Parks and Trees Act
(CHAPTER 216)

(Original Enactment: Act 14 of 1975)

REVISED EDITION 1996
(27th December 1996)
An Act to provide for the development, protection and regulation of public parks and gardens and for the preservation and growing of trees and plants and for matters connected therewith.
[15th May 1975]
Short title
1.  This Act may be cited as the Parks and Trees Act.
Interpretation
2.  In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires —
“aeration” means the exposure of the soil surrounding the base of the trunk of a tree to enable air and water to reach its roots;
“Board” means the National Parks Board;
“Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation and includes any officer authorised by the Minister to perform the duties and functions of the Commissioner under section 3(3);
“competent authority” means any one or more Government or statutory authorities empowered by any written law to approve plans for the development or subdivision of any land or plans relating to the construction of buildings;
“felling” includes wilfully destroying by any means;
“occupier”, in relation to any land, means any person in actual occupation of the land, and includes the owner of the land and any other person in receipt of the rents or profits thereof, and any agent or trustee of an occupier of the land;
“owner”, in relation to a vehicle, includes —
(a)every person who is the owner or joint owner or part owner of the vehicle and any person who is the hirer or has the use of the vehicle under a hire-purchase agreement but not the lessor under any such agreement;
(b)the person in whose name the vehicle is registered except where the person has sold or otherwise disposed of the vehicle and has complied with the provisions of the rules applicable to him in regard to the sale or disposal; and
(c)in the case of a vehicle in respect of which a general licence is issued under section 28 of the Road Traffic Act [Cap. 276], the person to whom the general licence is issued;
“plants” includes shrubs, climbers, creepers, hedges, ferns, flowers and lawn-grasses;
“private street” means any street not being a public street;
“public park” includes any walk, recreation ground, playground, open space, traffic island, verge or garden maintained by the Commissioner;
“public street” means any street over which the public has a right of way which has been vested in the Government under the Street Works Act [Cap. 320A] or the repealed Local Government Integration Act [Cap. 166, 1985 Ed.] or in any other manner;
“street” includes any road, square, footway or passage, whether a thoroughfare or not, over which the public has a right of way, and also the way over any public bridge, and also includes any road, footway or passage, open court or open alley, used or intended to be used as a means of access to 2 or more holdings, whether the public has a right of way thereover or not; and all channels, drains, ditches, reserves and verges at the side of any street shall be deemed to be part of the street;
“tree conservation area” means any land designated by the Minister as a tree conservation area under section 5;
“vacant land” means any verge or land which has not been developed for residential or industrial purposes, and includes any land on which any building or structure has been erected in contravention of any written law or in respect of which a temporary permit has been issued by the relevant authority;
“vehicle” means a vehicle whether mechanically propelled or otherwise except a perambulator or an invalid carriage the weight of which unladen does not exceed 254 kilograms and which is specially designed and constructed and not merely adapted for the use of a person suffering from some physical defect or disability and is used solely by such person;
“verge” means any area by the side of a public street, whether turfed or not.
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Appointment of Commissioner of Parks and Recreation and other officers
3.—(1)  The Minister shall appoint a Commissioner of Parks and Recreation who shall be responsible for the performance of the duties and functions assigned to the Commissioner under this Act.
(2)  The Minister may appoint such number of officers as may be necessary for the purpose of administering and carrying out the provisions of this Act.
(3)  The Minister may, by notification in the Gazette, authorise one or more officers appointed under subsection (2) to perform the duties and functions of the Commissioner under this Act.
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(4)  The Commissioner and all other officers appointed under subsection (2) shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of the Penal Code [Cap. 224].
(5)  The Minister may, by notification in the Gazette, authorise any officer appointed under subsection (1) or (2), as the case may be, to exercise within any public park all the powers of a police officer.
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Public parks, aquariums, recreation grounds and gardens, etc.
4.  The Commissioner may, so far as the funds at his disposal shall permit, lay out, construct, plant, improve, equip, maintain, supervise and control lands set apart or acquired for the purpose of being used as public parks, aquariums, walks, recreation or pleasure grounds, swimming pools or gardens and may —
(a)erect thereon any pavilion, recreation room, out-house or other building and charge for admission thereto;
(b)provide entertainment or any amenity thereon or therein;
(c)set apart any part of such lands for the purpose of any game or recreation and exclude the public from the part set apart while it is in actual use for that purpose;
(d)provide any apparatus for games and recreation and facilities for boating and charge for the use thereof;
(e)place, or authorise any person to place, chairs or seats on such lands and charge, or authorise any person to charge, for the use thereof;
(f)provide and maintain refreshment stalls, food-stalls and restaurants on any such lands and either manage them himself or, if he thinks fit, let them to any person on such conditions as he may determine;
(g)authorise any person to erect, maintain and operate on such lands any facility and charge, or authorise any person to charge, for the use thereof; and
(h)plant trees and vegetation in or about any public street.
