Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

Secret lives and secret worlds hidden in Singapore's most popular coral reef.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Service Nation

I met an exchange student from Germany studying Organic Chemistry at the NUS. He said to me "Singapore is a good place to visit for... 2 or 3 days. After that, there's nothing to do."

He's an outdoorsy sort. "I went to Orchard Rd 2 or 3 times, but that's it. And Sentosa, it's so artificial. There's no place you can go in Singapore if you like nature."

I met him on a bus on the way to a dive in Malaysia. "There's no place to dive in Singapore."

He had no idea. So I told him abt Hantu, and despite its bad vis how it still contains life. He'd read abt the state of our Southern Islands in the recent papers. He thinks its a bad idea for a casino to be built, citing that "A casino is not going to make SIngapore a Monte Carlo." He said the island nation is "sterile, like a hospital" and that would have to be addressed with foreigners before becoming a big attaction. "Everything's so fake, i leave singapore and people ask me what it's like and i don't know what to say. it's like any big city."

However, he said "But in Singapore, the government is so strong. If there's any country in Asia that could do sometime to protect nature through infrustructure, knowledge and skills, its Singapore." It is true, Singapore does have the capacity to effect these progressive changes. i.e. dealing with chemical pollution, conserving reefs etc. Here the government listens to the people (through forum pages, letters to MPs etc) and people have the skills to voice their opinions diplomatically and rationally. "Singapore should move towards being environmentally aware as more and more developed countries like in Denmark, Germany, Holland and Canada are becoming. Singapore must think abt these issues if it wants to be a significant country, important to the world."

He's the foreigner. And if it's people like him, the intelligencia and future entrepreneurs we are to attract, i do believe we should be listening to them.