SPEECH BY MINISTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, MR MAH BOW TAN
AT THE ADOPTION OF CHEK JAWA BY HSBC AND THE UNVEILING OF THE HSBC CARE-FOR-NATURE CHEK JAWA STAMP SERIES, SATURDAY, 16 OCT 2004 AT 3.00PM, CHEK JAWA, PULAU UBIN
HE Mr Alan Collins;
1. A very good afternoon to you. It is always a pleasure to be here at Chek Jawa.
2. The hidden treasures of Chek Jawa were discovered only in January 2001, when preparations for reclamation works in this area were well advanced. Nature lovers petitioned the Government to save Chek Jawa. As you well know, the story had a happy ending.
3. By Dec 2001, the Government decided to put on hold the reclamation plans at Chek Jawa, for as long as this area would not be required for development. This was not an easy decision; especially as we are faced with the dilemma of competing needs in land-scarce Singapore.
4. Thereafter, many visitors have come here to catch a glimpse of this wonder of nature. However, trampling across the wetlands, they were unaware of the damage inflicted on the site that they liked so much. The place was literally being “loved to death”.
5. Hence, I asked NParks to set up a system to manage the large number of visitors and to facilitate guided tours so that the negative impact on the habitats and marine life would be minimized. With the help of volunteers from the Raffles Museum and Nature Society, a booking system has been set up to manage the crowds of visitors. NParks has also set up the Ubin Volunteer Scheme to channel the groundswell of interest and enthusiasm into practical contributions.
6. Some 160 individuals have come forward to offer their help. Some have volunteered as guides for visitors, while others have painstakingly documented the marine life here in publications and guidebooks. Thanks to these dedicated and knowledgeable guides, some 10,000 visitors have had the privilege of experiencing “value added” tours of Chek Jawa. They come from all walks of life, HDB heartlanders, blue collar workers, professionals, young and old.
7. Singaporeans have become more passionate about our natural heritage and environment. Many individuals are now coming forward to express their views on how and why nature should be conserved in Singapore. More are making themselves available to promote nature outreach and contribute towards conservation efforts.
8. As the awareness for green issues grow, the Government, green groups, private corporations and the community will find it necessary to work closely in partnership. Together, we could implement sustainable programmes in the areas of promoting nature awareness and appreciation, and enriching the public’s experience. Today’s event is an example of a green partnership.
9. HSBC is renowned in local circles as the bank with a green conscience. It was awarded the Singapore Green Plan 2012 Award for its contributions towards nature conservation and education. HSBC has also supported other programmes such as the Young Naturalists Programme at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. I would like to commend HSBC on its enduring commitment towards conserving our natural heritage.
10. I would also like to thank HSBC and its volunteers for extending the green partnership to the adoption of Chek Jawa, and capturing its beauty in the annual HSBC Care-For-Nature Stamp Series. It is heartening to note that so many of you have contributed your time and energy towards this meaningful project. Through adoption activities such as removing weeds and planting saplings, HSBC will help NParks in rehabilitating the coastal forest of Chek Jawa. By this adoption, HSBC will also continue to uphold its status as a responsible corporate citizen for others to emulate.
11. I hope this will mark the start of yet another successful collaboration between HSBC and NParks. I also hope that the saplings we plant today will be a legacy for the future generations. On this note, I thank you all for your participation and wish you a most enjoyable time as you contribute to the conservation of Chek Jawa.