Best of our wild blogs: 11 Jan 15

Butterfly of the Month - January 2015
from Butterflies of Singapore

Night Walk At Yio Chu Kang Road (09 Jan 2015)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

It is time for Singapore to reduce plastic disposables
from Green Future Solutions

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Imagine Singapore over the next 50 years...

Tham Yuen-c The Straits Times AsiaOne 10 Jan 15;

SINGAPORE - Even as they celebrate the nation's jubilee anniversary, Singaporeans will get a chance to visualise what their country might look like over the next 50 years.

An expo offering a glimpse of Singapore's future, involving several key agencies, will cap SG50 celebrations this year, SG50 steering committee chief Heng Swee Keat told The Straits Times.

To be held near Gardens By the Bay at the end of the year, it will have interactive exhibits that show what life could be like in Singapore in the coming decades, in areas such as education, leisure and the urban landscape.

Some of the ideas will hopefully come from Singaporeans, who will be asked to share their hopes and aspirations for the country's future, in the run-up to this "finale event", Mr Heng said in an interview on Thursday.

Mr Heng, who is also Education Minister, said Singaporeans, together with the Government, would have to make major decisions that could affect the country's survival and success in the years to come.

"We need to get everyone to think about what kind of journey we want to build," he added.

The large-scale exhibition, called "futuretogether.SG", comes at the end of a year that will see well over 100 events to commemorate SG50, many of them organised by individuals and groups tapping a $5 million celebration fund. Already, some $3 million has been disbursed for 100 projects, and another 250 proposals are being evaluated.

The myriad projects have attracted some criticism that too much money and effort are being expended, and that celebration fatigue may set in, with so many events on the horizon.

To this, Mr Heng said SG50 is really about "people coming together to celebrate in ways big and small... and not just about events per se". He added that a whole range of events would cater to more people.

"The more people take part, the more meaningful and successful our celebration will be," he said. "I hope it will engender an even deeper sense of togetherness as a people, a deeper sense of belonging to our nation, and that it will energise us to commit to working together to build a better future for all."

A potluck home-cooked food movement, #SGEatWithUs, is one project that has received a grant. Teacher Lee Li Theng, 35, who started it with two friends, said: "We just wanted to bring together Singaporeans and friends of Singapore to celebrate the identity that we have."

Freelance artist Don Low, 44, who planned Let's Draw! SG, which involves artists sketching their neighbourhoods and then exhibiting the sketches, said: "In a way, we are kind of trying to remember our neighbour with our drawing, trying to build up the sense of belonging to our neighbourhood, and to our country as well. It's more like a celebration among ourselves."

Several SG50 events will also take place overseas, such as a travelling exhibition of Singaporean contemporary art that will be held in Beijing, London and New York before returning to Singapore. Singapore's embassies abroad and several foreign embassies in Singapore, such as the Embassy of Mexico, have also organised events to celebrate SG50.

Mr Heng said: "We have become very globally connected... We want to celebrate with the world, and we want the world to celebrate with us."

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New pedestrian and cycling route from East Coast Park to Bedok Reservoir Park

AsiaOne 10 jan 15;

SINGAPORE - Soon, residents of Bedok and East Coast will be able to enjoy a new pedestrian and cycling route that takes them from East Coast Park to Bedok Reservoir Park.

The new 4-km route will be ready by the end of next year, reported The Straits Times.

According to the report, there will be directional signs and amenities along the way such as play equipment.

The route runs through Bedok South Ave 1, New Upper Changi Road and Bedok North Ave 1, and also takes users pass Bedok MRT station and Bedok Town Centre.

This is part of a project called Outdoor Play Corridor and the Housing Development Board (HDB) said in a statement that construction will commence second half of this year.

Meanwhile, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is also rolling out a cycling network within East Coast that will connect MRT stations, schools and neighbourhood centres.

In addition, a heritage trail that will highlight the heritage sites in Bedok and East Coast area will also completed by the first half 2016.

These initiatives are part of the second phase of a billion-dollar Remaking Our Heartland programme in which three mature estates East Coast, Jurong Lake and Hougang are being rejuvenated.

Other initiatives include an enhanced pedestrian mall at Bedok Town Centre that will have more ramps and seating areas by next year, and a new Bedok Integrated Complex - slated to be completed by 2017 - that will house Kampong Chai Chee Community Club, Bedok Sports Centre, Bedok Polyclinic, an Eldercare Centre and Bedok Public Library.

Eight neighbourhood centres within Bedok are also being spruced up with new features such as improved landscaping, more distinctive street furniture and new shelters and mini pavilions. Upgrading works at Chai Chee and Fengshan are already underway and are scheduled to be completed this year.

