Mid-August Update

Facebook is mostly for re-shares. Likewise for Twitter. Flickr has the picture updates. This blog.. is mostly where I record my scattered thoughts.


Since the last post on SYCA LLP Grad Day which happened on 16th July..

Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA) and COP22

Marrackech COP22 | CMP12 UN Climate Change Conference 2016. Image Credit http://www.cop22.ma

Soon after completing the Learning and Leadership Program (LLP), SYCA moved into preparing for COP22 which is happening in Marrakech, Morroco, 7-18 November, this year. What does ‘preparing’ entails? Following up with relevant individuals who had expressed interest to go and working with another organisation to nominate our names into the UNFCCC system first, by 2nd August. Drafting up the team budget and drafting up a grant proposal. Waiting for UNFCCC to confirm the number of quota- We confirmed 4 and managed to get another 1 from another organisation. I count it lucky we have a such a number considering this year there is something like 19 000 odd nominations from IGO and NGO sectors, and there is only 3000 odd places for us.

Asking myself questions like

  • If I were to go this year, this would be my 3rd time going for COP consecutively. Why am I going to COP this year? What would I want to do upon my return? Is it necessary for me to be at COP? // I asked myself these questions last year, and I still find myself asking these questions this year.
  • Given that ideally SYCA would have sent 6 people to COP, and we originally have 4 badges, how do we decide who gets the badge? How would our training sessions look like the next 3 months? Where are we going to get funding for this team to go to COP? What are we going to do at COP? What are we going to do upon our return?

I see the need for a youth group to be exposed to a platform like COP. I see that having such a group fills the gap/ distance between policy-makers and what is communicated at COP, and helping to communicate that to the average Singaporean. It’s just that.. sometimes the thought of “this takes a lot of time and energy- badges, trainings, seeking sponsorships, admin and logistics, safety concerns” and “we are all voluntarily doing this” gets to me.  Sometimes there is this fear of starting something and not being able to keep it sustainable. Sometimes there is this anxiety of comparing what SYCA is doing (or not doing) with what other youth groups are doing. I recall Mel C posing this question during our SYCA LLP meetings: If SYCA were cease to exist tomorrow, can our Aspirants still find other avenues to learn what we are offering? And I am still finding answers to that.


A group picture at #LepakInSG’s boardgames session at Red Baron at Gillman Barracks on 13 August.

So, back on 29 January, Xiang Tian, Gracie and I launched the #LepakInSG website. It was a simple Google Calendar embedded onto a WordPress site. XT and I started to fill it up with environmental events in Singapore. Gracie subsequently decided to focus more on 350 Singapore. We roped in other friends like Dorothy, Cheryl, Chia Wu, Cuimin and Megha in to be part of the core team. Since then, we also started to organise offline Lepak sessions.

On 29 July, we launched the #LepakInSG Facebook Fan Page. I also posted a shoutout on the Hackerspace FB Group Page to ask if anyone could help us automate collation of information for the website. Cheryl and I met Kiong, a web developer who was kind enough to meet us on 6 August. We discussed the features of this proper events listing website, and I’m glad to say Kiong has been super details and patient with us. I am personally excited to see a new website for #LepakInSG in the next few months.

When we first started this, it started off as an online calendar of environmental events in Singapore. Slowly, we started to organise events once a month too. I initially thought of it as an opportunity to meetup with people who followed the calendar.. or basically just to meet people who wanted to do something fun while learning about sustainability issues. The latest one where we organised the boardgames session at Red Baron at Gillman Barracks made me realise the unintended value of such a hangout- old friends and strangers met and started talking about how they can provide services/ help out each other. I guess it turned out to be an informal networking session of sorts, and that became an added motivation for me to continue with the offline lepak sessions.

SYCA and #LepakInSG = Building a Movement?

Global Power Shift @ Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday 29th June 2013 from Rina Lim Zui Hou on Vimeo.

*would it be possible to grow a movement confident enough of organising its own gathering and actions, the scale of Global Power Shift in Istanbul, Turkey?*

At the back of my head, I try to remind myself of this concept of Building a Movement (thanks 350.org and your EA workshop in 2012 at Bogor, Indonesia), and its elements of a) Organising for big change, b) Brining new people on board and c) Ensuring a sustainable movement through trust, commitment and leadership.

Personal SYCA Theory of Change: If I provide the platform for more youth to be exposed to climate change knowledge and build up skills to scale up the climate action movement, then over time we will understand the complexities of climate change knowlegde and solutions around it, and work towards building more ground-up and coordinate actions to manage it.

Personal #LepakInSG Theory of Change: If I organise more events that leverage on people’s interest and use that as a platform to bring in sustainability related matters into the conversation topics, then over time more people will be exposed to this topic and see it as a mainstream topic/ the norm to be talking about it.

The Big Goal is to Build the Singapore Climate Movement.

How do I get there? Through training more climate leaders (SYCA) and through organise more fun events that talks about it (#LepakInSG).

*insert specifics likes SMART Goals, Targets, Tactics and Strategies*

The Singapore Eco Film Festival #SGEFF

SGEFF Water Pollution from Rachel Quek Siew Yean on Vimeo.

*check out this short film Rachel did for #SGEFF*

I haven’t been touching much on this except for the occasional tweets I help out with.

Cheryl and I did join in a meeting with Save That Pen and Ektory. So.. lookout for a super-cool looking structure made of pens at #SGEFFF 10-13 November!

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore‘s Special Project: The Haze: An Inquiry

Cheryl and the newspaper clippings

Cheryl at Amar Kanwar’s The Sovereign Forest Exhibition at NTU CCA. Ongoing till 9 October.

