan and they had listed several disadvantages of artificial turf.

I agreed with them.

There is nothing wrong getting dirty and on muddy fields. I believed most of us ,if not all, had done that at least once in our life.

The Ministry can just replace some several fields with artificial turf for competition purpose instead or they can train professinal ground men to maintain grass field better.

I found on the web several advantages and disadvantages of artificial turf.


  • Artificial grass can be a better solution when the environment is particularly hostile to natural grass. An arid environment or one where there is little natural light are examples. (I am sure in Singapore we got plenty of light, only hostile enviroment here I can think of are heavy rainfalls)
  • Ideal for holiday homes when maintenance of lawns is not practical. It is also a solution for elderly homeowners who find the upkeep of lawns too much hard work.
  • Artificial grass pitches can last up to 10 years. That is much longer than natural turf, and their toughness makes them more suitable for multi use stadia. (What happened after 10 years? Disposal of artifical turf will be an enviroment nightmare. Imagine all Schools in Singapore has one There is about 355 Primary, Secondary and Junior Collages in Singapore.)


  • A lot of its rubber can get in trainers very easily.
  • Some artificial grass requires infill such as silicon sand and/or granulated rubber made from recycled car tires. This material may carry heavy metals which can leach into the water table. The granules can also produce a distinctive odor which is considered to be unpleasant.
  • Needs to be disinfected after every game because it does not absorb body fluids like natural turf . (More water and dietergent need to wash it.)
  • Turf toe is a medical condition which is often associated with playing on artificial grass pitches.

I hope this is not another Scholar's project to rob our children of nature which is so difficult to come by thesedays.

Soon our children will only know chicken are rear in Supermarket and Fish all come without intestine .

1 comment:

FatBoi IN MaeSai said...

Precisely why I am letting my girl to stay in Thailand to study at least till Junior College or Tertiary Education. Its an unhealthy and competitive environment which focus only on good grades. I will not want my children to be robbed of their lives in Singapore education environment.