Best of our wild blogs: 22 Jul 17



Volunteer opportunity for NUS‒NParks Marine Debris Project (Jul – Aug 2017)
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Celebrate National Day with a Coastal Cleanup @ Lim Chu Kang East (Sat 05 Aug 2017)
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Night Walk At Punggol Promenade Nature Walk (21 July 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG


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New grid system to manage energy use in Singapore

SIAU MING EN Today Online 22 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — Research money will be channelled towards the ways Singapore could be using energy in the future, by managing the country’s gas, solar and thermal energy under a smarter energy grid system.

This was revealed after the 10th Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council meeting on Friday (July 21). Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong chaired the meeting to review the progress of the S$19 billion set aside for research, innovation and enterprise between 2016 and 2020.

The money is part of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan announced last year, which had identified four areas of focus: Advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, services and digital economy, and urban solutions and sustainability.

The next-generation grid system proposed, known as Grid 2.0, will change the way gas, solar and thermal energy sources are converted into electrical energy, transmitted, stored and used. This system will be more efficient, sustainable and resilient.

Dr Yeoh Lean Weng, director of urban solutions and sustainability research at the National Research Foundation, said that Singapore cannot take its electrical power systems for granted and needs to reduce its carbon emissions to honour the commitments in international agreements.

Under the Paris climate agreement, Singapore has committed to cut carbon emissions per dollar of gross domestic product by 36 per cent come 2030 — down from 2005 levels — and to stablise emissions.

As part of Grid 2.0, researchers will, for instance, look at using “cold energy” — which comes from converting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to its gaseous form — to cool buildings, industry and vehicles.

The use of such cold energy could save Singapore more than S$180 million a year.

LNG is stored at minus 161°C and has to be warmed up by seawater and gasified before it is used in power stations to generate electricity.

Dr Yeoh said that none of this cold energy is used today, and the cold seawater is discharged into the sea. Instead, there can be a system where the extreme cold can be used to produce liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen from air.

Liquid oxygen, for example, can be used to burn natural gas in a special generator, where less natural gas is needed to produce the same amount of electricity.

There are also new opportunities in the district cooling systems. District cooling is the centralised production of chilled water that is piped to buildings for air-conditioning. Another “phase change material” with a higher melting point could be used, instead of the melting point of ice at 0°C. This could result in less energy being used to cool buildings here.

Prime Minister Lee said on Friday he was encouraged that companies are investing more in research, innovation and enterprise activities, and some have set up corporate laboratories as well.

“The 10th (Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council) has given us guidance to consolidate our gains, and sharpen our focus on four growth areas. We still have more to do, but we have made good progress,” he added.


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Indonesia: Pepsico, Unilever and Nestlé accused of complicity in illegal rainforest destruction

Palm oil plantations on illegally deforested land in Sumatra – home to elephants, orangutans and tigers – have allegedly been used to supply scores of household brands, says new report
Arthur Neslen The Guardian 21 Jul 17;

Pepsico, Unilever and Nestlé have been accused of complicity in the destruction of Sumatra’s last tract of rainforest shared by elephants, orangutans, rhinos, and tigers together in one ecosystem.

Plantations built on deforested land have allegedly been used to supply palm oil to scores of household brands that also include McDonald’s, Mars, Kellogg’s and Procter & Gamble, according to a new report.

“If more immediate action is not taken to enforce ‘no deforestation’ policies, these brands will be remembered as the corporate giants responsible for the destruction of the last place on earth where Sumatran elephants, orangutans, rhinos and tigers roamed side by side,” says the study by Rainforest Action Network (RAN).

Using satellite data, photographic evidence and GPS coordinates, the research builds on evidence gathered earlier this year to show ongoing illegal forest clearances across swathes of the 2.6m hectare Leuser ecosystem, despite a moratorium announced last June.

The palm oil reaches major brands via a twisting supply chain that stretches from the PT Agra Bumi Niaga (ABN) logging company, which delivers to a processing mill owned by PT Ensem Sawita (ES), which then sells the palm oil on to some of the world’s largest traders. PT is an abbreviation that denotes a limited liability company in Indonesia.

PT ABN declined requests for comment but after extensive Guardian inquiries, PT ES admitted using ABN’s palm oil – due to confusion after the logging firm changed its name – and said that it “regretted this failure”.

The company promised to “strengthen our traceability practices by exchanging information to relevant stakeholders who have palm oil plantation data.”

However, Gemma Tillack, RAN’s agribusiness campaigns director, said that ABN’s name change had been reported, and the continued inability of palm traders and food brands to source the palm they used back to the plantations showed a wider failing of due diligence systems.

“Relying on NGOs to uncover the truth is simply not good enough,” she said. “If RAN, with our relatively limited budget, can figure it out, then multibillion dollar, multinational corporations certainly can. The fact that they haven’t demonstrates that it is not a lack of ability holding them back, but a lack of will.”

