Best of our wild blogs: 6 Aug 13

8th & 11th August Walks at Bukit Brown
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History. and National Day Events 2013

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [29 Jul - 4 Aug 2013]
from Green Business Times

Bukit Brown - Nature & Heritage
from My Nature Experiences

Chattering Lory eating Terminalia catappa fruit
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! : Leopard
from Butterflies of Singapore

Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Workshop, Sat 31 Aug 2013 @ NUS
from Otterman speaks

RMBR Toddycat David Tan makes the news
from Raffles Museum News

Featured video: Sumatra's last elephants versus palm oil
from news by Jeremy Hance

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SDP youth arm's Pulau Ubin article 'misleading'

'Mischievous' post caused Pulau Ubin residents undue anxiety, says SLA
Straits Times 6 Aug 13;

THE Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has accused the youth arm of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) of posting a "mischievous" article online "to mislead the public" on Pulau Ubin's development and cause undue anxiety to the island's residents.

The article, on the Young Democrats' visit to the island in May, was uploaded on the party's website last Wednesday.

Yesterday, the SLA, custodian of state land, denied its claim that the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) had approached resident Chua Bing Qing in 2009 to evict him, but later charged him rent for using the land after learning that the house he lived in was his mother's.

The URA did not approach him, "much less to evict or charge him rent as claimed", the SLA said on its Facebook page.

It added that Mr Chua confirmed this to SLA officers who visited him after the article appeared. Separately, his brother Peng Hong corroborated it.

Another claim in the article was that a "Madam Samiyah" at Kampong Chek Jawa was evicted from her house 15 years ago, and was paid $400,000 for her land.

SLA said its records show there "never" was an owner by that name whose land was affected by any land acquisition exercise.

It also denied that resident Lim Cho Tee received a slew of SLA notices demanding rent payment.

The family had paid up promptly every month through Giro, the SLA said.

These latest rebuttals by SLA follow a scare in April when residents thought they were given an eviction notice.

The letter was actually to inform them of a census survey to decide their resettlement benefits and how much they need to pay to keep living on the island.

Noting media reports of the Government's plan to keep Pulau Ubin rustic for as long as possible, the SLA said: "It is mischievous and irresponsible for the article... to mislead the public and cause undue anxiety to the residents in Pulau Ubin."

YDs visit Pulau Ubin to look into development issues
Singapore Democratic Party website 31 July 2013

The Young Democrats (YD) set out on a trip to Pulau Ubin in May this year to look into the concerns of the residents there following media reports about the development of an adventure park on the island.

Riding rented bicycles, the YDs visited Kampong Jelutong where they met Mr Chua Bing Qing (蔡炳庆) who has been living on the island for 50 years since he was 7 years old.

Mr Chua had worked for a construction company. He now earns his keep by selling aluminium drink cans.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) had approached Mr Chua in 2009 to evict from the island but found out that the house he lives in belonged to his mother. The URA later decided to charge him rent for the use of the land.

The YDs also met Madam Samiyah at Kampong Chek Jawa. Madam Samiyah’s relatives manage a charming alfresco fresh coconut juice store. She was evicted from her house 15 years ago because her area was slated for land reclamation.

Her property comprised ten acres of land. But Madam Samiyah said she did not back down; she engaged a lawyer and lodged a case against the Government.

She was eventually paid $400,000 for the sale of her land. She now lives in Bedok, working as a cleaner and visits her relatives on the island.

Another resident, Mr Lim Cho Tee, said that he had received numerous notices from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) which were posted on his door, demanding rent payment.

Mr Lim has been paying $473 per month in rent which does not include the electricity and water costs, which he gets from a diesel generator and wells respectively.

The Government seems to be trying to play down the eviction of the residents. By charging Ubin inhabitants high land rent, the Government's objective seems to get these Singaporeans out of the island. Newspaper reports of the low rent that the Government charges are not accurate.

Like the Bukit Brown Cemetery which is slated to make way for an expressway, the building of an adventure park on Pulau Ubin is another project that seems to be catering for the 6.9 million population that the Government is pushing for.

Such urbanisation of Ubin adversely impacts the ecology of the island and adds to climate change. This is the reason why the YDs have decided to look into urbanisation issues faced by the inhabitants of Ubin.

Even if the development of the island is justified, there is also the issue of proper compensation for the displaced residents.

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Exhumation of Bt Brown graves affected by road works to begin in Q4

Vimita Mohandas Channel NewsAsia 5 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority has awarded a S$134.7-million contract to Swee Hong Limited for building a new dual four-lane road between MacRitchie Viaduct and Adam Flyover via Bukit Brown Cemetery.

