Would you agree that Singapore is an example of how a country could embrace economic prosperity with environmental responsibility?
March 12, 2018
When I give my students an in-class writing assignment, I write the assignment with them in class; I am subjected to the same constraints as they are, except that I type (the advantage of which should not be understated.) I'll post some of what I write here, not to show how an essay should be written (i.e. model essay) but as a way to subject myself to the same kind of scrutiny as they experience. I write decently (IMHO) but I make the same mistakes of not being informed about what I write about, not having a clear enough structure to an argument, having nothing to say (and subsequently having to make stuff up...)
In 2014, Singapore’s Botanical Gardens was officially recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Would you agree that with such a recognition and its tree-lined streets, that Singapore is an example of how a country could embrace economic prosperity with environmental responsibility?
Singapore is a country that has prospered economically since its independence in 1965; it has done so against the odds — having no natural resources — and has become the strongest economy in South-east Asia. Besides being regarded for its success economically, Singapore is also known as a Garden City; our streets are lined with trees and we boast of beautiful parks such as the Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Botanical Gardens, which in 2014 was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In order for us to understand whether Singapore is an example of a country that balances both economic prosperity and environmental responsibility, we must first understand what is meant by the term “environmental responsibility”. The term suggest that we need to have an attitude of conserving the environment for what is best for the environment and not conserving it as an afterthought. I do not believe that Singapore is a country that embraces economic prosperity with environmental responsibility because of the government’s anthropocentric developmental policies which have nurtured citizens who are apathetic towards the environment.
Singapore projects the image that we embrace both economic prosperity and our responsibility to the environment. This image is important to promote Singapore as a tourist location, which is our main source of revenue as a nation. We see symbols of this image, everywhere we go, whether it is the super-trees at Gardens by the Bay or the newly-designed hotel which have entire floors dedicated to having gardens for their guests’ enjoyment. While an interesting marketing gimmick, these symbols remain nothing more than symbols and do not reflect a responsibility to the environment.
A large part of our economic prosperity stems from tourism, which by definition is detrimental to our environment. Most tourist travel to Singapore by plane and the sheer amount of greenhouse gases that is emitted in the process does not show a responsibility to the environment. The environment is simply not a priority for our government, unless it benefits human beings in some way. If we consider a simple analogy, if one person helps another only because it is beneficial to him, would he be considered as “being responsible” towards the other?
The Singapore government has an anthropocentric view towards the environment. By definition, this means that their policies do not reflect a responsibility to the environment. In 2016, approval was given to clear a large portion of the forest near MacRitchie Reservoir in order to facilitate traffic; furthermore, we have seen areas, such as Punggol and Sengkang, once an oasis of greenery, completely cleared of its natural habitat and converted into housing areas. Singapore simply does not have the space to maintain its economic and social growth while protecting the environment, and the environment will always be on the losing end when these two agendas compete.