Our recent collaborative event – GE 2015: Casting a Vote for Environmental Progress – with PM.Haze, Hemispheres, Sharksavers and Foodscape Collective brought members of the public together for a meaningful discussion on environmental issues in relation to political parties and the upcoming election. We would like to thank these groups for partnering with us to make this happen, also, a big thank you to Teo Kia Meng for being our scribe for the evening, and for piecing together this analysis of the event. For more straightforward access, we will also be posting this on our “downloads” page.
Green Drinks – GE 2015: Casting a Vote for Environmental Progress
3 September 2015, 7pm – 9pm
SingJazz Club, The Sultan
Ajax Ke, People’s Power Party
Louis Ng, People’s Action Party
In tandem with the upcoming elections, this edition of Green Drinks aimed to identify Singaporean green issues and subsequently, discuss the different political parties’ views on these issues.
A pre-event survey was sent out to the active political parties to gauge their positions on green issues, and their responses were discussed during the event. Only the People’s Power Party (PPP) responded before the deadline. To measure the other parties’ commitment to green issues, their manifestos were analysed.
Analysis by Green Drinks on party positions regarding green issues
PPP’s response to the survey was encouraging. PPP indicated that multiple issues such as Food Security, Rising Sea Levels, Sustainable Development and Animal Conservation would be discussed with the public during the election period.
Ajax Ke from the PPP was asked whether his party’s responses in the survey would be present in the PPP manifesto, but was unable to answer with certainty, as the PPP manifesto was still in development on the date of the event.
The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) manifesto included plans to create “vibrant and liveable” environments. Specific initiatives included the formation of pedestrian and cyclist friendly precincts, abundant green public spaces and making the commute to workplaces easier. Also included were plans to double the rail network.
The Worker’s Party (WP) manifesto included numerous initiatives. The WP would push for the proliferation of cycling lanes and signage to create cycling towns, to create more connected communities. Car sharing schemes would be also be given a boost with more car-sharing locations. Priority at prime parking spaces in HDB estates would also be given to car sharing schemes. WP’s manifesto also contained plans for making HDB towns more walkable, enhancing Singapore’s food security, protecting our natural heritage and several other initiatives.
Singaporeans First (SingFirst) aimed to transform estates into vibrant communities that are self-contained. Workplaces, services and entertainment would be situated in proximity to homes.
The Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) planned to nationalise the public transport system. Failing this, the transportation sector in Singapore should be liberalized by increasing tender opportunities for private transport companies. Measures such as full-day concession rates on public transport for elderly citizens would also be pursued.
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) proposed for more studies to be undertaken on the optimal population size of Singapore in sociological and economic terms, and to only grow our population when the necessary infrastructure was in place.
Reform Party (RP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and Singapore People’s Party (SPP) had either no manifesto published during the date of event, or had no relevant mentions to green issues within their manifesto.
Discussions and presentations by various topics
Topics of discussion were suggested by attendees. Topics included: Nature/Biodiversity: Conservation and Research, Environmental Education, Waste Reduction, Environmental Impact Assessments, Economy/Population/Sustainable Development and Renewable Energy. Participants attended the topic of their choice and formed discussion groups. Each group then had a chance at a post-discussion presentation that outlined the group’s concerns on their topic, as well as potential opportunities and solutions that could apply to Singapore.
Key points of the group discussions and presentations have been transcribed into a document that can be found here:
Selected responses by Louis Ng, Executive Director of the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) and first time candidate for the PAP in Nee Soon.
Louis mentioned several animal projects that he is involved in. In Nee Soon East, where Louis is based, he has met with stray feeders and the practice of cat culling and trapping has ceased. The Cat Welfare Society was also involved in discussions. Louis promised that shark’s fin would not be allowed at any events in Nee Soon East and Chong Pang.
When questioned on whether issues such as Green Economy, Green Jobs, development that factors in social inequality and environmental impacts would be part of the policymaking process, Louis was unable to speak on behalf of the PAP in specifics, but assured that he would champion environmental issues.
When questioned whether it would be difficult to raise environmental concerns in Parliament, Louis replied that he did not think so.
Louis shared with the audience that he participated in the Animal Welfare Legislation Committee, stating that legislation was amended based on public feedback. Louis pointed out the significance of these changes, as the Bill was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill, and the Bill was ultimately drawn up and proposed based on public feedback.
Louis mentioned that government policy was not the only way to affect change in green issues, and that when private companies were willing to take a step as well, people’s actions could be changed. He mentioned IKEA’s policy of charging for plastic bags and that customers carrying purchases by hand without plastic bags, was a common sight at the checkout area.
Bishan resident Leroy Kwok mentioned that in his estate, lift upgrading projects take almost 4 years to complete, and that most of the time, construction workers are not present at the work sites. Also, Diesel trucks used by the contractors leave their engines idle for hours.
Louis mentioned that parking and leaving the engine on is a criminal offence, and that the National Environment Agency (NEA) can impose a fine in such situations, and advised Leroy to contact the NEA in future situations.
On whether environmental factors would be considered during government procurement, Louis replied by saying that currently, majority of procurement is being made based on cost considerations, but did not respond as to why environmental factors were not considered.