A trip to Sembawang

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Sembawang beach (facing south)

After perusing the Singapore weekend papers on the ‘raging debate’ (sic) about the proposed casino (should Singapore be hip and have one to bring in squillions of dollars of tourist revenue each year, or take the moral high ground and remain boring), I decided that this was way too controversial for me and I set out to see if this country I temporarily call home has the remnants of a ‘soul’ somewhere. I’d read in a Reuters report that, amazingly, the Republic of Singapore has grown in size by around 20% over the last 40 years — that’s not population, but area. Roy and HG once joked that such was the Singaporean zeal for land reclamation, it wouldn’t be long before ex-pats like me could take a weekend drive back to Australia. Maybe the only thing that’s preventing this happening is that there aren’t many hills left to bulldoze in Singapore, and the Indonesians stopped them dredging sand from the ocean bed a couple of years ago because it was starting to affect their coastline! Anyway, in this Reuters report, a reference was made to Sembawang Beach at the northern tip of the island, and how this was one of the last remaining ‘natural’ beaches, the others being man made, a few dumper loads of sand having been tossed around the concrete retaining walls after the land reclamation process. I also read that a small group was lobbying to save this beach from reclamation and development and had even gone to the extent of setting up a web site to “provide quiet feedback” to the government. This sent my pulse racing and I simply had to see this beach with my own eyes.


I don’t really know what I expected, but if this is all that’s left, then the Singaporean government may as well get on with it. The damage has been done. The shot of the beach above is pretty much it. The shot below was the view immediately behind me. Camping, meanwhile, is more or less restricted to the concrete paths above the beach, and even the beachside palms don’t escape the concrete surrounds. I felt a deep sadness, but given there isn’t so much as a muddy river bank or swampy looking stream anywhere in Singapore, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Who needs casinos when you can gamble away the nation’s ecological future?

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Sembawang beach (facing north)

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