Leuser’s vanishing ecosystem is already have a devastating effect on critically endangered elephants which use it as a migratory corridor. At least 35 elephants were killed in Leuser between 2012-2015, and human-animal conflicts are fast increasing as palm plantations fragment animal habitats.

Many species such as tigers, clouded leopards and sun bears are becoming more vulnerable to poachers, as their environment disappears. Leuser is still Sumatra’s largest rainforest and its Unesco world heritage status was reaffirmed this month, despite Indonesian government protests.

But its deforestation rate is among the world’s highest. In the 2015 haze disaster, Sumatran wildfires, often linked to plantation activity, destroyed 8,000 sq miles of rainforest, contributing to the early deaths of an estimated 100,000 people and emitting more CO2 than the whole of the UK that year.

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo responded with a moratorium on new palm oil permits last April. Two months later, Aceh’s governor, Zaini Abdullah ordered palm oil companies to halt all forest clearing, even where valid permits existed.

But RAN’s research shows that ABN continued clearing another 336 hectares of Sumatran rainforest after Abdullah’s instruction, with 12 hectares of new deforestation since February.

In just one district of the Leuser, nine other suppliers to milling companies continued logging activities since last June across concessions with a combined area of more than 26,000 hectares, according to RAN’s research.

Tillack said: “We believe that there was a rush to clear land because the [logging] companies knew that there would be government intervention to stop forest clearances.

“Global brands like Pepsico can no longer hide behind paper promises and simply blame their international partners for forest crimes. The Leuser ecosystem will die a death of a thousand cuts if brands don’t start taking urgent action to address the root cause of this crisis.”

A spokesman for Pepsico, singled out by RAN as “the ultimate snack food 20 laggard”, said “We take this issue very seriously, and we are making significant investments to improve every aspect of our palm oil supply chain. After being informed of the allegations, we immediately initiated a thorough investigation. While we do not source directly from the mills in question, we identified direct suppliers who had the mills in their supply chains. We have been assured that these suppliers are taking corrective actions to address the allegations.”

Unilever admitted that it had indirectly bought palm oil from PT ABN through its suppliers, Wilmar and Musim Mas, and said that it had requested “a response and an action plan” from them soon.

Nestlé also said that it was investigating the allegations with Wilmar – which told the guardian that it was sending a team to the region to assess whether other sources in its supply chain were using palm oil sourcing back to PT ABN’s 2,000 hectare concession.

Mars and Kellogg’s stressed their sustainable palm oil policies, while Procter & Gamble said that it had told suppliers about its responsible sourcing policy. McDonald’s denied any links to PT ABN.

Of the palm oil traders which supplying the food brands, IOI said that that it had “registered recent deliveries from PT ES in our supply chain” but that the firm had “confirmed that they no longer source from PT ABN”.

Golden Agri-Resources said that its exposure to PT ES was “relatively small” but that it would visit the company in the next weeks to find out if it was indirectly selling on palm oil from PT ABN. Cargill and Musim Mas both said that they were investigating the reports.

However, the companies had been warned about ‘conflict palm oil’ entering the supply chain through PT ES’s third-party suppliers since 2014, and engagement with the firm had not changed its behaviour.

“Brands and traders tend to hide behind supply chain complexities,” she said, “but consumers need to know whether or not the palm oil they use is connected to the destruction of rainforests.”


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Malaysia: Port of Tg Pelepas files RM31.9mil oil spill damage suit

M. HAFIDZ MAHPAR The Star 20 Jul 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Port operator Pelabuhan Tanjung Pelepas Sdn Bhd (PTP) has filed a suit seeking RM31.86mil plus interest for losses due to an oil spill at PTP’s premises from tanker MV Trident Star in August last year.

MMC Corp Bhd, which owns 70% equity interest in PTP, told Bursa Malaysia that PTP had filed in rem (against a vessel) and personam (against a person) writ on Tuesday against Rising Star Shipping Sdn Bhd - the beneficial owner of the ship - and The Shipowners’ Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association (Luxembourg) Singapore branch (the Club).

The Club is a mutual insurance association which offers protection and indemnity insurance to vessels’ owners, operators and charterers worldwide.

PTP, the claimant, operates and maintains Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Johor as well as providing port facilities and other related services.

MMC said at about 7am on Aug 24, 2016, at about 7am, Trident Star was berthing at ATT Tanjung Bin Terminal and, in the course of loading a cargo of 2,500 metric tonnes of marine fuel oil, there was an overflow from one of its tanks onto the upper deck of the vessel which subsequently spilled into the sea.

“The oil spill thereafter spread out into the adjacent waters and towards PTP’s premises causing oil pollution damage. As a result, PTP suffered various and substantial losses,” it said.

Besides RM31.86mil being PTP’s losses from the incident, PTP is seeking interest at a rate of 5% per year from the date of the start of the suit until the full and final payment as well as costs and other reliefs.

