Best of our wild blogs: 21 Oct 13

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [14 - 20 Oct 2013]
from Green Business Times

Workshop on Free Web Tools for Green NGOs
from Green Future Solutions

Announcement: Chek Jawa Boardwalk trips in November and December from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Fun with friends with good visibility at Big Sister's Island
from wonderful creation

A first-hand experience in civet research: Reflections of a civet poop scooper from Life of a common palm civet in Singapore

Special sightings since 2010: dugong, dolphin, sea turtles and more! from wild shores of singapore

Exotic sightings at Bidadari
from My Nature Experiences

No New Surpirse @ Bukit Brown
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Butterfly of the Month - October 2013
Butterflies of Singapore

A Yellow-vented Bulbul chick fell from above… a happy ending from Bird Ecology Study Group

Biku biku – Bhesa paniculata
from lekowala!

Pink-spotted Razor Clam
from Monday Morgue

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Heavy rain in eastern, central Singapore causes flash floods

Today Online 21 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — Heavy rain over the eastern and central parts of Singapore yesterday afternoon resulted in flash floods in several locations.

According to the PUB, a total of 77 millimetres of rain was recorded at the Kim Chuan rain gauge from 4.20pm to 6.40pm, of which, 60.2mm fell over 30 minutes from 5.05pm. Flash floods, reported in seven locations, subsided within 30 minutes, except for the flood at Arumugam Road which subsided within one hour, said the PUB.

In four locations — Paya Lebar Road, the Service Road off Upper Paya Lebar Road, Arumugam Road and Ubi Ave 2, and Eunos Crescent — the flash floods occurred because the Geylang River was flowing full during the storm. Drainage improvement work to upgrade the river is on-going and is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of next year.

The three other locations that experienced flash floods were the junction of Macpherson Road and Harvey Road, the Pan-Island Expressway slip road at Stevens Road Exit, and Thomson Road.

The PUB said it has scheduled drainage improvement work at Harvey Road and Thomson Road. Detailed design for the drainage work will be carried out next year.

Last week, several areas in the eastern parts of Singapore were hit by flash floods following pre-dawn thundery showers. The intense showers also caused some damage to Pasir Ris Polyclinic.

Last month, severe flash floods forced the closure of part of the Ayer Rajah Expressway.

Heavy rain causes flash floods
Channel NewsAsia 20 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: Heavy rain caused flash floods in eastern and central Singapore on Sunday evening.

National water agency PUB said heavy rain fell over eastern and central parts of Singapore from 4.20pm to 6.40pm.

Total rainfall of 77mm was recorded at Kim Chuan rain gauge from 4.20pm to 6.40pm, of which 60.2mm fell from 5.05pm to 5.35pm.

Flash floods were reported at the following locations:

- Paya Lebar Road under PIE-Paya Lebar flyover;

- Service Road off Upper Paya Lebar Road (near Lim Teck Boo Road);

- Arumugam Road and Ubi Ave 2;

- Eunos Crescent;

- Junction of MacPherson Road and Harvey Road;

- PIE (towards Changi Airport) slip road at Stevens Rd Exit; and

- Thomson Road near Novena Rise.

PUB said the flash floods subsided within 30 minutes, except for the flood at Arumugam Road which subsided within one hour.

The first four locations were affected as Geylang River was flowing full during the storm.

PUB has ongoing drainage improvement works to upgrade the stretch of Geylang River which serves these areas.

The drainage improvement work is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2014.

PUB has also scheduled drainage improvement works at Harvey Road and Thomson Road.

- CNA/ir

Flash floods hit eastern and central parts of Singapore
Straits Times 21 Oct 13;

HEAVY rain yesterday afternoon caused flash floods in the eastern and central parts of Singapore.

A spokesman for the PUB, the national water agency, said that total rainfall of 77mm was recorded at Kim Chuan rain gauge from 4.20pm to 6.40pm, of which 60.2mm fell from 5.05pm to 5.35pm.

Flash floods lasting 30 minutes to one hour were reported at the following locations:

Paya Lebar Road (under PIE-Paya Lebar flyover)
Service Road off Upper Paya Lebar Road (near Lim Teck Boo Road)
Arumugam Road and Ubi Avenue 2
Eunos Crescent
Junction of Macpherson Road and Harvey Road
PIE (towards Changi Airport) slip road at Stevens Road Exit
Thomson Road (near Novena Rise)
The first four locations were affected as Geylang River was flowing full during the storm. Ongoing drainage improvement work in the area is expected to be completed by end-2014.

