National Museum's glass rotunda to reopen after 2-year renovation

Syahida Othman, Channel NewsAsia 18 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: This December, the National Museum of Singapore's glass rotunda will reopen after two years of renovation work, with two permanent art installations on the flora and fauna of Southeast Asia.

The renovation is part of the museum's S$10 million revamp which it announced in 2014, eight years after the glass rotunda first opened.

When completed, its 15-metre-high ceiling and 80-metre passage will be turned into an interactive digital space that will focus on the region's rich ecological history.

Close to 70 drawings from the museum's prized collection - the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings at the Goh Seng Choo Gallery - will be brought to life through interactive 3D animation projected on the rotunda.

The work, titled Story of the Forest is a partnership with renowned Japanese creative group teamLab. The museum’s assistant curator Iman Ismail said the inspiration came from Singapore's reputation as a garden city.

“They were sharing with me about what Singapore is and how they felt that Singapore is a very green, clean country,” he said. “So we worked on that idea and we introduced to them the collection that we had - the drawings by (Singapore's first British Resident) William Farquhar.”

The art piece was brought to life with the help of about 60 projectors. (Image: teamLab)

The installation proved to be one of the most challenging works to date. Apart from its sheer size, choosing the relevant drawings from the hundreds of pieces from the collection was demanding as well.

“The challenges are having to sift through, firstly, all the 477 drawings from the collection because there are so many flowers, trees, plants, animals to choose from,” said Mr Iman. “We needed to make it relevant especially with what we can find in Singapore and in the region today, and have that connection and conversation between a past, where the drawings came from, and what it is today.”

The installation has close to 70 drawings from William Farquhar's Collection of Natural History Drawings. (Image: teamLab)

Some highlighted works include the frangipani, hibiscus, as well as creatures like the sun bear and the tapir.

“There's this young, cute tapir - the way that teamLab presents them - animated and it moves slowly, trying to find its way and it seems like it's also trying to find its parents as it walks around, kind of engaging in a way because as the audience, we kind of wonder why and what he's doing, “ said Mr Iman.

“I had this very interesting conversation with a colleague about when the frangipani is around and the different connotations, and the different associations it has,” he added. “I think one of them was how, when we smell frangipani, it's not a good sign because it's something unseen around you, and then you kind of just have to move on.

"So it's playing with that, actually, the different histories associated with it.”

The second installation, called Singapore, Very Old Tree sits at the foot of the rotunda as visitors leave the space. It is by local photographer and artist Robert Zhao, and comprises 17 images of Singapore's trees, including personal stories associated with each plant.

Singapore, Very Old Tree, features the Monkey God Tree in Jurong West in 2015 by Robert Zhao. (Image: Collection of the National Museum of Singapore)

The work is inspired by one of the oldest postcards found in the National Archives of Singapore that depicted an unspecified tree from the year 1904.

Story of the Forest and the Singapore, Very Old Tree are the first of what museum officials said are many projects that will provide a dialogue between the historical and the contemporary.

“Through both installations, we hope to offer our visitors new ways of looking at Singapore’s history and culture,” said Angelita Teo, Director of the National Museum of Singapore.

The revamped rotunda opens on Dec 10.

- CNA/ek

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Malaysia: Sarawak calls for aggressive enforcement against marine encroachment

BERNAMA New Straits Times 18 Oct 16;

MIRI: The Sarawak state government wants the authorities to deploy an aggressive enforcement approach in dealing with encroachment by foreign trawlers in the state's waters.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said although the current laws were adequate, he was disappointed over "poor enforcement" against such encroachment that could potentially destroy the fisheries industry in Sarawak.

"They (foreign vessels) left a trail of destruction and must be stopped as soon as possible," he said when launching Petronas-Sarawak Forestry Eco Marine project here today.

Adenan said one of the main problems in Sarawak involved foreign trawlers that used dredging methods to catch fish, which had destroyed marine life that was vital for the economy, especially in the fisheries industry as well as tourism and coral reefs.

Meanwhile Petronas chairman Tan Sri Sidek Hassan hoped the project would boost ecotourism and the livelihood of Sarawak fishermen, particularly in Miri.