Rising Star had earlierm on Feb 17, obtained a declaration from the Kuala Lumpur High Court limiting its liability to a maximum of 4.51 million Special Drawing Rights (equivalent to about RM25mil.

“The filing of in rem and in personam writ herein is to therefore secure the interest and right of PTP towards the fund. Any amount in excess of the fund will be claimed against the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund in London,” MMC said.

According to MMC, the proceedings are not expected to have any material impact on the group’s earnings, net assets or gearing for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2017.


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Scale of pangolin slaughter revealed – millions hunted in central Africa alone

Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked wild mammal and decimated Asian populations have sharply shifted the focus of exploitation to Africa
Damian Carrington The Guardian 20 Jul 17;

The true scale of the slaughter of pangolins in Africa has been revealed by new research showing that millions of the scaly mammals are being hunted and killed.

Pangolins were already known to be the world’s most trafficked wild mammal, with at least a million being traded in the last decade to supply the demand for its meat and scales in Asian markets. Populations of Asian pangolins have been decimated, leaving the creatures highly endangered and sharply shifting the focus of exploitation to Africa’s four species.

Pangolins are secretive, nocturnal and some species live in trees, making them very hard to count and the total size of the populations in Africa is unknown. But the new analysis, based on data collected by hundreds of local researchers at scores of hunting sites and bushmeat markets across central and west Africa, found up to 2.7m are being killed every year, with the most conservative estimate being 400,000 a year.

“The number is definitely shocking,” said Daniel Ingram, at the University of Sussex, UK, and who led the research team. “Pangolins have been hunted out of many areas in Asia and recent analyses show there is a growing international trade between Africa and Asia. If we don’t act now to better understand and protect these charismatic animals, we may lose them.”

Pangolins curl up into a scaly ball when threatened, which defeats natural predators like lions but is no defence against human hunters. The researchers found half the animals had been snared or trapped, despite wire snares being illegal in most of the 14 central African nations analysed in the research.

The analysis, published in the journal Conservation Letters, also found that almost half of the pangolins killed were juveniles, an indicator that the populations are being dangerously overexploited as animals are being caught before they can reproduce. This is particularly harmful as pangolins are slow breeding and produce only a single pup every year or two.

The new estimates of pangolins killed are likely to be minimum numbers as they included only three of Africa’s four pangolins, the giant, white-bellied and black-bellied species. The fourth, the cape pangolin, lives in southern and eastern Africa, outside the study area.

Furthermore, it is illegal to kill giant pangolins in all the countries, meaning not all the illicit trade in the animals will be included in the estimates. The giant pangolins are particularly sought after and the researchers found the price demanded in urban markets has soared almost six times since the 1990s. They also found hunting of the African pangolins in 2014 was 150% higher than in the 1970s.

Richard Thomas, from the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, said very little had been known about pangolin populations in central and west Africa. He also pointed the “remarkable regularity” of major pangolin seizures. In June alone, Malaysian authorities seized three big shipments of pangolin scales, each representing many thousands of animals and originating from Africa.

A total ban on the international trade in any pangolin species was passed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species in September. But Ingram said the enforcement of both international and national laws had to be increased to prevent African pangolins following their Asian cousins on the path to extinction.

The demand in Asia for pangolin meat and scales as delicacies and supposed medicinal uses is a major factor in cross-border trade but a significant proportion of African pangolins are eaten locally. Ingram said that measures are also needed to develop alternative livelihoods for African hunters of pangolin, but he believes there is still enough time left to act: “I am optimistic that something can be done.”


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Best of our wild blogs: 20 Jul 17



2017 edition: Diary of Spotted Wood owl family
wild shores of singapore


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Oil slicks spotted at East Coast Park beach

Tan Tam Mei and Lim Yaohui Straits Times 19 Jul 17;



SINGAPORE- The usually scenic sea view of East Coast Park was stained with slicks of black oil along the shore and waters on Wednesday (July 19) evening.

When The Straits Times arrived at the stretch of affected shoreline near Carpark F2, there was a greasy smell in the air. Black patches of oil were also seen along the beach and were estimated to affect a stretch of about 300m.

Contractors from the National Environment Agency (NEA) were also spotted near the affected beach area.
Mr Daniel Tong, 43, assistant operations director of De-Prospero, which runs restaurant Central Thainearby, said he first noticed the smell of "raw oil" at around 5.30pm.

"I was walking past when I saw the oil spill that was around the break of the waves," he said.

He added that business at the restaurant, which has an alfresco dining area and is located about 50m from the affected stretch, was slightly affected as patrons were bothered by the smell.

"Hopefully this can be taken care of soon because it's not good for the environment," said Mr Tong.

ST has reached out to NEA and the Marine Port Authority for comment.

Updated 19 Jul 2017 evening:

In a statement on Wednesday night, NEA said that its officers found a section of the shoreline of East Coast Beach "to be affected by an oil patch".