Around MacPherson MRT station, at the junction of Paya Lebar Road and Ubi Avenue 2, buses were stranded for over an hour.

Students Paul Tan, 19, and Michelle Ang, 18, were on their way to visit a temple in MacPherson when the bus they were on ran into a flooded stretch of road.

"Rainwater was covering the kerb so you couldn't see where the road was or where to drive," said Mr Tan.

On nearby Arumugam Road, construction worker Du Zhi You, 35, said floodwater reached up to the headlights of parked cars.

"The water was too deep so I went to the next road where the water was shallower," he said.

Water also flowed into Cheng Hong Siang Tng Kew Huang Keng Combined Temple at the end of the road, a caretaker there said.


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Would East Coast Park still be for all to have after redevelopment?

Colin Lai Jun Hao Today Online 21 Oct 13;

I applaud the National Parks Board for upgrading the East Coast Park’s facilities to fit the public’s ever-changing needs. (“Halt in Marine Cove redevelopment work due to traffic flow study”; Oct 16).

The NParks Director for Parks Development gave us a glimpse into the park’s future, of which he mentioned the provision of family-friendly amenities, including a range of recreational options.

I urge NParks, though, not to forget what the park, and every park in Singapore, was initially set up to accomplish: A greenery-filled enclave, an escape from the constant drumming of city life, an organic set of lungs for our city-state.

East Coast Park, being the largest and longest park here, experiences its fair share of crowds on weekends.

While the activities on offer suit these diverse crowds, is it still the park for all to have? Or has it been capitalised upon, with the original goals forgotten?

With these crowds come the rubbish. And in a seeming textbook example of diffusion of responsibility, countless park goers light up in plain view of “No Smoking” signboards.

Besides being an obvious fire hazard, it is ironic how the cyclists and runners have to breathe in second-hand smoke in their quest for better physical health.

Furthermore, the human congestion within the park is as pertinent as the traffic congestion around the area.

Cyclists have difficulty navigating the cycling lanes that are now choked not only by four-wheelers and children unable to balance on bicycles, travelling with little predictability, but also pedestrians walking in the middle of cycling lanes.

With many dining and recreation options already on offer, it is time that NParks consider the negative externalities generated by the increase in these pull factors.

Let us not forget how it feels to be immersed, together, in this excellent 12-kilometre stretch of flora.

Halt in Marine Cove redevelopment work due to traffic flow study
Tiara Hamarian Today Online 21 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — One-and-a-half years after the Marine Cove enclave in East Coast Park — where a cluster of restaurants, pubs and the famous McDonald’s outlet used to stand — closed to make way for redevelopment, little progress in new construction work seems to have been made in the area, leading some to wonder what was happening to the place.

Mr Albert Tan, a senior instructor at Inline Culture, the nearby skating shop, said he had noticed some construction soon after the area was shut in March last year, but these stopped about a month or two later.

Ms Liza Estraaten and Mr Freddy Ho, a married couple in their mid-40s who frequented Marine Cove almost weekly before its closure, were puzzled as to why things were still the same as when they last visited last month. “It was closed (then), so we came again to see if there’s anything new, but it looks the same as it did the last time.”

The former Marine Bowl building is also still there, although parts of other buildings in the area have been torn down.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the National Parks Board (NParks), which owns Marine Cove, said the delay in redevelopment work was due to a study on how to improve traffic flow around the area — congestion was not uncommon in the past.

“We seek the public’s understanding as such studies take time,” said NParks Director for Parks Development Yeo Meng Tong.

But what plans are in store for the once-bustling area remain unclear, with Mr Yeo saying only that Marine Cove will be developed “in line with the coastal theme” of East Coast Park.

“In view of the park’s popularity with visitors from all over Singapore, we will provide family-friendly amenities at Marine Cove, including a range of recreational options,” he added.

When the notice to Marine Cove tenants to clear out was first given in 2010, there were fervent petitions to keep the place going. Although two extensions were granted, the cluster was subsequently shut down last year.

Mr Tan, the 39-year-old skating instructor, still rues the closure of Marine Cove: “There used to be more people around here. It’s such a waste because nothing seems to be happening now.”

