Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


Ice-cool idea wins SEC-Senoko Power Green Innovation Award

BY Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia
29 March 2007 2028 hrs

SINGAPORE: Generating heat from an ice machine is the idea that bagged local company Omega Thermal its SEC-Senoko Power Green Innovation Award at this year's Singapore Green Summit.

Coffeeshop owner Seah How Chai has been serving hot drinks for the past 30 years.

And for the past two years, the water used for brewing tea is heated by his ice machine.

This is due to a heat recovery system that allows the waste heat generated by the machine to be piped into a water tank.

Less energy is then needed to boil the water as it is already heated.

With the system, waste heat is also removed efficiently from the ice machine so the ice stays colder for a longer period of time.

As a result, Mr Seah saves S$300 to S$400 on bills each month. But the benefits are not just monetary.

Instead of hot stuffy air, the condenser now releases cool air, making it possible for customers to sit comfortably in the coffeeshop.

Omega Thermal, which developed the system, said it was originally developed for use on air-conditioners.

Philip Lee, Manager, Omega Thermal, said: "It was revolutionary when Mr Seah suggested attaching it to an ice-maker. The idea just took off at the back of our heads - 'Why not? Let's give it a try!'."

And it was this idea that helped the SME win the SEC-Senoko Power Green Innovation Award.

But things were not easy at the beginning.

Mr Lee said: "The chief obstacle was not so much the physical aspect. It was more of a mental acceptance, psychological acceptance from people who find this a radical departure from their normal way of using electricity to heat up water.

"You can make the best product in the world but if there's no market demand for it, you'll still be back to square one".

Each system costs about S$2,000 and takes two hours to install.

So far, serviced apartments and condominiums form the bulk of Omega Thermal's clientele, but it is confident the technology will also take off among smaller businesses like Mr Seah's.

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Singapore to use less concrete for building construction in future: Mah

By Hasnita A Majid, Channel NewsAsia
28 March 2007 1816 hrs

SINGAPORE: Singapore will reduce its dependency on concrete as building materials in future.

It will instead shift to alternative sources and building technologies.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan gave the assurance that there are enough supplies of sand and granite in the government stockpile for the industry to produce the concrete it needs to proceed with its commitments.

Alternative supplies are also coming in from other sources.

Mr Mah was speaking at an eco-buildings conference where he unveiled what is to be the first eco-friendly precinct in Punggol.

The new development, called TreeTops@Punggol, will have dry partition walls in its interior instead of concrete walls.

Dry partition walls are made of ferro-cement material with two panels bolted together to form a wall with a hollow core.

That and other materials, such as recycled concrete and structural steel used in the construction of flats, can help cut down the dependency on sand and concrete.

Singapore's supply of sand and granite from Indonesia has been affected recently when Jakarta announced a ban on sand exports and later detained some barges, carrying granite materials to Singapore.

But Singapore maintains this has not slowed down its building projects.

The National Development Minister said: "We have already said we are proceeding, we are moving ahead. The sand shortage and the granite shortage is something we've anticipated. We always prepare for exigencies. That's why we have the stockpile.

"We have no short-term disruption but I think in the longer term, we have to change our construction methods."

Mr Mah said the government has worked out various cost-sharing formulas with contractors working on government projects.

This includes co-sharing up to 75 percent of the increase in the cost of sand.

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First eco-friendly precinct at Punggol may be built by 2011

28 March 2007 (CNA)

SINGAPORE: Everything about Treetops@Punggol, which is under Housing and Development Board's Build-to-Order system, spells eco-friendly.

The new eco-precinct has been designed to harness the elements of nature such as light, rainfall and wind to promote sustainable green living.

There will be more greenery with an eco-deck above the car park, skyrise greening on its roofs and a community garden.

These features are expected to lower the surrounding temperature by as much as 4 degrees Celsius.

For energy efficiency, solar panels will be installed on the roof to power the common corridors of the estates as well as the eco-deck.

This will save 80 percent of energy used.

Motion sensors will also be introduced at the podium car park to provide on-demand lighting.

For these extra features, the flats will cost slightly more than other apartments in the same area.

The prices range from S$139,000 to S$254,000 for 3- and 4-room units, and S$370,000 to S$383,000 for five-roomers.

There will be a total of 700 units offered.

Attention is also paid to water and waste management.

A rainwater collection system will be implemented where the water collected will be used to wash the common corridors.

There will be an integrated wash basin and toilet pedestal system in the flats to promote water conservation as well as a dedicated refuse chute for recycling.

Whether these features will be incorporated into future public housing projects will depend on public feedback.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: "If there is good response, then yes, we will do more of this. But this is the culmination of the many things that HDB has been doing in the last few years. It's very timely, considering that first of all, the technology is becoming more cost-efficient."

However, the HDB said that it would proceed with the project only if there is a demand for it. There will be a selection process and the results will be known later this year.

If all goes well, the precinct will be ready by 2011.

Treetops@Punggol will be located at the junction of Punggol Road, Punggol Drive and Punggol Place – a few minutes' walk from the Punggol MRT station and the Damai LRT station.

Interested flat buyers can view models of the precinct at an exhibition at the HDB Hub and they can make applications via the HDB website by 17 April.

Treetops@Punggol has been awarded the Green Mark under a scheme to promote eco-friendly building technologies and designs.

The government has announced that it will adopt the Green Mark scheme for all new public housing projects from January.

All developments at the Marina Bay will also be Green Building certified.



Tourism boom leaves Angkor Wat's ruins RUINED

Graffiti, worn-out temple steps and sinking foundation
March 27, 2007
The Electric New Paper

IT has been hailed as one of the wonders of the ancient world, and forms the very heart of Cambodia's identity.

But now, the famous Angkor Wat complex may not survive the onslaught of tourists.

Every day, thousands are left largely free to wander in and out of the temple ruins, probing dark corners, climbing over fallen stones or tracing the delicate bas reliefs with their hands.

Names and other graffiti are gouged into temple walls.

Unsightly wooden steps have been constructed over some stone staircases that have become worn with over-use.

In some temples, visitors have been prevented completely from coming into contact with delicate wall carvings.

The sinking foundation and widening cracks between the carefully carved stones of Bayon temple, famous for the serene faces carved on its 54 towers, confirm that one of Angkor's best known monuments is collapsing into the sandy ground around it.

Almost two million tourists visited Cambodia last year, with more than half of them visiting Angkor.

'The ancients built the temples for religious purposes, not for such crowds of tourists to climb on,' said Mr Khun Sokha, a tour guide whose job depends on the vast crowds swarming Angkor National Park in rising numbers each year.


'The harm is obvious. We are worried, but the people's livelihood depends on these tourists,' he added.

It is hard to ignore the nearly US$1.5 billion ($2.3b) in revenue that tourism brought to the impoverished country last year, forcing officials into a delicate balancing act.

But the biggest threat comes just kilometres away, where more than 250 guesthouses and hotels, including several sprawling resorts, have sprung up in recent years.

The unrestricted consumption of ground water by Siem Reap's hotels is destabilising the earth beneath the Angkor complex.

Said Mr Kuy Song, director of Siem Reap's tourism office: 'The construction of hotels is booming. We cannot ban the rich people from building accommodations.

'The future of the temples is really worrisome.' - AFP.


Electricity prices to be reduced from April 1

By Margaret Perry, Channel NewsAsia
26 March 2007

SINGAPORE : Consumers can expect smaller electricity bills from 1 April to 30 June 2007.

SP Services says electricity prices will fall by nearly 6 percent beginning next month.

It says this is because of lower fuel oil prices.

Domestic users will now pay 18.88 cents per kWh, compared to 20.02 cents per kWh.

For the period 1 April to 30 June, tariffs are pegged to a lower fuel oil price of US$42.60 or S$65.25 per barrel.

In the previous quarter, the price was US$48.16 or S$75.73 per barrel.

The electricity tariff is reviewed quarterly.

Thus, prices will be reviewed again in June. - CNA/ms



Indonesia has not released detained vessels carrying granite: MFA

26 March 2007

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Foreign Ministry (MFA) said Indonesia has not released the detained vessels carrying granite.

It was responding to media queries on whether Indonesia had released the vessels, following the meeting between Foreign Minister George Yeo and his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda in Nuremburg earlier this month.

Minister Hassan had told Mr Yeo that an inter-departmental team had visited the Riaus to investigate the Indonesian Navy's detention of the tugboats and barges, carrying granite bound for Singapore.

He had also assured Minister Yeo that the Indonesian team's verification process would be transparent.

Singapore's Foreign Ministry added that Singapore has not heard from the Indonesians since then.

On Monday, MFA sent a diplomatic note to the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore to seek an update on the results of the Indonesian team's investigation.

- CNA/so


Explosions Hit Hong Leong Asia Owned Granite Quarry

26 March 2007

SABOTAGE is suspected to be behind four explosions that ripped through a
granite quarry in Karimun, in the Riau Islands of Indonesia, on Friday.

No one was injured in the blasts, which happened in the early hours of
Friday at PT Karimun Granite, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Hong Leong
Asia, reported Channel NewsAsia.

The head of police for Riau District, Brigadier-General Sutarman, said
three of the blasts affected the conveyor belt used for transporting the
granite to the port. The fourth happened near the guard-house. A team of
forensic specialists from Medan are now in Karimun to investigate the

In an interview with Indonesian newspaper Kompas, the police chief said
foul play was suspected.