"Clean-up operations at the affected 400m stretch of East Coast Beach will commence tomorrow morning at first light," said a spokesman.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it was alerted to the incident at 5.42pm on Wednesday. At that time, it was informed that "oil was sighted along the beach east of Bedok Jetty", said a spokesman.


"MPA has deployed patrol boats with oil dispersants along the area. There has been no sightings of oil found at sea. We are currently investigating the situation," he added.

Mr Daniel Tong, 43, assistant operations director of De-Prospero, which runs restaurant Central Thai nearby, said he first noticed the smell of "raw oil" at around 5.30pm.

"I was walking past when I saw the 'oil spill' that was around the break of the waves," he said.

He added that business at the restaurant, which has an alfresco dining area and is located about 50m from the affected stretch, was slightly affected as patrons were bothered by the smell.

"Hopefully this can be taken care of soon because it's not good for the environment," said Mr Tong.

Meanwhile, people are advised to exercise caution when visiting the beach, and to avoid the affected stretches where cleaning operations are ongoing, said the NEA spokesman, adding that the agency is also "closely monitoring the quality of the seawater".


Oil slick tars stretch of East Coast Park
A 400m-long portion of beach area affected, clean-up operations will start at first light today
Tan Tam Mei Straits Times 20 Jul 17;

Black patches of oil washed up on a stretch of East Coast Park yesterday, leaving parts of both the shoreline and waters covered with the substance.

When The Straits Times arrived at the stretch of affected shoreline near Carpark F2, there was a greasy smell in the air.

Contractors from the National Environment Agency (NEA) were spotted near the affected beach area - which NEA said was about 400m long.

Mr Daniel Tong, 43, assistant operations director of De-Prospero, which runs the Central Thai restaurant nearby, said he first noticed the smell of "raw oil" at around 5.30pm yesterday. "I was walking past when I saw the oil around the break of the waves," he said.

He added that business at the restaurant, which has an alfresco dining area and is located about 50m from the affected stretch, was slightly affected as patrons were bothered by the smell.

"Hopefully this can be taken care of soon because it's not good for the environment," said Mr Tong.

Business adviser Guo Yanhuai, in his 50s, was jogging along the track at East Coast Park when he, too, noticed the smell. He discovered the black patches of oil when he headed towards the beach to investigate.

NEA said that clean-up operations will start today "at first light".

"Members of the public are advised to exercise caution when visiting this section of the beach and to avoid the affected stretches where cleaning operations are on-going. NEA is also closely monitoring the quality of the seawater," said the NEA spokesman.

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said it was alerted at 5.42pm to the incident. It said in a statement: "MPA has deployed patrol boats with oil dispersants along the area. There has been no sighting of oil found at sea. We are investigating the situation."

•Additional reporting by Lim Yao Hui


Clean-up operations at East Coast Park begin after beach was tarred by oil slick
Felicia Choo Straits Times 20 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE - Clean-up operations have started at East Coast Park, where a 400m section of the beach was covered with an oil slick on Wednesday (July 19).

When The Straits Times visited the affected area at around 8am on Thursday (July 20), workers were seen shovelling the sand covered by oil into wheelbarrows and transferring them into bags.

A spokesman for the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Wednesday that "members of the public are advised to exercise caution when visiting this section of the beach and to avoid the affected stretches where cleaning operations are ongoing".

It added that it was closely monitoring the quality of the seawater.

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said it was alerted at 5.42pm on Wednesday to the incident. It said in a statement: "MPA has deployed patrol boats with oil dispersants along the area. There has been no sighting of oil found at sea. We are investigating the situation."

The Straits Times has contacted NEA and MPA for updates on the situation.

In January, an oil spill affected beaches here when two vessels collided near Pasir Gudang Port in Johor. Beaches at Changi, Punggol and Pasir Ris, as well as Pulau Ubin and Coney Island were all affected. More than 200 personnel were involved in the cleanup.


NEA cleaning up oil spill at East Coast Park beach
Channel NewsAsia 20 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE: Clean-up operations at East Coast Park began on Thursday (Jul 20) after an oil slick was found at a 400m section of the beach, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

NEA officers found the oil patch on Wednesday and started the clean-up on Thursday at first light.

A spokesman advised members of the public to exercise caution when visiting this stretch of the beach and to avoid the affected sections while cleaning operations are ongoing.

NEA is also closely monitoring the quality of the seawater, it said.





East Coast Park beach reopened after oil spill clean-up
Channel NewsAsia 20 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE: An oil slick at East Coast Beach has been cleaned up, and the affected section of the beach is once again open to the public, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Thursday (Jul 20) evening.

Reader Chris Ngu tweeted pictures of the slick to Channel NewsAsia, saying he had been at the beach at about 5.30pm on Wednesday evening.

