Nuclear energy protests in the immediate wake of the Fukushima Nuclear crisis in Japan (Credit: SandoCap / flickr.)
Nuclear energy protests in the immediate wake of the Fukushima Nuclear crisis in Japan (Credit: SandoCap / flickr.)

Civil nuclear energy policy in Southeast Asia has seen sharp swings recently. Prior to the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear crisis in March 2011, several ASEAN member states had been actively pursuing nuclear energy. Fukushima compelled some to re-evaluate their plans. Thailand delayed the construction of its first nuclear power plant. In the Philippines, it became more difficult to gain public support to reactivate the Bataan nuclear reactor. Meanwhile, Japan pledged to phase out nuclear energy. Two years on, however, the momentum has reversed. Japan is now taking a more pro-nuclear stance, and some countries in Southeast Asia have revived their nuclear plans.

What is behind the rapid policy about-turn? This NTS Insight argues that while the discourse post-Fukushima has emphasised safety and energy governance, economic and strategic interests remain primary drivers of civil nuclear energy use in Southeast Asia.

To read the full article, please click here.

Another book chapter in the bag. Weeee!!!! *Alhamdulillah* 🙂

gerlach bookThis chapter is part of an edited volume that has been the result of conference papers presented at Asia-Gulf relations workshop at the 2012 Gulf Research Meeting (GRM), held at the University of Cambridge in July 2012.

The 2012 GRM was perhaps the biggest compared to previous years, with a total 20 workshops happening simultaneously over 4 days and spread out in the various colleges of the University of Cambridge. Workshops covered a wide range of topics with a focus on the Gulf Arab region, including the impact of the Arab Spring on the GCC, Gulf-Latin America relations, Women, Energy and environment, socio-economic impacts of migration, tourism, visual culture, Islamic finance, etc…  I sort of regretted not being able to slip out to sit in for the environment workshop. Oh well, next time!

It’s also fun (and somewhat freaky) to meet random individuals a few thousand miles away, and realise that you have mutual friends in other parts of the Gulf and Asia. The world is getting REALLY  small microscopic!

Following the conference, I took the opportunity to meet fellow Muslim environmentalists in Birmingham and London (which itself deserves an over-due blog post… akan datang!)

Details of the book’s contents are available here [in pdf]

A report of the 2012 Gulf Research Meeting can be found here [in pdf].

Spot TheGreenBush: 3rd Gulf Research Meeting, University of Cambridge, July 2012
Spot TheGreenBush: 3rd Gulf Research Meeting, University of Cambridge, July 2012 [Credits to the Gulf Research Center]

Good news and opportunities should always be shared. Like this one.

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Call for Applications for the Islamic Development Bank Group’s Young Professionals Program (YPP)

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group which based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is pleased to announce the recruitment for it’s  Young Professionals Program. The Young Professionals Program (YPP) is the strategic talent pipeline for professional careers in the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group. The Program is designed for outstanding young graduates who can significantly help the IDB Group to carry out its mission and attain its objectives. Details of the YP Program are attached.

IDB representatives will be in Singapore on 4 March 2013 to conduct a career presentation to registered participants and interview pre-selected candidates. If you are interested, kindly do the following:

a) Those who meet the YP Program requirements are advised to apply online through: www.isdbcareers.com
You shall be contacted if you are selected for preliminary interview scheduled on 4 March 2013

b) The career presentation is open to all but space is limited. Please register your participation to: ypp@isdb.org. Walk-ins are subject to place availability.
Details of presentation are as follows:

Date 4 March 2013
Time 10.45 am
Venue 5th Floor,Muis Academy, Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis)
Singapore Islamic Hub, 273 Braddell Road, Singapore 579702

In addition, the Bank will also participate in the Career & Education Fair 2013 at Marina Bay Sands on 2 – 3 March 2013. You are welcome to visit the Booth 100C for a career discussion.

RSIS Centre for NTS Studies' Year in Review 2012
RSIS Centre for NTS Studies’ Year in Review 2012

Think saving the planet is that easy? Think again.

If trying to understand the complex interactions between sciences, economics, culture, politics, security and global/regional frameworks is just not working for you and you’re close to giving up, then check this out.

For the fourth year running, the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies has released its Year in Review (2012). The Year in Review provides a snapshot of dominant NTS events/issues in 2012, particularly affecting the Asia-Pacific region.

This year’s publication focuses on the role of institutions in NTS and its feature article is on developments in Myanmar. Articles following that are based on the 5 themes: Climate, Energy, Food, Health and Water. The publication also includes a summary of activities and publications produced by the centre in 2012.

To view the report [in pdf], click here.

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This art piece is brilliant and reflective of the reality of who we really owe the beauty of our clean and green concrete landscape to.

I have often said to overseas friends, who are very impressed with Singapore’s cleanliness, that there is a reason for that. We have people to pick up after us. Oftentimes either elderly Singaporeans or foreign labourers. Call it job creation, if you wish.

As rough as it may sound, it is probably the case that, had there not been road sweepers, Singapore would not be as clean and green as it is. Why should it be that way? Shouldn’t we, as Singaporeans, take pride and the responsibility of ensuring the cleanliness of our own home? To the extent of picking up litter when we see it?

