A taste of kampung life

Ong Wee Jin, The Straits Times AsiaOne 27 Mar 17;

"Those who can hear my voice, please gather around me."

A voice as cheery as the surrounding sunflowers rang out in the cool morning air, bringing people out of the wood workshop, the farm and elsewhere, to gather and introduce themselves to one another.

The volunteers had signed up for Balik Kampung, Ground-Up Initiative's (GUI) flagship community programme that is open to anyone willing to work up a small sweat.

Some even came as a family to take part.

After stretching exercises to warm up, the real work began.

The group was split up to attend to different tasks.

Some flower pots needed to be moved, lunch had to be prepared, plants watered and a path alongside a flowing stream cleared of weeds.

Kampung Kampus, home of GUI, buzzed with such gotong royong, which means communal work usually associated with kampung life, until a communal lunch at noon.

It seems to consist of menial tasks, but it is much more than that.

Balik Kampung, which means "going home" in Malay, aims to renew participants' connection to the land and to one another.

Mr Eugene Goh, 27, a programme coordinator at GUI, said when people are willing to roll up their sleeves and work the ground, they begin to develop a sense of ownership over it.

"The sense of groundedness is absolutely essential because we are a young nation. If our young people cannot believe on a deep level that this land is theirs and derive a sense of ownership, the meaning of home becomes eroded," he said.

Founded in 2008 by Mr Tay Lai Hock, a former regional sales manager for a US software company, GUI aims to nurture grounded leaders and model a society with a sustainable future.

Its 5G philosophy is to create a society that is gracious, green, giving, grounded and grateful.

Mr Tay, 53, the "kampung chief", feels that if more Singaporeans adopt the 5G way of living, "Singapore will be kinder, warmer, greener and much more liveable".

Occupying 26,000 sq m, or the size of about four football fields, the land at the former Bottle Tree Park in Yishun is leased from the Government at a five-figure rental.

The entire place is an experiential, nature- led learning campus.

The education arm, WOW Kampung, organises school and corporate programmes that focus on character development and shaping attitudes.

Held either at Kampung Kampus or their client's premises, the programmes employ hands-on learning and aim to bring participants outside of four-walled classrooms into the green environment to engage their senses for enhanced learning.

Farmily, the farming arm, grows a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs without using pesticides.

Two full-time farmers and volunteers tend to the 1,400 sq m of arable land.

The organic produce is sold to a local retailer and to its own loyal customers.

GUI's craft arm, Touchwood, finds useful ways of recycling and re-using unwanted materials, and conducts wood-working classes for children and adults.

GUI is a volunteer-driven organisation, with slightly more than a dozen full-time staff who lead the different initiatives and programmes.

On a typical Saturday, there can be between 10 and 20 volunteers at Farmily.

Ms Lim Sixian, 27, a manager in a public agency, volunteers about three times a month on Saturdays at Farmily.

"It is hard to find a place like Kampung Kampus in Singapore," she said.

"I like the space and the people here. When I enter the space, it feels open - you don't feel like there are walls and it feels breezy.

"This place gives me an alternative vision of what a community can look like," she said.

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Keeping Singapore's coastline secure amid changing threats

Not only have efforts to enter Singapore illegally by sea have become more organised, the nature of threats has also changed.
Leong Wai Kit and Dawn Karen Tan Channel NewsAsia 28 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: Ninety-four people were arrested for trying to breach Singapore's coastline in 2015 - a five-year high, and an average of one person every four days.

As efforts to enter Singapore illegally by sea become more organised, with perpetrators using faster boats, decoys and camouflage to evade detection, the Police Coast Guard is likewise stepping up surveillance with new technology, including panoramic electro-optics sensors along Singapore’s borders, as well as tethered unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, that will be deployed from coastal patrol craft by 2019.

Singapore’s coastline is also guarded by floating sea barriers, land fences and sea fences. It is estimated that by 2030, 75 per cent of Singapore's coastline will be barricaded in one way or another.

The nature of threats to Singapore has also changed.

“In the past, (we saw threats like) piracy, sea robbery, smuggling,” Comprehensive Maritime Awareness Group commander Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Nicholas Lim told Channel NewsAsia.

“We always thought that these were the concerns of other countries. But in the last few years, these threats changed. It’s become more transboundary. For example, we are aware of Islamic State (IS). Now they have followers, sympathisers in different parts of the world and they conduct (activities) on behalf of their leaders,” he said. “Terrorists are planning and plotting so we always have to be on the lookout.”


