In an International Women’s Day special on the Breaking Silos Podcast, Huda Hamid from Fempreneur Secrets dropped some truth bombs about pursuing business as a minority.

While we celebrate the great strides that women are taking every single day, it’s equally vital to acknowledge the persistent challenges that exist; even down to the sort of language that we think is “normal” to be used.

Huda also shared the important work that she is doing with her Fempreneur Academy, and also her new e-book on “The Art of Firing Your Boss”. Do check them out!

Are you facing challenges in succeeding in business and life? I would love to hear from you and help where I can. Leave your details below, to be updated on future silo-breaking content and activities.

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 

On 8 February 2014, Young AMP launched ‘Faith and Nature: An Eco-Guide to Greening Faith Communities’ in a bid to enhance environmental awareness and action amongst faith-based communities and organisations in Singapore. This publication was jointly authored by Sofiah Jamil, member of the Board of Management of Young AMP who champions Project ME: Muslims and Environment, and Farheen Mukri, from FirstFern Training and Consultancy.

In addition to highlighting environmental principles embedded in various faiths, the eco-guide also includes a checklist for faith-based organisations (including places of worship and religious schools) to audit their current efforts in adopting environmentally friendly practices, as well as recommending ways to reduce resource consumption in their daily faith community activities and engage other stakeholders.

The event also included an inter-faith panel discussion on the role of faith communities in environmental action. Panellists for the session were Brother Esmond Chua (Order of the Friars Minor), Venerable Seck Kwang Phing (Singapore Buddhist Federation), Master Chung Kwang Tong (Taoist Federation Youth Group) and Mr Vivek Kumra (Hindu Endowments Board). Sofiah moderated the discussion and shared some insights from her ongoing PhD research on Islamic environmental initiatives.

The discussions showed that there were many common themes across faiths on environmental protection such as humans’ responsibility in protecting God’s creations, the role of the youth in spearheading environmental action, and the importance of education for all sections of society.

Discussions were all the livelier given the active audience participation. Amongst the 60-odd participants were members of various faiths and environmental activists. The latter group provided various examples and practical solutions that could be adopted by the various faith communities. Ibu Mahaya Menon, for instance, spoke of the significance of natural medicinal plants, while Bhavani Prakash spoke of the prospects of growing your own food in limited spaces and visiting areas that have successfully walked the environmental talk.

Some among the audience also noted in the subsequent discussion that the society of today is preoccupied with consumerism, which increases the degree to which urban dwellers value materialistic lifestyles. Such attitudes also permeate how many believers approach their own religions; some believe that they can spend more money to win more blessings from their deities, while others believe that they do more good than others by virtue of donating more money.

Those interested in reading the guide can visit www.youngamp.sg or http://thegreenbush.wordpress.com/faith-nature-guide/ to download the electronic version of the publication. Limited hard copies of the book are also available for faith-based groups and organisations at AMP in Singapore.

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.

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]