In a joint statement, LTA and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said public exhumation of graves affected by the road works will begin in the fourth quarter of 2013.

LTA will be contacting the next-of-kin of affected graves who had registered their claims to make arrangements for exhumation.

The statement said since details of the affected graves were published in March 2012, LTA has received a total of 1,263 claims for affected graves.

Construction of the new road will begin in stages after exhumation of the affected graves is completed.

While construction is ongoing, members of the public can continue to enter other parts of Bukit Brown Cemetery that are not affected by the road construction.

Details of the access routes will be made available to the public when construction starts.

The new road is planned to be completed by end-2017.

Announced in September 2011, the new road includes a bridge over existing streams.

It is meant to ease the congestion along Lornie Road and the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) during peak hours, and to cater to expected growth in traffic demand.

- CNA/xq

Exhumation of Bukit Brown graves to start in Oct
Siau Ming En Today Online 6 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE — Almost two years after the project was announced, public exhumation of graves at the Bukit Brown Cemetery will begin from October this year to make way for the construction of a new dual four-lane road that connects MacRitchie Viaduct to Adam Flyover.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority said this yesterday, following the award of a tender for the construction of the new road to Swee Hong Limited for S$134.7 million.

The LTA has received 1,263 claims for the affected graves — about a quarter of the total number to be exhumed in place of the new road — and next-of-kin will be contacted to make further arrangements for exhumation.

“Construction of the new road will begin in stages after exhumation of the affected graves is completed,” said the joint statement.

Plans for the new road were announced in September 2011, aimed at easing the peak-hour congestion currently experienced along Lornie Road and the Pan-Island Expressway, as well as to cater to the expected growth in traffic in the area.

The Bukit Brown site has been earmarked for future housing.

The road project sparked off a series of calls from heritage and nature groups to preserve the cemetery, which is about 90 years old.

A working committee, formed in October 2011 to document and research the history behind the cemetery, has completed the documentation of all 4,153 affected graves.

The LTA said it will assess claims on unclaimed graves on a case-by-case basis. Otherwise, the remains would be cremated, the ashes kept by the authority for three years, before they are scattered at sea.

Once the exhumation of the affected graves is completed, construction work for the new road will begin. The road is to be completed by the end of 2017.

“While construction is ongoing, the public can continue to enter other parts of Bukit Brown Cemetery that are not affected by the road construction. Details of the access routes will be made available to the public when construction starts,” said the authorities.

Work on Bukit Brown road set to begin next year
Construction to start once affected graves are exhumed
Jermyn Chow Straits Times 6 Aug 13;

WORK on the controversial new road that cuts through Bukit Brown cemetery will start as early as the beginning of next year after the affected graves are exhumed.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that it had awarded a tender to local contractor Swee Hong to build the dual four-lane road at a cost of $134.7 million.

The estimated 2km stretch, which will link the MacRitchie Viaduct to the Adam Flyover, is meant to ease peak-hour congestion on Lornie Road and the Pan-Island Expressway.

The road is expected to be completed by the end of 2017, a year after its initial 2016 projection.

The LTA also said that 4,153 of the 100,000 graves at Bukit Brown will be exhumed from the fourth quarter of this year, a deadline which was pushed back from April.

It has already received 1,263 claims for graves, while the rest that would be affected by the new road or are in its vicinity, have been documented by a committee led by anthropologist Hui Yew-Foong.

He will next lead a 10-man team to follow families that are exhuming their ancestral graves.

When contacted yesterday, Dr Hui, who is with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the appointed documentarian of Bukit Brown cemetery, said: "We want to record the rituals or ceremonies that are conducted before the exhumation so that we can preserve the memories, heritage and traditions."

He and his team are also looking to record all artefacts that may be unearthed, like jewellery, bangles or miniature pots.

Construction of the road was first announced in 2011, sparking an intense debate between heritage and nature groups and the Government.

Instead of laying a road flat on the ground through the cemetery, the LTA has already agreed to build a 600m-long bridge to allow wildlife to cross beneath the carriageway.

Dr Chua Ai Lin, vice-president of the Singapore Heritage Society, believes the Government has "done all it can" to reduce the impact of the new road on wildlife and heritage sites.

She also commended the authorities for giving families and researchers more time to document the graves.

She added: "But there were alternatives that were not relooked and that was a missed opportunity for us to prevent irreversible impact on the environment and heritage."