In 2000, Hong Leong Asia acquired a majority stake in PT Karimun Granite -
the largest hard rock quarry operation in South-east Asia - to supply the
increasing demand for marine rocks for reclamation works in Singapore as
well as raw materials for the group's other operations.

Following the ban on sand exports, Indonesia has been talking in recent
weeks of a ban on granite exports for environmental reasons.


Not An Easy Route To Green Buildings

26 March 2007

Wong Siew Ying

A PROPOSED law on green buildings would see minimum standards being set
for future developments - yet even with the savings these eco-friendly
buildings could bring, not everyone is ready to go green.

Industry watchers point out that the construction sector would need to use
less labour-intensive materials. Architects would have to look beyond
aesthetics and functionality. Material suppliers and developers would have
to be more innovative.

Said Mr Tai Lee Siang, president of the Singapore Institute of Architects:
"We have to start looking at alternative (or) recyclable materials and
materials that help us to cut energy usage. Developers can start by
looking at how to re-package their buildings and make green features

While it is estimated that adopting green features could raise
construction costs by 5 to 10 per cent, energy savings could amount to 15
per cent over 20 years.

And being green would be good for Singapore in other ways as well. Said Mr
Nicholas Mak, Knight Frank's property analyst: "The introduction of more
green features in our buildings may actually increase our competitiveness
vis-a-vis our neighbours."

Pollution in Hong Kong saw the city drop drastically in last year's
rankings of the most attractive locations for expatriates, with some
relocating to cleaner Singapore.

Industry players also felt there was a need for more incentives to
encourage owners to add green features to their buildings - for example,
better insulation and a more energy efficient air-conditioning system.

Greening efforts should also extend to residential projects as Singapore
has one of the highest heat emissions due to air conditioning, said Mr
Tai. Improving ventilation and building facades would reduce the need for
air conditioning. - Channel NewsAsia

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Drought Hits Three Gorges Dam

23 March 2007

BEIJING - Prolonged drought along the Yangtze has reduced China's longest
river to record lows, triggering a debate over the Three Gorges dam's
ability to generate power, state media said yesterday.

The Yangtze fell to its lowest level last year since records began in
1877, but a dam official told the Xinhua news agency that power generation
in the Three Gorges area would not be affected.

"There have never been two successive years when a serious drop in the
amount of water flowing into the mainstream of the Yangtze has occurred,"
said the official. "So, I believe it is unlikely there will be a
significant drop in the inflow of water into the Three Gorges Reservoir
from the upper reaches this year."

But observers say such arguments are based on historical data and fail to
consider the more recent issue of climate change.

Over 2.6 million people upstream from the dam have been facing water
shortages since late February, according to the agency. - AFP


Cashing In On Biodiesel

22 March 2007

Van Der Horst to build a $60m plant on Jurong Island

Yip Siew Joo

BANKING on the potential of clean energy, homegrown company Van Der Horst
Engineering Services is the latest to jump onto the bio-diesel bandwagon.

It is planning to build a US$40 million ($61 million) bio-diesel
processing plant on Jurong Island and is in the process of acquiring a 4.5
hectare piece of land from the Government. The company - a unit of the Van
Der Horst Group - is talking to EDB and JTC to buy the land.

According to the company, it will be the first bio-diesel processing
facility in Singapore that will use the oil-seed jatropha curcas plant as
feed-stock. This goes against the trend in the region to make bio-diesel
with palm oil. The facility is expected to be ready by December next year.

The investment into bio-diesel comes some 10 years after Singapore-listed
Van Der Horst went into judicial management. The listed vehicle was later
sold and re-named Interra Resources.

But the operating units in China, India, Philippines, Singapore and
Holland were sold in 2000 to another group of investors. The company has
since gone about its business quietly, retaining its name and trademark,
and branching into bio-diesel now.

For a start, the new plant will churn out some 100,000 metric tonnes of
bio-diesel, before it ramps up to 200 thousand metric tonnes at the end of

Van Der Horst will set up a joint venture firm - called Van Der Horst
BioDiesel - with a Nanyang Technological University-linked technology
development company, the Institute of Environmental Science and
Engineering. The institute owns 10 per cent of the JV, and the Van Der
Horst group owns the rest. The institute will give R&D support to the
joint venture, and spearhead the adoption and implementation of an
enzyme-based production process.

CEO of the joint venture Mr Peter Cheng said the firm will produce
bio-diesel for Singapore-based oil companies. "Our first intention was to
export to the European market. But subsequently, we had a lot of local
interest expressing to take our product locally - the oil refineries and
the oil traders," he said.

The firm is so confident about demand for biodiesel that it is also
exploring building another processing facility in the Johor Iskandar
Development Region.

Mr Cheng said the group will fund its projects with internal resources and
private equity. Options include listing the JV either at home or on
London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) for start-up companies.

- 938LIVE

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Gm Mosquitoes Could Beat Malaria

21 March 2007 (TODAY)

LONDON - Mosquitoes genetically engineered to resist a malaria-causing
parasite may offer a new weapon in the fight against one of the developing
world's biggest killers. Such mosquitoes, which have an impaired ability
to transmit the Plasmodium parasite, were hardier and capable of producing
more offspring than insects found in the wild, according to researchers at
Johns Hopkins University.

The findings, published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, are important because they show that, when feeding on
blood infected with the malaria parasite, the genetically modified (GM)
mosquito has a survival advantage over its non-modified counterpart.

This is in contrast to previous studies suggesting that GM mosquitoes are
inherently weaker than non- modified ones.

The next challenge is to devise a means by which the parasite-resistant
genes can be introduced to mosquito populations in the field. - Bloomberg


Dialect Clash?

21 March 2007

Taiwan to stop recognising Mandarin as sole official language in move set
to anger China

TAIPEI - Taiwan plans to abandon its long-standing policy of recognising
Mandarin as the island's only official language, Premier Su Tseng-chang
said yesterday in a move that would likely anger rival China.

Mr Su said the Cabinet is examining a draft for a National Language
Development Act to promote the use of local dialects and prohibit
linguistic discrimination.

"Taiwan is a plural society and all languages should have equal standing
and be respected and supported," Mr Su said, indicating an intention to
confer equal status on the Taiwanese dialect - Fukienese, as well as

Such a move would likely be denounced by Beijing, which regards Taiwan as
part of its territory and opposes any efforts by the island's leadership
to loosen cultural and other bonds.

Mandarin has been Taiwan's official language since 1949, when the Chinese
Nationalist Government lost the Chinese Civil War and fled to Taiwan to
set up its government-in-exile.

Mr Chiu Chuang-liang, director of the Cabinet's council for Cultural
Planning and Development, told Parliament that under the revised Language
Development Bill, Taiwan will stop defining Mandarin - the lingua franca
of China - as the "national language".

Instead, it will list Mandarin, Fukienese, Hakka and Taiwan's aboriginal
tongues as its national languages, Mr Chiu said. He denied that scrapping
Mandarin as the national language is part of Taipei's policy of disowning
Chinese influence but to protect endangered languages.

"United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has
listed Taiwan's aboriginal languages as facing extinction. So the
amendment is to protect different languages and to make them equal," he

Mr Su's announcement is consistent with recent efforts to distance Taiwan
from mainland China in the run-up to this December's legislative elections
and next year's presidential poll.

The push for independence has become more stark under the leadership of Mr
Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party, which took over from
the Kuomintang Nationalist Party in 2000.

- Agencies


Mighty Rivers Running Dry

21 March 2007

Dams, climate change among threats facing Asia's waterways

GENEVA - Five rivers in Asia serving over 870 million people are among the
most threatened in the world, as dams, water extraction and climate change
all take their toll, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said yesterday.

The Yangtze, Salween-Nu, Indus, Ganges and Mekong-Lancang rivers make up
half of the WWF's 10 most threatened river basins, which "either already
suffer most grievously under the weight of these threats or are bracing
for the heaviest impacts", the WWF said in a report.

Governments are not doing enough to prevent freshwater systems from being
overexploited, the WWF said. As a result, about a fifth of the world's
10,000 freshwater species have either become extinct or are now

Only 21 of Earth's 177 longest rivers run freely from source to sea, with
dams and other forms of human construction destroying the habitats of
migratory fish and other species by altering the water's natural ebb and

The director of the WWF's Global Freshwater Programme, Mr Jamie Pittock,
said the threats facing river basins are varied and interlinked. He said
these problems require holistic policies, rather than efforts that target
just one aspect but can end up being counter-productive.

For example, "as governments become concerned about climate change
reducing water run-off, they build more dams to store more water, which
then results in more water being extracted from the rivers and so builds
up more ecological problems", Mr Pittock said. Many governments are also
focusing on hydro-electric power plants as a "clean" source of energy, but
this means more dams, which kill off fish populations, he added.

He warned of "dire consequences" if the situation is left unchecked, with
increasing risk of conflict over access to water, as well as the spread of
disease and a fall in nutrition standards.

The report highlighted water extraction, dams and climate change as the
threats that will have the most impact on people, though invasive species
and pollution also pose serious problems. This is particularly true for
China's Yangtze River basin. Decades of industrialisation, damming and the
huge influx of sediment from land conversion, have made the Yangtze one of
the world's most polluted rivers. - AGENCIES

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Stepping Up To The Mark

21 March 2007

Govt may revise Building Act to drive environmental sustainability in

IS GOING green worth the cost? The Government certainly thinks so. Despite
the slightly higher construction costs of environmentally-friendly
buildings, it is embarking on a greater push for such buildings, with
tighter legislation on the cards.