Mr Yeo said park users can continue to enjoy dining and recreational activities in areas such as Rain Tree Cove, Big Splash, as well as the coming Parkland@ECP, which is expected to be ready by the second quarter of next year. TIARA HAMARIAN

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Rethinking society, architecture: What it will take to design for resilience

Kim Lee Today Online 21 Oct 13;

Many young Singaporeans expect a rewarding career after years of schooling. Mr Tay Kheng Soon graduated like them, and saw himself as an architect whose most important purpose was to design good buildings.

After 40 acclaimed years in architecture, he sees that it is not good enough.

Tay, still a practising architect and currently adjunct professor at the National University of Singapore’s School of Architecture, believes Singapore’s youth must change their approach in preparing themselves for an uncertain future.

Architects, for example, need to design for total environments that address well-being in the broadest sense.

The world has seen social, economic and ecological shifts since you became an architect in 1964. How has this redefined your work?

Architects have to become social and environmental activists taking on issues and synthesising new design strategies. This means that they have to have much more knowledge, ability to empathise, and to collaborate with a wide range of people to shape the human and natural environment.

An example of my own professional change is my involvement in designing and realising the Mechai Bamboo School in Thailand, an experimental school for 180 students in Buriram, the poorest province in Thailand.

The classrooms have a tall two-tier roof with the lower roof serving as a large overhang, eliminating the need for walls. An open classroom is thus created, surrounded by greenery. The children love the atmosphere so much that they want to come to school even when it is shut over the weekends and holidays!

The architecture resulted from the school’s teaching philosophy. Students learn through projects, not textbooks. Students elect projects that help their families improve their livelihood. They do not take exams. They learn by doing community work, working in small teams to help slower learners. Students participate in teacher selection and the school’s purchase meetings. This is empowerment!

The Thai Ministry of Education insisted on testing the students and were surprised that they ranked in the top 10 per cent of all Thailand! The school has since been host to a stream of visiting teachers wishing to learn from it.

Mechai illustrates the new ideas about architecture. I have become a co-conceptualiser and catalyser of projects and ideas … no longer merely a consultant architect, but a designer in the new comprehensive sense that the changing world needs.

How did you learn to appreciate the natural world?

I spent my childhood in the Cameron Highlands during World War II. My family lived in a little house within a vegetable farm at the foot of the Boh Tea plantation. It was idyllic. I remember applying compost with my bare hands onto chilli plants. I plucked raspberries, climbed guava trees, caught dragonflies ... I guess all these experiences awaken deep natural propensities embedded by evolution in every human being.

Thus, I am concerned for young Singaporeans growing up in a concrete environment, deprived and therefore fearful of natural things. I fear they deprive themselves of developing instincts that would serve them well, directly or indirectly.

If these natural impulses are present, people will see things more holistically, rather than as separate entities which make them easily dictated to by the imperatives of today’s urban industrial culture — like being strapped to jobs they don’t enjoy, tied to heavy mortgages, stressed out by children’s school woes, and needing distraction through lots of retail therapy.

Paradoxically, resentment is growing in people against the impoverishment of their lives even as their material conditions improve.

You have travelled much and learnt much. How has that changed your work and life today?

As I see the challenges of development everywhere, I ponder what “development” should be. I am increasingly critical of development defined only in material terms, patterned on the Western Industrial Consumption model. Clearly, this is the cause of the social disparities and selfish values which cause environmental and social degradation wherever disparities get out of hand.

In my visit to Chinese villages, I was appalled by the human degradation of children left behind to be minded by tired old grandparents among neglected fields and unkempt village houses. I am equally appalled by the slums of Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok, Kolkata, et cetera. I have stopped being enamoured of slick glass-box architecture. Indeed, I find them repulsive, even immoral!

But feeling this way is not good enough. What should one do about it? I had to rethink everything I knew and felt about architecture.

(Editor’s note: To resolve the phenomenon of the urban slum, which Mr Tay believes results from the failure of the countryside, he came up with the idea of “Rubanisation”. A memorandum of understanding has been signed to do four Ruban settlements in China. Read his thoughts on Rubanisation at

You have been a keen observer of Singapore as it grew into independence. How do you feel about the country as it progressed?

In the early days, the genius of the People’s Action Party was to balance the population’s needs with the needs of international business. Social protection got the votes, the cheap public housing programme stabilised their power while also serving as wage subsidy and, with suppression of left-wing labour agitation, it created the investment climate for economic growth.