Authorities were notified of the oil slick on Wednesday evening, and NEA officers started the clean-up at first light on Thursday.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it was alerted to the incident at 5.40pm on Wednesday and that it immediately sent four patrol boats with oil dispersants to the area.

An NEA spokesman earlier advised members of the public to exercise caution when visiting the beach and to avoid the affected stretches where clean-up operations were ongoing.

NEA was closely monitoring the quality of the sea water, he added.

MPA said it is investigating the situation and that there have been no sightings of oil at sea.


Oil slick at East Coast Park: Affected section of beach re-opened after cleanup operation
Felicia Choo Straits Times 20 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE - The section of East Coast Beach, which had been tarred by an oil slick since Wednesday, has been re-opened to the public.

In an update on its website and Facebook page on Thursday (July 20), the National Environment Agency (NEA) said cleaning operations at the affected stretch of East Coast Beach, near Car Park F2 and the Bougainvillea Garden, has been completed.

It said test results have shown that the seawater quality is normal, and added that it is monitoring the situation closely.

The post was uploaded at 5pm.

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said it was alerted at 5.42pm on Wednesday to the incident.

It said in a statement: "MPA has deployed patrol boats with oil dispersants along the area. There has been no sighting of oil found at sea. We are investigating the situation."

Clean-up operations started on Thursday morning at the beach, where a 400m section of the shoreline was affected by the oil patch.

When The Straits Times visited the affected area at around 8am on Thursday, workers were seen shovelling the sand covered by oil into wheelbarrows and transferring them into bags.

The affected stretch of East Coast Beach near Car Park F2 and the Bougainvillea Garden was temporarily closed to beach-goers to facilitate the clean-up of the affected area by NEA's contractors.

In January, an oil spill affected beaches here when two vessels collided near Pasir Gudang Port in Johor. Beaches at Changi, Punggol and Pasir Ris, as well as Pulau Ubin and Coney Island were all affected. More than 200 personnel were involved in the clean-up.


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Century-old heritage road in way of Tengah air base expansion

But portions of Lim Chu Kang road could yet survive if ways are found to retain them
Toh Wen Li Straits Times 20 Jul 17;

Parts of a century-old road may have to be sacrificed to make way for the Tengah Air Base expansion.

However, portions of the Lim Chu Kang heritage road could yet survive, with The Straits Times understanding that the authorities are looking at how they can be retained.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said that Lim Chu Kang Road will be realigned to make way for a bigger air base.

It told The Straits Times yesterday that construction of the new road is expected to begin by next year. When the 9km road is completed, the existing Lim Chu Kang Road will be closed and traffic will be diverted to the new one.

Lim Chu Kang Road is home to one of Singapore's five heritage roads, stretching 1.8km from the Sungei Gedong Road junction to the junction of Ama Keng Road.

It will be the first heritage road to have trees removed or transplanted as a result of urban developments. These roads were gazetted in 2006 and are characterised by their tall, mature walls of vegetation and overarching tree canopies.


Lim Chu Kang Road at the junction of Sungei Gedong Road and Ama Keng Road

The Lim Chu Kang heritage road, now lined with some 330 trees, was built in the 1800s to serve the gambier, pepper and rubber plantations in the north-western countryside. As the population in the area grew, it served as a link between the villages and the city-bound roads of Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Timah.

Today, the heritage road's green buffer, spanning 10m on both sides, is dominated by Broad-leafed Mahogany (Swietenia macophylla), a common roadside tree, and self-sown exotic tree species such as the Albizia and African Tulip.

A spokesman for MND and National Parks Board (NParks) said mitigation strategies could include transplanting affected trees to the new road where possible.

Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society (Singapore), said of the realignment: "At face value, we are looking at aesthetic loss, and some limited localised biodiversity impact if we do lose habitat."

But "anywhere where wildlife can make a home has value".

The fast-growing Albizia, for instance, is often a home for woodpeckers, parrots and eagles.

Dr Lum said a survey should be done to assess what sorts of wildlife are in the area - and if these include endangered species such as pangolins and leopard cats, both found in nearby Jalan Bahar.

The imminent realignment of Lim Chu Kang Road is part of an ongoing trade-off between nature and development in Singapore.

In March, The Straits Times reported that 10,000 to 13,000 trees could be removed over the next 15 years to make way for transport and housing projects.

NParks stressed that all the affected trees would be replaced at least one-for-one.

Dollah Kassim’s grave among those slated for exhumation
KELLY NG Today Online 20 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — The graves of a local football icon and a former politician known for his anti-drug advocacy work are among those slated for exhumation at Choa Chu Kang cemetery to make way for the expansion of Tengah Air Base.

Abdullah Mohamed Kassim, who died in October 2010, rests in a tomb adorned with a bunch of red flowers and a miniature football pitch formed out of grey and white stones on top of the structure.

