Thoughts on joining the green dots

Audrey Tan from Straits Times wrote an interesting article today.

Otterman sent the link to the ICCS chat group and asked, “What do you think?”

The article was well written, with examples and quotes from various civil societies. I felt that the points raised, though very valid, does not paint the whole picture.

I think there are many facets to environmental protection. Various groups do fulfil their own aims and have their own audience. Eg wildlife rescue, nature appreciation etc. A collective voice will be powerful but aren’t we already saying the identical big message already? The gap is for policy makers to listen more and coordinate better with civil societies.

Some nature groups are better at engaging public. Some better at engaging decision makers.

But the lack of firm and clear stand from govt is really obvious. Eg banning styrofoam. BUT, when PM Lee said eat brown rice. All the healthy labels and products appeared the next day on the shelves. This is how fast things can move here.

From Singapore with Love: Wildlife protection and an alternative to the desperate poisoning of dogs in the Himalaya

Otterman speaks...

Poisoning dogs with rat poison and drowning puppies? The desperate action by Himalayan communities to protect their livestock from dog attacks speaks of another tragedy – attacks on wildlife by dogs and secondary poisoning of wildlife from poisoned dog carcasses.

Sterilisation is a sustainable, and ecologically-sensitive plan of action

So we’re sending some love from Singapore once again via the Himalayan Mutt Project to offer a kinder and and more effective alternative – sterilisation. Chip in to help Debby with her fund-raising efforts at Pozible.

Debby Ng has a been a passionate environmentalist all her life and even as a young teen, took action by writing to the forum page of the Straits Times. After her first dive at Pulau Hantu in 2003, she determinedly chipped away at a keyboard to start blogging, and today The Hantu Blog has matured into a community which has contributed significantly to awareness…

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Hello 2015

“I should start writing” this was what popped up at moments when you were most unguarded, maybe drinking a cup of coffee, waiting for the bus or just walking along a tree-lined path.

“You should start blogging!” said some of my friends.

Things I should do.

1. First publish a quick post – (yes done)

2. Write about the Pandan mangrove cleanup 2014.

3. I’ve been kayaking since my surgery, yes that is worth writing too.

4. I’ve not left field work behind – still doing floral surveys at Gardens by the Bay.

Ok first and quick post now and will come back to visit this very soon.

Need more voices on the Macritchie CRL Line

This is a very important matter which I must write about. I certainly have not felt this way since I heard the announcement about Chek Jawa’s impending reclamation in 2001 (that story turned out to have a good ending, let’s hope this will be too).


This is actually an issue very close to my heart as an educator, a biologist and a Singaporean. This concerns the proposed Cross Island Line. A couple of months ago, LTA proposed a Cross Island Line cutting across the Macritchie rain forest. 


The statement was that there will low impact as they will be drilling underground. However, even with my very limited knowledge of ecology, I immediately saw that there will be disturbance in hydrology, soil compaction, and of course disturbance of species. Just look at the map below posted by Siva. The line cuts through good forest. Underground or not, a major project like a MRT line definitely will impact the environment. 

I just one have question – Is it really necessary for the line to cut through our forest reserve? Especially at this point in time where our decision makers have acknowledged that the population projection of 6.9 million is not a target

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Of course, many people immediately responded.   

Siva wrote a very nice summary of the development of this issue, “Our MacRitchie forest – a place to love and a place to keep, now and for our future”

My colleague and veteran biology teacher, Tan Beng Chiak, set up a Chope for Nature Blog. Good resource for Educators and also for anyone who want to understand the issue further. 


We are now frantically educating the public. Many old guards, knowing the severity of the matter, have offered their time and wisdom to educate the young ones on the value of the forest. Chloe Tan, now does a very good job rallying in rallying volunteers, setting up this Love our MacRitchie Blog, and doing public education. Do visit the blog often to learn about our coming walks!

I certainly hope that this creates enough impact.


The forest is valuable in many ways. First and foremost, it is the last remnant of good forest which houses an unique and irreplaceable array of forest habitats. 


Once you alter it, you are changing a unique ecosystem that was established over hundreds of years. 

This is a decision that should not be made by some, we all have a stake in this, the collective voice of everyone should be heard.

I am sure this collective voice says “No”. 

SAF Day 1 July 2013

Today I had to put on my green uniform and recite the SAF pledge in front of the school. This is a novel experience, standing in front of a hall of school kids and reciting the SAF pledge. I was glad that the 9 of us managed to complete the whole process in a dignified manner.

I am very proud of my SAF experience, nothing earth shaking there but it is personal testament of my growth as a person. I must say that I will be a different person today if not for my army experience. I certainly felt self conscious for I do not want to draw unwanted attention to myself, but I found myself gladly explaining to my colleagues about the new uniform and what I do now in reservist.

Had dinner today with Siva and Adrian after a good walk in the forest. We ended up sharing about our days in the army. I am glad I still go back to serve. I have a couple of years more, but I look forward to each reservist stint. For many reasons, one get to catch up with old friends, the rich conversations you have with people not in your line of work, and of course putting on the uniform allows you to be in touch again with your training. As with all the things we learnt, one needs to be current.

