Best of our wild blogs: 14 Dec 14

Ubin Day 2014
from Butterflies of Singapore

Exploring Singapore's city mangroves: Berlayar Creek
from wild shores of singapore

The Oriental Pied Hornbill and the Changeable Lizard
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Birdwatching in Bidadari - Blue-winged Pitta (December 2014)
from Rojak Librarian

A revisit to the Botanical Gardens
from My Nature Experiences

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The final Big Idea: Love Singapore

Kishore Mahbubani The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Dec 14;

NOW that I have reached the final column of my Big Idea series for 2014, I am happy to summarise the core idea underlying all the Big Ideas columns I have written this year. It can be captured in two words: "Love Singapore". If we can practise this with total commitment and conviction, Singapore will survive another 50 years.

So, can we love Singapore?

The simple answer is that love is not shown with words only but with deeds also. If our deeds do not match our words, we do not really love Singapore. This is why I am suggesting three practical deeds we can do to demonstrate our love. All three deeds begin with the letter "L": "litter not, laugh a lot, and live the pledge".

Litter is a key indicator of love. If we consider Singapore our own home, we would keep it clean. Sadly, Singaporeans do not keep Singapore clean. Mr George Yeo, our former foreign minister, once wisely said to me, "Kishore, Singapore is not a clean city; it is the most cleaned city". We currently need an army of foreign workers to clean up after Singaporeans.

Many years ago, when our Public Service Division (PSD) was trying to replicate the Shell scenario planning exercise to assess the future of Singapore, it wrote two alternative scenarios for Singapore: "Hotel Singapore" or "A Home Divided". When we check into a hotel room, we do not clean it. We expect the cleaning/housekeeping service to do so. Yet, when we come home, we pick up the trash and keep our rooms clean.

These two alternative scenarios were brilliant. Singapore will survive if Singaporeans treat it as their home, not as their hotel. Yet, when you go jogging in East Coast Park on Monday mornings (as I do) or walk around HDB estates in the morning with soiled diapers and tampons occasionally being thrown out of windows, you find plenty of evidence to suggest that Singaporeans regard Singapore as their hotel, not their home.

Our level of social responsibility is also very low. We are struggling to persuade Singaporeans to divide their trash into two categories: waste and recyclable materials. By contrast, each Yokohama household habitually divides its trash into 15 (yes, 15!) categories before the rubbish collector comes.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Japanese love Japan and cherish their homeland. Can Singaporeans learn to cherish their homeland and keep it as clean as the Japanese do? If we can, Singapore will survive. So, in 2015, can each of us make a simple commitment to keep Singapore as clean as possible?

Let me deal quickly with one counter-argument. Some argue that the Japanese are unique. Their level of social responsibility is one of the highest in the world. Those who say this should visit Taipei and Hong Kong. They have Chinese inhabitants, not Japanese inhabitants. But they keep their cities much cleaner than Singapore citizens do. What explains this higher level of social responsibility of the Hong Kongers and Taiwanese? Can we reflect on this in 2015?

Last month, there was a rock concert at National Taiwan University. When the concert began, the first two bands reminded the young audience to place their garbage on the side of the venue. They did so.

Before the third rock group, LTK Commune, arrived, the audience was told to bring the garbage up front.

They did this because it is a tradition to throw garbage at this band. The audience threw the garbage incessantly. When the performance ended, another band leader came to the stage and said, "Okay, let's clean up". The audience complied. The place was spotless when the audience left.

Would a Singapore rock concert audience be capable of leaving a venue equally spotless on a voluntary basis after a raucous rock concert? Or would they expect an army of foreign workers to clean up after them?

Another way to demonstrate our love for our fellow Singaporeans is to learn to laugh with each other.

Over the years, we have seen several surveys demonstrating that Singapore is not one of the happiest societies on our planet. Indeed, the surveys seem to show that even though Singaporeans have clearly been more successful than Indonesians in economic development, Indonesians are far happier than Singaporeans. Indeed, many of the ASEAN countries are happier than Singapore.

In a 2011 Gallup poll, Singapore famously ranked as experiencing the fewest positive emotions in the world. The percentage of Singaporeans who reported experiencing positive emotions the day before the poll was only 46 per cent, in contrast to Thailand, which ranked No. 5 at 83 per cent; the Philippines, No. 7 at 82 per cent; and Indonesia, No. 16 at 79 per cent.

