More green discussions in Parliament, please. No Seriously.
Posted on April 20, 2011 by derek
Employment, rising costs of living and many other bread and butter issues have been so-called hot-button election topics but a group of environmentalists in the latest Green Drinks – an informal monthly gathering of environmentalists – is advocating for more green discussions in the new Parliament.
Together with seven panellists – leaders of environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), businessmen and a former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) – some 40 participants discussed how environmental issues can be further advocated on a political level.
Former NMP and IUT Global CEO Edwin Khew said discussions on environmental issues in the latest Parliament that was dissolved yesterday were rare, adding that his predecessor NMPs had mostly raised bread and butter issues.
One example on the lack of green empathy was the national recycling rate of 58 per cent. If industrial recyclables from construction waste were excluded, the household recycling rate would sink to such a low rate it would “stick out like a sore thumb.”
While greater scrutiny of environmental issues is needed, the majority agreed that Singapore is not ready for a Green Party, as is the case in Germany and Australia.
Green issues could be looked at in totality as a part of all national issues, including defence, foreign affairs and housing, suggested participant Joseph Chun.
Another way would be to have an official to oversee green issues in every ministry, said Mr Mark Cheng, co-founder of NGO Avelife.
Panellist Allan Lim, CEO of Alpha Biofuels, suggested a bottom-up approach in pressurising politicians to be more environmentally aware.
This, he said, could be achieved by building a critical mass of environmentalist Singaporeans.
He asked – a rhetorical question perhaps – would political candidates be more inclined to attend Green Drinks sessions if they were held at a Community Club instead?
Another way to get more politicians to be more environmentally aware is to press for more green jobs, said Mr Wilson Ang, founder of ECO Singapore.
Agreeing, Mr Howard Shaw, former executive director of the Singapore Environment Council, added that a green economy can spur political will.
Despite the People’s Action Party’s promise to build a green and sustainable society, five previously elected Members of Parliament and Ministers of State have declined to attend Green Drinks gatherings.
Organisers say discussions at Green Drinks sessions will be collated and presented to the various political parties.