He said a total of 1,750 unit of artificial reef balls would be deployed along the Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Parks, the largest marine park in Sarawak.

Petronas, in a statement issued to the media in conjuction with the project launch, said the reef balls weighing one ton each can last 500 years under the sea.

It said the reef balls would deter illegal fishing trawlers from the national park because their dragnet would be destroyed if entangled with the reef balls that had been planted around the coral reefs. - BERNAMA

Better enforcement needed to preserve state’s marine life – Adenan
Borneo Post 18 Oct 16;

MIRI: Strengthen enforcement and keep illegal trawlers at bay or face losing marine life, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

Authorities concerned should buck up or outsiders would continue to encroach into state waters, he stressed during the launch of the Petronas-Sarawak Forestry Eco Marine Project @ Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park at a hotel here today (Oct 18).

He said the state is blessed with an abundance of marine resources but if the rampant encroachment by foreigners is left unchecked, marine life in its waters would be seriously depleted.

Adenan applauded the effort of Petronas and Sarawak Forestry, saying the laying of artificial reefs of various types along the coastline was timely and should be intensified.

“If we don’t do it now, the corals will be swept under the sea.

“We want to help our local fisherman too, and apart from providing a good breeding ground for fish, it will also help to keep away fishing trawlers from coming in to steal our fish.

“If we love Sarawak, we all must do our part to preserve our environment,” he added before ending his speech.

Among those present were Petronas chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, Deputy State Secretary cum chairman for Petronas-Sarawak Forestry Eco Marine Project Datu Jaul Samion, Miri Mayor Adam Yii and Sarawak Forestry chief executive officer Wong Ting Chung.

‘Conservation hapless without enforcement’ — Adenan
Zaheera Johari & Philip Kiew Borneo Post 19 Oct 16;

MIRI: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem yesterday blamed poor enforcement and implementation for the rampant theft of marine resources and destruction of corals in Sarawak waters by foreign trawlers.

He was criticising the inaction by enforcement agencies on the many complaints of encroachment from local traditional fishermen.

“When complaints are made, excuses are made. The weakness is in the enforcement.

“Enforcement, not the law, is the deterrent. The law itself is not a deterrent as the best deterrent, according to David Marshal, is certainty of being caught. We must stop this as soon as possible – the sooner, the better,” he said in calling for action against encroaching foreign vessels.

He was speaking at the launch of the RM8 million Petronas-Sarawak Forestry Eco-Marine Conservation Project at Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park here yesterday.

Under the conservation project which kicked off last year, a total of 1,750 artificial reef balls will be deployed in stages at the coral reef and an awareness enhancement programme will be carried out until 2019.

The reef balls will deter illegal fishing trawlers from the national park because their dragnets will be destroyed if entangled with the artificial reef balls that have been planted around the coral reefs and act as underwater protection line to promote regeneration of coral reefs.

The Chief Minister further said the State was blessed with an abundance of marine resources but if the rampant encroachment by foreigners were left unchecked, marine life in its waters would be seriously depleted.

He suggested that Sarawak’s long coastline and the huge continental shelf which is as big as its land mass be better documented to facilitate effective protection and conservation of its ecology.

At the same time, he applauded this joint-effort by Petronas and Sarawak Forestry as timely and said it should be intensified.

“If we don’t do it now, the corals will be swept under the sea and with this, we want to help our local fisherman too, and apart from providing good breeding ground for fish, it will also prevent fishing trawlers from coming in to steal our fish.

“If we love Sarawak, we all should preserve our environment,” he said.

Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park covers 186,930 hectares of water about 15 nautical miles from Miri shoreline and is the second largest marine park in Malaysia. It was gazetted on Feb 28, 2007 under the National Parks and Natural Reserves Ordinance 1998.

The project is to protect and regenerate dying coral reefs around the 12,200ha Sibuti Reef Complex within the 186,930ha Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park in northern Sarawak.

Present at the launch were Petronas chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, Deputy State Secretary and chairman of the Petronas-Sarawak Forestry Eco-Marine Conservation Project Datu Jaul Samion, Miri mayor Adam Yii and Sarawak Forestry chief executive officer Wong Ting Chung.