New cycling, pedestrian paths from Bedok Reservoir to East Coast Park
AMANDA LEE Today Online 10 Jan 15;

SINGAPORE — Bedok residents can look forward to cycling and pedestrian paths as well as a cycling network, under the Government's rejuvenation programme for its estates.

A 4km Outdoor Play Corridor will provide dedicated cycling and pedestrian paths connecting Bedok Town Centre to East Coast Park and Bedok Reservoir Park. Construction will start in the second half of this year.

Also, a cycling network within the East Coast area — connecting to main activity nodes such as the MRT stations, schools, and Neighbourhood Centres (NCs) — will be completed by the first half of 2017.

Giving an update on the developments in the East Coast area — which include the Bedok town centre area and other neighbourhoods within Bedok town — the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said good progress has been made since it announced its Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) plans for the area in 2011. These include the completion of Bedok Mall, the Bedok Integrated Transport Hub, and the Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre and Multi-Storey Car Park, which has 400 parking lots.

In the works are a new Bedok Town Plaza, a heritage corner, and the new Bedok Integrated Complex that will house the Kampong Chai Chee Community Club, Bedok Sports Centre, Bedok Polyclinic, an eldercare centre and Bedok Public Library. The complex is set to be completed by 2017.

To deepen residents’ knowledge on the history of the area, a heritage trail – highlighting the heritage sites in Bedok and East area – will be completed by the first half of next year.

Plans for other NCs in the area are under various stages of implementation and are expected to be completed by next year. New features being installed include entrance markers and community plazas.

The ROH programme was created after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of the need to help HDB estates keep pace with the changing needs of the community in his National Day Rally in 2007. Punggol, Yishun and Dawson were the first to be selected for the programme. This was followed by East Coast, Hougang and Jurong Lake.

About 250,000 residents live in Bedok. Those TODAY spoke to welcomed the new developments, citing convenience brought to the area.

Housewife Vandita Khanderwar, who has been living in Bedok for four years, said she does not have to go to Parkway Parade at Marine Parade Road to shop anymore. “I can get everything here at Bedok Mall. There’s Uniqlo and Popular too,” added the 41-year-old.

Delivery packer Xin Yong Cheng, 55, felt that the developments were only necessary as the Bedok estate is old. “Last time there is a hawker centre, now they just upgrade, so it’s the same,” added Mr Xin who has been living in Bedok for seven years.

The public can visit the ROH exhibition situated in front of Block 209 New Upper Changi Road for more information. It will be open from tomorrow (Jan 11) to next Sunday from 11am to 9pm.

Outdoor Play Corridor, cycling network in the works for Bedok residents
Channel NewsAsia 10 Jan 15;

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has announced plans to enhance the Republic's East Coast area as part of the "Remaking Our Heartland" (ROH) programme, following the completion of the Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre, Bedok Integrated Transport Hub and Bedok Mall.

In a media release, HDB said work on an Outdoor Play Corridor, which provides cycling and pedestrian paths connecting Bedok Town Centre to East Coast Park and Bedok Reservoir Park, will commence in the second half of this year.

A cycling network within East Coast, which will connect MRT stations, schools and Neighbourhood Centres (NCs), will be completed by the first half of 2017. In addition, a heritage trail, which will highlight the heritage sites in the Bedok and East Coast areas, will be completed by the first half of 2016, HDB said.

ROH plans for East Coast also include eight NCs within Bedok Town. New features planned for the NCs include entrance markers, community plazas, floor retiling, playgrounds, mini pavilions, as well as street furniture and lighting unique to each NC.

Upgrading works at Chai Chee and Fengshan NCs are underway, while the rest are under various stages of implementation and are on track for completion by next year, the media release stated.

The opening ceremony for the Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre will be held on Sunday (Jan 11). At the same time, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held for the upcoming Bedok Town Plaza and Heritage Corner - which will be built on the site of the previous hawker centre located at Block 207 Upper Changi Road.

- CNA/dl

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Malaysia: Segamat latest to be hit by flood in Johor

HALIM SAID New Straits Times 9 Jan 15;

JOHOR BARU: A total of 115 flood victims from 31 families in Gemereh and Labis in Segamat district were evacuated to flood relief centres as at 4.30pm today.

The evacuation was carried out after heavy rain since noon which led to floodings in the area, forcing two relief centres, one in Kg Batu Badak and another one in Kg Segamat Kecil to be activated.

According to a National Security Council press updates, a total of 27 victims from seven families were evacuated in Gemereh while 88 victims from 24 families were evacuated from Labis.

Floods: Slight increase in johor evacuees
BEN TAN New Straits Times 10 Jan 15;

JOHOR BARU: The state saw a slight hike in the number of flood evacuees registered with 152 victims from 38 families in temporary flood relief centres as of noon today.

This latest figure was a small increase compared to 145 victims from 36 families as at 8am.

