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Nature forgotten in all the number crunching: NMP

SINGAPORE — Speaking impassionedly yesterday on the environmental ramifications of ramping up infrastructure to accommodate a larger population, Ms Faizah Jamal was the only Nominated Member of Parliament so far to oppose the Government’s White Paper on Population.

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SINGAPORE — Speaking impassionedly yesterday on the environmental ramifications of ramping up infrastructure to accommodate a larger population, Ms Faizah Jamal was the only Nominated Member of Parliament so far to oppose the Government’s White Paper on Population.

Pointing out that the debate so far had hinged on “crunching numbers” and economic growth, Ms Faizah, a lecturer and an environmental advocate, said: “There is no mention in the White Paper about the impact of so many people on our carbon footprint, our food security … the cost that Singaporeans have to bear in the years ahead as the pressure on energy and water mounts as we race towards a dream GDP (gross domestic product).”

In particular, she noted how the planned Cross Island Line will cut across the Central Catchment Nature Reserve — an area that encloses four reservoirs and encompasses “the oldest patches and some of the least-affected forests” in Singapore.

Adding that rare and endemic species are contained in the area, she questioned if these forests had to be given up as they “do not seemingly contribute to GDP growth”, and whether environmental impact assessments have been made “to warrant the plan in the first place”.

Ms Faizah also drew attention to the negative effects of land reclamation on Singapore’s coastal and marine areas, pointing out that areas of rich, native biodiversity such as Chek Jawa will be affected.

As such, she also requested that the agencies involved and their assessments be made public for “clarity and transparency”.

While the authorities had announced that about 9 per cent of land will be maintained for parks and nature reserves, both in the White Paper and in the Land Use Plan 2030, Ms Faizah noted the emphasis on the word “parks”, pointing out that it implied “the heavy intervention of the human hand in landscaping” rather than nature itself.

In her closing comments, Ms Faizah pointed out the “limitations of thinking from the head”, calling for a White Paper with “heart”, adding that such a paper would not exist “until the Government addresses the trust issues that have taken a severe beating in recent years”.

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