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Malaysia: Almost 500 flood evacuees recorded in Selangor today

C. PREMANANTHINI New Straits Times 18 Oct 16;

KLANG: The number of flood evacuees in Selangor stood at 497 people out of 119 families this evening. The Dewan Serbaguna Dato Ahmad Razali, Kapar housed 167 people from 43 families.

The five active evacuation centres in operation are the Dewan Serbaguna Kampung Tok Muda, Dewan Serbaguna Dato Ahmad Razali (in Klang).

In Sabak Bernam, the active evacuation centres are the Dewan Sungai Air Tawar, and Dewan Parit Baru, Dewan Seri Sekinchan.

The Selangor Fire and Rescue Department said no casualties were reported so far.

Earlier this, the river bund at Sungai Keramat in Kampung Sri Keramat, Batu 5 broke due to the high tide.

Selangor state disaster management coordinator (for Sementa) Mohd Azmi Mat Sangir said the high tide began at 3am and the five-metre bund later broke.

The water level reached a height of 5.7 metres today.

Flood warning takes an old-fashioned turn with a crank
ALLISON LAI The Star 19 Oct 16;

KLANG: Loud wails of siren could be heard as early as 6am yesterday when overflowing water from Sungai Keramat began flooding Kampung Sementa at Batu 5 in Jalan Kapar here for the third consecutive day.

It was not the one used by rescue authorities. This was an initiative of villager Mohd Salleh Hassan using an old-fashioned manual hand cranked siren.

Mohd Salleh said he had been using the device for a long time when he was working in an automobile factory. The device was used as an alarm and wake-up call for the workers.

Mohd Salleh was keeping vigil near the river since Monday night to check on the bund, which had been strengthened with sandbags by the state Drainage and Irrigation Department.

He sounded the first round of sirens at about 6am yesterday after seeing the bund give way due to the high tide.

“I hope this simple gesture will help alert everyone who live nearby to stay safe,” he told The Star.

The village was inundated by a third round of flooding caused by high tide at about 7am.

Flood waters rose faster than on Monday and by 7.30am, several access roads to the village were already inaccessible.

The first flood hit the village at dawn on Sunday when a portion of the bund collapsed, causing water from the 5.6m high tide to flood more than 10 houses and damage eight cars.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said 4,000 sand bags to temporarily strengthen the bund had been installed by the DID.

Selangor Disaster Management Committee Sementa coordinator Mohd Azmi Mat Sangir said the temporary measures had helped lessen the damage.

As at 9am yesterday, 26 evacuation centres had been activated in the state with 482 victims from 115 families being displaced.

Dewan Kg Tok Muda evacuation centre in Kapar had the most number of evacuees with 236 victims, followed by 63 in Dewan Sg Air Tawar in Sabak Bernam, and 39 in Dewan Dato Ahmad Razali in Kapar.

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Indonesia: Climate Change Greatest Threat to Development -- Rachmat Witoelar

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 18 Oct 16;

Jakarta. Climate change is the greatest threat to development and a global action is required to learn how to adapt to its effects, especially in Indonesia, Rachmat Witoelar — President Joko Widodo’s special envoy for climate change control — said.

"Learning how to adapt to climate change is important because the earth’s climate has definitely changed, most of us can already feel the impact, so now we have to adapt to survive," Rachmat said in a speech at the 5th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum in Sri Lanka.

Rachmat said he is still optimistic that Indonesia can still transform itself into a great maritime country.

"Indonesia has already integrated climate change adaptation in its medium-term national development plan [RPJMN]," he added.

Rachmat said Indonesia has to learn climate change mitigation — and learn it fast — to be able to reach its goal of becoming a global maritime fulcrum, as the archipelago is prone to natural disasters such as floods, drought, crop failure, forest fires, typhoons and reduced fish populations.

The three-day forum is the fifth held by the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN). This year it carries the theme "Adapting and Living under 2°: Bridging Policy and Practice."

The forum aims to increase awareness and understanding of climate change adaptation in the Asia-Pacific region, and explore concrete actions with relevant stakeholders, especially in the business sector.