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Malaysia-Singapore land reclamation case documented in book

S Ramesh Channel NewsAsia 5 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE: The land reclamation case between Malaysia and Singapore, which started in 2002, has now been documented into a book.

The three co-authors were involved in the episode, which concluded in April 2005.

They are Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh, Dr Cheong Koon Hean, CEO of HDB, and Judicial Commissioner Lionel Yee, who was at that time with the Attorney-General's Chambers.

The book was launched by Singapore's Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

The book is about the about the talks, technical and legal arguments over Malaysia's legal action against Singapore.

Singapore's reclamation work around Tuas and Pulau Tekong was at the centre of the dispute.

Malaysia had asked the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea in Hamburg to order Singapore to stop work immediately, arguing that it had caused serious environmental degradation.

The three co-authors were at the forefront at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, arguing Singapore's case.

Judicial Commissioner Yee said: "For the lawyers on the Singapore team, it was baptism of fire, but thanks to Malaysia, we learnt many valuable lessons from this case, whether it is working with foreign counsel or just doing the logistics of conducting case before an international court or tribunal. And we would be making full use of the experience that we gained from Malaysia again when we met them four years later at the International Court of Justice for the Pedra Branca case.”

Former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, who was at that time Singapore's Attorney General, said it was a story that needs to be told to remind Singaporeans that now and again, relations between Singapore and Malaysia can easily go awry for many reasons.

Mr Shanmugam said: "It was very important for us to win this case and it really showed the government coming together, lawyers, engineers, a lot of people working together and how we succeeded and subsequently the experts completely agreed with us and therefore the provisional measures were not ordered.

“Between Malaysia and Singapore, when we agree that we can go for third-party adjudication, it doesn't hold any particular issue so central that it holds the entire relationship hostage."

Mr Shanmugam stressed that bilateral ties with Malaysia are excellent, with both countries doing several projects together.

- CNA/xq

Book on land reclamation case launched
Besides recalling drama, it serves as reminder of issue of conflicting legal rights
Grace Chua Straits Times 6 Aug 13;

ONE September day in 2003, Mr Lionel Yee was on a plane coming in to land at Changi when it flew over Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong.

Then a legal officer in the Attorney-General's Chambers, he was returning from Hamburg after presenting Singapore's case at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Itlos). It involved a dispute with Malaysia which alleged that land reclamation at Tekong was harming the environment and causing navigation problems.

Mr Yee, now Judicial Commissioner in the Supreme Court, passed the islands in an instant. "That's what we had been fighting for, for so many weeks and months," he said.

Last night, he and his co-authors, Ambassador- at-large Tommy Koh and Ministry of National Development deputy secretary Cheong Koon Hean, launched a book on the landmark case.

All three were key members of the Singapore team at the tribunal.

Malaysia & Singapore: The Land Reclamation Case - From Dispute To Settlement, was launched at the National Museum by Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam.

It details the dispute over reclamation projects at Tuas, Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong when in 2003, Malaysia took Singapore before the Itlos in a bid to halt reclamation work that had started in 2000.

The dispute raised a larger issue of conflicting legal rights - Singapore's to reclaim part of its sea for national needs, and Malaysia's to protect its maritime environment from harm.

It was resolved when international experts showed the reclamation was not causing major environmental damage. Both countries agreed on minor changes to the Tekong reclamation and to monitor the area's ecology.

Mr Shanmugam said the case should be captured for posterity, and remarked on what it reflected about ties between the countries: "When we agree that we can go to third party adjudication, it doesn't hold any particular issue as so central that it holds the entire relationship hostage."

The $26.75 book is published by The Straits Times Press and the Centre for International Law and the Institute of Policy Studies at the National University of Singapore. All royalties will be donated to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

A chapter in the history of bilateral relations
Straits Times 6 Aug 13;

SINGAPORE has reclaimed land at its edges for decades, expanding its land area by more than a fifth since the 1960s.

The land includes spots that most people take for granted, such as Marine Parade and East Coast Park.

So it was no surprise that this reclamation activity eventually rubbed its closest neighbour the wrong way.

In 2002, Malaysia objected to reclamation works at Pulau Tekong and Tuas, two years after the work had started. It claimed the projects damaged the environment, affected fishermen's livelihoods and caused navigation difficulties.

The case was heard at the International Tribunal For The Law Of The Sea in 2003, where the two countries agreed to a full scientific study. It was resolved after a team of independent experts found that the Tekong reclamation project had no major impact on the environment.