The Police Coast Guard is part of the Singapore Maritime Crisis Centre (SMCC), which also comprises security agencies including the navy, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Singapore Customs, as well as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Set up in 2011, the SMCC was the nerve centre of the operation that foiled the plot to fire a rocket at Marina Bay from Indonesia's Batam island in August 2016, shortly before Singapore's National Day.

"We had some indication about the plots by the terrorists," SLTC Lim said, explaining how the navy and Police Coast Guard worked together to have different layers of ships patrolling the area.

"In SMCC, we used our systems, including analytics in the social media domain; we were able to pick up linkages between the syndicate of six that were arrested, with another person that was linked to them, and was involved in the maritime domain."


There is also room for working on an international level in order to deal with threats, SLTC Lim said.

The Singapore Navy hosts an international working group called the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) in Singapore. The multinational information-sharing hub sees people from different countries and various agencies working together to increase awareness of maritime security events in and around the region.

IFC was part of the global search effort for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 when it went missing in 2014.

The group also helped inform the Indonesian Navy that a vessel - Hai Soon 12 - had gone missing in the Java Sea in May 2016.

“When something happens, we want to make sure that the relevant agencies from the different countries are aware and once they are aware, they will be able to respond to those incidents,” said SLTC Lim.

Acting on the information, the Indonesian Navy sent a warship to locate the vessel and discovered that it had been invaded by pirates, who were subsequently arrested.

- CNA/dl

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Cycling lanes on extended Tanah Merah Coast Road to open on Apr 22

Channel NewsAsia 27 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: Cyclists can soon travel on dedicated cycling lanes along the extended Tanah Merah Coast Road, which will open on Apr 22.

In a news release on Monday (Mar 27), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the 10km-long on-road cycling lane will run along both sides of the road, adding that the lane is about 2m wide to cater for two cyclists abreast.

There will be logos to highlight the cycling lanes and red transverse marking at transition zones before and after road junctions, to alert cyclists to look out for turning vehicles and remind motorists to give way to cyclists.

"As the on-road cycling lane is considered part of the road, only cyclists and users of power-assisted bicycles will be allowed on it," said LTA.

Graphic: LTA

The on-road bicycle lanes are a "one-off initiative for sports cyclists" who currently use the existing Changi Coast Road for training, said LTA, which does not have plans to build more on-road cycling lanes. "Given the lack of land in Singapore, LTA will focus on building off-road cycling paths. They are much safer for the majority of cyclists and personal mobility device users," it said.

The extended Tanah Merah Coast Road was built to replace Changi Coast Road, which will be closed on Apr 22 at 7pm, to facilitate work on Changi Airport's third runway as well as the new Terminal 5.

Motorists can use the new road as a connection from the East Coast Parkway to Changi Village. The road also links to Aviation Park Road via a new dual three-lane extension, said LTA.

It added: "Motorists and cyclists are reminded to follow traffic rules and exercise caution, as the area is expected to be heavily used by heavy vehicles for airport expansion works."

- CNA/gs

New extended Tanah Merah Coast Road opening Apr 22 will have on-road cycling lane
Today Online 27 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — The newly extended Tanah Merah Coast Road, set to open on April 22, will have a dedicated 10km long on-road cycling lane stretching from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Changi Ferry Terminal, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Monday (March 27).

This is likely to be the only on-road cycling lane in Singapore, as the LTA does not have plans to build any more such lanes, it said in a statement.

“Given the lack of land in Singapore, LTA will focus on building off-road cycling paths. They are much safer for the majority of cyclists and personal mobility device users,” LTA added.

The on-road cycling lane, which will be on both sides of the roads, will be approximately 2m-wide lane to cater for two cyclists side-by-side. There will also be raised chevron markings to demarcate the lane from regular vehicular carriageway and markings to highlight that it is a cycling lane.

There will also be red transverse markings on the road to alert cyclists to look out for turning vehicles at junctions and remind motorists to give way to cyclists.

The cycling lane will also be diverted behind bus stops to minimise interaction between buses and cyclists. Recreational cyclists are advised to use the park connector instead of the on-road cycling lane.

“As the on-road cycling lane is considered part of the road, only cyclists and users of power-assisted bicycles will be allowed on it. Pedestrians and users of personal mobility devices should use the new park connector along the extended Tanah Merah Coast Road,” said the LTA, adding that the highway Code will be updated to reflect the new on-road cycling lane.