In 2012, Singapore improved by 24 percentage points, hitting a five-year high of 70 per cent (No. 67). However, the other ASEAN countries were still far ahead in happiness: the Philippines ranked No. 8 at 81 per cent; Indonesia, No. 9 at 80 per cent; and Thailand, No. 34 at 75 per cent.

It would be foolish to try to analyse the deeper sources of our relative unhappiness in a brief article like this. However, some obvious facts cannot be denied. Of all the citizens on our planet, Singaporeans have the least amount of "physical space" to live in. We are the most densely populated real country on our planet. Several animal studies have shown that when animals are housed together in close proximity with little space to roam in, they become less happy. Hence, we have to learn to live with our existential condition of lack of space and not get unhappy about it.

One way of handling this existential angst is to laugh more. Singaporeans are by and large very serious and we rarely laugh at ourselves.

One small indicator of this is that we have still not found a good national cartoonist. By contrast, Malaysia was blessed that it found and nurtured Lat. He gave brilliant insights into Malaysia's society through his lovingly drawn cartoons. Tun Mahathir Mohamad was and still is one of the toughest leaders that Malaysia has produced. His stature was in no way diminished by the cartoons Lat drew of him. Indeed, they may even have enhanced Dr Mahathir's national stature.

Singapore is clearly not ready yet for a serious political cartoonist. However, we can try to encourage a culture of cartoonists by getting some of our leading citizens to allow themselves to be parodied. I am confident that some of our leading lights - like Tommy Koh and Chan Heng Chee, Ho Kwon Ping and Gerard Ee - would not object to being lampooned once in a while.

I have no doubt that we have the talent. Indeed, one of our cartoonists, Heng Kim Song, has had several of his cartoons published in leading global newspapers like the International New York Times.

So when we celebrate Singapore at 50 in 2015, we should also encourage our Lats who are hiding in the closet to come out and try to publish cartoon books that bring out the essence of Singapore society. I was truly happy that one of my Big Ideas calling for good historical narratives of Singapore led to the establishment of a triennial $50,000 prize for the best history book on Singapore. I hope that another donor will step forward to launch a prize for the best cartoon book on Singapore. If we learn to laugh at ourselves and at our fellow Singaporeans, we will grow to love Singapore even more.

Finally, we should demonstrate our love for Singapore by living the Pledge. We will always be grateful to Mr S. Rajaratnam, our first foreign minister, for having crafted one of the best national pledges in the world. It is clear, simple and inspiring, and reads as follows: "We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation."

To me, the key phrase is "regardless of race, language or religion". If we can demonstrate that we love fellow Singaporeans of another race, language and religion as much as we love fellow Singaporeans of our own race, language and religion, then we would have truly arrived as a real nation state.

Many of us say we do so. Here again, the question is: Do our deeds match our words? One good practice Singapore has initiated is to encourage the three main Singapore communities to take care of the poorest and most disadvantaged members of their communities.

This is why we set up, for example, the Chinese Development Assistance Council, the Council for the Development of Singapore Malay/Muslim Community or Mendaki, and the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda). These are noble initiatives and they have done much good. Each one of us was encouraged to contribute to the self-help groups of our communities. Hence, when I was in the civil service, there was a deduction from my salary to contribute to Sinda.

Let us now take this one step further and encourage Singaporeans to contribute to the poorest citizens of the other communities.

One gift we can give to ourselves as fellow Singaporeans is to do even more to erase the lingering divisions among the main communities in Singapore.

Hence, if Singaporeans could donate to or volunteer to help less-privileged citizens outside their own communities, we could demonstrate through our deeds, not our words, that we love our fellow Singaporeans "regardless of race, language or religion".

The writer is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS, and author of The Great Convergence: Asia, The West, And The Logic Of One World.

Public transport: No. 1 in the world?
Kishore Mahbubani The Straits Times AsiaOne 10 Mar 14;

Big Idea No. 2 is a no-brainer: Make Singapore's public transportation No. 1 in the world. Why is it a no-brainer? Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur as well as Bangkok and Manila face the danger of more or less permanent gridlock with massive traffic jams. I pray and hope it will not happen, but I am also prepared to take bets it will. But even if our neighbours strangle their cities in this way, their countries will continue.