For a start, the Government is considering making changes to the Building
Control Act to impose minimum requirements on environmental
sustainability. These requirements would apply to new buildings and
existing ones undergoing retrofitting.

"There will be some cost impact, but we believe that on an overall basis,
(builders) will be able to recoup the higher upfront costs through lower
operating costs over the life of the building. In fact, within a short
period, they'll be able to recoup that," said Minister of State for
National Development Grace Fu, at a Green Mark Seminar yesterday.

The Building Control Act could also be extended to prevent the
proliferation of inefficient air-conditioning systems. This would affect
buildings such as residential, institutional and industrial buildings,
which were largely naturally ventilated in the past.

But even as the Government is reviewing its current regulatory framework,
it is embarking on a comprehensive outreach programme to educate the
public on the benefits of going green.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has launched an info-portal
at www.greenmark.sg to promote the Green Mark, an award given to
environmentally-friendly buildings by the BCA, as the standard for local

Said Ms Fu: "Ultimately, it is consumer demand that will motivate
developers to go beyond the basic requirements to develop a highly
sustainable built environment."

She urged Singapore construction firms to adopt waste-recycling measures
and switch to alternative construction materials, adding that "the recent
Indonesian ban on the export of concreting sand and the disruption in
granite supply serve as timely wake-up calls".

Waste recycling is mandatory in the construction process in countries such
as Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.

"We must quickly switch to sustainable construction. Instead of relying on
concrete as the main construction material, we have to make use of
alternative materials, including steel, other metals, glass and
composites," Ms Fu said.

While steel structures are commonly used in the United States, only 5 per
cent of buildings in Singapore are constructed using steel. - 938Live,
Channel NewsAsia

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The Clock Is Ticking Fast And Singapore Needs A Voice

19 March 2007

Timing is right for the little red dot to go green in a big way

P N Balji
Editorial Director

WITH the kind of ideological clarity and intellectual unity being shown by
most of the world's politicians, businessmen and scientists on a single
topic, the time has come for Singapore to play a bigger role in the world
debate on the environment, both locally and internationally.

The way climate has been playing havoc with the lives of millions of
people in the world topped the list of global concerns at the recent World
Economic Forum at Davos. The serious threat, especially the link between
the release of greenhouse gases and human activity, on planet Earth is now
clear to the scientific community, whose Fourth Assessment was released
earlier this year by the world panel of experts.

The politicians have started hugging green, too. In Australia, England,
Germany and San Francisco, the sometimes jingoistic embrace of The Next
Big Issue makes it difficult to differentiate the colours of competing

And businessmen are seeing money in fuel-efficient cars, solar power and
bio fuels and in branding their companies as those with a corporate
mission to save the Earth. With US$1.28 billion ($1.95 billion) in venture
capital being pumped into clean technology - although this is a small drop
in the US$34-billion ocean of total venture capital outlay - the economic
interest can only grow.

Where do all these put Singapore, an establishment that takes pride in
positioning itself as a trend-spotter, not just a trend-chaser? One of the
concrete steps Singapore has taken is where it is most vulnerable:
Reclaimed land. Such land is designed to be a consistent 125cm above sea
level, about two times the worst-case scenario identified by world

A two-year study on better understanding the new climate menace to the
planet and a public consultation to come out with a national strategy are
in the works.

Despite such moves, climate change is hardly in the national

Two reasons might explain this apathy.

One, Singapore is too small a country in size and voice to play a role
because its carbon emissions, compared to those released by bigger
culprits such as the United States, China and India, are puny.

Two, this whole climate debate is like chasing the colours of the rainbow,
with still no irrefutable evidence of the effect the melting of ice caps
has on sunlight, the release of greenhouse gases has on global warming -
and, eventually, the link with the dismay and destruction caused to human
lives through hurricanes, haze and other natural disasters.

On both counts, there is a need for a rethink. Our short history has
enough examples of Singapore playing a role bigger than its size. Mr S
Rajaratnam's leading voice in the international community warning that
communist Vietnam would create a domino effect on the rest of South-east
Asia to Professor Tommy Koh's leadership of the Law of the Sea conference
are just two examples. And this country has never been coy about peering
into the crystal ball and coming up with a winner before others could see

So, what should Singapore do?

First, we should relook the role of our custodian of the environment, the
National Environment Agency (NEA). Today, its portfolio extends to
mosquitoes, flies, rats, littering and hawker food. Of the five press
releases it sent out this year, not one was on the environment. Three were
on dengue and mosquitoes, one on hawkers and the last on litter. The time
has come for the NEA to be a truly National Environment Agency and not a
Nearly Everything Agency. The other roles, which are essentially of a
public health nature, can be hived off to be dealt with by another new
agency under the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.

The environment agency should be given two roles, one local and the other
international. With Germany pushing Europe to take on a leadership role in
the climate campaign, this might be an opportunity for Singapore to be
part of what Nobel laureate Joseph E Stiglitz calls a "coalition of the

It could, as the professor of economics at Columbia University says,
persuade countries to stop building coal-fired plants, increase fuel
efficiency of motor vehicles and provide assistance to developing
countries to improve energy efficiency and cut emissions.

A lot of hot air? With the western world in the mood to act and
politicians looking to rekindle voters with a new manifesto, the timing
may just be right.

Locally, the NEA should come up with a clear strategy to save our
environment by tapping on the young - especially those who have come back
from studying and working overseas - with a cool, hip and committed view
on rubbish disposal, plastics and trees.

This growing group is now so disparate that they disappear into the
woodwork once they return to Singapore because there is nothing to
motivate or pressure them to remain committed to going green.

Timing is everything these days. With the clock ticking fast, Singapore
needs to start projecting a higher profile now on this Mission to Save The

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S'pore Firms In Oil Exploration Deal With Myanmar: Report

March 19, 2007

YANGON - Two Singaporean-registered companies with a link to Russia have
signed a deal for offshore oil and gas exploration in Myanmar, state media
reported on Saturday.

Silver Wave Energy and Silver Wave Sputnik Petroleum have signed a deal
with the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), according to a
report from the New Light of Myanmar.

The newspaper gave no details of the deal, saying only that it was signed
by the Energy Minister from the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, Mr Boris
Chedyrov; chairman of Silver Wave Energy U Min Min Aung and MOGE managing
director Myint Kyi. - AP

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A Stroll Along Singapore's North Coast

19 March 2007

URA's plan to develop Woodlands waterfront will give residents another
recreational getaway

Leong Wee Keat

SUN, surf and turf. That is the enticement awaiting Singaporeans living in
the north.

And the wait may not be too long for residents of Sembawang, Woodlands and
the surrounding area if a proposal to develop a 1.5-km long coastal
promenade and a park the size of 12 football fields takes root.

Leisurely strolls along widened footpaths and picnics in open spaces
fronting the Republic's northern coast could become a reality in three
years following the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) call for
professional consultancy services to develop the waterfront along
Admiralty Road West.

Existing structures along the coast will be redeveloped, discarded state
buildings put to commercial use and an existing jetty enhanced to include
a lookout point.

The URA said in its project brief that construction of the Woodlands
waterfront is scheduled to start in July next year and completed by June

The proposed developments at the Woodlands waterfront were first raised
four years ago as part of a review of the URA Master Plan, which aims to
make the area more attractive and provide an additional recreational
getaway for residents living in the north.

A URA spokesman said the project is "preliminary and by no means

Woodlands residents and Sembawang GRC Members of Parliament welcomed the
plan to develop the waterfront.

Bank administrative officer Cynthia Lim, who lives in nearby Marsiling,
said the coastal park would open up new recreational possibilities for her

"With the new development, my family won't have to travel to Pasir Ris
Park or the East Coast for our picnics," she said. "Water sports could
also increase the fun for us."

About 217,000 residents living in the Woodlands area are currently served
by a number of inland parks.

But MP Hawazi Daipi, chairman of the Sembawang Town Council, said a
coastal park would bring variety and quality recreational facilities to
the north.

"The coastal promenade and park will be a great facility for not only
residents in Marsiling Estate but also for those living in other parts of
Woodlands New Town," he said.

"Residents will have a new and good coastal park to jog or relax in, and
an alternative recreational facility."

Dr Lim Wee Kiak, another MP, added that urban planners could look more
towards the seaside promenades as added recreational facilities for

"Although Sembawang GRC faces the northern straits, we are not using it
fully," he said. "It's such a waste as the environment is quite nice in
the evening."

The URA, however, recognises that the coastal stretch is currently
inaccessible to the public as there are few bus services plying the area.

Besides adding parking facilities along Admiralty Road West, the URA hopes
that accessibility will be improved when the park connector along
Woodlands Centre Road is built by NParks.

The 24.5-ha Admiralty Park, currently under construction, will also
provide a link-way from the Woodlands regional centre, about 1km away from
the waterfront.



Building industry may not be ready for proposed new law for green buildings: experts

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia
25 March 2007

Buildings in Singapore still have some way to go where environmentally-friendly features are concerned.

Observers say that currently, the industry may not be ready for the proposed new legislation for green buildings.

The government is proposing to set minimum standards for buildings in future developments so that Singapore can have more eco-friendly buildings.

Such buildings and the technology within them are helping to save a fair bit of money every day.

The Republic Polytechnic in Woodlands, which clinched a Green Mark Award last year, is an example of an eco-friendly building in Singapore.