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Restriction on feeling or cutting of any tree having girth of more than one metre
5.—(1)  Subject to the provisions of this Act, no person shall, without the written permission of the Commissioner, fell or cut any tree with a girth exceeding one metre growing on any vacant land or such other land as the Minister may, by order published in the Gazette, designate as a tree conservation area unless the felling or cutting is —
(a)for the prevention of imminent danger; or
(b)in compliance with any obligation imposed by any written law.
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(2)  For the purposes of subsection (1), the girth of a tree shall be measured half a metre from the ground.
(3)  Any person who fells or cuts a tree in contravention of subsection (1) or who wilfully causes the death or destruction of a tree to which that subsection applies shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.
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(4)  Where in any proceedings for an offence under this section —
(a)it is proved that a tree was felled or cut, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that the tree had been felled or cut by the occupier of the land on which the tree was growing; and
(b)a question arises as to whether the girth of a tree measured half a metre from the ground exceeds or does not exceed one metre, a certificate purporting to be signed by the Commissioner and certifying the girth of the tree and that he has examined the tree shall be admissible as evidence of the matters stated therein without proof of the signature of the Commissioner to the certificate.
Notice to maintain or preserve trees in tree conservation areas
6.—(1)  For the purpose of maintaining or preserving any tree to which section 5 applies, the Commissioner may, by notice in writing addressed to the occupier of the land on which the tree is growing, direct him to take, within such time as may be specified in the notice, such measures as are reasonably necessary for such purpose.
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(2)  Without prejudice to the power of the Commissioner under subsection (3), any person who fails to comply with the requirements of a notice issued under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine of $100 for every day during which the offence continues after conviction.
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(3)  If the notice issued under subsection (1) is not complied with, the Commissioner may, at any time after the expiration of the time so specified in the notice, cause the measures to be taken, and the costs and expenses of so doing shall constitute a debt due from the occupier of the land to the Board and be recoverable as such.
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(4)  Any person to whom a notice under subsection (1) has been issued shall, if he is not the occupier of the land in respect of which the notice has been issued, within 7 days from the date on which the notice was served on him inform the Commissioner in writing that he is not the occupier.
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(5)  Any person who fails to comply with subsection (4) shall, unless he proves to the satisfaction of the court before which the question of liability to pay costs and expenses of taking any measures in pursuance of the notice issued to him is determined, be deemed, for the purpose of recovering such costs and expenses, to be the occupier of the land in respect of which the notice was issued.
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(6)  Where, in any case referred to in subsection (5), the court is satisfied that the person in default has shown sufficient cause for his default, the costs and expenses of taking any measures in pursuance of the notice issued to that person shall, notwithstanding that the notice has not been issued to the occupier of the land, constitute a debt due from the occupier to the Board and be recoverable as such.
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Application for written permission to fell or cut trees
7.—(1)  An application for written permission to fell or cut any tree to which section 5(1) applies shall be made to the Commissioner in the prescribed manner by a person having such estate or interest in the land on which the tree is growing as would enable him, with or without the consent of any other person, to fell or cut the tree.
(2)  Where any such application is made, the Commissioner may, if it appears to him to be in the interest of the amenity of the area to do so, refuse to grant permission or grant permission subject to such conditions as he thinks fit.
(3)  Any written permission to fell or cut any tree granted under this Act shall continue to be in force for such period as may be specified therein.
(4)  Any person who is aggrieved by a decision of the Commissioner made under subsection (2) may, within 2 weeks of the date of the decision, appeal in the prescribed manner to the Minister whose decision shall be final.
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Notice to plant or replant trees, etc.
8.—(1)  For the purpose of preserving or enhancing the amenity of any vacant land, or land on which a new street is to be made, or adjoining or abutting on or near to a public street, the Commissioner may serve on the occupier of that land a notice requiring him, within such period (not being less than 14 days after service thereof) as may be specified in the notice —
(a)to plant or replant any tree and plant of such size and species and at such places as may be so specified and to provide for their maintenance and protection;
(b)to clear the land of weeds or cut the grass; or
(c)to take such other measures as are reasonably necessary for such purpose.
