Best of our wild blogs: 10 Oct 14

Northern Pulau Semakau - Why are the seagrasses gone?
from wild shores of singapore

Remnants of a lost forest
from The Long and Winding Road

Sunday 26 Oct’14: Battlefield Tour by Jon Cooper
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

A drippy subject
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Energy, chemicals industry to play key role in Singapore's growth: PM Lee

Dylan Loh Channel NewsAsia 9 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE: The energy and chemicals industry will continue to play an important role in Singapore's future growth, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday (Oct 9).

Speaking at the inaugural Honorary Partner in Progress Award presentation at the Istana, Mr Lee said that with Singapore's developed petrochemical and specialty chemical ecosystem, prospects for the sector are good.

The award, presented to Dutch oil giant Shell, is the Government's highest honour to recognise firms’ contributions to Singapore. Shell is a pioneer investor in the country, setting up Singapore's first oil storage installation in 1891 and first oil refinery in 1961. Prime Minister Lee said the oil giant continues to be a good partner to Singapore after over a century of contributions.

Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said Singapore has been a good base as well. “With the talented workforce that this country boasts, with the stability and the business-enabling environment that it offers, global companies will continue to see it as an exemplary host and ally".

He also presented Mr Lee with a memento. In a Facebook post on Thursday, Mr Lee said he was given a 3D-printed model of "a new species (the Indopinnixa shellorum), discovered at St John’s Island in a marine biodiversity survey that Shell had funded."

3D-printed model of a crab presented to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong by Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. (Photo: Lee Hsien Loong)

Mr Lee also noted the energy and chemicals industry provides good jobs and career pathways for Singaporeans. He said this can be done in collaboration with the SkillsFuture Council, which is tasked with enhancing training and career progression prospects for Singaporeans.

Noting that it is a resource-intensive sector, he said that the Government will ensure a supply of land for the sector's further development. At the same time, he encouraged companies to optimise their use of land, citing the recently opened Jurong Rock Caverns for oil storage as an example.

Mr Lee also called on the sector to support Singapore’s environmental sustainability efforts by reducing their emissions. The Government will continue to work with firms to develop the industry sustainably, and make it worthwhile for companies to operate in Singapore for the long term, he said.

- CNA/cy

Shell gets award for being a partner in Singapore's progress
Chia Yan Min The Straits Times AsiaOne 12 Oct 14;

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presented the Honorary Partner in Progress award to Shell yesterday at an Istana ceremony attended by 50 guests, including British High Commissioner Antony Phillipson and Dutch Ambassador Jacques Werner.

Shell is the first company to win the award, which recognises corporations for their investments in and contributions to the country. The accolade is given to past recipients of the Distinguished Partner in Progress award that have continued to strengthen their commitment to Singapore. Thirty- one firms have received this award.

Shell set up in Singapore in 1891 when it built the island's first oil storage installation on Pulau Bukom, originally a mangrove swamp. The Dutch- based company also established Singapore's first oil refinery in 1961. It employs around 3,200 staff.

The Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex, which spans Pulau Bukom and Jurong Island, is the company's largest refinery and petrochemicals hub in the world.

Mr Lee said at the ceremony that the energy and chemicals industries will continue to play a key role in Singapore's growth.

More than $13 billion has been invested in plants on Jurong Island since last year, creating more than 1,200 skilled jobs. But these sectors are resource-intensive - they occupy a significant amount of industrial land and have an environmental impact, he added.

Singapore will ensure a supply of land for future development and also find ways to optimise land use - for instance, by using the Jurong Rock Caverns for underground oil storage.

It will do its part as a "responsible member of the international community" to reduce emissions and meet climate change obligations, Mr Lee said.

"The Government will continue to work with companies to develop the industry sustainably, and make it worthwhile to operate in Singapore for the long term."

Mr Mirza Mohd Sallah, 42, a production unit manager who has been with Shell since 1996, said the firm has been supportive of his training and development.

Mr Mirza, who was at the ceremony yesterday, has been promoted 11 times over the past 18 years. He joined Shell as a process technician with a polytechnic diploma.

He earned an engineering degree from the University of Wolverhampton in 1999 and now oversees a team of 30.

