2019 Winners and Honourable Mentions

Day 5: Urban
14 June 2019


Our Utopia
Ashley Jong Yi Ying

Our Utopia

My great grandfather once told me,

“Do you know that the big building over there was once my favourite childhood play area? Many years ago, it used to be a small beautiful jungle with a bewildering array of natural marvels and spectacles. A little stream runs through it. The water was so clear that you could see the smoothness of the rocks underneath. And it was teeming with small critters. My kampong friends and I used to go there to capture tiny tadpoles – just for fun. The best season was when the wild durians were ripe for picking. Can you imagine it?”

I looked out the window. The mullioned window of my apartment cast a checker board of brilliant noon sunlight onto the terrazzo floor of the pavement. In the distant, there was another site cleared, another tall building to take its place.

I was fascinated by my great grandfather’s childhood stories. He would reminisce about the days of old when life was simple, and I was content to listen as I lapped up his stories.

But I could not imagine it. My world was a concrete jungle.

Massive skyscrapers, tall buildings, huge shopping malls were lined up in neat rows.

MRTs, flyovers, wide tarred roads, long tunnels were the pathways.

Purring motor vehicles, revving trucks, caught in a either a gridlock or a standstill, were the norm.

An era of urbanisation. But also a hotbed of pollution, congestion, health, crime and waste. A challenge to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

My great grandfather loved nature. He lived in a green world. When I was  young, we did our little part to help the environment by growing our own garden, doing zero-waste or recycling.

The day my great grandfather passed away was the day I stopped playing my part…

I was walking home from school one day when someone passed me a flyer.

“Urban growth is a detriment to our environment. Mother Earth needs her beauty & her health!”

All the nostalgic memories my great grandfather shared with me started to resurface. And I held a conversation with my great grandfather.

“Great grandpapa, how can we get humans to actually care about the environment?”

“I believe that you start by making a difference. Remember what we used to do? If everyone is aware of its environmental consequences, if each and everyone starts to make a difference, what do you think your future would be like?”

“I think we should learn from the past so that there is a balance in our future world. A balance between a concrete and a healthy environment. Urban transformation is a laudable vision. But we have to get it right or our planet would pay.”

“And if you ‘got it right’, what do you think will happen to our world?

“It would be a utopia.”

I could imagine my great grandfather looking down and smiling in agreement with me. He would have like the idea.

Our utopia.


Tan Tzy Lynn

Almost there and I will finally be free…… Panting, I turned into a corner trying to escape the concrete labyrinth. Tall grey cuboid trees reached towards the sky, covering every inch of it, blocking the clouds. People shouting all around me with sirens ringing not far away. I will not let anyone stand in my way now, especially when I tried so hard to escape in the first place.


Every single thing they did to me, I remembered each of them crystal clear. My home was burned right in front of my eyes. The fire rising higher engulfing the whole forest casting luminous glow on me. Smoke filled my lungs choking me, I barely even survived. My family members all dead. They became ashes scattering across the ground, not even their carcass could be seen. The hole in my heart could never be healed.


They took the chance to capture me. Since then, I lived in a small cage. They forced me to do tricks in front of them and it was humiliating. When I messed up, I could only starve. Even when they did feed me , it would only be a small portion of raw meat, barely sustaining me through the day. The trainer also abused me, whipping me harshly leaving long- lasting scars on my body.


BANG” A bullet fly right by me, grazing my fur. The humans had cornered me and aiming their metallic guns at me. Humans do not trust us animals , they think we are monsters. Well, we could say the same thing about you humans. After all, you were the one who deprived us from our homes. Why should we forgive you? So many years, so many chances and you did not realize your mistakes.


You think you are the most superior being on the planet. You should never had underestimate us. I growled ferociously and prepared myself to attack. Now, I’ll be the monster you always said I was. If looks could kill, they would already be dead. Pouncing, I leap at a human near me and sink my sharp teeth into his legs. The human screamed loudly in my ears and the others panicked.


Right then, another bullet tore right through my heart. There was blood everywhere and I am lost in it. I breathe blood not air. With that, I fallen onto the ground.


The next day……


Headlines on newspapers all around the country.

Escaped Tiger Shoot Dead In The City

Circus Tiger Injured Someone

Deep Scars Found On Dead Circus Tiger