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(2)  A notice under subsection (1) shall take effect at the end of such period as may be specified in the notice.
(3)  If within that period the occupier appeals to the Minister, the notice shall not take effect unless the notice is confirmed by the Minister or the appeal is for any reason dismissed by the Minister or is withdrawn.
(4)  A person on whom a notice under subsection (1) is served may, at any time before the notice takes effect, appeal to the Minister in the prescribed manner against all or any of the requirements of the notice on the grounds that —
(a)the planting or replanting of trees and plants in accordance with the notice is not required in the interest of amenity;
(b)the place on which the trees and plants are required to be planted is unsuitable for the purpose; or
(c)the requirements of the notice are otherwise impracticable or unreasonable.
(5)  The decision of the Minister on an appeal shall be final.
(6)  Any person who fails to comply with any requirement of a notice served under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine of $100 for every day during which the offence continues after conviction.
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Power of Commissioner to take measures in default of notice and to recover costs and expenses
9.—(1)  Where the occupier of any land has failed to comply with the requirements of any notice which has become effective under section 8(2) or (3), the Commissioner may at all reasonable times enter upon the land and take in respect thereof such measures and do such work thereon as may be necessary to comply in whole or in part with the notice.
(2)  All costs and expenses incurred by the Commissioner under subsection (1) shall constitute a debt due from the occupier of the land to the Board and be recoverable as such.
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Trees and plants planted under section 8 or 9 not to be damaged or removed
10.—(1)  No person shall wilfully damage, destroy or remove a tree or plant which has been planted under section 8 or 9.
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(2)  Any person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.
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Preventation of dangers
11.—(1)  Where the Commissioner is satisfied that any tree or plant, whether growing or not, is likely to be dangerous to life or property or to cause an obstruction or is in any way physically or visually likely to impede traffic, the Commissioner may by notice in writing require the occupier of the land on which it is growing or lying to take such measures as the Commissioner thinks fit within the time specified in the notice.
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(2)  Without prejudice to the power of the Commissioner under subsection (3), any person who fails to comply with the requirements of a notice issued under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine of $100 for every day during which the offence continues after conviction.
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(3)  If the notice issued under subsection (1) is not complied with, the Commissioner may, at any time after the expiration of the time so specified in the notice, cause the measures to be taken, and the costs and expenses of so doing shall constitute a debt due from the occupier of the land to the Board and be recoverable as such.
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(4)  Any person to whom a notice under this section has been issued shall, if he is not the occupier of the land in respect of which the notice has been issued, within 7 days from the date on which the notice was served on him inform the Commissioner in writing that he is not the occupier.
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(5)  Any person who fails to comply with subsection (4) shall, in any proceedings for the recovery of any costs and expenses of taking any measures in pursuance of the notice issued to him, be presumed to be the occupier of the land in respect of which the notice was issued unless he shows sufficient cause for the default to the satisfaction of the court.
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(6)  Where, in any case referred to in subsection (5), the court is satisfied that the person in default has shown sufficient cause for his default, the costs and expenses of taking any measures in pursuance of the notice issued to that person shall, notwithstanding that the notice has not been issued to the occupier of the land, constitute a debt due from the occupier to the Board and be recoverable as such.
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Power of Commissioner to take measures to remove trees and plants imminently dangerous to life or property
12.—(1)  Where the Commissioner is satisfied that any tree or plant, whether growing or not, is imminently dangerous to life or property, the Commissioner may take such measures and do such work as may be necessary to remove the tree or plant or part thereof.
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(2)  All costs and expenses incurred by the Commissioner under subsection (1) shall constitute a debt due from the occupier of the land to the Board and be recoverable as such.
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(3)  Where any land, in respect of which measures have been taken or work has been done by the Commissioner under this section, section 9 or 11, has 2 or more occupiers, the occupiers shall be liable jointly for the whole costs and expenses incurred by the Commissioner; and those costs and expenses shall be apportioned in such manner as appears to the Commissioner to be reasonable.
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Parking of vehicles on verges and turfed open spaces prohibited
13.—(1)  Any person who without reasonable excuse parks a vehicle on any verge or turfed open space maintained by the Commissioner shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.