He said his time at Shell has "fulfilled (his) aspirations to be a leader" and helped him "grow (his) network globally".
- See more at:

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Malaysian rainforests significant factor in achieving carbon emissions target -- Enviroment Minister

yuen meikeng The Star 10 Oct 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian rainforests absorb about 31% of the carbon dioxide produced in the country, enabling the nation to achieve its target of reducing carbon emission intensity by 40%.

Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos Mamit said a large amount of carbon dioxide was absorbed by the country's 20.3 million hectares worth of forests.

"The targeted 40% reduction in carbon emission intensity is something we can achieve or probably have achieved already with the help of our forests," he said during question time in the Dewan Rakyat Thursday.

Dawos was answering a supplementary question by Anuar Abd Manap (BN - Sekijang), referring to the announcement by the Government in 2009 that Malaysia was targeting a 40% reduction of the carbon emission intensity of its gross domestic product by the year 2020.

Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told a United Nations climate summit in New York that Malaysia would continue to cut carbon emissions through new policies involving climate change and green technology.

However, he said the progress came at a cost and the Government spent nearly US$2.6bil (RM8.4bil) over the last decade adapting to more frequent floods, when such funds could have been used to invest in green industries or slow down climate change.

On ozone depleting substances, Dawos said Malaysia was a country that endorsed the Montreal Protocol, which states how the ozone layer can be protected by phasing out chemical substances that can erode it.

According to the protocol, if all member countries remain committed, the ozone layer would recover substantially by 2050.

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Malaysia: 'Hazy skies will not last long'

The Star 10 Oct 14;

PETALING JAYA: The hazy weather is expected to be temporary, says the Meteorological Department.

Meteorological officer Ambun Dindang said the current inter-monsoon season that the country was experiencing would help reduce the haze.

“We are experiencing the inter-monsoon season, which is expected to last until mid-November, with frequent thunderstorms and heavy rain mainly during the afternoon and evening over the west coast states of the peninsula, western Sabah and interior Sarawak.

“This can reduce the hazy condition in the country,” he said in an email to The Star.

Despite the inter-monsoon season, the country is also experiencing dry weather conditions over most parts of the country except for Sabah and Sarawak.

However, the dry weather was also expected to be temporary, said Ambun.

“This situation is partly due to Typhoon Vongfong currently forming over northeastern Philippines and moving towards southern Japan.

“Lack of moisture in the atmosphere contributed to less rainfall in the country, especially peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

The inter-monsoon season will be followed by the northeast monsoon season from mid-November until early March next year.

“During the northeast monsoon period, wetter weather conditions are expected throughout the country with five to six heavy rainfall episodes,” Ambun added.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s The Straits Times reported that Indonesia was expecting a delay in the start of the rainy season and this could cause hazy weather in Singapore and Malaysia to last until at least the middle of the month depending on wind conditions.

A weather forecaster in Pekanbaru was quoted as saying that the rainy season, originally expected in early October in Riau province, will now start in the middle of the month at the earliest due to the El Nino phenomenon.

Many seek treatment for respiratory problems
The Star 10 Oct 14;

PETALING JAYA: People are going to clinics around the Klang Valley for va­­rious haze-related symptoms.

A quick check with a few clinics saw an average of three patients a day seeking treatment for cold, cough and asthma.

Assistant staff nurse G. Privathy, 20, from Klinik Mediviron in Bang­sar, said that despite the return of the haze, the number of patients was no cause for alarm.

“It isn’t so bad. Patients usually come in the morning, complaining of the haze,” she said.

As of 5pm yesterday, the Air Pol­lution Index (API) for areas in the Klang Valley was good although se­­veral areas such as Port Klang, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam, Batu Muda and Cheras had registered readings dangerously close to unhealthy.

An API reading between 0 and 50 is considered good; 51 to 100, mo­­derate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and 301 and above, hazardous.

Media practitioner Faizal Hassan, 30, said he avoided the outdoors due to the haze.

“I drive to work and I could barely see the KL Tower. It hasn’t affected my health but it affected my vision slightly while driving,” he said.

Housewife Sharifah Khairiah Syed Ghazali, 58, said she avoided going out as the situation looked bad.