Singapore does not have this option. If our city strangles itself to death with massive traffic jams, both the city and country will collapse. Good public transportation is therefore not an option. In Singapore it is a critical necessity.

Unrealised potential

Fortunately, we have all the ingredients in place to create the world's best public transportation system: money, meritocracy and motivation (the three Ms). We are one of the richest countries in the world in terms of financial reserves. We can pay for the best system. We also have one of the best civil services, if not the best, in the world. I know this well as several leading global scholars have asked me why Singapore does so well in public administration.

Few other governments in the world can match the quality of minds we have in our Administrative Service. And we also have the motivation. For us, good public transportation is a matter of life and death.

With all these assets in place, it was truly shocking to read in The Straits Times on Feb 13 that Singapore's MRT system is average in the world in terms of system breakdowns.

According to Christopher Tan, senior transport correspondent for The Straits Times, "breakdowns on the 125-year-old, 340km, 24-hour New York City subway average one every 260,000km operated. Singapore's 25-year-old, 180km network breaks down once every 120,000km".

When I told a Harvard professor this fact, he was astounded. He asked me: "Should I be proud of New York or worried for Singapore?"

What happened? How did we go from being almost No. 1 in the world in MRT systems to falling behind ancient systems like that of New York?

What mistakes did we make? How did it go so badly wrong? And what can we do now to reverse this negative slide and move towards making Singapore truly No. 1 in the world in public transportation?

A 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that Singapore's public transport systems ranked behind those of Toronto, London, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Please let me stress one point here. I am not an expert on public transportation. I do not have enough data or information to explain what went wrong. All this requires a massive study.

However as an amateur analyst of Singapore's public policies, I believe that I can point out three challenges Singapore will have to overcome to succeed in its goal of becoming No. 1. All three challenges begin with the letter C.

Critical mistakes

The first challenge is conceptual. Public transportation is a public good, not a private good. However, when Singapore was at the height of its infatuation with the Reagan-Thatcher intellectual revolution, we believed that the private sector was better at delivering some public goods than the public sector. This may explain several critical mistakes.

My friends in the civil service have told me one of the biggest mistakes we made was to privatise the Public Works Department (PWD) and sell it off. In so doing, we lost both the engineering expertise and a storehouse of wisdom about the maintenance of public works. I hope that some day somebody will try to recreate the old PWD we used to have.

We may have also made a mistake in privatising the MRT system, handing over the operation to private companies rather than government departments.

In theory, private companies are more efficient than government departments in delivering services. Since they are concerned about the bottom line, they cut costs well.

However, private companies do not factor in "externalities".

Hence when the private companies cut down on the maintenance of our MRT tracks to cut costs, they did not factor in the "cost" to the Government's credibility when the system began to break down frequently. It will literally, not metaphorically, cost the Government billions of dollars to recover this lost credibility.

This explains why the Government has provided SMRT with $500 million to improve the maintenance of the MRT tracks. This, in turn, creates public confusion as taxpayers ask why their money should help the bottom line of private companies. There is a simple solution. We should consider making the Ministry of Finance the sole shareholder of all our public transport companies, just as it is the sole shareholder of many government-linked companies.

Fresh approach needed

The second challenge is the culture of conservatism. Having invested billions of dollars in an extensive train and bus system, we have worked under the assumption that we can only "tinker" with an established system and not start from scratch.

This is a very dangerous and conservative assumption. If we work under this assumption, we will be reluctant to look for structural defects in our current system and be equally reluctant to explore bold and radical moves. If we are going to succeed in our goal of becoming No. 1 in the world in public transportation, we have to consider radical as well as conservative approaches.

Here is one radical suggestion: Organise a global competition to encourage universities, think- tanks and global companies all over the world to put forward a new blueprint for Singapore's public transportation system.

There is a lot of expertise out there. A $10 million prize would be sufficient to attract a whole slew of new blueprints. And $10 million would be a small sum to spend considering the billions we have to put in to deal with systemic flaws. The winners of this global competition could be announced when we celebrate our 50th anniversary next year.

Social experiments

The third C challenge we face is "comprehensiveness". Public transportation can work well only if its planning is well integrated into existing urban planning policies. Each limb of our national planning must support other limbs. Let me cite a few examples.

