Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ford NGO capactiy building training in June 2006. The different difficulties that environmentalists in China and Singapore faces.


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Originally uploaded by Marcus Tay Guan Hock.

I was fortunate to share a room with this man - 叶榄。 Winner of the China's Top Ten Outstanding Youth for his efforts in raising environmental awareness in China. He spent the last 14 years of his life travelling around China, giving free lessons to schools to educate the young about the environment.



Just to illustrate how "green" he is: I thought that I am pretty environmentally friendly already, afterall, I do bring my own chopsticks and use reusable plastic boxes for take aways. 叶榄 pointed out to me, that my hp message tone was rather long, his is only a beep!!!! Faint....!!!

The challenges facing environmentalists in China and Singapore:
As compared to Singapore's environmentalists, China's environmentalists face problems of a completely different nature: In Singapore, we are more concerned about protecting our remaining nature areas from further development and trying to get people to live in an environmentally friendly way. In China, it is more about health-threatening and habitat endangering pollution problems. I could almost hear the fatigue in one of the participants' voice as he recounted how he has been campaigning for those “cancer villages”: Villages where drinking water has been so seriously polluted by factories’ effluents into the rivers that villagers suffer from an exceptional high incidence of cancer. He has exposed the matter in the public media, but all that was done was that the government commissioned deep wells for drinking water. The polluting factories still remain.

Another case was the campaign against illegal dumping of refuse by businesses of the Purple Mountain in Nanjing. It was real helplessness as we hear the campaigner described how the government invited him and his volunteers to a meeting and told them never to raise this issue again. What can you do when the government is actually opposing your efforts? I could sense that for many of these veterans, they are tired. They want to stop because they feel helpless against all the odds. Yet many times, they persist on because they are the hopes of the uneducated villages. It was certainly my honour to mingle with them and be inspired by their efforts.
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