Better known as Dollah Kassim, he represented Singapore between 1968 and 1981, playing centre-forward, and was nicknamed “gelek king” for his graceful and deceptive dribbling.

Dollah, a respected legend in the region and one of the Republic’s star strikers in the 1970s, suffered a heart attack in October 2009, while playing in a veterans’ exhibition match. He died at 61, after spending a year in a coma.

Like Dollah, Harun A. Ghani, a former Member of Parliament and political secretary to the Home Affairs Ministry, was laid to rest at one of the 30,000 Muslim graves that will be exhumed at a later date, after they reach the 15-year burial limit.

Harun, who died aged 66 in August 2005, was known for leading the charge in the war against drugs in the Malay community.

He pioneered “meet-the-family” sessions, which have become a key component in rehabilitating former drug addicts and other ex-offenders.

He was often spotted at coffee shops counselling former abusers and their family members.

In 2005, an education fund dedicated to assisting families struggling with consequences of drug addiction was set up in Harun’s memory.

A total of 80,500 Chinese and Muslim graves, dated between 1955 and 2000, will be exhumed progressively to make way for the air base’s expansion. The first to go will be 5,000 Muslim graves across two blocks in the fourth quarter of next year.

TODAY understands that some families have already sought clarifications from the National Environment Agency and Islamic Religious Council of Singapore regarding the exhumation of their ancestors’ graves.

Heritage enthusiast Raymond Goh said many of the Republic’s founding fathers who died between 1946 and 1978 would have had their graves exhumed in earlier phases.

Mr Goh — who has embarked on an extensive documentation of graves at the Bukit Brown cemetery with his brother Charles — urged the authorities to work with the claimants to document the graves before they are exhumed.

“There is a lot you can uncover about the person’s genealogy and ancestry from the inscriptions on the graves,” said the 53-year-old pharmacist.

Prior to exhumation of graves at the Bukit Brown cemetery to make way for road developments, the Government worked with key stakeholders.

These included Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, The Peranakan Association of Singapore, Singapore Heritage Society, academics and grave experts, to document the graves, as well as memories and rituals associated with the cemetery.

Kranji farmers optimistic about alternative routes to countryside
NG SIQI KELLY Today Online 20 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — Any realignment of Lim Chu Kang Road for the expansion of Tengah Air Base could mean more hassle getting to the Kranji Countryside, but farms and businesses there are not fretting just yet.

After Tuesday’s announcement by the authorities that more than 80,000 graves, three fish farms and a nursery will make way for the airbase’s expansion, property analysts wondered whether any partial closure of Lim Chu Kang Road would mean a big detour for visitors heading to Kranji Countryside.

The road, which is mostly straight, connects Jalan Bahar in western Singapore to the northwestern reaches, where farms and the Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve are located.

“If the works require such a main road to be closed, surely the Government will build an alternative road,” said Ms Ivy Singh-Lim, who owns organic farm Bollywood Veggies.

Stakeholders will want to be consulted on an appropriate alternative, said the 68-year-old.

The authorities said agencies are still “studying the exact impact on the road and possible mitigation strategies”.

Mr Kenny Eng, president of the Kranji Countryside Association, said it was difficult to evaluate the impact on businesses without further details of the realignment plans.

“Unless the entire road is going to be closed, there should not be too large an impact on traffic flow to Kranji. Also, we have customers coming in through the Bukit Timah Expressway and Seletar Expressway, so it’s not a one-way access,” he said.

“From what we see now, the developments seem to be to the left and the right of the road, but we don’t know how the road itself will be changed.” Mr Eric Ng, chief executive of Apollo Aquaculture Group, was concerned that a partial closure of Lim Chu Kang Road would add to the congestion at Neo Tiew Road, which features a single lane in each direction.

“It may be that people will have to go onto Kranji Way, pass through the Kranji dam and onto Neo Tiew Road to access Lim Chu Kang Road ... If there is an accident, everything comes to a standstill,” said Mr Ng, 44. “That is a disaster because we have only one route to enter and exit this area with more than 80 farm plots.”

Changes to Lim Chu Kang Road may present a chance to improve the road network in the area, said other farmers.

“How our business may be affected … depends on whether there are alternative routes. Right now, the road is also not optimal,” said Mr Desmond Khoo, chief executive of Eden Garden Farm. “This can be an opportunity to optimise the network.”

Kranji farmers have, in the past, lamented the lack of public bus services to the area, which draws birdwatchers, visitors seeking respite from the urban jungle and groups going for staycations at the farm resorts.

The affected nursery and three fish farms are located at Murai Farmway, off Lim Chu Kang Road. Some were caught off-guard by Tuesday’s announcement. The owners of Koon Lee Nursery and Fisco Aquarium have at least 10 years before their leases expire, and said they needed time to plan their next steps.

When TODAY visited Rigoh Fishery yesterday, a worker at the farm said its manager was overseas.