First, we have to deal with the "car" problem. As I explained in my previous column, despite the many disincentives put in place to discourage car ownership and use, we have actually created an ecosystem which makes it more rational to drive a car than to take public transport. We now have to create a new ecosystem that discourages car ownership and use.

For a start, we should encourage new road experiments to change behaviour. In the year 2015, as part of our 50th anniversary celebration, we should exempt all taxis from paying Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) charges for one year. The goal of this social experiment is to see whether Singaporeans will make the rational decision to leave their cars at home and take taxis into the Central Business District to save on ERP charges.

At the same time, we will also discover whether this leads to a surge in the supply of taxis in the CBD. This increase in supply of taxis in the CBD could, over time, increase demand and use of taxis in the CBD.

I don't know whether this will happen. Nobody knows whether it will happen. This is why we have to try out bold experiments. The financial cost of giving taxis exemption from ERP charges will be peanuts compared to the benefits we will get if people leave their cars at home.

A downtown HDB estate?

Secondly, we should consider the merits of building a massive HDB estate downtown. A lot of land will be freed up when the Marina Bay Golf Course lease ends. Why not build a big HDB estate there? The obvious response will be that the land is too expensive. But the land will not be as expensive as the land in Manhattan.

In October 2011, I visited Manhattan in my capacity as chairman of the nominating committee of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize (New York subsequently won the prize in 2012). On this visit, the surprising thing I learnt was that Manhattan had a policy to ensure that it did not create an environment where only millionaires and billionaires could afford to live.

Hence, even though the mayor of New York City then was a billionaire, Mr Michael Bloomberg, his administration worked hard to set aside land in this expensive midtown and downtown area for workers to live.

Mayor Bloomberg's New Housing Market Place Plan was designed to build and preserve 165,000 income-restricted units by June this year for 500,000 New Yorkers. It was the largest municipal affordable housing plan in American history.

To some extent, this is what we did when we built the Pinnacle in Tanjong Pagar. We should now replicate the Pinnacle experiment in our new CBD.

It is true that Singapore citizens who live in this CBD public housing will get a subsidy. However, if they use less public transportation to commute into the CBD, they will not be using the subsidies that are being given to every user of public transport. We will also enhance the social harmony of Singapore by giving less well-off Singaporeans a stake in the CBD.

The third social experiment we can try is to build shoe-box garages next to every MRT station.
The idea would be to allow us to walk out of an MRT station and rent a two-seater air-conditioned electric vehicle to take us across the last mile of our journey (and back).

Clearly, our hot and humid weather makes it difficult to walk the last mile to our destination. Hence we have to create ingenious solutions to encourage people to avoid driving and take public transport. And soon we may have driver-less vehicles which will be able to do this job too.

There are many ways we can make Singapore's public transportation No. 1 in the world. If there is one country in the world that has the means and motivation to achieve this goal, it is Singapore.

So why don't we just get started?

The writer is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He is the author of The Great Convergence: Asia, The West, And The Logic Of One World, which has been long-listed for the 2014 Lionel Gelber Prize, described by The Economist as "the world's most important award for non-fiction".

Big Idea No. 10: Downsize the PIE
The Straits Times Asia One 10 Nov 14;

MY BIG Idea No. 10 in this series of essays on Singapore's future is easy to remember but hard to implement: "Downsize the PIE."

This idea came to my mind when I saw a huge sign along the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) saying "Upsize the PIE". It was a clever play on words.

It is always good to increase the size of the pie, literally speaking. However, in land-scarce Singapore, how could we possibly celebrate the fact that we are expanding road space?

Every square metre we give up for road usage means a square metre less for a more environmentally friendly use. Already, Singapore uses up to 12 per cent of its land for road usage, probably one of the highest in the world.

Can we reduce road space in Singapore? Yes, we can!

With the arrival of new technology and new systems of transportation, we can have an alternative dream for Singapore.

To put it simply, my dream for Singapore is to reduce the number of vehicles from one million to 300,000.

Indeed, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study has concluded the following: "Results suggest that an Automated Mobility-on-Demand (AMoD) solution could meet the personal mobility needs of the entire population of Singapore with a fleet whose size is approximately 1/3 of the total number of passenger vehicles currently in operation.

