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No go for wild zebra crossing

END OF THE LINE? Mr Sim says he is testing what's art and what's graffiti, and that he just wants to enhance the environment.


    Mar 04, 2014

    No go for wild zebra crossing

    LTA says World Toilet Organisation founder's zebra-crossing stickers have to be removed

    WHY would someone take the risk and use stickers to create an unusual zebra crossing on a public road?

    We asked the man behind it, Mr Jack Sim, who is incidentally the founder of the World Toilet Organisation.

    The 57-year-old father of four said one reason he did it was to encourage Singaporeans to think out of the box.

    "I thought, why not have a zebra crossing that looks like a zebra? Maybe LTA (Land Transport Authority) can change all the zebra crossings to this design in future to make it Uniquely Singapore," he said.

    Mr Sim said he has informed the LTA. "I've e-mailed LTA to suggest this design as a standard. If they don't want, the stickers can easily be removed," he said.

    The LTA has since said it has to be removed.

    Mr Sim said of the design in Meyer Road, which he took two hours to paste on Feb 20: "I'm testing what's art and what's graffiti. Yes, people will question my intention, but I just want to enhance the environment."

    We spoke to four of his neighbours; three liked it and one was indifferent.

    Said a neighbour who gave her name only as Miss Goh: "It makes me smile when I pass by and see it."

    Another, who wanted to be known as Mr Chia, said he was in favour of not removing it.

    "It's something nice in the neighbourhood, so they should leave it there, it's quite special," he said.

    Facebook user F.I. Lau called the new look "a great idea" to be tried at the zoo.

    It has indeed been tried elsewhere, including at the zoo.

    Some netizens warned Mr Sim about landing in hot water, like "sticker lady" Samantha Lo.

    She had pasted stickers spouting cheeky captions on traffic lights and spray-painted various roads with Singlish phrases like "My Grandfather Road" in 2012. For that, she was given 240 hours of community service, and had to report for supervision and counselling.

    But Mr Sim said his case is different, adding: "Vandalism is action that deliberately destroys, damages or takes beauty away from the environment. I'm adding to beauty by improving the environment, so why would I get in trouble?"

    Lawyer Steven Lam said that under the Vandalism Act, what Mr Sim did could constitute an offence as it involved him affixing things on public property without permission.

    Member of Parliament for Mountbatten Lim Biow Chuan said that safety was his primary concern. Accidents can happen if pedestrians expect drivers to stop while they cross, and motorists may skid on the stickers.

    He urged residents to seek permission from the authorities before changing public property.

    He said: "What someone deems to be artwork may be (seen as) vandalism by others. Let us respect the common space of fellow residents."

    Ms M. L. Lim, 33, a school administrator who has two sons, aged four and six, did not recognise the zebra crossing. She initially thought it was part of ongoing roadworks in the area.

    She said: "Some people find such street art cool but, as a mother, I'm worried. What if there's an accident because motorists and pedestrians are confused over the crossing?"

    Road-safety expert Gopinath Menon said there are standard dimensions for markings at zebra crossings, which have to be approved by the authorities.

    The Singapore Road Safety Council vice-chairman said: "The zebra crossing was introduced about 60 years ago in England. It was (so) termed because the black and white stripes remind everyone of the zebra's stripes.

    "There is no need for it to look like a zebra."