My partner, Luenne Choa, and I penned an op-ed for The Business Times on 16 Aug 2018,  on a PR stunt by the WWF office in Singapore.

The article discusses the challenges in managing truth, trust and transparency in an age of social media and fake news.

An abridged version of the article was published the next day in another Singapore-based newspaper, “The New Paper”

Click here to read the full article on The Business Times website.

Click here to read the abridged version in The New Paper (page 16).

Beyond symbolic “feel good” environmental activities, there is much to learn and build on crises and traditional/cultural practices

In this piece,  I argued that what is lacking from existing environmental awareness campaigns, is the sustained experiential awareness of resource scarcity.

In the case of Singapore, given the fact that majority of residents start from a point of easy access to resources, they generally lack an acute experience of being without resources.

To read the article, click here.

“The over-reliance on the government for solutions, however, reflects what some have termed as the nanny-state syndrome: due to years of strong state intervention and action, people have become apathetic and expect the government to address all problems.”

Read more about addressing climate change in Singapore in this article in Asia Dialogue, the online magazine of the University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute.

 

Photo by yeowatzupPublic Housing, Dover, Singapore, CC BY 2.0, Link 

It was barely a couple of weeks ago when I first heard about FiTree and their plans to organise a couple of Green Iftars during the month of RamaFiTree Posterdan  — on the 15th and 27th July 2013. “OH YES!!! Finally, more Singapore Muslims are actively thinking and doing their bit for the environment.”

Green Iftars may be seen as a novelty in Singapore, but is nevertheless part of a steady trend amongst environmentally-conscious Muslims worldwide attempting to operationalise and mainstream environmental practices in their communities, based on Islamic principles related to the environment.  Last year, a few of us did our own small-scale green iftar.

FiTree’s efforts are commendable given the fact that they’ve recieved great support from Masjid Darul Aman to organise the iftar. In addition to being given the liberty to put up posters and set up their booths virtually anywhere around the mosque, Masjid Darul Aman has also supported FiTree introducing the use of biodegradable cutlery for the event.

Fellow Project ME-er, Ibrahim, and myself rocked up at Masjid Darul Iman at about 6pm. FiTree folks were busy putting the final touches to their posters and two booths – one on the men’s side and another on the women’s side of the mosque. In addition to giving out free bookmarks with various Quranic verses on the environment printed on them, FiTree folks also selling cute little badges for 2 bucks. A tazkirah (sermon) on the importance of the environment in Islam was also delivered prior to the breaking of fast.

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Take a tip!

After breaking fast and Maghrib prayers, Project ME-ers and some members of FiTree had a chat on how the evening went and other broader issues related to Islamic environmentalism. Given that it was the first Green Iftar in a mosque, it was interesting to observe the responses of the congregation. Speaking in Malay was clearly an important factor in relaying the message, particularly to the older men and women in the mosque, and it was great that the FiTree bookmarks had both English and Malay translations of the Quranic verses. Another interesting response from several makciks when given the bookmarks was Do I have to pay for this?”, to which we responded “No Aunty, it’s free”. A few of them placed their new bookmarks in between the pages of their qurans and Islamic books.

This has certainly been a good start for FiTree and part of their learning curve in further advancing FiTree’s efforts to increase envioronmental awareness amongst Muslims. If you would like to participate in their next Green Iftar, do check out their Facebook page.

Makcik buying a FiTree Badge
Makcik buying a FiTree Badge

Hello fellow countrymen and women,

As of about an hour ago, the PSI has hit 152 – the highest level since 2006. While I understand this is a concern to many on the island, here are my two cents worth on the issue:-

1) Please quit living in a bubble and come to terms with reality that beyond the efficient, clean and green [sterile] concrete island shores, the increasing frequency and intensity of environmental degradation/pollution/disasters/floods is real. Sh*t happens.

2) When you’re done complaining, please spare some time to think about how such adverse environmental events occur in the first place. Aside from poor governance, ineffective implementation at the local level, corruption in our neighbouring countries [the usual bla bla..], sometimes our consumerist demands for paper and other products that support our “first world” economic development is a contributing factor.

3) Perhaps we can think of alternative solutions rather than depend on the “gahmen” to fix it. There are those among us that are already doing great work in other Southeast Asian countries — whether it be in disaster relief efforts, helping to provide clean water supply and proper sanitation in remote areas, or teaching a kid to read and write. What’s stopping us from (for example) thinking of ways to possibly provide alternative sources of livelihood or new technology to poor communities that are engaged in the activities that we are forever complaining about?

A long, tedious and complex process, yes. Impossible, maybe not.

At the very least, it would be an effort to know our neighbours better and be grateful for what we have.

That is all.

Hugs and kisses from smokey Jay-Kay-Tee*.

Indonesia. Isn't it beautiful?
Indonesia. Isn’t it beautiful?

*Jakarta, Indonesia

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.

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I’m usually a slow reader, but there’s something about the National Library of Australia that just keeps me going.

Maybe it’s their awesome collection of books, where you can stumble upon some really fascinating finds.

Or maybe it’s the super conducive reading environment, which includes an alfresco cafe view that overlooks the lake.

Or maybe it’s just me in stressed student mode trying to meet a deadline. Hmm…

Living seagrass meadows of Terumbu Semakau - photo courtesy of Wild Singapore

Marine biologist Siti M. Yaacub gave a talk about sea grasses at the National Geographic Store at VivoCity, Singapore, on 10th December 2011. I was completely taken aback both by the current vibrancy of seagrass life along some of the coasts of Singapore and also the massive decline in the number and size of areas with seagrass existence.

“Seagrasses are the only flowering plants adapted to grow submerged in the sea. Seagrasses generally grow in intertidal areas to depths of 30m”. Siti gave an animated and enlightening narrative about the current state of seagrass population in Singapore. Singapore has a variety of seagrass along our coasts. The Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides),  Smooth ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea rotundata), Serrated ribbon seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata) , Needle seagrass (Halodule sp.) , Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii),  Noodle seagrass (Syringodium isoetifolium),  Spoon seagrasses.,  Fern seagrass (Halophila spinulosa) ,  Beccarri’s seagrass (Halophila beccarrii) ,  Hairy spoon seagrass (Halophila decipiens) are some of the species

The seagrass meadows in Singapore is now limited to few sites on Pulau Semakau, Cyrene Reef, Tuas, Sentosa, Labrador and Chek Jawa.  The reduction in coastal and marine ecosystems in the coasts surrounding Singapore is due to the ongoing development and reclamation along the Singapore coasts which has transformed most of Singapore’s coastline.

One of the key things I learnt during the talk is how we, as normal individuals, can and should, learn more about the coastal diversity on our local coastlines. Team Seagrass facilitates this via conducting regular trips to the various seagrass sites to gather data about the length and intensity of the seagrass meadows around Singapore.

More information about Team Seagrass and their activities can be found on their Facebook page and their blog.

This article was written by guest blogger, Ibrahim Iqbal – an Environmental Management Student in the National University of Singapore who is passionate about the Environment, Technology, the creation of sustainable change-making development solutions using technology as a positive multiplier and exploring the planet.

 

“Only when the last tree has been cut down, Only when the last river has been poisoned, Only when the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

— Cree Indian Prophecy —

When will all this happen? Given the rate that we are consuming the limited resources on earth, probably pretty soon. Here’s some facts and figures:-

When the the last tree is cut down

When the last river is poisoned

When the last fish is caught

When money can’t be eaten

Hopefully, all this will sink into people’s brains, and make them more conscious of how they live their lives and treat their environment.

When? I’m not sure, but it had better be soon.