"Moreover, a financial analysis indicates AMoD systems are a financially viable alternative to more traditional means of accessing personal mobility."

To achieve this dream, we have to make three big changes.

All these big changes are possible. However, they will only be possible if we slip out of our comfort zones and think outside the box. In short, we have to think and dream big like the founding fathers of Singapore. If they had not done this, Singapore would not have succeeded.

Let us go back to this tradition and dream big and dream bold.

Remove cars as status symbol

THE first big change we can and should make is to the attitude of Singaporeans towards car ownership. In theory, people buy cars for transportation purposes.

In practice, people buy cars also for status reasons. Many Singaporean middle-class families believe that they have not "arrived" until they own a car.

Right now, it is also true that people buy cars because they are the most convenient form of transport in Singapore. This is why I own a car now.

However, if I could rely on a smartphone app that will get me a car immediately whenever I need it, it would make no rational sense to own a car in Singapore.

Is this possible? Of course, this is possible! Indeed, this is what Uber is promising to do if it eventually builds up a sufficiently big fleet of cars.

Since we can replace private car ownership with smartphone apps, we need to get a strong signal from the people of Singapore that they are prepared to abandon the purchase of cars if an alternative system is created.

Indeed, in a separate article I am writing for a volume on Singapore in the next 50 years, I say that we can switch the entire car population of Singapore to the Google-type driverless cars.

And guess what? There will be fewer traffic jams with driverless cars, because computer-driven cars behave more "rationally" than people-driven cars.

Let me also add here that people's lives will become more convenient if they make the switch to driverless cars.

All the time spent on looking for parking will be saved. All the space spent on parking will be saved. Doesn't this sound like heaven?

Rewarding driving

TO ACHIEVE this heaven, the second big change we need to make is in our public policies on cars.
In theory, our public policies are designed to curb car ownership and reduce road usage.

In practice, there has been a perverse result. We have ended up creating an ecosystem of transportation that rewards, rather than penalises, car owners.

It is such a pleasure to drive in Singapore because there are no Bangkok-style traffic jams.
We have also spent billions of dollars on tunnels (like the Marina Coastal Expressway and the Central Expressway) and flyovers to make it even easier to drive here.

In retrospect, was it wise to use so much public money to build a road infrastructure that eats up scarce land and rewards car ownership? Was it wise to "upsize" the PIE?

These are hard questions we need to answer as we try to create an alternative heaven in Singapore. Can our public policies change? Yes, they can.

The Singapore Government has long prided itself on the fact that it has tried to find efficient "market" solutions to public policy problems. Since road space is scarce, we have created "road pricing". This is a good policy.

Since we cannot have too many cars on the roads, we auction certificates of entitlement which are needed to register private vehicles. This is also a good public policy. These public policies should continue.

However, we can change one public policy. All over Singapore, we have roadside spaces set aside for future road expansion. These pocket-sized pieces of land should be progressively handed back to the National Parks Board to create new pocket-sized parks. This will make Singapore even more beautiful.

Bring free market to taxi services

CAN we also try market solutions for our taxi system? In the early years of Singapore, it was wise to set up taxi cooperatives (like NTUC Comfort) to create safe and reliable taxi services.

And if they can compete, we should allow them to carry on. However, as of now, they can only compete if we regulate and artificially control the number of taxi companies and taxis on the road.

Our taxi policies are more akin to Soviet-style central planning rather than a free market solution. We even regulate what the taxi drivers can charge.

As a result, we have one of the most absurd taxi pricing systems in the world.

It is so complicated that the average consumer cannot understand how it works. This is a natural result of Soviet-style central planning.

Let us therefore be bold like our founding fathers and allow free market "creative destruction" to work in the taxi market. Instead of trying to protect existing companies, we should allow market forces to have free rein.

By free rein, I mean free rein. Let us try out the Uber concept in full: Let us allow each car owner to lease his or her car for trips. Let us allow a willing buyer and a willing seller to determine the price of each trip. Competition will drive prices down.

If modern algorithms can allow Uber to create a system of "dynamic pricing", we should allow all taxi companies to create "dynamic pricing".

It would, of course, be unwise to allow one taxi company to dominate the market.