The extended Tanah Merah Coast Road will replace Changi Coast Road, which will be closed on the same day, to facilitate development works for Changi Airport Runway 3 and the new Terminal 5.

With the new road’s opening, bus service 35 which currently plies Changi Coast Road will be rerouted along the new road. Two pairs of new bus stops serving Changi Lodge 2 and Changi Naval Base will be opened.

Additionally a new park connector will be added along the extended Tanah Merah Coast Road, linking the existing park connector coming from East Coast Park to the existing park connector at Aviation Park Road, to replace the existing park connector along Changi Coast Road.

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Indonesia: Floods send thousands of people to flee home in Bima

Antara 27 Mar 17;

Mataram, W Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA News) - At least 2,500 people in five sub-districts in Bima, East Nusa Tenggara, have fled homes to escape flash flood, following heavy rain on Sunday.

"The evacuees were accommodated in 15 refugee centers," a spokesman of the Bima city administration Syahrial Nuryadin said here on Monday.

The people are accommodated in a number of mosques and the office of the city mayor and other public places, Syahrial said.

"The city authorities are busy helping the evacuation while organizing distribution of food for the displaced people," he said.

The hardest hit by the flood are five sub-district areas including Kumbe, Dodu, Nungga, Kodo and Raba.

Heavy downpour upstream brought the disaster to those areas with rivers of Padolo and Salo overflowing their banks inundating villages and rice fields.

Flood waters also stormed into the city of Bima putting five sub-district in the city under water including.

Some of the evacuees returned home on Monday after the flood waters began to recede, Syahrial said.

Reports and landslides have also come from a number of other regions under the erratic weather hitting the country lately.(*)

Flash flood hits North Sumatra regency, killing 3
Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 27 Mar 17;

A flash flood hit Padang Sidempuan regency in North Sumatra on Sunday, killing three people. Another victim is still missing.

The people killed in the flood were a family of three consisting of Sahriana Situmorang, 45, Rafiah Sarumpaet, 8, and Sakinah Sarumpaet, 10. The family lived in Lubuk Raya subdistrict.

The flood also destroyed dozens of houses in several districts such as Padang Sidempuan Batunadua, North Padang Sidempuan and South Padang Sidempuan. A number of cars were swept away during the flood.

The deluge also gravely damaged a bridge. The bridge is now closed for repairs.

(Read also: Flash floods displace 100,000 people in Bima)

Syamsir, 32, a resident of Lubuk Raya, said the flood was caused by the overflowing of the Batang Ayumi River.

Padang Sidempuan Disaster Management Agency head Khairul Harahap said heavy rainfall fell over large parts of the area on Sunday, but the flood had receded by Monday.

“We are still searching for the missing person,” said Khairul.

His agency has not yet calculated the monetary losses from the damage. “We are still focusing on relocating residents to safer places,” he said. (wit)

One found dead in S. Tapanuli flood
Antara 27 Mar 17;

South Tapanuli (ANTARA News) - A flood claimed the life of a person in South Tapanuli District, North Sumatra, on Sunday evening.

The victims body was found in the Batang Kumal River, East Angkola Sub-district, on Monday, Pargarutan Dolok Village Head Henri Harahap stated here, Monday.

The victim was identified as Kaya Banua Siagian, a resident of Sijungkang, East Angkola.

In the neighboring Padang Sidimpuan Town, floods claimed four lives and rendered one missing in Padang Sidimpuan, North Sumatra, on Sunday evening.

Five residents were earlier swept away by the flooding, of which four were found dead, while another was still missing, Khairul Harahap, head of the Padang Sidimpuan disaster mitigation office, had stated.

Several homes were flooded in the sub-districts of Padang Sidimpuan Angkola Julu, Padang Sidimpuan Batunadua, South Padang Sidimpuan, and North Padang Sidimpuan.

Four dead, one missing after floods hit Padang Sidimpuan
Antara 27 Mar 17;

Medan, N Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Floods claimed four lives and rendered one missing in Padang Sidimpuan, North Sumatra, on Sunday evening.

Five residents were swept away by the flooding, of which four were found dead, while another is still missing, Khairul Harahap, head of the Padang Sidimpuan disaster mitigation office, stated here on Monday.

Several homes were flooded in the sub-districts of Padang Sidimpuan Angkola Julu, Padang Sidimpuan Batunadua, South Padang Sidimpuan, and North Padang Sidimpuan.(*)

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