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  wild thoughts:
Speak up for nature in Singapore: why bother?

"The Government won't listen"
"They will do whatever they please no matter what we say"
"We will get into trouble if we speak up"

These are the responses I often get from others who visit nature places, particularly places which are "at risk". They often feel a sense of helplessness and frustration.

My response?
"The Government" is not a single "They" organism. Like any large organisation, it is made up of people. All of whom are Singaporeans. Most of whom care. Care about, and want to do, what's best for Singapore and Singaporeans. Especially today.

I am, of course, not being very objective :-) Being a civil servant myself, I realise my role as a servant of the people. As a civil servant, my duty is to do by the people's wishes.

And how would "The Government" know about the people's wishes?
Aside from what we say, we express our wishes by the way we spend our time, the way we spend our money. Do we spend time and money in nature parks or in shopping centres? Golf courses? Do we demand more roads, bigger HDB flats, more modern amenities?

"But we will get into trouble"
I believe it is every citizen's right to speak. So long as you don't speak with a bomb in hand, I doubt if you will get into trouble.

Speak from the heart. Simple words explaining your concerns, constructive suggestions, acknowledgement of sincere efforts on "The Government's" part. The person reading your letter is another living breathing Singaporean, bound by duty to treat your letter with respect. So treat this person with respect too. Make your suggestions constructive, well thought out, provide as much facts as you can.

Your point of view from where you are standing is a precious viewpoint to decisionmakers who care. Often, special effort must be expended to get that viewpoint. There are nowadays more efforts to get this viewpoint. Contribute constructively to such efforts.

For more on the latest effort to gather feedback from the post-65 generation of Singaporeans.

"Why don't you just start a petition? I will sign and get all my friends and relatives to sign. So leh cheh to write one. Or don't you have a form letter that I can just sign?"
I personally don't believe in petitions. I've seen petitions hawked at busy road sides to people who might not even know about the cause. Whereas a personal letter from the heart, written with thought and spirit, is far more powerful.

A letter from a child is the most powerful. Just a little drawing, of a starfish with the words "I like it. Please save it." Which heart would not be moved by that?

"But where to write lah, so troublesome"
It is amazing how people can somehow figure out the most complicated procedures for buying shares or making a complaint. But to speak up to support a cause, motivation somehow flags. To this day, it still baffles me :-)

The Government Feedback Portal is a great way to give feedback on ANYTHING at all. You can even sign up to be on the mailing list and they will SEND YOU topics for you to comment upon; and alerts about efforts to collect feedback. They LOVE your feedback. And they can also direct you to the right party if you have trouble finding who to write to.

Government Consultation Portal
Feedback Unit, click on General Feedback under Feedback Channels.
or email at feedback_unit@mcds.gov.sg
Snail mail: The Feedback Unit, MCDS Building, #14-00 512 Thomson Road, Singapore 298136

Speak up only to complain?
Are we moved to speak only when we are dissatisfied?
Do we keep silent when we are happy with the way things are?

Then policies will be more heavily influenced by those who complain. People who demand Pulau Ubin have more lights, paved roads, a toilet at every 100m, no weeds and dilapidated houses will have more say than the silent visitors who enjoyed a tranquil, rustic visit. It is just as important to speak up even if you are happy with way things are.

Speak up only to "The Government"?
If we are truly moved by an issue, we would want to share it with others
so they to become aware of it. So speak also to
Friends, family, colleagues
as volunteer guides, on the internet via a website

But will it make a difference?
There's only one thing that's sure. You WON'T make a difference if you don't :-)

Here's more on how one person can make a difference for nature?

So speak up. For whatever moves you.
It is your right. It is your duty.

these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
website©ria tan 2004