Said Laurence Tan, Republic Polytechnic's Senior Manager for Facilities Management & Security, "We actually have thermal energy storage system, where you can actually save $380,000 per year on utility bills. We have pneumatic waste system where.....we did away with the bin centre. We have irrigation system where it collects rainwater and Newater to irrigate the plants."

More of such green buildings can be expected if the legislation comes through.

But industry watchers say not everyone is fully prepared to be green.

They say the construction sector, for instance, will need to use less labour- intensive materials.

Architects will have to look beyond aesthetics and functionality.

Material suppliers and developers have to be more innovative in the way they work.

Said Tai Lee Siang, President of Singapore Institute of Architects, "We got to start looking at alternative materials, recyclable materials and materials that help us to cut energy usage. And this is the area where I feel that research and development is very necessary. Developers can start by looking at how to re-package their buildings and make green features marketable features."

Adopting green features is estimated to raise construction costs by some 5 to 10 percent.

But the sweetener is the potential long-term energy savings of 10 to 15 percent over 20 years.

Experts say being green will be good for Singapore.

Said Nicholas Mak, Knight Frank's property analyst, "Take Hong Kong, they are actually affected by pollution, while Singapore is going in a more green and environmental way. So, in a way, the introduction of more green features into our buildings may actually increase our competitiveness vis-a-vis our neighbours."

Still, developing green buildings is but a start.

Industry players say it is also important to educate the masses to embrace environmentally-friendly practices.

There is also a need to offer more incentives to encourage existing property owners to add green features to their buildings, for example better insulation and more energy efficient air conditioning system.

Mr Tai said that greening efforts should also extend to residential projects as Singapore has one of the highest heat emissions due to air conditioning.

So efforts must be made in terms of improving ventilation and building facades to reduce the need for air conditioning. - CNA/ir

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Nature conservationists focus on seagrass to preserve eco-system

By Noor Mohd Aziz, Channel NewsAsia
24 March 2007

SINGAPORE: There is a new conservation buzz in town, and it is all about seagrass.

It is pure unbridled passion for nature conservation that has brought a group of nearly 30 volunteers together on a hot Saturday afternoon.

They are attending a workshop on documenting and collecting specimens of seagrass.

For the uninitiated - seagrass is a flowering marine plant.

Found mostly around Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin, it acts as a buffer between the coral grove and the mangrove swamp.

It is also found at the Pulau Semakau landfill - where they provide food for marine animals - and act as a nestling ground for small fish.

"Seagrass help support our biodiversity and they help support our fish and prawn and other animals," says Dr Len McKenzie, Principal Scientist and Seagrass-Watch Programme Leader.

"They are also supporting our endangered species like dugong and turtle which certainly pass through the waters of Singapore as they move between Malaysia and Indonesia. So it is very important that Singapore retain some of these green pockets of Seagrass, if you like, to ensure the sustainability of our ocean, sustainability of our fisheries and sustainability of our endangered species," Dr McKenzie continues.

This humble seagrass has also put Singapore on the world map.

Nearly one-sixth of all seagrass species is found in Singapore - including half of all species in the Indo-Pacific region.

"That's the area stretching all the way from India all the way to the North America, and South America. So it is an important component of global bio-diversity," says Dr Nigel Goh, Head (Marine), NParks.

The volunteers are up early the next morning to take a trip to Pulau Semakau to see firsthand, the seagrass habitat.

Says Siti Maryam Yaakub, Team Seagrass Coordinator, "Team Seagrass covers a new niche in the local conservation scene because the past 5-10 years or so since Chek Jawa had been put on deferment, you actually have a lot of awareness programmes and, I think that a step ahead of awareness is actually being proactive in monitoring the environment, in doing something tangible. So that's how Team Seagrass actually fills the niche and that's why we have so many volunteers as well."

Another volunteer has been publishing books on Singapore's eco-system and donating the proceeds, as much as $70,000, to nature and marine research.

Another $50,000 from his latest book, "Singapore's Splendour-Life on the Edge" has also been committed.

"After I joined the nature society, I was shown whole areas of Singapore that have so much diversity. Chek Jawa first came into the picture then and I was looking at Chek Jawa and that got me started working on the project and got me seeing many things in Chek Jawa which many people never saw because in Chek Jawa and in the inter-tidal areas, we went in very early in the morning - three, four o'clock - and a whole host of things running around, feeding, mating, avoiding us, running all over the place," says Dr Chua Ee Kiam, volunteer and author of "Singapore's Splendour".

"So there is so much, much to see unlike the public which goes in at three, four o'clock in the afternoon-so many things would have hidden.

"When I saw so many things, I decided to document this and this area, and these creatures and after that, decided to do a book on this so that Singaporeans can see for themselves."

And who knows, as Singaporeans become more aware of the rich marine environment around them, this live classroom sessions may well attract more volunteers. - CNA/yy

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Regular ultrasound sessions for pregnant tapir at Singapore Zoo

By Evelyn Choo, Channel NewsAsia
24 March 2007

SINGAPORE : The Singapore Zoo will be welcoming a new addition soon.

A tapir is pregnant at the Zoo.

And to make sure that all goes well, the mother-to-be has been going for regular ultrasound sessions.

Malayan tapir Kharti is a mum-to be, and her newborn is expected to arrive in June.

The three-year-old is pregnant for the first time.

For vets at the Zoo, the close monitoring is unprecedented.

Dr Sonja Luz, Veterinarian, Singapore Zoological Gardens, said, "Monitoring it for that intensively yes, this is the first time. We've done several ultrasounds before on the Night Safari tapirs, but we never followed the pregnancy such as every two weeks, like what we'd do now."

It is all to make sure that Kharti's journey into motherhood proceeds as naturally as possible.

Since tapirs can be aggressive, Kharti had to be distracted with snacks before vets could lure her into the area where her ultrasound was conducted.

The process also went on smoothly because the zookeepers have built a good relationship with the animal.

Dr Sonja Luz said, "I think she's a bit more wary, and she obviously does not allow the male to come close to her as much as she would have before, and I think overall she's still the same...she was very calm when we just did the ultrasound but yes, maybe a bit more wary of the whole situation."

The tapir is an endangered species, as much of its habitat in Southeast Asia has been wiped out. - CNA/ms


What It Means To Have 6.5m Population

Four in 10 of the projected population will have to be newcomers

By Saw Swee Hock
Mar 23 2007

THE magic number of 6.5 million, which surfaced recently as a population
planning parameter for the Singapore Government for the next 40 to 50
years, has intrigued many and sparked considerable public discussion. For
any discussion to be fruitful, however, it is imperative for all concerned
to appreciate the basic population dynamics underlying this pronouncement.

In 2005, the total population of Singapore was 4.35 million, with 3.55
million residents (citizens and Permanent Residents) and 0.8 million
non-residents. My latest projection, based on total fertility rate (TFR)
remaining constant at the current level of 1.31, reveals that the resident
population will increase from the current number to the peak of 3.64
million in 2015. Thereafter, it will start to decline continuously to
touch the low of 2.86 million in 2050.

The fact that TFR has consistently stayed below the replacement level of
2.1 since 1975 has made it impossible for the resident population to
replenish itself through natural increase alone (births minus deaths)
after 2015. Thereafter, the resident population can only grow with the
addition of net migrational inflow (immigrants minus emigrants). To be
precise, we need about 0.78 million - the difference of the resident
population high of 3.64 and the low of 2.86 in 2050 - newcomers to enter
Singapore after 2015 just to ensure that the resident population stays
stationary at 3.64 million until 2050.

Assuming that the non-resident population rises from 0.80 million in 2005
to 1.01 million in 2015, the total population will amount to 4.65 million
in 2015. However, if we want this total population to expand to 6.5
million in 2050, we will require an additional influx of 1.85 million
newcomers after 2015. These newcomers may become PRs or even citizens,
while others may remain as non-residents.

Taken together, the total number of newcomers needed to swell the total
population to 6.5 million in 2050 will be as large as 2.63 million
(0.78+1.85). This will have a major impact on the future composition of
the population, with the proportion of newcomers arriving after 2015
constituting some 40.5 per cent of the total population in 2050 - the
highest Singapore would have seen.

If we target a smaller figure of 5.5 million in 2050, the total number of
newcomers needed after 2015 will be less, at 1.63 million. In this case,
their share of the total population in 2050 will also be lower, at 29.6
per cent.

These calculations, however, are mere projections. In reality, how many
newcomers will pick Singapore as their home - whether for a year or for
good - will be dependent on economic conditions prevailing in the country
and the world at large, which will determine the future demand for foreign
labour. As such, it is almost impossible to ascertain the inflow of
newcomers for the next 40 to 50 years.

Population expert Saw Swee Hock is a Professorial Fellow in the Institute
of Southeast Asian Studies. This article, written for Today, is a summary
of the results of his latest population projection that will appear in the
second edition of his book, The Population of Singapore, scheduled to be
published in the second half of this year.

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Singapore's ability to plan ahead puts it in good stead

By Hasnita A Majid, Channel NewsAsia
23 March 2007

SINGAPORE: The plans to optimise the use of land and space for long-term residential, commercial and industrial development right from the beginning have put Singapore in good stead.

According to an international expert, it has enabled the country to fully utilise its land as the population grows.

Building world-class housing needs extensive planning. And Singapore has managed to do that right from the start when it was looking for ways to house its population in the early years of independence.

Master plans were developed, encompassing not just housing, but also infrastructure and amenities needed by residents such as roads, facilities and schools.