A decade on, three key members of the Singapore team - Professor Tommy Koh, Dr Cheong Koon Hean and Mr Lionel Yee - have written a 128-page volume on the experience, giving a sense of the drama in and out of the courtroom. It details Malaysia's complaints and Singapore's legal preparations, a tense week in Hamburg before the tribunal, a joint study by international experts, arbitration at The Hague and a settlement between the countries.

The Singapore team had a keen eye for anything that would help - such as photos of a container vessel breezing through the Elbe River channel in Hamburg to show navigation channels near Tekong would be wide enough even after reclamation.

The book also documents lighter moments. For example, one of the Joint Working Group meetings in Putrajaya ended so late that a Singapore delegation, including Prof Koh, was unceremoniously dumped at a petrol kiosk in Johor on the way back as the coach driver was late for another assignment.

The easy-to-read volume is targeted at laymen interested in international law and international relations. It charts a key moment in the history of bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia, and serves as a reminder how vital reclamation is to Singapore and how careful it must be about reclaiming land.


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Indonesia: WWF Alarmed by Oil Palm Grown in Sumatra National Park

Pallavi Gummalam Jakarta Globe 5 Aug 13;

The World Wide Fund for Nature said it found Asian Agri and Wilmar, two of the world’s biggest palm oil concerns, were recently buying palm fruit that had been grown illegally in the Tesso Nilo complex in Riau, Sumatra, which extends into the Tesso Nilo National Park.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a self-regulating industry body, responded by emphasizing a rule that says oil mills must “record the origins of all third-party sourced fresh fruit.”

“[Criteria 2013 ] requires complete transparent control of the entire supply chain, from field to factory,” the organization said in a statement over the weekend.

RSPO said Asian Agri and Wilmar were cooperating and would stop buying palm clusters from illegally cleared land. Assuming continued cooperation on the matter, the organization said, no official complaint against these companies would be lodged for the time being.

A report published in early July by the WWF underscored its determination to see that all palm oil buyers ask suppliers about the production chain to ensure compliance with laws. It also suggested that destruction of forested areas in Indonesia, at least in part, resulted from a lack of the country’s failure to enforce its own laws.

The RSPO said its own standards for sustainable palm oil production are very high, adding that it was developing measures for its members to ensure careful screening of the source of the fresh palm bunches they purchase. It also acknowledged the challenges for companies and the Indonesian government in encouraging transparency and abating unsustainable palm oil practices.

The watchdog groups were calling the case of Asian Agri and Wilmar an “alarm” warning for the Indonesian government to tighten up legal requirements and procedures for responsibly sourcing produce used by the palm oil industry.

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Phase One Of RM9 Billion Pengerang Petroleum Terminal To Be Completed Next Year

Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa Bernama 5 Aug 13;

JOHOR BAHRU, Aug 5 (Bernama) -- Phase one construction of the RM9 billion Pengerang Independent Deep Water Petroleum Terminal is progressing well and is scheduled for commissioning in the second quarter of next year.

Johor Petroleum Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Mohd Yazid Jaafar said construction work was 65 per cent completed.

"Construction work is on target and slated for commissioning in the second quarter of next year," he told Bernama.

The terminal, to be built in phases on 200 hectares (500 acres) of reclaimed land, will have a total of five million cubic metres of petroleum storage capacity.

The project is undertaken by main board-listed Dialog Bhd, Royal Vopak of the Netherlands and state-owned State Secretariat Incorporated.

Phase one of the petroleum storage facility has the capacity to store up to 1.3 million cubic metres of petroleum products.

Royal Vopak is the world's largest independent tank storage provider.

Mohd Yazid said the project also includes a liquefied natural gas import terminal which the company planned to develop under phase two of its master plan.

Meanwhile, Johor Petroleum Development Corporation, via its facebook account, has made a clarification following numerous "misquotes and misreporting" on the participants and potential investors in its proposed Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex.

It said the complex is being developed to create and add value to Malaysia's downstream oil and gas industry.

To date, two separate catalytic projects have been committed within the complex, namely the terminal and the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project by the national oil corporation, Petronas.

Apart from the two committed projects, Taiwan's Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co (KPTC) has also indicated its interest to invest in a refinery and petrochemical development project within the complex, the corporation said.

The proposed project by the Taiwan company is separate from the two projects being undertaken by Dialog-Royal Vopak-Johor State Government joint venture and Petronas' RAPID.

Should it decide to proceed, KPTC's investment is expected to be within the region of about US$13 billion, in which it plans to build a 150,000 bpd (barrels per day) crude Naphtha Cracker.


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