We should encourage all the global market players in the taxi industry - such as Uber, Hailo, Easy Taxi and GrabTaxi - to set up shop in Singapore and allow free competition to reign. What will happen?

At first, there may well be chaos. Prices will plummet.

Over time, the market for "taxis" will find an equilibrium and Singapore consumers will find that if they have a smartphone app, they can get a car any time and anywhere in Singapore under any weather condition (including heavy rainstorms) within five minutes, at a price they can decide to say "yes" or "no" to.

We will create an alternative ecosystem of transport which will no longer make it rational to own a private car in Singapore. Pure free market economies will create this result. Each day I own a car in Singapore, I am creating a hole in my pocket.

This is because there is a daily drip of dollars from my pocket to pay for depreciation costs, interest costs, road taxes and parking fees. This daily drip will happen even if I do not use my car at all.

However, if we switch from car ownership to smartphone apps, this daily drip will stop. What would a rational person do if he or she is presented with this choice?

In the above paragraph, I am making a selfish and self-interested argument for not owning a car.

Altruistic reasons

THE third big change we have to make in Singapore is to appeal to the higher-order altruistic and idealistic side of Singaporeans. All human populations are the same.

Singaporeans have the same proportion of idealism as other citizens. If each one of us can find a relatively painless way of saving our small and imperilled planet, we would do so.
We all have in us a desire to save the world.

How can we save the world? One of the biggest trends in our world is urbanisation.

Indeed, massive urbanisation is taking place, much of it in Asia.

In 1990, there were 10 megacities, of which five were in Asia.

By 2010, there were 21 megacities, of which 10 were in Asia.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has predicted that in 2030, there will be 41 megacities, of which 23 will be in Asia.

It is truly shocking that all the new cities in Asia believe that the only way to progress is to allow uninhibited car ownership. In the past, Bangkok was the only South-east Asian city with massive traffic jams. Now, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila have joined Bangkok.

Even Beijing and Shanghai have followed suit.

We need one city in Asia to demonstrate that we can build a great city without encouraging private car ownership.

The only city in Asia that can provide this moral and idealistic leadership in this field is Singapore. We have the will and means to create an alternative transport ecosystem. When that happens, we will become a "city on the hill", to borrow from a well-known American expression.

I would therefore like to conclude with one simple suggestion.

When we celebrate our 50th anniversary next year and when we announce our goals for the next 50 years, let us announce a simple idealistic goal: Singapore will become a society with zero private car ownership by 2065.

We may not achieve it in full, but we will have a lot of fun being bold and experimental in our car transport systems along the way. We will also demonstrate that, like our founding fathers in 1965, we can dream big.

And in 2065 (or probably earlier), there will be a sign saying "Downsize the PIE".

Kishore Mahbubani is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS, and author of The Great Convergence: Asia, The West, And The Logic Of One Worldttom line. It will have an effect on your employees' families, and even on society at large," he said.

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Malaysia: ‘Turtle centre can do better with more donors’

New Straits Times 14 Dec 14;

KUANTAN: The private sector should help the government improve facilities and support the operational costs of the turtle sanctuary in Cherating, as it could ensure the survival of the protected species in future.

State Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Committee chairman Datuk Shafik Fauzan Sharif said although the government provided an annual allocation for the sanctuary, more could be done if it received financial support from the private sector and individual donors.

“We need RM500,000 to operate the centre annually,” he said after releasing turtle hatchlings at the beach here yesterday.

He said the centre, which was under the Fisheries Department, could have a new building and modern information centre if it had more money.

“We already have a plan to upgrade the centre but it will involve high costs. Among others, the new centre will have a see-through floor that allows visitors to watch the turtles swimming in the pool below.”

Shafik said he had discussed the plan with the East Coast Economic Region Development Council and would try to get the support of companies operating in the nearby Gebeng Industrial Area.

He said Bumi Armada, an oil field services provider in Kemaman, had agreed to donate RM150,000 to the centre, which would be used to expand the hatchery.

The centre had stopped turtle-watching activities during the night to encourage more turtle landings in the area to lay eggs.

He said the centre provided temporary shelter for turtles, including for an 85kg adult turtle from the Rantau Abang sanctuary which is currently undergoing renovation.

With more facilities for visitors and the turtles in the future, he said the centre in Cherating could attract more tourists, especially children.

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