As Muslims, cleanliness and hygiene are strongly encouraged in Islam. Aside from ensuring your own personal cleanliness and hygiene, there is also an abundance of reference to ensuring the cleanliness of surroundings. One such Hadith reads:-

“Removing any harm from the road is charity (that will be rewarded by Allah).” (Bukhari)

Clearly, there is so much that an individual can do, moreover what Singapore Muslims can do as part of their civic and religious duty. It is part of our faith to protect the environment, which is in itself a service to society.

Happy birthday and happy Ramadan, Singapore!

So my aunt and I decided to make a random detour before some grocery shopping at Holland Village, and checked out the Circle Line Open House. Some would say that’s “So Singaporean” behaviour. “Free Ride and freebies, so must go!” If you were there during the Open House, you would have observed that this was not really the case. Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans from every walk of life (wheelchairs and baby prams included) were there – exploring the various stops, each with their own significance whether historical, recreational or just an area on this 712 sq km island that they had never been to before!

The eagerness to check out the Circle Line also reflects, I think, some sort of pride that we have for public space (well, most of us). Commuting on public transport is entrenched in the blood of your everyday Singaporean. And I have to say, as much as we complain about how crowded it gets at times or the increase in fares,  its still one of the best systems worldwide. In fact, the UAE had sought Singapore’s advice when embarking on their own train system in Dubai.

Aside from the easy connection to getting to Adam Road Hawker Centre and nature parks such as the Botanic Gardens and Labrador Park, it was nice to see a recognition of historic figures such as Lieutenant Adnan who demonstrated honour for our country till death.

Various Stations on the Circle Line

There was quite a bit of activity happening around the new MRT stations. Several dance performances from various community groups – ranging from Malay dance, Hip hop, Country line dancing and bellydance. There were also balloon sculptors and caricaturists to keep the kids amused, and a few pop quizes in creating more awareness of Singapore’s geography and history; Like how did Holland Village get its name, or what does ” Telok Blangah” mean?

Keeping Order

Alas, I didn’t stick around Holland Village long to watch our Returning Officer for the 2011 General and Presidential Elections  busting some bhangra moves! For a overview of the Circle Line Open House, check out this clip by RazorTV. Or if its just Mr Yam Ah Mee that you’re after, then see below 🙂

Recent media reports on the new wave of floods and landslides around the world have yet again highlighted the critical need for disaster preparedness and contingency plans to address the increasing intensity of weather related disasters. However, what has also played out more significantly in these incidents have been weather-related disasters’ direct adverse implications on sources of energy and economic development.

No Drive Thru, here.

This was particularly evident in Australia where the flooding of Queensland’s coal mines are predicted to cause an increase in the price of steelmaking coal as high as $500 per tonne , thus affected more than 90 per cent of Australia’s exports. The economic costs of recovering from the floods are also proving to have indirect costs on other aspects of development, where the education and health sectors are expected to bear the flood’s clean up costs. Such costs would, however, only be the tip of the iceberg as other parts of the country are preparing for impending floods.

Given such effects on a developed country such as Australia, one cannot but imagine extensive damage that would occur in developing countries, which also face a range of  pre-existing concerns that include poverty, poor governance and the lack of capacity to address the increasing rate of intense weather related disasters. The recent floods in Sri Lanka for instance have highlighted adverse effects to food security and even possible complications in former conflict regions that have undetonated mines. While the Philippines continues to recover from the massive damage of Typhoon Ketsana in 2009, government officials need to also deal with the effects of weather related disasters in other less developed regions of the country.

The future is not all bleak as several studies have already noted the potential costs and risks of various weather related disasters as well as the necessary solutions available to address these climate vulnerabilities. The Asian Development Bank, for instance, has highlighted Southeast Asia’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change and the various measures can be taken to mitigate these effects, while UNESCAP has examined ways of reducing vulnerability to disasters, building resilience and protecting hard-won development gains.

Despite such policy recommendations, it is still difficult for countries – whether developed or developing – to effectively address these concerns. Difficulties in coordination amongst various levels of governance and strained resources remain to be sore points and to some extent outweigh capacity building measures that only often bear fruit in the long term. It is therefore necessary for states to demonstrate their commitment to working with local and regional communities in formulating long term solutions beyond the realm of disasters. States must ensure that communities play a proactive role  not only in mitigating and preparing for the disasters, but also are at the helm of local development initiatives that would be able to sustain themselves, rather than depend on national/federal inputs.

This blog post also appears on the MacArthur Asia Security Initiative Blog.


"Work Safely". Yah Right!

The demand for coal is set to increase over the coming years, especially among developing countries. However, while coal may be a cheap source of energy to facilitate economic development, it is costly in terms of the implications for human security. Coal mining has been seen to adversely impact local communities and cause sociopolitical instability. Long-term environmental sustainability is also negatively affected.

In a recent paper, a colleague and I examined  the extent to which governance mechanisms have been successful in mitigating these socioeconomic and environmental costs, with a focus on China and Indonesia. Our paper also assessed the effectiveness of current initiatives designed to address the various forms of human insecurities stemming from coal mining in the two countries.

To read the article, please click here