Emancipation of the human initiative is now Singapore’s key challenge, if it wants to prepare its people to meet the unexpected, which the future will inevitably throw up. Resilience and creativity have to be nurtured, but there is fear it may get out of hand and erode the preeminence of power. The will to change is restrained. There will be dithering as Singapore emancipates its people. Old reflexes and mindsets are at stake.

The 2011 General Election and the recent by-election are indicators. The hotly contested Presidential Election also showed a new interest in public matters. Once the lid is lifted ... old grievances come up. Some will urge that the lid should never be lifted while others want it lifted judiciously. My feeling is that the tide of history cannot be thwarted and the speed of lifting the lid will be propelled by events possibly beyond our control.

What Singapore values do you think we need to change, to learn?

My pride is tinged with disappointment. Disappointment because it can do so much more.

Even as I acknowledge Singapore’s great administrative achievements, I regret the lack of internalised values. The streets are clean not because people take it upon themselves not to throw rubbish, but through punishments and employment of cheap labour to pick up the mess Singaporeans leave everywhere.

For self-pride and identity to form, there must be belief in the goodness of people. This is a sea change from the dim view of human nature that underpins the rules, regulations, incentives and disincentives that make up everyday reality.

Do you think social responsibility has a future in Singapore?

The next generations are navel-gazing. The Singapore story has failed to ignite any idealism in them. Until it does so by word and deed, the young will continue not to raise their sights.

Yet, all my students constantly talk about creating community — that mythical state of togetherness they yearn for but eludes them. They do not have any idea what it really is nor how to engender it. Singaporeans know about the issues of human rights and sustainable living, but lack the ability to imagine how to take action.

One of my students who did a dissertation on co-housing formed this dictum: “Community only comes only from successful sharing.” If society is merely consumers of government agency, then there is no need to share the work and no real need for community. Conversely, unsuccessful sharing will destroy what little community spirit there is!

I would, therefore, say that if Singapore is to become a resilient, creative and cohesive society, then the new generations have to successfully create community through exercising common purpose.

This is an abridged version of an article appearing in the coming edition of SINGAPORE magazine ( published by the Singapore International Foundation.

Singapore architect’s solution to the urban slum
Kim Lee Today Online 21 Oct 13;

In an interview with SINGAPORE Magazine, veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon described a visit to study the slums of Manila with his urban design students from the National University of Singapore. He came to the conclusion that simply helping the poor was no solution -- to resolve the phenomenon of the urban slum, the solution had to be sought in the countryside.

He came up with one such idea for this, which he termed “Rubanisation.” In his own words:

I coined the term “Rubanisation” to describe the concept of rebalancing the disparity between the city and the countryside. It offers a different idea of “development” where more resources are diverted from cities to the countryside.

Failure of the countryside results in the drift towards the city. As long as rural poverty is not addressed, all efforts towards the urban poor are a drop in the ocean of poverty and degradation.

Rubanisation provides the context to work, live, learn, play, farm and heal in new urbanised rural settlements.

It serves the 99 per cent, while the city serves 1 per cent.

Like all new concepts, it takes time to sink in. The situation also has to be right. The global economic crisis signals the need to rethink the big city, export-oriented, developmental model. A more equitable model needs to come about. Thus Rubanisation, which has been incubating for seven years.

A Memorandum of Understanding has already been signed to do four Ruban settlements in northeast China. I have just returned from Sri Lanka this June where, at the invitation of the Ceylon Institute of Builders, I presented the keynote on Rubanisation and its relevance to Sri Lanka ... Right now, what is exercising my mind is the establishment of a “Ruban Bank” that mobilises crowd-funding to finance uplifting of rural areas everywhere.

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Shutterbugs flock to Big Bird Race

Eagle-eyed photographers take part in bird-spotting contest for first time
Audrey Tan Straits Times 21 Oct 13;

BIRD photography in Singapore is taking flight, with more shutterbugs willing to venture into areas like mangroves and cemeteries to snap pictures of colourful plumes and webbed feet.

"When we explore outdoors, we see birds in their natural setting," said 44-year-old Francis Yap, who runs a biotech business. "By photographing them, we can keep the image as a memory."

Armed with a $22,000 camera kit and a lens as long as his arm, the enthusiast ventured into the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Saturday, one of the pioneer participants in the photography category at this year's Big Bird Race - a contest to spot the most species of birds in 24 hours.

The annual event saw 12 teams of two to three competing in three categories - novice, advanced and photography.