This kind of planning – using an inter-disciplinary approach known as 'systems engineering' – has enabled Singapore to replicate such towns rapidly.

Teo Chee Hean, Defence Minister, said: "This approach also looked beyond the physical aspect of housing. We devoted as much attention to how public housing could foster social cohesion in multi-racial Singapore.

"This encouraged interaction between residents from different racial and socio-economic backgrounds because they shared the same amenities such as markets, community centres and schools."

A similar approach was used in areas such as water management and defence capabilities.

Mr Teo said the systems approach has enabled the country to manage its drainage, water catchment, purification and sewage treatment as part of a single system.

From there, Singapore could develop the Four National Taps Strategy, comprising water from the local catchment areas, imported water, recycled water and desalinated water.

In the defence area, a life-cycle management approach was implemented in the early 80s.

This looked at new capabilities from conception to retirement, taking into account not just the cost of the platform but also the cost of infrastructure, logistics, training, operations and manpower, to ensure life-cycle cost effectiveness.

A similar approach was also taken when it came to buying defence equipment.

Dr Yeoh Lean Weng, Systems Architect, Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), said: "What you need to do is you need to make sure that all these systems operate coherently. It can be integrated in a coherent manner so that it acts as a multiplying effect to increase the war-fighting capability many times. Each individual component will perform if it is operated in an independent mode.

Singapore also applied this concept in the planning of its transport network. This has provided the flexibility in managing the demand and supply for land utilisation.

For example, the Area Licensing Scheme implemented in 1975 was replaced by the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) which was also extended to expressways as well as arterial roads during peak hours.

A systems engineering expert feels Singapore's success in implementing this approach can be used as a model for other countries, especially developing countries.

Professor Patrick Hale, President Elect, International Council on Systems Engineering, said: "By applying these kinds of changes at the beginning, you can end up with the results you were looking for the first time rather than having to re-engineer many times over in order to get to the goal that you set for yourselves.

"I think probably the best example in this region is Singapore. They have planned much of what they've done with their social, economic and industrial structure and defence since they became a nation and it has shown in the way that they've created a stable and enduring and supportable way to move forward as a society."

Singapore's success stories in large-scale systems engineering projects include Changi Airport and the land reclamation and development of the new Marina Bay downtown area.

The DSTA said many of these are being used as case studies by other countries.

More than 100 representatives from 13 countries including Australia, UK, the US, Indonesia and Japan are in Singapore to attend the two-day conference on Systems Engineering.

This is the first time that Singapore is selected to host the conference. In the past, regional conferences were held in Australia.

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New web portal launched to promote community engagement efforts

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia
24 March 2007

SINGAPORE : Community engagement in Singapore is going into cyberspace, with the launch of a web portal called Singapore United.

It was launched by Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng at the National Seminar on the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) on Saturday.

Recent surveys have shown that Singaporeans respect each other's faiths, beliefs and practices.

But Mr Wong said this was not static or permanent.

Addressing religious leaders and representatives from the media, businesses, schools and grassroots organisations, Mr Wong reiterated the need to guard against terrorist threats.

One way was to keep everyone informed and connected.

Hence, the launch of Singapore United, a platform to share ideas and check out a host of community engagement activities.

Mr Wong said that the name Singapore United was inspired by comments and suggestions from members of the media.

The website may also serve as an avenue to disseminate information in times of crisis or to educate the young.

Abdul Mutalif Hashim, Chairman, Inter-Racial Confidence Circle, Choa Chua Kang RC, said, "The young, they like to surf. A lot of these websites, there's no limitation, there's a lot of negative element in these websites. So if you have this portal, we try to portray the positive side, balance their thinking."

Mr Wong noted that many people have volunteered to help since the CEP was launched a year ago.

Although he was heartened by what has been achieved, he stressed that maintaining good communal relations was always a work in progress.

Mr Wong said that on the whole, Singaporeans of all races and religions behaved responsibly and acted with restraint, ensuring that conflicts outside of Singapore do not trigger insensitive actions here.

While it is not possible to isolate the community from such conflicts, Mr Wong emphasised that there is a line that must not be crossed.

He added, "And the line is simple - our priority is to our own society and the safety and security of Singaporeans, regardless of their race and religion. We may offer aid or comfort to the victims of violence. We could do so openly and through responsible channels so that our efforts will not be subverted. We must not cross the line to support radical organisations preaching religious hatred of others or participate in terrorist acts of violence against others."

The priority, Mr Wong said, must be the safety and security of Singaporeans

But the people must recognise that the city-state could be hit by terrorists - and this was why they must be prepared to prevent reckless behaviour on the ground.

Sebastian Chua, Chairman, Inter-Racial Confidence Circle, Punggol South RC, said, "We could have more community-bonding activities. At the same time, we are planning to fulfil our role basically as an ambassador or counsellor in the event of any tension. Of course this inter-faith platform will also go a long way to diffuse any crisis."

At a closed door dialogue later, participants agreed that grassroots leaders needed to be more pro-active, and work with schools to reach out to the young. - CNA/ms

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PUB receives feedback on how to transform drains, reservoirs

19 March 2007 (CNA)

SINGAPORE : The Public Utilities Board (PUB) has received feedback from more than 1,500 people on how to transform Singapore's drains, canals and reservoirs.

The PUB said many of the suggestions for the "Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters projects" revolved around what it was like in the old kampung days, where children used to play by the drains and canals.

Some also wanted to see more cultural activities along the banks, nature trails, boardwalks by the water, and more water sports.

Another idea - a permanent exhibition to educate the public, especially the younger generation, on important issues such as keeping the waters clean and how to have fun safely.

The campaign, which plans to transform Singapore's drains, canals and reservoirs into streams, rivers and lakes, was launched last month at the Asian Civilisation Museum.

More than 100 spots have been identified by the PUB as potential sites for the projects.

The PUB said it would implement more than 20 projects over the next five years. - CNA /ls

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Singapore not spared from Thailand's worst haze in 14 years

By Sheralyn Tay, TODAY
20 March 2007

As thick smoke from forest fires and slash-and-burn farming cloaks Thailand in its worst haze in 14 years. Singapore, too, has not been spared.

The Republic experienced a slightly hazy start to the week, with the overall PSI just falling out of the "good" range.

At 7pm yesterday, the PSI reading went into the "moderate" range for a reading of 52 — the highest level in March.

It was the third consecutive day of slightly hazy conditions, with the 24-hour PSI ranging from 42 to 44 over the weekend. On Sunday, the smell of smoke could be detected in areas like Orchard Road and Toa Payoh.

According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), "smoke haze particles" from fires in the northern Asean region are being carried over by mild winds, contributing to hazy conditions.

"The weakening winds, which is typical during the transition from the north-east monsoon to the inter-monsoon during this period, has not helped in dispersing the smoke haze particles," said an NEA spokesperson.

Over in northern Thailand, the choking haze has disrupted air travel, and health warnings have been issued advising children and the elderly to remain indoors or use masks. Even healthy adults have been asked to cease all exercise outdoors.

Experts believe that the extended winter is trapping smoke close to the cold ground and preventing it from dissipating into the atmosphere. The cold is also pushing the smoke down into low-lying areas. The haze has affected some five million people in Chiang Mai and parts of Laos and Myanmar. Media reports said that more than 13,000 have sought medical treatment for haze-related illness.

But here in Singapore, some did not even notice the hazy weather — although it still made its presence felt. Asthmatic Chris Dubberke, 27, had some difficulty breathing yesterday and had to use his inhaler pump, but did not realise the cause was the haze.

But still, he does not foresee a return of last October's haze — where PSI levels hit 136, a record high for the year. "It's not the first time Singapore has experienced the haze, so every time there are reports of haze I take the necessary precautions," said the psychology student.

The NEA has said that it will continue to monitor the situation closely. -TODAY/na


Government may legislate Green Mark requirements on buildings

By Tung Shing Yi, Channel NewsAsia
20 March 2007

SINGAPORE: Plans are in the pipeline to make all new buildings in Singapore environmentally friendly.

While this may mean higher development costs, Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu said long-term cost savings would be greater than the upfront costs.

The government is considering making changes to the Building Control Act to mandate new buildings to be environmentally friendly.

Such 'green buildings' would be energy-efficient and provide lower water consumption and better indoor environmental quality.

The move has resulted in a growing demand for environmental building consultancy services.

Vincent Low, Director of Business Development at C-Energy Global, said: "Because of this incentive, I found developers looking for energy consultants to help them look into the plant, and to work together to make sure the design is effective and efficient."

The green-building consultancy firm said it expects a two- or threefold increase in business in the next three years.

The government said it is committed to achieving high standards in construction sustainability.

While a 'green building' would involve higher construction costs, experts said the operational savings would more than offset the higher initial costs.

Meanwhile, Singapore construction firms have also been urged to adopt waste recycling measures and switch to alternative construction materials.

The latest call came from Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu at an industry event on Tuesday.

She said: "We have a big building programme in the pipeline, and it must be (done) in a sustainable way. The recent Indonesian ban on export of concreting sand, and the disruption in granite supply serve as timely wake-up calls.

"We must quickly switch to sustainable construction. Instead of relying on concrete as the main construction material, we have to make use of alternative materials, including steel, other metals, glass and composites."

Currently, only 5 percent of buildings in Singapore are constructed using steel, compared to the US where steel structures are commonly used.

Waste recycling is mandatory in the construction process in countries like Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.

