Best of our wild blogs: 19 Jul 14

Upcoming Love MacRitchie Walks by Toddycats in July-October 2014!
from Love our MacRitchie Forest

Boarding the junk at sunrise
from The Long and Winding Road

Singapore’s first Marine Park at Sisters’ Island!
from thelivingfossil

Keeping old promises – clearing the trash in Sungei Pandan mangroves
from Otterman speaks

Night Walk At Ang Mo Kio Town Garden East (18 Jul 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Lesser Banded Hornets having a drink
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Singapore Power Shift Empowers Youth to Take Action on Climate Change
from Low Carbon Singapore

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Exhibition on Bukit Brown Cemetery opens Saturday

Channel NewsAsia 18 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE: A diverse range of documents, photographs and objects about the Bukit Brown Cemetery will be displayed at a three-month long exhibition held at the National Library which opens from Saturday (July 19) to October 10.

Visitors will get a glimpse of the documentation process which employed the use of cutting edge technology.

Dr Hui Yew Foong, lead researcher at Bukit Brown Working Community, said: "One is lidar scanning, which scans more broadly and we use it to cover grave clusters or large graves that also cover the settings.

“The other kind is hangout scanning. Hangout scanning will be able to capture data on very intricate carvings on the grave itself.”

The use of such technology helped recreate 3D tombs. The exhibition will cover the origins of the cemetery as well as feature burial artefacts, while maps and aerial photographs will be used to show the cemetery's development.

Visitors will be able to access data related to specific graves through a map-based database on a touchscreen monitor.

- CNA/nd

Artefacts from Bukit Brown graves go on display
Janice Tai The Straits Times AsiaOne 21 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE - More than 2,000 artefacts have been unearthed from Bukit Brown Cemetery since last year and a selection of these will go on display from today.

The items were retrieved from the more than 3,000 graves that have been exhumed since late last year to make way for a new road. The 233ha cemetery is home to nearly 100,000 graves.

Common objects dug out include miniature clay and porcelain vessels, replicas of cookware for use in the afterlife and accessories, such as jade and silver bangles, hairpins, as well as brooches used by Peranakan women to fasten their sarong kebaya.

The cemetery, which houses Singapore's oldest graves, has been held up for its rich biodiversity, cultural traditions and the unique architecture of its tombs. It also tells the story of Singapore's migrant history, with many prominent pioneers buried there.

The building of a road, which will begin in stages after the 3,746 affected graves are exhumed, had sparked intense debate between heritage and nature groups, and the Government in 2011.

At the exhibition featuring 57 of the artefacts, the public will also be able to see photographs of the underground chambers designed to protect the integrity of the coffin and its remains. The chambers were lined with bricks or punctured with drainage holes at times to keep the interior dry.

This is believed to be the first time exhumed objects from graves are available for mass viewing.

Anthropologist Hui Yew-Foong, the appointed documentarian of Bukit Brown cemetery, said it is fairly common for middle-class families to have artefacts buried with the dead.

"But they are important finds because they reflect, firstly, the material culture of pre-war Singapore and secondly, they reflect Chinese burial culture."

Ms Catherine Lim, co-founder of interest group All Things Bukit Brown, said such an exhibition is "groundbreaking".

"It gives people an intimate glimpse into the customary burial traditions that are likely to be no longer practised now and they get a sense of the personal in this macro project," she added.

Besides being able to view the artefacts up-close, exhibition-goers can also get data on specific graves via a map-based database of 500 exhumed graves.

A tap on the grave icons on the map reveals a picture of the grave, its inscriptions, dates and other features.

When completed, the database will cover about 4,000 graves.

Tomb inscriptions and typology shed light on Singapore's historical links to the region, China and the world, said Dr Hui, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

The exhibition will trace the the history of the 1922 municipal cemetery, up to its closing in 1973, through maps and aerial photographs. Field work on the documentation project started in 2011 and the public can get a peek of some of the behind-the-scenes work at the exhibition.

For the first time, cutting-edge techniques and technology such as 3D scanning are used to document the graves. Such technology is useful for analysing the layout of cluster graves or graves with complex features, said the National Heritage Board's (NHB) group director of policy, Mr Alvin Tan.

Far from being just a space for the dead, the exhibition will also show it is a space for the living.

Photographs and documents affirm how the cemetery bustles with activity during Qing Ming, Hungry Ghost and Winter Clothing festivals.

Dr Hui and his team also followed families who are exhuming their ancestral graves to observe and record the rituals.

The exhibition will run at the National Library from today till Oct 10 and at other libraries subsequently. It is organised by the Bukit Brown documentation team and co-funded by the NHB, Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan and the Hokkien Foundation.

For more information, visit

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Singapore sand ruling could send construction costs soaring, warns expert 18 Jul 14;
FOCUS: Construction companies in Singapore could face rising costs and the collapse of sub-contractor agreements after a supplier was allowed to back out of a contract because of the unavailability of Indonesian sand.18 Jul 2014

Singapore's extensive land reclamation and construction projects require vast quantities of sand which is imported from overseas, so a recent Singapore Court of Appeal decision that allowed a supplier to avoid contractual liabilities because of a ban on the export of sand from Indonesia could have a major impact on construction firms in Singapore and surrounding countries.

Alliance Concrete Singapore (ACS) had a contract to supply sand to construction firm Sato Kogyo. But when Indonesia banned the export of sand in 2007 ACS had to consider sourcing the sand from elsewhere. This was more difficult and would increase costs.

ACS claimed that it should not have to fulfill its contractual obligations because the contract was based on the understanding that the sand was to be sourced from Indonesia, which was now impossible. The Court of Appeal has agreed (51-page / 288KB PDF), finding that the Indonesian ban on the export of sand 'frustrated' the contract despite it not explicitly saying that the sand was to come from Indonesia. This means that both parties were discharged from their obligations under the contract and sets a new precedent which could lead to other suppliers taking a similar approach.

Following bans and restrictions on the export of sand from countries including not only Indonesia, but also Malaysia and Vietnam, Singapore is now dependent on sand from other sources, including Myanmar, Philippines and Bangladesh. That can mean increased costs, which could lead other companies to seek to escape contractual obligations in the event of supply difficulties or the failure of a source.

The Court of Appeal ruling gives them a way to do just that. Now suppliers don't have to have explicitly said in their contracts that the prices agreed were dependent on successfully importing sand from a specific source – they may be able to claim that there was an 'unwritten assumption' in the contract that a particular source would be used and if that source fails, the contract is frustrated and should not bind them.

This may strengthen suppliers' negotiating hand with construction companies which could, in turn, mean that construction companies will have to pay more to complete projects.

In a construction environment where the supply of sand is already controversial for environmental as well as economic reasons, this Court of Appeal decision could have far reaching consequences on contracts for the supply of sand and disputes that arise, stirring up difficulties for many more companies than the two involved in the case itself.

Sean Hardy is a construction expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind

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