The Johor National Security Council (NSC) said all the flood victims came from the Segamat district, which is the only district in the state that is affected by the floods.

The state has five operational flood relief centres that are currently sheltering the victims.

The flood relief centres are in Balairaya Kampung Batu Badak in Gemereh, Balairaya Kampung Segamat Kecil in Labis, Kompleks Penghulu in Pagoh, Balairaya Kampung Spang Loi and Balairaya Kampung Mensudut Lama, both in Buloh Kasap.

A Johor NSC spokesperson said that as of noon today, no flood victims have returned home pending the weather situation and water levels in the respective areas.

"For motorists heading towards the Segamat district, the Jalan Jabi to Bukit Tempurung roads are temporarily closed to traffic," she said.

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Malaysia: Strong wind, rough sea expected to continue until tomorrow

New Straits Times 10 Jan 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The category two strong wind and rough sea occurring in the waters of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor Timur, Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan currently are expected to persist until tomorrow.

According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department, the North-easterly wind with a speed of 50 to 60 kilometres per hour (kph) and waves of up to 4.5 metres high would be dangerous for all shipping and coastal activities including fishing and ferry services.

“In addition, coastal areas in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor Timur are also exposed to a higher sea level today,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, third category strong wind and rough sea in the waters of Condore, Reef North, Layang-layang and Palawan were also expected to continue until tomorrow.

The north-easterly winds with a speed of 60 kph and waves of up to 4.5 metres high would also be dangerous to all coastal activities and shipping including workers on the oil rigs. – BERNAMA

Last year’s cold weather might not repeat
MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING New Straits Times 9 Jan 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET) has forecasted that the country would receive lesser rainfall and experience a rise in temperature beginning February.

MET's National Weather Centre senior meteorologist Mohd Hisham Mohd Anip said there is a strong possibility that the extreme cold weather that hit our country in January last year may not occur again this year based on a number of factors.

"The Northeast monsoon season which brings heavy rainfalls is ending in February and March, thus it is expected that beginning February, there will be lesser rainfall and cloud, the cold surge from China will no longer hit our states and during that period of time the sun will move closer to our region and as a result we would experience a rise in temperature.

"Our country is expected to experience its highest average temperature in April and May with the states located in the north Peninsular to record the hottest average temperature of about 35 to 38 degrees Celsius," said Mohd Hisham.

Kosmo! In their report state that expert geographer and urban climate research of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Professor Datuk Dr Shaharuddin Ahmad claimed that our country would experience cold temperature before the monsoon season ends as the world is experiencing a global climate change.

The Malay tabloid quoted him that high pressure winds from Siberia (which currently experiencing extreme cold temperatures) will bring the cold temperatures to our country as it moves to China and South China Sea and across Southeast Asia throughout the Northeast monsoon season.

A similar phenomenon occurred in January last year caused the temperatures in several parts of the country especially the eastern and northern areas of the Peninsula to drop to as low as 17.2 degrees Celsius.

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Indonesia: After only one year, REDD+ agency future is in doubt

Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post 10 Jan 15;

The future of the National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Agency (BP REDD+) has become uncertain after only one year because of a plan from the Environment and Forestry Ministry to liquidate it.

BP REDD+ head Heru Prasetyo said on Friday that he was concerned about the plan from Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar to merge the agency with the ministry, which she is currently restructuring.

“I met Bu Siti on Tuesday and before I had the chance to ask, she said there was this idea,” he said during a meeting with journalists at his office in Central Jakarta.

Under Siti’s plan, BP REDD+ would be absorbed by the climate change mitigation directorate general, which she is yet to form.

Under Siti’s plan the ministry would have two focuses, environmental issues and forestry.

“Both the forestry ministry and the environmental ministry used to have 13 director generals each. So if she has to handle 26 [echelon I officials], she will get a headache,” Heru said.

Siti planned to have only nine director generals under her: forestry planology and environment management, natural resource conservation and ecosystems, river basin areas (DAS) and conservation forests, forest management and natural products, pollution and environmental damage control, waste management; social forestry and environmental partnership, environmental and forestry law enforcement and climate change mitigation.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry has also won backing from Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi for its plan to absorb BP REDD+ into the ministry.

BP REDD+, established by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the end of 2013, is the world’s first Cabinet-level institution working specifically on deforestation and forest degradation, conservation, the sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Contacted separately on Friday, Siti said BP REDD+ would serve as an advisory board to the planned directorate general for climate change mitigation.

“The agency’s authorities overlap with those of the ministry,” she told The Jakarta Post.

Heru balked at the proposal saying his agency should remain independent and that its work could complement the ministry’s.

“Under the current arrangement, BP REDD+ is the only institution that has the knowledge [to address climate change] and its role should not be restricted,” he said.

Heru likened BP REDD+ to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which could motivate the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) in the campaign against graft.

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