- CNA/so

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EDB to reveal blueprint for clean energy industry next week

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
20 March 2007

SINGAPORE: The government is set to announce the clean energy industry blueprint early next week.

This follows the announcement by a council chaired by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Singapore will go big on clean energy to boost its economy.

Engineering experts said it is a step in the right direction.

In fact, tertiary institutions are already planning to groom the manpower needed for this new growth sector.

Environmentalists said clean energy helps to lower the emission of harmful greenhouse gasses.

And there are tangible benefits for the economy as well.

Singapore, blessed with many sunny days, is poised to gain, especially in growing the solar energy sector.

Experts also believe that Singapore is ready for this, given the technologies available here.

Professor Seeram Ramakrishna, Environmental and Water Technologies EXCO, National Research Foundation, said: "We have a very strong microelectronics industry which is based on silicon technology, and solar cell technology is really based on the silicon material. So we have strong accumulated engineering capabilities and that gives an extra edge in focusing on solar energy as one of the important areas.

"Solar energy research is going on across the campus in a couple of departments. For example, our material science and engineering, and our chemical engineering departments are primarily focusing on new material systems that absorb the light energy and convert into electricity."

Experts added that Singapore has much to gain by collaborating closely with countries which are leaders in the use of solar energy such as Japan, Germany and the United States.

By working closely with them, Singapore can harness certain technology areas which have yet to make their way here.

These disciplines include engaging those with expertise in electrical and materials engineering.

According to the government, close to 7,000 jobs could be created by 2015 in this new growth sector.

Dr Ng Eng Hen, Manpower Minister, said: "I think Singaporeans are very adaptable and once you put the training structures and right message, they will respond accordingly. I am quite optimistic about the next five years. We have made the right decisions and I think as we continue doing what we have done, we will reap the fruits of our investments."

Academics are confident that the government can work with the industry to prepare Singapore for the clean energy market.

"More talented Singaporean students will come in, and these students as well as a critical mass of faculty members working closely with the funding agencies, can participate in the process of bringing in this particular growth area into fruition," said Professor Seeram Ramakrishna.

A spokesman for the Economic Development Board (EDB) said it is definitely in talks with a number of major clean energy companies, both foreign and local.

EDB also hopes to announce some of these projects by the end of this year.

The Board believes that clean energy companies will benefit if they locate their operations in Singapore since Singapore can provide complex manufacturing expertise, an extensive supplier base and intellectual property protection.

Meanwhile, EDB also added that the clean energy sector currently falls under the New Businesses group in the organisation of the economic agency.

The New Businesses group in EDB focuses on two main strategic thrusts.

First, establishing new economic wealth generators for Singapore and second, to establish a first mover industry presence for Singapore in emerging or new industries, businesses and markets that Singapore is well-positioned to take advantage of and which also create the type of high-end jobs that would appeal to Singaporeans.

- CNA/so

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Singapore's aim to be world class has exceeded past standards: Kishore

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
21 March 2007

SINGAPORE: Singapore as a garden city, a water city and a place where the East meets West.

These are three areas which a leading academic believes will give the Singapore national brand global recognition.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy made these points at a lecture organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) on Wednesday.

Singapore must develop greater self-confidence in its own judgement, argued the country's well-known critic and former ambassador to the United Nations.

And he finds it puzzling that Singapore is still aspiring to be world class when, in many areas, it has exceeded world-class standards.

He said: "In the past, it was good for Singapore to copy the best practices of others. But today, at Singapore's stage of development, it has really got to think twice before copying from others.

"Today, many western cities, including London, believe every good city must have a ferris wheel to show the tourists. So Singapore decides it must have a ferris wheel. Do we really have to copy others?"

Even though Singapore has attained world-class standards in several areas, there is always the word of caution not to become complacent.

That is because the world is always facing new challenges and Singapore and Singaporeans must always continue to adapt to these challenges to ensure that the national flag is always flying high internationally.

And Professor Kishore believes Singapore's neighbours will benefit by engaging the republic.

He said: "One of Singapore's greatest challenges is to demonstrate to its neighbours that the old image of Singapore as being a parasite of the region is wrong and that Singapore actually adds value to the region and doesn't subtract value.

"If Singapore is removed from the map of Southeast Asia, the impact will not be felt just on Singapore, it will be felt by the whole region."

That the Malaysian government has asked Singapore to participate in the Iskandar Development Region is a very positive sign, said Professor Kishore, as it indicates Singapore can contribute to its success.

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Heavy rain may cause flash floods in low-lying areas of Singapore: PUB

22 March 2007 (CNA)

SINGAPORE : The PUB has warned that flash floods may occur in low-lying areas in Singapore due to heavy rain.

According to the Met Service, moderate to heavy showers with thunder over northern and eastern areas of Singapore can be expected between 4pm and 5.30pm. - CNA/ch


New award, magazine launched to raise awareness of water issues

By Julia Ng, Channel NewsAsia
22 March 2007

SINGAPORE: It is World Water Day on March 22 and national water agency PUB has launched two initiatives to raise awareness of water issues in Singapore.

One of them is the PURE magazine, which aims to educate the public, especially the young, on water conservation.

The free street magazine – to be produced quarterly by MediaCorp Publishing – is the first lifestyle magazine that revolves around water.

Targeted at students and young adults on the go, PURE features water activities such as the best fishing spots in Singapore, travel destinations with water attractions, consumer tips on how to save water in the home and interviews with water-loving personalities such as avid wakeboarder and actress, Michelle Chia.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, said: "We want to remind Singaporeans all the time to cherish and treasure our water resource which is available in adequate supply not by accident but by really careful planning. That's one of the reasons why we are launching PURE to complement our other efforts."

The Friends of Water programme was launched on World Water Day last year.

Since then, more than 400 individuals and organisations have been recognised as water-lovers and guardians of the precious resource.

The second initiative that is launched this year is a higher award called the Watermark Award.

It will recognise Friends of Water who go the extra mile for the water cause, such as educating the public on keeping the drains litter-free or rallying the community to clean waterways.

Nominations are open on March 22 and will close on May 15.

More details about the award are available at the PUB website.



M'sia wants tongkat ali to be its GINSENG OF TOMORROW

Plans to use traditional 'Viagra' herb to spearhead push into biotechnology
March 21, 2007
The Electric New Paper

THE herb's name may mean 'walking-stick of Ali' in Malay.

But the traditional herb tongkat ali (above) is what Malaysia is going to run with in its push into biotechnology.

It now faces the challenge of convincing the world that its answer to Viagra is both potent and safe.

As Malaysia looks to biotechnology for economic growth, scientists are taking a harder look at the reputed aphrodisiac qualities of tongkat ali, and they say it could lead to drugs to treat cancer and malaria.

Surging interest in tongkat ali has spawned dozens of products - from pills to beverages - that play up its reputed aphrodisiac properties, and could even threaten the sway of ginseng, a more-widely established herbal product in Asia.

A Malaysian industry and government group says the rapidly-growing global market for aphrodisiacs is worth US$4billion ($6b) and could reach nearly US$7 billion by 2012.

But plans for tongkat ali to grab a share of this pie hinge on proving it is safe.

In Taiwan this year, Taipei city officials banned six brands of coffee from supermarkets because they contained tongkat ali, saying the herb had not been evaluated for safe use, although there were no confirmed reports of side-effects, newspapers said.

The episode in January stirred indignation in Malaysia, where some officials publicly defended the herb, saying its safety and efficacy had been demonstrated by hundreds of years of use.

Others said the incident showed how far Malaysia still has to go to prove its claims for the herb.

Makers of ginseng, which has a global market of US$2 billion a year, according to some industry estimates, would be ruthless in battling competition from tongkat ali, said Mr M Rajen, chief executive of Tropical Botanics.

'What we see in Taiwan and elsewhere is an example of this ruthlessness,' Mr Rajen added.

'Because we have not done our homework, we cannot fight it.'

But Malaysia is confident it will convince the world.

Officials of Power Root Malaysia, which exports drinks containing the herb to Japan and South Korea, have said they are looking to the US and the Middle East.

Tongkat ali, marketed in tablet form, has started to make inroads into Japan, Utusan Malysia reported.

Scientific studies show that concoctions of tongkat ali can help hormone production, making rats and mice more frisky. But researchers say they have yet to prove it can reliably produce the same effect in humans.


MrAbdul Razak, head of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, said: 'For me, (the herbs) gives me the energy to play a game of golf without getting tired, but has no other effects.'

Five years of research studies in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US helped to identify key compounds in the herb, MrRazak said.

'We are now in the process of carrying out clinical studies, and hopefully after some time we might even commercialise this,' he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said in January at the launch of a US$7 million biotech research centre that will study ways to clone the herb: 'One day, tongkat ali will be marketed internationally, even in Harrods of London.' -Reuters


Landslide unearths Yishun burial site

Prayers to free 'lost souls'
Landslide unearths Yishun burial site. It contains 34,000 urns of unclaimed human remains
By Yvonne Poon
March 21, 2007
The Electric New Paper

FOR more than half a century, the remains of 34,000 people lay buried beneath this hill in Yishun.

Unnamed and with no one to mourn their passing, they lay in their resting place until a small landslide earlier this year uncovered a number of earthenware urns.

The hill is near Block 299, at the junction of Yishun Avenue 2 and Yishun Ring Road.

Not many residents living there know about it. There are no headstones and no visitors.

But a nearby temple is planning to hold a prayer ceremony to 'free' the 'lost souls'.