Yasmine, a Londoner who was travelling in Southeast Asia, and whom I met last year in Singapore, dropped me an email one day- 25 July, connecting me with her Philippines friend currently attached to NTU CCA. Long story short, I ended up going for Amar Kanwar’s talk on 30 July, went for his exhibition on 6 August (I recommend you visiting the exhibition), a talk on the ‘crime’ of haze on 12 August (it was good- looked at the crime of haze from that international relations perspective), and now am part of their research project taking place 13, 27 August and 10, 24 September.

I read the research project synopsis and went “huh”. I received the outline for the four sessions and went “huh”. I attended the first discussions and left with a “huh” too.

Before going for the first session, I was quite focused on sharing my take on on how Amar Kanwar perceives the ‘crime’ and ‘evidence’ as shown in his exhibition. For instance, I had interpreted Amar’s work to show that the crime was indeed present in the Odisha community in India- crime towards the environment and the land, towards the local community, the rice farmers, the lands miners, and that the evidence was shown through the use of newspaper clippings and activists stories. And, as a visitor who is hearing this for the first time, how he expressed the crime and evidence was interesting to me- community stories, media articles, questions of “who committed the crime? who planned the crime? who is responsible for the crime” These were all narratives and questions we could use in parallel when exploring the topic of Haze.

At the discussion, I found myself listening to this shift in conversation- from the haze issue to increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of rising energy consumption to how the exhibition lacked factual data. At one point I found myself asking the scientist in the room “What is your definition of haze?” I remember him and the person next to him replying me with both issues are talking about “particulate matter”, and then in my head I was thinking yes they are, but the average person don’t see it that way and what causes them to happen has a different backstory, and how we are trying to solve it is different too. But me being me, I was pretty much more comfortable listening and observing. And soon, the conversations turned to how Amar had approached his work and in general how different expressions have that tendency to reach out to certain types of people, and if that was the case, would there be a risk of having that work or intention to spread a certain cause, be limited to the circulation of that network only. How effective would this be? There were three artists in the room and I felt one had tried to point out that if that was the artistic direction Amar had wanted to take, then so be it, and I found myself agreeing to his views. Another artist then questioned why are we even using the word “Haze” – does it sound nice? Does it make the problem less serious? Why are we not describing it as it is, using a regional or local term, understandable by the community? I guess this was the point of having the discussion. There were about 15 of us in the room, and each of us came from a different background and saw things differently and had various thoughts to share. I personally am still processing and learning from all these talks, and looking forward to the other 3 sessions.

Meanwhile, Huiying, whom I first met through volunteering at Ground-Up Initiative is also part of the discussion group. Read her thoughts here.

Climate Change Working Group with Post-Museum


Taken on 26 April 2014. This was the only photo of the dance floor at Substation that I have.

On 1 August, Jennifer Teo of Post-Museum shared that she was planning a climate change working group in September to find out more about the various groups and effort to address climate change in Singapore and hopefully work towards an initiative that can take things a bit further. Meetings would take place 8, 15, 22, 29 September. She had asked if I wanted to lead a session and I said yes and only proposed something back to her on 12 August.

Post-Museum is currently part of Substation’s Residency program. And I think it was a mixture of my personal experience and unfulfilled wish + my ongoing exposure to NTU CCA + my sporadic memories of Substation  when I was helping out Agnes + the Substation venue being Singapore’s first independent arts theatre + some specific environmental issues in Singapore, that I decided to focus my session on 29 September on Arts and Climate Change: Exploring the Use of Public Performance in Singapore as a Social Narrative to the Climate Change Discourse. The session on 29 September is more of a discussion session. I have hopes to follow up on the “initiative that can take things a bit further” to do an actual performance.


Laksa at the newly opened Qiji @ NUH

Click here to the album #LaksaInSG Laksa Hunt Around Singapore!

My love of Laksas has driven me to sieve out my Laksa photos and start putting them in this Flickr album you see here. I have also started to organise #LaksaInSG outings with friends, the first being on 14 August. If you have great Laksa places to share, let me know!


Wednesday lunch with some PM Haze friends!

One day, perhaps Benjamin and I will share with the world the story behind #EatWithHandsInSG, which he first mentioned on Facebook on 10 August. For now, let’s just say that it has become our attempt to record the “intangible cultural heritage” of Singapore and the region. More to follow when we have developed the idea.

Other things in my head

  • Coursera- I signed up for 3 courses around the same time. 1 was on Global Diplomacy. 2 were on Oil, and I was supposed to completed all three by August.  I completed the diplomacy one and basically lagged behind on the oil ones. Not a good idea to take both oil ones at the same time. I do not intend to continue them at this point, considering I had decided to be part of the haze and climate change discussions till September. Not sure if I’m supposed to feel guilty or anything.. I also received an email asking if I wanted to a mentor for the diplomacy course. Not sure how I got selected.. It’s just the thought that I had to review some funny answers during my course possibly taking time to reply to funny questions later, that I got hesitant about this. I’m all for education and supporting each other’s learning. I’m just not confident I have the patience to communicate with strangers.. or just people with different wavelength than me in general.
  • Relationships- I value friendships. I’ll take time catching up with people I’ve not met for 6 years. I’ll take time to placate people I’ve not met in 9 years. But of course, ‘valuing’ something or putting an importance to someone is based around the fact on how I ‘see’ the person and how they treat me, be it in the past or present. Sometimes you just got to know how much focus, or distance even, to various groups of friends or friends.
  • Pokemon Go- As a game it is cool. But. I think with what is happening at Hougang Avenue 10, I think things got out of hands.
  • The Bill that is being talked about these days- There’s various opinion articles of sorts around it. I read the bill. And in short, I was/ am disappointed it was even proposed. And now I hear, after the 2nd reading today, it was passed.
  • Joseph Schooling and the Olympics- Where do I even start?

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