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(2)  In this section, “park” means to bring a vehicle to a stationary position and to cause it to wait for any purpose.
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Service of notices, etc.
14.—(1)  Every notice, order or document required or authorised to be served under this Act or any rules made thereunder may be served on the person —
(a)by delivering the notice, order or document to the person or to some adult member of his family at his last known place of residence;
(b)by leaving the notice, order or document at his usual or last known place of residence or business in an envelope addressed to the person;
(c)by sending the notice, order or document by registered post addressed to the person at his usual or last known place of residence or business; or
(d)where the person is a body of persons or a company —
(i)by delivering the notice, order or document to the secretary or other like officer of the body of persons or company at its registered office or principal place of business; or
(ii)by sending the notice, order or document by registered post addressed to the body of persons or company at its registered office or principal place of business.
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(2)  Any notice, order or document sent by registered post to any person in accordance with subsection (1) shall be deemed to be duly served on the person to whom the letter is addressed at the time when the letter would, in the ordinary course of post, be delivered and in proving service of the notice, order or document, it shall be sufficient to prove that the envelope containing the notice, order or document was properly addressed, stamped and posted by registered post.
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(3)  Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), a notice required or authorised by this Act or any rules made thereunder to be served —
(a)on the owner of any vehicle may be served by addressing the notice to the owner of any vehicle without stating his name or address and may also be served personally or by affixing the notice to the vehicle; or
(b)on the owner or occupier of any premises may be served by delivering the notice or a true copy thereof to some adult person on the premises or, if there is no such person on the premises to whom the notice can with reasonable diligence be delivered, by affixing it to some conspicuous part of the premises.
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Trees and plants to be planted, etc., in accordance with approved plants
15.—(1)  Where approval from the competent authority has been obtained by any person to construct any new buildings, the person shall ensure that —
(a)any trees and plants which are indicated on the plans and specifications approved by the competent authority are planted in accordance with the approved plans and specifications; and
(b)any open spaces which are indicated on the approved plans and specifications are made up according to such plans and specifications.
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(2)  If the trees and plants are not planted in accordance with the approved plans and specifications or if the open spaces are not made up in accordance with the approved plans and specifications and to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, the Commissioner may —
(a)by notice require the person to comply with subsection (1)(a) or (b); and
(b)if such notice is not complied with within 21 days after the date of service of such notice,
cause the trees and plants to be planted, or execute or cause works to be carried out to ensure that the open spaces are made up in accordance with the approved plans and specifications.
(3)  Every notice under subsection (2) shall be in writing and shall be deemed to be sufficiently served on the person if sent by ordinary post to the person at his last known address and shall be deemed to be served on the person at the time when the notice would, in the ordinary course of post, be delivered.
(4)  All costs and expenses incurred by the Commissioner under subsection (2) shall constitute a debt due from the person to the Board and be recoverable as such.
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(5)  Any person who fails to comply with any requirement of a notice served under subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine of $100 for every day during which the offence continues after conviction.
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Power of Minister on appeal under section 7 or 8
16.  The Minister may, on the determination of an appeal under section 7 or 8, confirm, annul or modify any decision made or any notice served by the Commissioner under this Act.
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Liability of owner, etc., of vehicles for offence committed
17.—(1)  When an offence under this Act or any rules made thereunder is committed in relation to a vehicle, the person who at the time of the commission of the offence is the owner of the vehicle or, in the case of a deregistered vehicle, is the person who immediately prior to the deregistration was registered as the owner of the vehicle in respect of which the offence is committed shall be guilty of the offence in all respects as if he were the actual offender guilty of the offence unless the court is satisfied that the vehicle was at the relevant time a stolen vehicle or a vehicle illegally taken or used.
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(2)  Nothing in this section shall affect the liability of the actual offender but, where a penalty has been imposed on or recovered from a person in relation to an offence, no further penalty shall be imposed or recovered from any other person in relation thereto.
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(3)  Notwithstanding subsection (1), no owner of a vehicle shall, by virtue of this section, be guilty of an offence if he —
(a)within 14 days after service on him a notice alleging that he has been guilty of an offence, furnishes by a statement in writing to the Commissioner stating truthfully the name and address of the person who was in charge of the vehicle at all relevant times relating to the offence concerned; or
(b)satisfies the court that he did not know and would not with reasonable diligence have ascertained such name and address.