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Indonesia to build $263 million sea wall to protect capital

Reuters 9 Oct 14;

(Reuters) - Indonesia on Thursday officially launched a $263 million project to build a giant sea wall along the coast of its capital, Jakarta, in an attempt to protect businesses and homes from flooding.

Last year's rainy season brought Jakarta to a standstill, causing a river in the city to breach its banks and swamp the central business district, leaving thousands stranded and causing $580 million in damage.

With 40 percent of Jakarta already below sea level, the situation is only expected to worsen for the city of 10 million people as the ground slowly subsides due to excessive pumping of groundwater.

Fixing the flood problem was a promise of President-elect Joko Widodo during his term as the city's governor.

"This project is a must," chief economics minister Chairul Tanjung told reporters after a ground-breaking ceremony.

"If we don't do anything, in 2050 Jakarta will sink due to rapid ground subsidence and rising sea level."

The project, which was designed in consultation with infrastructure and environment officials from the Netherlands, should be able to resist high tides and rising sea level at least until 2030.

The first phase of the project government will include an 8 km (5 mile) wall along the coast, which forms the city's northern edge.

(1 US dollar = 12,180 rupiah)

(Reporting by Adriana Nina Kusuma and Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Outgoing government launches controversial sea wall project
Corry Elyda and Sita W. Dewi, The Jakarta Post 10 Oct 14;

In its last days in office, the central government has rushed to launch a controversial Giant Sea Wall (GSW) project off the capital’s north coast.

On Thursday afternoon, the central government commenced the construction of the first phase of the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD) program, popularly known as the GSW. The project will also include a reclamation project and the development of 17 artificial islets off the capital’s north coast.

Coordinating Economic Minister Chairul Tanjung led the ceremony, with top officials, including Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya, Research and Technology Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta, National Development Planning Minister Armida Alisjahbana, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif Cicip Sutardjo, Public Works Deputy Minister Achmad Hermanto Dardak and Jakarta deputy governor for spatial planning Sarwo Handayani attending.

Dutch Ambassador to Indonesia Tjeerd de Zwaan, as well as representatives of developer companies, also attended the ceremony.

Chairul said during the ceremony at the Pluit pump house in North Jakarta that the groundbreaking marked the starting point for the long over-due project.

The first phase of the NCICD program comprises a 32-kilometer long embankment on the coast of Jakarta.

“One-fourth of the embankment will be funded by the government and city administration, while the remainder will be handled by the private sector,” he said, pointing out that the 8-kilometer part of the embankment would require funds of Rp 3.2 trillion (US$263 million).

Chairul said the central government and the city administration had targeted to complete their part of the project by the end of 2017. The embankment is designed to be 75 meters high, while the width of the surface planned to be 13.7 m.

The minister said the remaining parts of the embankment would be constructed by developers who won the concession of 17 planned islets, also part of the NCICD program.

The developers included city-owned property developer PT Jakarta Propertindo (Jakpro), city-owned PT Pembangunan Jaya Ancol and private developers PT Agung Podomoro Land’s subsidiary PT Muara Wisesa Samudra, PT Intiland Development’s subsidiary Taman Harapan Indah and PT Jaladri Kartika Ekapasi.

“They should also finish the project by the end of 2017,” he said, adding that the government might revoke their permits if they failed to meet the target.

The ground-breaking ceremony, however, was conducted in a hurry, according to a high-ranking official within the city administration.

“I was only told about the ceremony at the last minute,” North Jakarta Mayor Heru Budi Hartono told reporters at his office.

Heru also lamented the lack of coordination between the central government and his side.

“This project will affect around 50 residents living near the project site, but the minister never involved me in the meetings prior to the ceremony, whereas I am the one who will be responsible if there are relocations involved,” he said, adding, “I am not sure the construction can start in the near future.”

The NCICD aims to restore flood safety and provide a sustainable future for the capital.

Ahmad Syafrudin of the Committee for the Phasing Out of Leaded Fuel (KPBB), however, said it was illegal.

“The project is against the law as it does not have a strategic environmental analysis and a regional analysis on environmental impact as required when a project involves more than one regional administration,” he said.

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