Photography teams had to submit pictures of the species, while other teams only had to jot down details of where and when the bird was sighted.

At the prize-giving ceremony at Quality Hotel Marlow yesterday afternoon, Mr Yap and his team clinched first prize with 76 photographed species.

Winners from the novice and advanced categories were also awarded trophies for spotting 64 and 110 species respectively.

It was the first time in 30 years of the event, organised by the Nature Society (Singapore), that it has hosted a photography category.

"This is to cater to the growing number of bird photographers in Singapore, which has exploded over the past five years due to the advent of the digital camera," said head of its organising committee Alan OwYong, 67. "While bird watchers pay more attention to the records of birds, such as their rarity, photographers enjoy capturing colourful birds and birds in motion."

But nominated MP and environmentalist Faizah Jamal, who was guest of honour at the event, said photographers could eventually be roped into conservation.

"There are photographers who are into nature photography, but not necessarily into conservation," she said. "This category could bridge the gap so nature photographers could understand the conservation element."

For birdwatchers at the event, conservation was indeed the buzzword, as many attributed rapid habitat loss to Singapore's development.

Maintenance manager Alfred Chua, 53, a birdwatcher of 22 years, said: "The density of resident birds like swamp hens and ducks has dropped as they lose their freshwater homes."

Teacher Ann Ang, 29, who has three years of birding experience, said she did so as it was fun and she enjoyed nature.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee took part for the first time, finishing a creditable second place in the advanced category with 106 sightings.



There are photographers who are into nature photography, but not necessarily into conservation. This category could bridge the gap so nature photographers could understand the conservation element.

- Nominated MP and environmentalist Faizah Jamal

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Malaysia: Buffer-less oil palm plantations raise concern

New Straits Times 21 Oct 13;

KOTA KINABALU: The discovery of the planting of oil palm without any buffer zones along Sungai Kinabatangan is worrying environmental groups.

Without a buffer, it could result in leakages of herbicides and pesticides into the river, which is home to the Orang Sungai community and many endangered wildlife species.

The plantation is near the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and the Pin-Supu Virgin Jungle Reserve, both of which are known habitats for wildlife species such as the orang utan, proboscis monkeys and Bornean elephants.

Kampung Batu Puteh resident Rosli Jukrana said villagers were worried that chemicals used in the plantation would flow into the river which comunities depend on for water, fish and tourism activities.

"For years, there has been much talk from the authorities about taking action against these plantations, which have planted right up to the riverbank. However, no action seems to be forthcoming."

Rosli, who heads the MESCOT sustainable tourism and conservation initiative in Batu Puteh, expressed hope their plight would be heard by the authorities.

Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goosens said there were still oil palm companies that planted without providing forest corridors for wildlife along riverbanks.

He said it was hard not to believe that the river was unsafe with oil palm being planted close to riverbanks.

"This is a rainforest and a floodplain and without a buffer it is only logical that all the pesticides and herbicides the plantation uses may end up in the river."

Meanwhile, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said he was aware of the matter and had asked for a full report.

"I will get to the bottom of this. It seems my repeated warnings have fallen on deaf ears and the culprits should know the Sabah government does not deal lightly with such errant acts."

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Indonesia: No to mining business in Raja Ampat

Antara 18 Oct 13;

Manokwari, West Papua (ANTARA Nws) - Minister for the Environment Balthasar Kambuaya said he would reject any proposal for mining operation in the district of Raja Ampat of West Papua.

"I have already told my staff to reject any such proposal in the district of Raja Ampat," Balthasar said here on Friday.

Balthasar said Raja Ampat is extraordinarily rich in natural resources that would be damaged if mining companies are allowed to operate there.

"If the governor wants to give the license, well go ahead, but I would reject it," he said.

It would be better to develop the natural potentials rather than allowing them to be destroyed by mining operation, he added.

He said he could not say if the next minister after him later would allow the natural beauty of Raja Ampat be destroyed in favor of expected earning from mining operation.

"But no way as long as I still hold the position." he said

The district of Raja Ampat has 610 islands but only 35 of them are inhabited including the islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo, the largest of them.

Raja Ampat is a world class tourist destination boasting its undersea natural riches , among the best in the world, Balthasar said.

The islands of Raja Ampat consist of 4.5 million hectares of land and sea which is home to 1,511 fish species , 700 species of mollusk and 540 types of coral.
Editor: Ade Marboen

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