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New Zealand plankton blooms proof of global warming's oceanic effects

"It is clear that change is underway," said researcher Lionel Carter.
Brooks Hays UPI Yahoo News 17 Oct 16;

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- During coccolithophore blooms, the algae's calcium-derived exoskeletons turn the ocean water a milky white. The microorganism's proliferation can often be seen from space.

Satellites passing over New Zealand in recent months have documented a series of coccolithophore blooms off the island nation's east coast. According to a new study published in the journal Global and Planetary Change, coccolithophore blooms and the microfossils they leave behind offer evidence of global warming's oceanic effects.

The tiny calcified scales left behind by the algae are called coccoliths. In addition to forming world famous coastlines, like England's White Cliffs of Dover, the microfossils can also help scientists study ancient oceanic conditions.

Researchers from Victoria University of Wellington used coccoliths, as well as ship and satellite observations, to map the movement of modern and ancient coccolithophore blooms.

The latest data suggest blooms are moving southward as the ocean warms and seas calm. Coccolith deposits revealed similar patterns from 130,000 years ago, when global ocean temperatures last rose.

"Our results show that during that last warm period, when the ocean was about one to two degrees warmer than present, sediments on the seabed were mainly made up of coccoliths," researcher Bella Duncan explained in a news release.

Researchers say a similar warming period encouraged the proliferation of coccolithophores that ultimately birthed the White Cliffs of Dover.

"While the ramifications of this change on fish stocks, uptake of carbon dioxide and general ocean health have yet to be evaluated, it is clear that change is underway," said Lionel Carter from Victoria's Antarctic Research Centre.

Scientists hope further exploration of similarities between modern and ancient patterns of climate change will offer insights into the future of Earth's warming oceans.

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2016 locked into being hottest year on record, Nasa says

Data shows September was the warmest in modern temperature monitoring following months of record-breaking anomalies this year
Fiona Harvey The Guardian 17 Oct 16;

Nasa has all but declared this year to be the hottest yet recorded, after September narrowly turned out the warmest in modern temperature monitoring.

Last month was 0.91C above the average temperature for that time of year from 1951 to 1980, the benchmark used for measuring rises.

The new findings follow record-breaking monthly anomalies throughout this year, leading the agency to believe that because of the highs reported so far, 2016 will take the crown as warmest in the 136 years of modern data-keeping.

Last month was only just over the previous record, coming in at a razor-thin 0.004C above the previous high for the time of year, reached in September 2014. That tiny margin may be revised in future, as monthly temperature data can be nudged up or down retrospectively as later reports come in. For instance, June 2016 was initially reported as the warmest on record but was subsequently revised downward slightly to the third warmest.

But it makes the trend for the year, and the long-term decadal trends, easier to discern. September’s high temperatures compared with the long-term average means that 11 of the last 12 consecutive months, back to October 2015, have set new records.

Last year was the hottest year since modern records began, brought about in part by a strong El Niño event, a Pacific weather system that can affect sea and air temperatures around the world, but also by strong underlying trends. Schmidt said earlier this year, when 2015’s status was confirmed, that it would have been the warmest year even without the El Niño.

July 2016 was the hottest single month since instruments have been reliably used to measure temperature, followed by a similar effect in August.

This year’s heat has continued to be affected by the tail-end of the El Niño weather phenomenon, as although the system has now dissipated, air temperatures tend to lag behind by several months.

If a new temperature record is set for 2016, it will confirm the longer term trends of climate change. This in turn will help scientists to counter claims from global warming sceptics that the rise in global temperatures has “paused” and therefore that climate change is not a threat.

The monthly reports from Nasa come from publicly available data from about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, as well as measurements taken from ships and buoys at sea, and Antarctic research stations.

Other agencies, including the UK’s Met Office, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Japan’s Meteorological Agency, also publish temperature estimates. The Met Office forecast last December that this year would be the hottest ever, based on its observations. Also closely watched is the World Meteorological Organisation, which in July made a prediction that this year would be the hottest, based on data available to that date.

Final confirmation of whether this year is record-breaking is likely to come early next year.

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