The exposed urns were located along the side of the hill, which is surrounded by blocks of flats and a few temples.

They were sticking out of the ground and caught the eye of one passer-by.

Mr Tye Lee Sun, 55, was on the MRT train with his wife on his way to town when he passed the hill.

The sharp-eyed funeral director from Peace Casket immediately knew what they were.

He said: 'Being in this line, I knew immediately that those urns were used for storing human ashes.

'I felt that the ashes should be handled properly. It's not right to leave them out there like that.

'What was interesting was that these big urns - 75cm high - were only used in olden times to store exhumed bodies. They're not like the 25cm-high urns we use for storing ashes today.'

Mr Tye had been so concerned that he went out of his way to take a closer look at the urns last Tuesday and then called The New Paper Hotline.

When we went there, a marble memorial tower at the main entrance, built 28 years ago, is the only giveaway to the burial site.

Known as the Teochew Memorial Park or Guang De Shan, the park was established in 1909 by Ngee Ann Kongsi, a foundation dedicated to serving the local Teochew community.

The foundation is funded by Orchard Road's Ngee Ann City, according to the foundation's website. The urns were buried there by Ngee Ann Kongsi in 1950.


Mr Baey Theng Mong, 62, administrative secretary, told The New Paper: 'According to our records, there are over 34,000 urns in the memorial park.

'They're all unclaimed remains, so our records don't have their names or information.

'We conduct religious rites to show our respect and thanksgiving for them once a year.'

In 1950, the land on which some Teochew cemeteries were located - ranging from Guang Ren Shan in Changi to Tai Shan Ting in Orchard - was acquired by the Government.

Ngee Ann Kongsi owned those pieces of land. It exhumed and cremated all unclaimed remains from those cemeteries.

The ashes were then placed in urns and buried at Teochew Memorial Park, where they have been since.

Ms Diana Quek, an administrator with Ngee Ann Kongsi, added: 'We know about the uncovered urns. We're trying to resolve the matter, perhaps transfer some of the remains in the old, broken urns to new ones.'

The Nam Hong Siang Theon Temple, which is 500m away from the memorial park, will conduct a prayer session from 31Mar to 2Apr.

The chairman of the organising committee for this ceremony, who gave his name only as Mr Lim, said: 'Over the past years, quite a few businessmen and religious groups in the Yishun area have been asking our temple to conduct these rites for the 'lost souls' buried in this place.

'So early last year, I wrote a letter to Ngee Ann Kongsi asking them for permission to conduct rites there.'

This is the first time they are conducting a prayer ceremony specifically to 'free' the souls rather than merely pay respects.

The ceremony involves 40 religious sects and temples from the Yishun and Sembawang neighbourhoods.

Nor are they limited to only Chinese religious groups. Hindu temples Sreemaha Mariamman and Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar are also taking part.

'It's not necessarily the Chinese who were buried there. Some of them could be foreigners or of different religious denominations and races,' said Mr Lim.

He said he hopes to get Yishun residents involved by getting them to do their bit for charity.

'We have prepared special gift packs of food, containing over 10 different items, as offerings for these souls, which have not been appeased for so long,' he said.

'These packs are available for public donation at $20 each. Our target is to sell 1,800 packs.'

He said that after the three-day ceremony, the food in these packs will be distributed to 14 charities and 500 low-income households.

'The money we collect will be donated to our medical centre, Nam Hong Siang Theon Free Medical Centre, which provides free traditional Chinese medical services to the public,' Mr Lim added.

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Residents never knew

March 21, 2007
The Electric New Paper

THE nine residents we spoke to had no idea that there was a memorial park in their midst.

A freelance draughtsman in his 40s, who gave his name only as MrJay, said he has been living in his second-storey Yishun flat for seven years.

The memorial park is directly opposite his flat. Even though it's partially blocked by the MRT tracks, the park is still visible from his living room window.
Click to see larger image

He said: 'I've always thought it was only a plot of grass. I never paid much attention to it.'

Mr Shen Ni Gong, 62, a retiree, was walking on a dirt path under the MRT tracks when The New Paper approached him.

He had, in fact, just passed the exposed urns but had not noticed them.

'I don't really take this path often. I'm just visiting my friend today. I've lived here for 21 years. For 10 years, my flat directly overlooked this plot of land.

'I only know that Yishun Columbarium is nearby. But I didn't know that this land has remains buried underneath.'

Asked if he felt uneasy about staying in the neighbourhood now, Mr Shen said with a laugh. 'What's in the past is in the past.

'There's no point troubling yourself over it. It's okay, I don't really feel anything negative.'

Another resident, who wanted to be known only as Ms Yan, was not too concerned either.

She said: 'Frankly I don't really care about the ashes. What I want to know is what will they be doing about the landslide.'

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Indonesia's sand ban not a matter of life and death: PM Lee

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
17 March 2007

SINGAPORE: Indonesia's decision to ban the sale of sand to Singapore is not a matter of life and death for the Republic, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Giving his views on the Indonesian decision, he told a group of journalists from the Japanese media that it is, however, an opportunity lost for economic cooperation, which hurts both sides.

Mr Lee said it is unfortunate that this problem has come up.

Prime Minister Lee noted that the official explanations from Indonesia for banning the sale of sand were concern over the environment and that it had nothing to do with other issues which both countries are negotiating.

These are the extradition treaty and the defence cooperation agreement or the ongoing talks on boundary demarcation.

Singapore accepts these explanations and hopes over time the matter will stabilise and cooperation will be resumed.

At its end, Mr Lee said Singapore has a stockpile which would last for a considerable time.

The government has also started importing sand from other sources and the flow has already begun.

But it would take a while for the full flow to resume to the amount needed for construction works, but it is in progress.

Mr Lee said the cost would be higher than importing from Indonesia, but quite bearable as total construction costs are expected to increase by only two or three percent.

He went on to say that if sand is going to cost more, there is potential to use less sand and concrete in construction, and go for more efficient processes, steel and dry walls.

Mr Lee cited the example of Japan where companies use steel, adding that if Japan can do it, there is no reason why Singapore companies cannot.

- CNA/so


Singapore to develop clean energy market

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia
16 March 2007

SINGAPORE: The Singapore government's target is to transform the country into a knowledge-intensive economy.

To achieve this, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there is a need to enhance competencies in existing technologies and seek out promising new areas.

So the government will step up research efforts at the local universities such as establishing a small number of research centres of excellence focusing on investigator-led research.

A five-year budget of S$500 million, from 2007 to 2011, has been approved for the National Research Foundation to co-fund the research centres of excellence together with the Education Ministry.

Three growth sectors were identified by the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC) at their inaugural meeting in Singapore last year.

These three sectors are the biomedical sciences, environmental and water technologies and interactive and digital media.

The RIEC said good progress has been made in these sectors.

This year, clean energy focusing on solar energy has been identified.

For this, S$170 million has been approved for a strategic research programme.

The likely spin-off is an added value of S$1.7 billion and 7,000 new jobs by 2015.

Mr Lee said: "It's a judgement of the science and technology, it's a judgement of the market opportunities. It's a judgement of the spin-offs which are likely if you succeed and also the conditions that we bring to the table which give us an advantage in these areas.

"Clean energy is in great demand because of climate change, the growth is dramatic. There is a lot of investment going on around the world and we believe this is an area where the technology will move and the market opportunities will grow.

"And the investments are likely to come because EDB already has potential clients who want to set up clean energy projects in Singapore. And this whole process from the research part to the manufacturing part to the economic part are areas where we already have basic capabilities."

The Council also wants to encourage a broader range of high-impact research programmes as it believes new ideas could emerge as a result of this.

To kickstart such an initiative, there will be a competitive research programme with a budget of S$250 million for four years.

Dr Paul Herrling, Head, Corporate Research, Novartis International, said: "I think this is saying something about the future of Singapore – that the future of Singapore is brains, not muscle. The message to every parent in Singapore – educate your kids because this is their future."

Finally, in order to attract and retain top research talent to help Singapore become a global research and development hub, the National Research Foundation is launching research fellowships.

- CNA/so

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Land reclamation works not factor in talks with Jakarta: MFA

16 March 2007 (CNA)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's foreign ministry has reiterated that the country's land reclamation works are conducted within Singapore's territorial waters.

And Singapore has always stated that it would not be a factor in ongoing maritime boundary negotiations with Indonesia.

The third round of the negotiations will be held in Singapore at the end of the month.

A spokesman for the ministry was responding to media queries about an article in the Straits Times on 17 March 2007.

It is entitled "Jakarta fears S'pore will use reclaimed shoreline to decide border".

The spokesman stressed that the Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo had made clear Singapore's position when he spoke in Parliament on 12 February this year on the issue.

- CNA/so



Let's Drink To Another Newater Success: Pm

It's now cheaper, with supply more than double the target as fourth plant

Lee U-Wen
Mar 16 2007

SINGAPORE has taken another major step towards self-sufficiency in water.

Come 2011, there will be enough Newater to serve 30 per cent of the
country's water needs, double the Government's original target of 15 per
cent, which has already been exceeded.

With four Newater plants already operational, and a fifth in Changi
expected to be ready in about four years' time, the price of Newater will
drop 15 cents from the current $1.15 per cubic metre to $1, starting next

The PUB estimates that the 80 companies currently served by the first
three plants will save a total of $4.86 million a year.

This is the second price cut in just over two years; it was first lowered
from $1.30 to $1.15 in January 2005.