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(4)  A statement made under subsection (3) if produced in any proceedings against the person named therein in respect of the offence concerned shall be sufficient evidence that such person was in charge of the vehicle at all relevant times relating to such offence unless evidence to the contrary is adduced.
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Obstruction of officers
18.  Any person who obstructs or hinders any authorised officer acting in the discharge of his duty under this Act or any rules made thereunder shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
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General penalties
19.  Any person guilty of an offence under this Act or any rules made thereunder for which no penalty is expressly provided shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000.
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Composition of offences
20.—(1)  The Commissioner may compound any offence committed under this Act or any rules made thereunder by accepting a sum not exceeding $1,000 from the person who is suspected of having committed the offence.
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(2)  On payment of such sum of money, no further proceedings shall be taken against that person in respect of that offence except that, where any damage has been caused to property owned by the Government or the Board and maintained, supervised or controlled by the Commissioner under this Act, that person shall in addition be liable to make good the damage, the cost of which shall constitute a debt due from the person to the Board and be recoverable as such.
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(3)  All sums collected under this section shall be paid into the funds of the Board.
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Identification card to be produced
21.—(1)  Every officer appointed under section 3(1) or (2) who seeks to exercise any of the powers conferred upon him by this Act shall, if not in uniform, on demand declare his office and produce such identification card as may be issued to him by the Commissioner.
(2)  It shall not be an offence for any person to refuse to comply with any request, demand or order made by any such officer acting or purporting to act under this Act if the officer is not in uniform and refuses to declare his office and produce his identification card, on demand being made therefor by that person.
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Powers of arrest, etc.
22.—(1)  A person who is reasonably suspected by any police officer or any officer appointed for the purposes of this Act of having committed an offence under this Act or any rules made thereunder shall give his name and address to the police officer or officer, if so required.
(2)  Any police officer, or any officer appointed for the purposes of this Act and generally or specially authorised to do so, may within a public park arrest any person committing in his view or who he has reasonable cause to believe has committed an offence under this Act or any rules made thereunder —
(a)if the name and address of the person are unknown to him;
(b)if the person declines to give his name and address; or
(c)if there is reason to doubt the accuracy of the name and address, if given.
(3)  A person arrested under this section may be detained until his name and address are correctly ascertained except that no person so arrested shall be detained longer than is necessary for bringing him before a court unless the order of a court for his detention is obtained.
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Protection from liability for bona fide acts
23.  No action shall lie against the Commissioner or any other officer appointed under section 3(2) or any person acting under the direction of the Commissioner or such officer in respect of any matter or thing done bona fide for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of this Act.
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Act not to affect liability in tort of occupier
24.  Nothing in this Act shall affect the liability in tort of an occupier for any injury or damage caused to any person or property arising from any tree or plant growing on his land.
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Offences by body corporate, etc.
25.  Where an offence under this Act or any rules made thereunder has been committed by a body corporate, a partnership or an unincorporated association of persons, any person who at the time of the commission of the offence was a director, manager, partner, secretary or other similar officer thereof, or was purporting to act in any such capacity, shall also be guilty of that offence unless he proves that —
(a)the offence was committed without his consent or connivance; and
(b)he had exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence as he ought to have exercised having regard to the nature of his functions in that capacity and to all the circumstances.
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Payment to Board of fees and charges collected
26.  All fees, charges and moneys collected under this Act or any rules made thereunder shall be paid to the Board.
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Exemption
27.  The Minister may, by order and subject to such conditions as may be specified in such order, exempt any person from any provision of this Act or any rules made thereunder.
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Rules for public parks, etc.
28.  The Minister may make such rules as he may think fit for the management and control of public parks and, in particular, for any of the following purposes:
(a)the preservation of order and the prevention of nuisance therein;
(b)prescribing the days and times of admission thereto or to any part thereof;
(c)the preservation and protection of the flora, fauna and other property therein;
(d)the admission of vehicles thereto and the regulation of traffic therein;
(e)the prohibition of any particular act therein;
(f)prescribing the fees payable in respect of admission thereto or to any part thereof;
(g)prescribing the fees payable for the use of the premises or the facilities therein;
(h)prescribing that any act or omission in contravention of the provisions of any rules made under this Act shall be an offence and prescribing penalties for such offences, which penalties shall not exceed a fine of $5,000; and
(i)regulating and prescribing standards for the planting, aeration and maintenance of trees and plants on any vacant land and public street.
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