#58: The Green Ultra Challenge (27 Feb 2016): Part 1

Those who follow me know I’ve been AWOL. I lost my mojo to write blog entries. One blog entry takes me hours, and even then I find it reads rather procedural….like my job (programmer)! As I began my 4th lap along the Green Ultra Challenge’s, and psyching myself back along the dreaded heated corridor (1st 3km), a participant stopped me:

Participant: “Where have you been? You’ve been missing?”
Me: {uncertain about the question} “I’ve been running around this nature reserve, just like you”
Participant: “Have you been hiding?”
Me: “Err no…I’ve been on this course, trying to catch up with you”
Participant: “Your site lah….”
Me: {light bulb moment} “Oh ya sorry…..I have been missing…..sorry….I will write….thank you……I must go”…..and off I plodded…..

And so to that participant, this blog entry is for you.

I have been hiding! The last event I did was a DNF on a 50 mile team event and I was mighty p***** with the person who asked me onto the team and seemed to make no effort to make the distance whilst the sun was out.  Ok I am still rather peeved with wasting my time on an event when I was suffering from food poisoning and there were other stresses happening in my life at that moment before the 5th Dec.

…And then I did no more running except for the odd 8 miler and 5K runs.

Sometimes in one’s life, we have to just get on and deal with the pressures of life. No matter how overwhelming those pressures are, we deal with them like a marathon. Chew off a little, bit by bit until all is done and then give yourself a little reward. I decided to see my family in Singapore, and this event’s organisers kindly accepted me, providing the extra time I would need to complete 5 laps of the course (@10km a lap) to make this my 58th completed marathon.

On my first lap, I enjoyed some stillness and comtemplated why a progressive society would think developing thru/under a rainforest is progression?

So Whilst I Have Your Attention….

For some months a petition has been going on to ask the government of Singapore / Land Transport Authority (LTA) to not do any type of development in Machritchie Reservoir (MR). If you still have not taken notice there is a development to put a tunnel under MR despite all the media news, see below.

Why should you care?

  • Because it is going through primary forests that is older than everyone and is a natural heritage of Singapore.
  • It breaks founding principles that the late Lee Kwan Yew (LKY) set a precedence for clean, green Singapore and protecting national treasure.
  • It is an environment where the last indigenous “Singaporean species” live.  Yes it is hosts to species that have been around long before us!
  • It puts us on the same level as every other country like Malaysia and Indonesia when it comes to discussions about progression and rainforests.
  • COP21. Singapore has commited to reducing carbon emissions by 36% by 2030….and if you think you’ll be dead by then, God will keep you alive to show you.

If you want to read more about the impact of the development, read here (PDF “Love Our Macritchie Forest” created)

Singapore, as a country has progressed immensly. However anyone saying this development has to occur for progression is still in a 1990s time warp. Singapore is a major port, a major business/financial centre; has just been noted to be the 3rd richest in the world and has just been recognised as a UNESCO city of design.

I wonder if the forward thinking LKY had decided on this test, to see if his people would stand up for the principles that the founding fathers have moulded this tiny dot on and made into a first class country.

This green space is a fragile nature reserve and as an educated society who knows about global warming and suffers first hand from environmental issues, Singaporeans/PR/those who enjoy this country should stand up.  Be zealous. It is too easy to be a bystander and then think after we could have done something.  Developments will always cause a negative impact, especially so with natural environments.  A petition has been going on for some months to have zero impact on Machritchie and it is shameful that less than 1% of the population have bothered to sign it….Apparently it is “green groups” vs “the government”.

I hear too often, “It’s the government, so what ever we do is a waste of time”. This is pure apathy. After all why would the Straits Times, that the government controls, voice concerns over the area? AND The petition takes less than 5 minutes to sign. Click here for the petition.

As for my take, the carless Sunday at the end of each month is great. However for a truely sustainable effort in making this a “car lite” country, it would be great if the government can could lead the world to change in its actions:

  • Diverting the MRT round Lornie Road will encourage potential road users in this area to get on the train (noted the LTA is making some attempt to show willing for this option)
  • Convert the road widening program to make dedicated non-motorized lanes for vehicles such as bicycles so that trees can be kept instead of destroyed. I have observed that new pathways have been built and the old ones will be integrated into the road widening. The old pathways could be made into cycle lanes!
  • Re-think the Green Corridor development. Dumping a tarmac/concrete path along it and putting up concrete buildings is certainly neither “green” nor “clean”. Singapore has lots of pretty manicured parks. Leave the last vestiges of natural Singapore….natural. As the late LKY said:
    • Nature calms the spirit and make people feel relaxed.
    • Trees provide shade and thus a respite from the sun.
    • Trees absorb carbon dioxide (a common greenhouse gas).

For those who are concerned about the diversion costing an extra $2 billion – put it in perspective: the whole line might cost @ $40 billion – see Straits Times article. We can only guess how many will travel on that line (est 1 million at $2,80 ave fare – you do the maths!).  And those along Lornie Road will have better transport options.

As Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”

So at the very least in one’s own busy life, stand up for the preservation of this natural heritage and let the government know one voice about this Click here to sign the petition. (This includes Singaporean visitors/PRs and anyone who understands societies need to change as we become more educated about our impact). And please get your friends to sign this petition to show the government we care.

Also write to your local MP voicing your concerns or “facebook them”, asking them to protect your natural heritage. Here is a suggestion for your usage: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wEKumtUBO2zjA9EQtRXuEvu8AFFSpGLiyU1ThPcV_AA/edit

For those who fail to understand the importance of protecting primary forests, take a guided walk: https://lovemacritchie.wordpress.com/love-macritchie-walks/ or go visit Sungei Buloh which the late LKY wanted to see expanded.

For those who think there is nothing wrong with “some” compromise to a part of the rainforest, means those areas will continually be compromised in the name of progression. You only need to see the BKE has already started the division of the rainforest and then what else in the future? The buck stops here and we can make it so! Let’s at least get this petition representing at least 1% of this island.

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