Building on Sand

To expand its surface area, Singapore has become the world’s largest importer of sand for its land reclamation projects. A documentary video made by environmental activists shows how sand dredging in Cambodia to meet Singapore’s insatiable demand for land has destroyed coastal ecosystems and the livelihood of Cambodians who depend on harvesting shrimp and shellfish from the mangroves.

When the video was posted on Facebook yesterday, it attracted a range of comments. One Singaporean dismissed the video by writing, “Willing buyer and willing seller. The solution is for Cambodia not to sell anymore [sic] sand to anyone.” The remark springs from a purely transactional view of the world and ignores the harm that Singapore is complicit with. Under pressure from activists, the Cambodian government has banned the sale of sand to Singapore, but activists suspect that illegal smuggling is still carrying on.

Another Singaporean thought that the issue was complex. As further comments revealed, her idea of the complexity lay in the trade-off between economic/ecological harm and more expensive sand. She opined that Singaporeans won’t want to pay more for what they can get cheap. She is probably right. Not only do Singaporeans live in the most affluent country in the world, but they wish to do so at the least cost to themselves. The selfishness is of a piece with the sentiment heard often that if the low wages of food court workers are raised, causing a rise in food prices, Singaporeans won’t be able to eat out as often as they do.

The title The Atlantic selected for the video—”When Your Land Is Stolen From Beneath Your Feet”—may sound emotionally manipulative until we remember that theft was what the Singapore Prime Minister advised Singaporeans to do in order to stay ahead of global economic competition. As reported in TODAY, PM Lee Hsien Loong urged, “Singapore must not only protect its lunch but steal other people’s lunches.” This is not merely an unfortunate use of language, but a refrain repeated by Singapore’s leaders and citizens. However, one can no longer excuse Singaporeans by thinking that they are victims of brainwashing by the state. No, they are in cahoots with the government to extract the most from their poorer neighbors for themselves—sand, water, human labor. It makes one deeply ashamed to be a Singaporean, to be so morally bankrupt.

 

Jee Leong Koh

 

 

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11 Responses to “Building on Sand”

  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Trading with The Devil is the TRADEMARK of the PM’s evil father…and he meant what he said NOT metaphorically…after all he was the Devil Top Advocate next to Hitler

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  • end of days are near:

    The Devil Rules these days.
    just look n see the evil thats happening around the world for decades now.

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  • rukidding:

    Not much difference in character as to his “abang”,..the “Botak next door” !

    Still water runs deep !

    May look innocent and even an “ah gua’….but deep inside,..a very insecure, proud, arrogant and vindictive person !

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  • No need to look outside:

    Yes, it’s habitual.
    Just look at our CPF money. Good pension funds return 7 to 8% long term returns. Ours return 2.5%.
    What do you think? Someone stealing/robbing/taking our CPF money?

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  • On Capricious Avarice:

    So one feels that stealing another’s lunch is consonant with protecting one’s own lunch?

    “The proud person always wants to do the right thing, the great thing. But because he wants to do it in his own strength, he is fighting not with man, but with God.”
    - Soren Kierkegaard

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  • Bystander:

    And many Singaporeans are so proud that the MYR/S$ is 3:1.
    Showing off like PM Lee, thus the Chinese saying – If the above beam is not straight, the bottom beam will bend down.
    A bad example to convey to the people.

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  • LIONS:

    if we have not enough land,why keep dumping so many economic scavengers into SG?

    BY DEFAULT OF NATURE OR OF ACT OF GOD,SG IS SMALL AND MEANT FOR A SMALL BUT HARDWORKING N PRODUCTIVE PPL,WHY NEED TO PLAY GOD AND CHANGE THE BALANCE IN EQUATION AT ALL?

    LEE ASS LONG IS JUST GOOD AT MATHS AND NOTHING ELSE.

    BETTER HE STOP DESTROYING SG WITH HIS MATHS PLAY?

    ENOUGH OF HIS SHITTY CRAP!!!

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  • BS:

    Do you know Singapore is buying a lot illegal sand?

    Legal and illegal sand are bought from neighbours.

    We are making a lot of karmas…. ->Pinky the guy.

    So much sand for ? Building up HDB for 10M, majority third world foreigners.

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  • can we report CI to police?:

    rukidding:
    Not much difference in character as to his “abang”,..the “Botak next door” !

    Still water runs deep !

    May look innocent and even an “ah gua’….but deep inside,..a very insecure, proud, arrogant and vindictive person !

    very well said, bro, about pap clown being deep inside very insecure, proud, arrogant and vindictive.

    for those pap PA paid IBs who deny, tell them to ask pap clown’s brother Mr Lee Hsien Yang and pap clown’s sister Dr Lee Wei Ling about what they think of lky clown prince the current pap clown.

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  • Singapore Fooled Again n Again:

    It is not that Singapore have not enough land. It is because of the greed of GDP growth and some privileged office holders have their fat bonuses tied to it so they find ways to import 50000 to 80000 new PRs and citizens so as to prop up the GDP figures.

    We had around 2.8 million citizens and a lot less PRs in the and live was much better then. People can retire in their 50s, the husband work and wife as housewife is good enough to support a family and own a HDB flat in more central location.

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  • Perspective:

    So what if the govt is able to get the raw materials cheap? Does it necessary mean it passes the cost savings to the people? Singaporeans also suffer the same fate as those Cambodians mentioned above who have lost their livelihood although for a different reason.

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