To date, more than 300 companies are drawing on Newater, with 80 of them
using it for industrial processes, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

The price reduction was possible because of the increased Newater capacity
and a dip in membrane costs in recent years, said Mr Lee at the official
opening of the fourth and newest plant.

The Keppel Seghers Ulu Pandan Newater Plant at Old Toh Tuck Road is the
biggest in East Asia and the second largest water reuse plant in the
world, after Kuwait. It has been up and running since December and is the
first to supply Newater to commercial buildings in the city.

Mr Lee praised Newater as a "Singapore success story", saying the country
was in a "strong position to meet any future uncertainties in water

Demand for Newater - which is sewage water made potable through a process
called reverse osmosis - has increased greatly over the years, especially
from wafer fabrication plants and petrochemical companies, said Mr Lee.

To beef up supply, the new Ulu Pandan plant has ramped up capacity by 28
per cent to 148,000 cubic metres of Newater a day, enough to meet more
than half of Singapore's Newater needs.

The Kranji and Bedok plants have large-scale expansion plans in the works,
said Mr Lee. The PUB is busy speeding up the construction of the Changi
plant, which will produce 50 million gallons of Newater a day.

Mr Lee also announced that Keppel Corporation is spending $50 million to
set up a centre to carry out research in energy recovery from waste and
waste-water treatment. It will employ as many as 50 researchers.

These measures and investments by both the public and private sectors will
"boost Singapore's water industry and our standing as global hydro hub",
said Mr Lee.

Singapore now has four national taps in place: The local catchment from
reservoirs, imported water from Johor, desalinated water and Newater.

"Together, these four taps ensure that Singaporeans will always have an
adequate and reliable supply of water, and need never go thirsty," he


NEWater to be cheaper from next month

15 March 2007

SINGAPORE: The cost of NEWater will be cheaper from next month.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this at the opening of the Keppel Seghers Ulu Pandan NEWater plant.

The plant, the fourth in Singapore, will help meet more than 15 percent of the country's water demand.

The others are in Bedok, Kranji and Seletar.

The current cost of NEWater is $1.15 per cubic metre.

From next month, it will be lowered by 15 cents to $1 per cubic metre.

The reasons for this lower price include a rising demand for NEWater and operational efficiency in the plant.

Mr Lee said the price reduction will benefit all NEWater customers and translate into lower business costs.

NEWater is primarily used for industrial purposes now.

PM Lee said: "To date, more than 300 companies have taken up NEWater. About 80 of them use NEWater for industrial processes. They include wafer fabrication plants and electronics companies such as Chartered Semiconductor, Seagate and 3M Electronics. These firms value NEWater because it is ultra-clean and have substituted potable water with NEWater. Other commercial customers such as Century Square and Tampines Mall use NEWater for washing purposes and for their cooling systems."

Mr Lee said PUB will also bring forward the construction of the fifth NEWater plant at Changi.

That plant will produce 50 million gallons a day.

By 2011, Mr Lee said, all five NEWater plants will meet 30 percent of Singapore's water needs.

The Ulu Pandan facility is the first NEWater plant to be designed, built, owned and operated by the private sector, Keppel Seghers.

Besides this public-private partnership in developing the plant, Mr Lee said, Keppel would also be investing $50 million in an environmental R & D centre in Singapore.

Keppel Corporation's Executive Chairman, Lim Chee Oon, said: "We have recently established the Keppel Environmental Technology Centre or KETC to drive and direct research efforts through our centres of excellence. KETC will focus research efforts on energy recovery from solid waste treatment, minimising residual by-products from waste and waste-water treatment and membrane applications for producing water from non-conventional sources."

And this could lead to improved technologies with potential for better cost savings. - CNA/ir


NEWater to supply 30% of Singapore's water needs by 2011: PM

By May Wong, Channel NewsAsia
15 March 2007

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says NEWater will meet 30 percent of Singapore's water needs by 2011.

That is also when Singapore's first 1961 water agreement with Malaysia expires.

PM Lee was speaking at the opening of the Keppel Seghers Ulu Pandan NEWater plant on Thursday.

Drinking to the opening of the plant, Mr Lee also revealed the cost of NEWater will be cheaper from next month.

The current cost of NEWater is $1.15 per cubic metre.

From next month, it will be lowered by 15 cents to $1 per cubic metre.

The price has been lowered for several reasons - chief among them, a rising demand for NEWater and operational efficiency in the plants.

Mr Lee said the price reduction would benefit all NEWater customers and translate into lower business costs.

The Keppel Seghers Ulu Pandan NEWater plant is Singapore's fourth.

The other three are in Bedok, Kranji and Seletar.

PM Lee said: "Taken together, our four NEWater plants can meet more than 15 percent of Singapore's water demand today, well ahead of the original target date of 2010.

"To meet this growing demand, Ulu Pandan NEWater plant has expanded its capacity from 25 to 32 million gallons of water per day. And two other NEWater plants, Kranji and Bedok, have large-scale expansion plans.

"PUB will also bring forward the construction of the fifth NEWater factory at Changi which will produce 50 million gallons per day. Therefore, by 2011, our NEWater plants will have the combined capacity to meet 30 percent of Singapore's water needs, double the original target and this puts us in a strong position to meet any future uncertainties in water supply."

The Ulu Pandan NEWater plant is the largest in Singapore and the second biggest in the world, next to Kuwait.

The amount of NEWater produced by the Ulu Pandan plant can fill up 60 Olympic sized swimming pools.

This is also the first NEWater plant to be designed, built, owned and operated by the private sector, Keppel Seghers.

This plant will serve 200 new customers in areas like Tuas and Jurong.

Besides this public-and-private partnership in developing the plant, the Prime Minister said Keppel would be investing $50 million in an environmental R & D centre in Singapore.

Keppel Corporation's Executive Chairman, Lim Chee Oon, said: "We have recently established the Keppel Environmental Technology Centre or KETC to drive and direct research efforts through our centres of excellence. KETC will focus research efforts on energy recovery from solid waste treatment, minimising residual by-products from waste and waste-water treatment and membrane applications for producing water from non-conventional sources."

Currently, more than 300 companies have taken up NEWater.

About 80 of them, such as electronics companies, use NEWater for industrial purposes. - CNA/ir


Indonesian Cabinet is not considering granite export ban: Foreign Minister

By Gamar Abdul Aziz, Channel NewsAsia
15 March 2007

INDONESIA: It is not true that the Indonesian Cabinet is considering a proposal to ban granite exports, contrary to recent media reports out of Indonesia.

This clarification comes from Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.

According to Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this was what Mr Hassan told his Singapore counterpart George Yeo at the sidelines of the ongoing 16th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM), in Nuremberg, Germany.

MFA said Mr Yeo had a short meeting with Mr Hassan.

And at that meeting, the Indonesian Minister also informed Mr Yeo that an inter-departmental team had visited the Riaus last week, to investigate the detention by the Indonesian Navy of the barges carrying granite.

According to Mr Hassan, the team had found that some of the barges were in breach of regulations.

And he assured Mr Yeo that this verification process would be transparent.

At the meeting in Germany, both ministers also spoke on joint negotiations to conclude the Extradition Treaty and the Defence Cooperation Agreement.

And they both agreed to set an early date for the Foreign and Defence Ministers to meet together with representatives from the armed forces.

- CNA/so



Did he forget some Inconvenient 'Truths'?

Al Gore comes under fire from scientists for alarmist views in film
March 15, 2007
Electric New Paper

HE has been lauded as America's most celebrated eco-warrior.

And his documentary, AnInconvenient Truth, has sent waves through the public, both in the US and in other countries about the hazards of global warming.

In fact, so lauded is former vice-president Al Gore (below) that he just won an Oscar for best documentary.

But a small group of scientists think he may be a real-life Chicken Little, the Disney cartoon character who believes that the sky is falling and goes to great lengths to convince those around him.

They have accused him of making exaggerated, and even erroneous, arguments to scare viewers into action.

At a recent annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, MrDonEasterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, said MrGore may have been a bit too fast and loose with the facts in the film.

'I don't want to pick on AlGore,' he said.

'But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.'

In the film, MrGore paints a picture of the future where global warming has caused temperatures to soar, ice caps to melt into the sea, oceans to rise, and hurricanes to batter the coasts, resulting in the death of millions.

While scientists agree that climate change is occurring and humans are largely to blame for the production of heat-trapping gases, they take issue that MrGore may have gone beyond scientific evidence to push his point, reported the New York Times (NYT).

Mr Richard Lindzen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accused Mr Gore in The Wall Street Journal of 'shrill alarmism' because a report last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN body that studies global warming, portrayed climate change as a slow-motion process.

The UN panel estimated that the world's seas in this century would rise a maximum of 58cm, down from earlier estimates.

Mr Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 6m, implying, at least visually, that cities will soon be underwater.

Another report last June by the National Academies also seems to contradict MrGore's portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium.

The report said the current high temperatures were last seen in 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.


Mr Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr Gore's film did 'indeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios'. But he pointed out that the June report shows 'that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400years.'

Still, Mr Gore has stoutly defended his work as fundamentally accurate.

In an e-mail reply to NYT, he said: 'Of course, there will always be questions around the edges of science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions.'

He added that 'not every single adviser' had agreed with him on every point, 'but we do agree on the fundamentals' - that warming is real and caused by humans.

Mr Gore has updated his book and presentation slides to reflect comments made by scientists who disagree on some of his views.

What's the truth behind award- winning exposes?