Ms Goh Swee Hoon, who owns the fish farm at No. 17 Murai Farmway, off Lim Chu Kang Road, did not respond to queries. Kelly Ng


Tengah Air Base expansion could end ‘road runway’ drills in Lim Chu Kang
KELLY NG Today Online 29 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — The realignment of Lim Chu Kang Road for the expansion of Tengah Air Base could likely mean that it is no longer used as an alternate runway, a defence expert said.

It could also add to parking woes during the annual Qing Ming “tomb-sweeping” festival, according to the cemetery caretakers and visitors.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has been practising launch and recovery operations on the alternate runway since April 1986.

The latest — Exercise Torrent — took place last November after an eight-year hiatus.

On Tuesday, the Defence Ministry (Mindef) said that a new runway will be built at the expanded air base to meet the RSAF’s operational needs.

Asked if there would be any changes to the existing alternate runway at Lim Chu Kang Road, Mindef would only say yesterday that it “constantly evaluates” training and exercise requirements and when necessary, adjustments would be made.

Nevertheless, Mr David Boey, a member of the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence, noted the importance of having public roads that can be converted into alternate runways.

“Having more runways would frustrate attempts at crippling our air force as there would be a larger number of runways to deal with,” he said.

Mr Leon Hay, 38, business director of local goat farm Hay Dairies, said that he was “surprised” Lim Chu Kang Road could be altered, given that it is sometimes used as a makeshift runway as part of RSAF exercises.

If the authorities are looking to replicate the exercises elsewhere, there is a stretch along the East Coast Parkway next to Bedok Camp that could be “reconfigured as an alternate runway within 24 hours should the need arise”, Mr Boey suggested.

However, the locations of new alternate runways in the future will be “constrained by increasing urbanisation”, he said, because clear flight paths to and from the road are necessary for such exercises. “Some roads in Tuas used to be suitable as alternate runways before the area was built up,” he pointed out.

The air force’s drone squadrons are based at Murai Camp, which is in the vicinity and has a runway on its premises, Mr Boey said. The camp may also have to make way as part of the expansion of Tengah Air Base, although Mindef has said the actual boundaries of the expanded air base are still being worked out.

If Lim Chu Kang Road is realigned, cemetery caretaker Huang Ya Jiu, who is in his 70s, believes that it could cause inconvenience to visitors.

Many cars are parked along the six-lane road during the annual Qing Ming festival when people visit and tidy up the tombs of their relatives or ancestors.

Mr Huang said that the traffic congestion is “especially serious” around the columbarium “where the car park is smaller”.

Some 80,500 graves at the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery in the area will have to make way as part of the development plans.

The congestion situation could worsen when the cremated remains from the exhumed graves are transferred there.

Mr Hong Qing Fu, 63, who was visiting his father’s grave when approached by TODAY, said that parking is a challenge during the Qing Ming period.

He and his family were therefore there in the pre-dawn hours to “avoid the Qing Ming crowd”, he said.


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Singapore explores possibility of building a high-rise, green data centre

Channel NewsAsia 19 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE: Singapore is looking into the feasibility of building a high-rise, green data centre in Singapore, after the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Huawei International and Keppel Data Centres signed a memorandum of intent (MOI) on Wednesday (Jul 19).

In a joint press release, the three said they will focus on a two-year strategic collaboration to explore the possibility of building such a data centre here. IMDA will support the development through its programmes, Keppel will offer its capabilities to construct and operate a high-rise green data centre and Huawei will provide the technological expertise to develop said green solutions, it added.

This MOI will help Singapore tackle two major environmental issues: Energy and land use. The press release noted that the current best-in-class multi-tenant data centre report an annual power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of as low as 1.4, while in the United States, a similar large data centre in Nevada is able to achieve a rating of 1.18.

Using the same example, a typical Singapore data centre will need about 1 ha of land - about the size of three to flour Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks - and be housed in a six- to eight-storey building. The Nevada facility, by comparison is the largest in the world and spans across 13 ha - about the size of MacRitchie Reservoir park.

Due to these challenges, data centres here are capped at about 20MW to 25MW of power capacity, or about 5,000 server racks. The Nevada facility can host up to 26,000 server racks, the press release said.

As such, the study would look into the possibility of constructing a high-rise data centre building of more than 20 storeys and that can reduce energy use or increase efficiency to achieve a 10 to 20 per cent improvement in the current best-in-class PUE rating here, it said.

The three parties will also look into internal design elements, specifically new approaches toward more energy efficient cooling methods in a tropical setting.

"If the concept is found to be feasible and scalable, this would significantly cut down the land space requirements of data centres and contribute towards Singapore’s 2030 climate pledge," the press release said. "It could also apply various new approaches in data centre design and construction methods, processes and applications both locally and globally."

Huawei and IMDA also signed another MOI that is focused on helping Singapore-based tech companies grow and expand.

