Singapore eco-tourism plan sparks squawks of protest

AFP 9 Jan 19;

Singapore is creating a vast eco-tourism zone in a bid to bring in more visitors, but environmentalists fear the development will damage natural habitats and are already blaming it for a series of animal deaths.

While it may be best known as a financial hub with scores of high-rise buildings, tropical Singapore is still home to patches of rainforest and an array of wildlife, from monkeys to pangolins -- also known as scaly anteaters.

In one green corner of the city sits a zoo and two sister attractions -- a night safari and river safari -- that have long been big draws for foreign and local visitors.

Now jungle is being cleared in the same area to make way for a bird park, a rainforest park and a 400-room resort, to create a green tourism hub it is hoped will eventually attract millions of visitors a year.

But the project in the Mandai district has ruffled the feathers of environmentalists.

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SP Group rolls out first wave of electric vehicle charging points

ASYRAF KAMIL Today Online 9 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — Electric vehicle (EV) users can now expect to fully charge their vehicles within half an hour at 19 new charging points around the island.

The 19 50kW direct current (DC) charging points are part of utilities provider SP Group’s first wave of 38 public charging points located at commercial buildings and industrial areas, and also Singapore Polytechnic.

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Dengue cases up 20 per cent in 2018, trend continues into new year

Today Online 9 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — The total number of dengue cases in 2018 increased sharply from the previous year, with a total of 3,285 cases reported. This was almost 20 per cent more than in 2017, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a media release on Wednesday (Jan 9).

The trend has continued into the new year, with the number of cases reported increasing over the past three weeks. There was a total of 207 cases in the first week of the year.

While the number went up in 2018, it was a significant drop from the record high of 22,170 seen in 2013. There were 18,326 cases the year after, followed by 11,294 and 13,085 in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

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Opening of Botanic Gardens extension delayed by a year to minimise environmental impact

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 9 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - The opening of an 8ha extension to the Botanic Gardens - initially scheduled for the end of last year - has been pushed back by around 12 months due to construction issues.

The Gallop Road extension, which will feature attractions including an arboretum full of endangered rainforest trees, a hiking trail and galleries, was announced in 2015 when a completion date of late 2018 was set.

However, the Botanic Gardens' director of development, Ms Ng Yuin-Mae, announced on Wednesday (Jan 9) that more time is needed to ensure that the extension and new facilities being constructed are developed sensitively to ensure that wildlife can continue to thrive in the area.

Monthly environmental impact studies indicated that more time was needed to ensure minimal noise and vibration pollution in the surrounding area, and to protect the area's biodiversity.

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Malaysia: No water tariff hike in Johor, says state exco

IZLAILY NURUL AIN HUSSEIN New Straits Times 9 Jan 19;

JOHOR BARU: The federal government's plan to increase water tariffs nationwide will not involve Johor, said state investment and utilities committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse.

He said this is because Johor had already increased its water tariff in 2015.

Puah said the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry's plan to increase water tariffs is part of the government's effort to standardise water rates in the country.

"The water tariff in Johor was just increased in 2015. Also, the water tariff in Johor is not lower than those imposed in other states. I see no need to increase the tariff at this stage.

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