SINGAPORE: Gone are the days where children from kampungs ran in lalang fields battling each other’s cheap kites with lines coated with glass.
The glass that litters Singapore’s skyline now comes from the jagged edges of skyscrapers, and the laws in force from as far back as 1969 mean that kite-flying is not allowed in many popular parks – unless you intend to apply for a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority Singapore (CAAS).
This permit is processed in coordination with government agencies like the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
The open heartland fields that families used to take their children to in order to skim a loose kite on the wind have been gradually taken up by hospitals, malls and housing developments in urban Singapore, where every inch of open space is jostled for.
Kite-flying enthusiasts that CNA spoke to shared about their deep love of the sport, how they went from open space to open space to continue hoisting their kites, and the obstacles they battle – including the perceived lack of interest from the general public, sponsors and the Government.
Nearly all the enthusiasts interviewed said their love for kites came when they were trying to help their child, nephew or niece fly a kite, and it turned into a passion of their own instead.
Mr Michael Gan, a 64-year-old retired warrant officer from the RSAF, reminisced about being a child in the 60s, when kite-flying was seen in many more places in Singapore.
“The whole sky was filled,” he said, adding that people flew kites 24 hours a day at Marina South. They wore long sleeves and tights, and flew their kites through the night.
“Last time in Singapore, every year, there’s a season,” he said. “There’s always a season for marbles, a season for picture cards.”
But kites were “in” all year long, he said. He used to follow his uncle who made his own kites, and developed a love for the hobby.
Many people flew fighting kites or glass-coated kites then. But restrictions against these kites came after accidents where people were cut, he said.
Signs were put up at Marina South then warning people that there was kite-fighting going on, but accidents still happened, Mr Gan said.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
A check of the map on CAAS’ website shows large swathes of spaces in Singapore where kite-flying is not allowed, unless one has a permit. Areas where kite-flying is allowed within height limits include Marina Barrage, West Coast Park and Bishan Park.
Kite-flying without a permit is not allowed in places like Sembawang Park, Punggol Waterway Park, Pasir Ris Park and parts of East Coast Park.
Co-founder of hobby group Show Kites Singapore Johnny Yap, 48, said that space is the main struggle kite-flyers face.