Through the partnership, 35 local companies, to be jointly shortlisted through the Strategic Partners Program (SPP), will get access and benefit from the Chinese networking giant's tech capabilities, market insights and business network, the press release said.

There was a third agreement inked between Huawei and Singapore-headquartered cargo security tracking company Ascent Solutions to help the latter expand its market footprint, it added.


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DBS raises S$685m through first green bond by a local financial institution

Today Online 20 Jul 17;

The US$500 million (S$685 million) floating rate green bonds will be issued with a five-year maturity, to yield a quarterly coupon of three-month US dollar Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) plus 62 basis points.

DBS said the issue of the bonds was well-received in the market, allowing the “tight pricing” for a five-year benchmark deal, due to the issuer’s strong credit rating and rare issuance in the US dollar bond market.

“The launch of our green bond amplifies our commitment to sustainability and to supporting projects which have a positive impact. It adds another dimension to efforts to ‘green’ our operations, and lends support to the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said DBS chief financial officer Chng Sok Hui.

The bonds were placed with investors in Asia (37 per cent), the United States (41 per cent) and Europe (22 per cent), with institutional investors, fund managers, asset managers and banks showing strong appetite, said the bank.

The net proceeds from the issue of the bonds will be used for the finance and treasury activities of DBS group, including the provision of intercompany loans or other forms of financing to DBS Bank and its subsidiaries.

The first green assets are expected to include the banking group’s financing of Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, which was certified Green Mark Platinum — a building rating system to assess environmental impact — by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore.

Green bonds are fixed-income securities that raise capital for use in projects or activities with environmental benefits, such as those to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In March, Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong announced the Green Bond Grant scheme by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to kick-start the development of a green bond market in Singapore.

Under the scheme, qualifying issuances can offset 100 per cent of expenses attributable to obtaining an external review for green bonds, up to a cap of S$100,000 per issuance.

The bonds can be denominated in any currency but have to be issued and listed in Singapore, with a minimum size of S$200 million and tenure of at least three years.

Property developer City Developments (CDL) in April became the first Singapore company to issue a green bond. The two-year secured bond raised S$100 million at a 1.98 per cent fixed rate due 2019.


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Indonesia: Hungry monkeys pick crops clean in Wonogiri

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 19 Jul 17;

Villagers in some areas in Wonogiri regency in Central Java have armed themselves with wooden and bamboo sticks to shoo away bands of monkeys that have repeatedly raided their farms in the past two months.

Monkeys have raided vegetable and fruit farms in Wonogiri, Slogohimo, Batuwarno and Ngadirojo districts, which are surrounded by forests.

“Villagers in the areas are producers of mango, papaya and banana. But we all have had failed harvests this year because the monkeys stole all the fruit. These animals really are a headache for us,” said Suprihadi, 43, from Sendang village in Wonogiri district.

Some farmers have tried to trap the monkeys using nets, but hunger forces them to keep returning.

Sedang village head Budi Hardono said monkeys had also damaged houses and raided food stalls.

“The monkey raids have terrorized us. We have to stay alert all day long to prevent them from entering our houses,” said Parwito, 55, from Tengiri village.

The economic division head of the Wonogiri regency administration, Edhy Tri Hadyanto, said the monkeys had left their natural habitat because of a lack of water and food in the forest as a result of the dry season.

“Natural forests are also in decline. There have been suggestions that we restore the forests and reduce the monkey population. We will seek the best solution,” he said. (bbs)


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Indonesia: Endemic Titan arum blooms perfectly in Bengkulu


Antara 20 Jul 17;

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - A rare endemic "Armophallus Titanium" flower, which was 3 meters in height, bloomed perfectly in a farmers plants breeding site in Tebat Monok village, Kepahiang district, Bengkulu province, a grower named Holidin informed ANTARA here on Wednesday.

"The site was opened to public during the process ahead of blooming," Holidin added.

Located in the Bukit Daun protected forest, which is about 52 kilometers from the provinces capital city, Kota Bengkulu, the site was home to some of the rare endemic flowers, including the Amorphophallus gigas, Amorphopallus variabilis, Amorphophallus faenifolius, as well as the rare giant Rafflesia arnoldii flower.

Once perfectly bloomed, the Armophallus titanium flower releases a strong odor to attract flies.

According to the grower, the flies would help in pollination.

Some locals who lived near the forest crowded the site during the blooming process.

Holidin noted that before the due date, people had visited the site to see the rare Sumatran endemic flower.

At a different occasion, Holidin stated that the rare flowers had posed some threats, including the illegal logging and wildfires.

Amid the rise in populations, the number of forests rapidly declined, Holidin noted, while adding that some forests near his home had been transformed into plantations.

Therefore, according to him, the site played an important role in preserving the rare flowers.

"I hope the countrys next generation will get a chance to see the flowers perfectly bloom in the future too," Holidin remarked, as quoted by Mongabay Indonesia. (*)


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