Does going to reservist take time away from my work? It certainly does. Does it disrupt my normal routine? Maybe. Should I do it? Of course! No need any profound reason, no need for special compensation, just doing my part as a Singaporean.


Finally Started Cycling

I used to listen to Siva talk about cycling, Zendogs, and his long rides from one end of Singapore to another and joined in the Pedal Ubin rides now and then. The most memorable ride I had was probably that in 2005 where I rode a tandem bicycle to ferry a student while guiding a group in Ubin.

So between that and reading Lance Armstrong books, I was pretty much content.

Then Siva alerted me to a old GT Vantara to be given away. Here’s the fateful email:


Hi Cheng Puay,

Bike is yours, please arrange with Rob for pickup.

Hi Robert,

Cheng Puay an obvious choice to revive the bike. Glad he’s interested.




This is what the bike looked like before I sent it for servicing:


And after a visit to Mr Tan’s bike shop, it is ready to go on the road.


However, I only started riding last week with Siva, Kenneth, Adrian and Kevin. Siva, being one to understate things, said that they will be going slow and it is a simple ride from HV to Changi. Adrian, Kevin and Kenneth will be coming in foldies. So I said yes, thinking then, “How fast can a foldie go?” and thought that this will be a leisurely ride like one I used to do along ECP.

I was wrong on all counts. Underestimating the time, I rushed down to Holland Village from Clementi and then joined Siva and Adrian and Kenneth there. Briefly remembered the route to be from Farrer Road, to Lornie, turning into Marymount where we waited for Kevin.

I was glad for the break for my legs were feeling the strain. My lights were not bright enough so Adrian passed me a rear light for my havesack and Siva clipped on a front light for me. Again I underestimated the importance of good gear for safe cycling. Thankfully everyone was kind with their advice and equipment.

Continued up Tampines where I faced my first slope, Kenneth was tellling me, “There will be 2 slopes, this and the one at Pasir Ris. After that should be a pretty smooth ride”. This was the time where I was shifting through all the possible gear combinations to get the pedals going and trying to keep up. Siva will usually hang around to wait for me. The stretch along Tampines Road was really good, flat road, industrial buildings and sun rise. You do not feel like in you are in Singapore.

So I was pretty much hitting my limit and exhausted when we turned in from Pasir Ris to Changi. But the boys were looking very relaxed and enjoying the ride. As Kevin wrote:

Woke up late, so I biked to the Holland Village circle line to catch up with the rest at Marymount. Siva, Kenneth, Adrian and our new rider, Cheng Puay, waited patiently for me. We carried on through Bishan, Kovan, Tampines, Pasir Ris, and eventually Changi Village, which was our breakfast pitstop, and little bike shopping place.

Was really glad that Airani joined us and gave me a lift back from Fort Road. I do not think I can cycle back from Changi!

Thanks Siva and Adrian for the lights and everyone for being so patient with a newbie.

Lessons learnt:

1. You need good gear for long rides. Every piece of equipment matters and has a function. Good quality comes with a price and it is worth it.

2. You need good riding buddies for long rides.



What I wrote so far, going to post it before 2011 ends



One cannot say you fired up the computer anymore. Macs now are so fast that the moment you lift the lid, the screen is there waiting for you, with all the apps you last opened still there. Gone where the days where you sit down and ponder about life while waiting for the progress bar to finish loading and you can still hear the hum and the click of the CPU in the background; and get worried when the clicking gets loud.

I was reading George Clooney’s interview on Equire, one of the preview articles you get for free on the iPad. You really consume a lot of information nowadays from everyone. While I was reading the article, I was thinking to myself, I liked how the words seemed to flow so nicely and how neatly they are arranged. You can almost hear him utter these words in front of you. That is when I realised I should start writing the blog post I have been putting aside for months. Otterman and Adrian has been hitting the lethal combination of Marsedit and Flickr and I better get started before the inertia gets larger.

Notable things to talk about and mention for 2011.

1. My mother: Hope you had gone to some place better and thank you for all you have done. Things will be different but will learn to adjust.

2. Sungei Buloh Anniversary Walk: Finally had the chance to join the group, and it was really fun to share the beauty of the place with an appreciative audience. The usual suspects were spotted, mudskipper, crab, dog faced water snake and crocodile!

3. Penang and Durian Coffee: Finally found time to squeeze a short trip. It was great just to walk around and soak in the sights and taste the great food.

4. The intern: Not mine but was glad how things will turn out.

5. Overseas Service-Learning Trip to Cebu: As with all trips, I learnt again abit of myself and was humbled by the amazing people who dedicated their lives making the lives of others better.

6. The full lunar eclipse: beautiful and magnificent sight.

7. Greeting cards from overseas: simple gesture but touching and brings a smile always.

8. I actually won a photo competition!

9. Books I read: Life Ascending, the ideas suggested makes me want to rewrite all the notes I did for the students.

10. Movies worth mentioning. Invictus.

11. Coffee Mugs – I broke 2 bodum coffee mugs and got back 2


Ok shall post this before I go for the wedding photo assignment. Shall come back with photos and more stuff.