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 9789812308337, 9812308334

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The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) was established as an autonomous organization in 1968. It is a regional centre dedicated to the study of socio-political, security and economic trends and developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment. The Institute’s research programmes are the Regional Economic Studies (RES, including ASEAN and APEC), Regional Strategic and Political Studies (RSPS), and Regional Social and Cultural Studies (RSCS). ISEAS Publishing, an established academic press, has issued almost 2,000 books and journals. It is the largest scholarly publisher of research about Southeast Asia from within the region. ISEAS Publishing works with many other academic and trade publishers and distributors to disseminate important research and analyses from and about Southeast Asia to the rest of the world.

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First published in Singapore in 2008 by Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace Pasir Panjang Singapore 119614 E-mail: [email protected] Website: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. © Maria Francesch-Huidobro The responsibility for facts and opinions in this publication rests exclusively with the author and her interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views or the policy of the publisher or its supporters.

ISEAS Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Francesch-Huidobro, Maria. Governance, politics and the environment : a Singapore study. 1. Environmental policy—Singapore. 2. Corporate governance—Singapore. 3. Civil society—Singapore. 4. Singapore—Politics and government. I. Title. HC445.8 Z9E5F81 2008 ISBN 978-981-230-831-3 (soft cover) ISBN 978-981-230-832-0 (hard cover) ISBN 978-981-230-833-7 (PDF) Cover Photo: Courtesy of Edward Stokes. Typeset by Superskill Graphics Pte Ltd Printed in Singapore by Utopia Press Pte Ltd

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For Helmut Who helps me to understand that real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance

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CONTENTS

List of Tables

x

List of Figures

xii

Foreword

xiii

Preface

xv

Abbreviations

xviii

1

INTRODUCTION Background of the Problem Overview of the Analytical Framework Methodology and Research Design Outline of Chapters

1 7 11 14 16

2

GOVERNANCE AS FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS Introduction Governance Concepts and Ideas Governance and its Domains: The State and Civil Society Governance and Organizations Governance and Environmental Policy

19 19 20 28 48 67

3

SINGAPORE GOVERNANCE IN FLUX Introduction Governance, State and Civil Society

87 87 87 vii

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viii

4

5

6

7

Contents

Governance and Organizations Governance and Environmental Policy

131 149

THE POWER OF PERSUASION: CONSERVING SUNGEI BULOH Introduction Background NGO Proposal and Government Response Governance in Action: Context, Organizations and Plans Outcomes and Lessons A Disciplined Governance Approach: The Power of Persuasion

165 165 166 169 177 207 217

THE POWER OF PROTESTATION: DEGAZETTING THE LOWER PEIRCE RESERVOIR CATCHMENT AREA Introduction Background Government Proposal and NGO Response Governance in Action: Context and Organizations Continuous Debate Outcomes and Lessons A Disciplined Governance Approach: The Power of Protestation

221 221 222 222 231 234 240 242

THE POWER OF CIRCUMVENTION: FIGHTING THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN FOREST FIRES AND HAZE Introduction Background NGO Proposals, and Government and ASEAN Responses Governance in Action: Context and Organizations Outcome and Lessons A Disciplined Governance Approach: The Power of Circumvention CONCLUSION AND THEORETICAL REFLECTIONS From Governing to Governance A Disciplined Governance Approach to the Environment: The Power of Persuasion, Protestation and Circumvention

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245 245 246 252 266 277 278 282 282 285

Contents

ix

The Way Ahead: Extrapolations for Singapore’s Civil Society, Democracy and Governance Path Limitations and Future Research APPENDICES Appendix I: Major Environmental Laws in Singapore Appendix II: Singapore Green Map Appendix III: Ministry of National Development Organizational Chart Appendix IV: Subject Groups’ Recommendations and URA/NParks Reponses to Master Plan Appendix V: Urban Redevelopment Authority Organization Structure Appendix VI: National Parks Board Organization Structure Appendix VII: Public Utilities Board Organizational Chart Appendix VIII: Ministry of the Environment Organizational Chart Appendix IX: National Environment Agency Organizational Chart Appendix X: Remaking Singapore Committee Recommendations and Government Responses Appendix XI: List of Major Statutory Boards in Singapore Appendix XII: List of Interviews

295 305 307 307 312 313 314 338 339 341 342 343 344 352 354

References

355

Index

377

About the Author

395

ix

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 2.1 Table 2.2 Table 2.3 Table 2.4 Table 2.5 Table 2.6

The Governance Paradigm Dimensions of Social Capital Classification of NPOs Regulations versus Economic Instruments Classification of Environmental Pressure Groups Environmental Groups’ Forms of Action

Table 3.1

Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong: Leadership Styles Compared Singapore Characteristics Singapore: From the “Old” to the “New” Governance Paradigm Institutional Mechanisms of Policy Process Singapore’s Recent Administrative and Political Reforms Classification of Singapore NGOs SGP 2012 Areas and Targets (excluding public health targets)

Table 3.2 Table 3.3 Table 3.4 Table 3.5 Table 3.6 Table 3.7

Table 4.1 Table 4.2 Table 4.3 Table 4.4 Table 4.5

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Sungei Buloh Conservation: Chronology of Events Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Singapore, ASEAN and International Environment Landmarks: Chronology of Events Government Agencies Involved in the Sungei Buloh Case Making Nature Areas More Accessible — Northern Wetlands

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20 42 57 78 79 80

91 93 95 110 115 143 156 167 168 181 185 191

List of Tables

xi

Table 4.6 Table 4.7 Table 4.8 Table 4.9 Table 4.10 Table 4.11

Government Agencies’ Operating Expenditure (S$ Mil) Government Agencies Personnel NSS Views on Singapore Green Plan 2012 MNS and NSS Presidents and Their Background Common Players NSS Campaigns 1985–2003

197 197 200 204 208 210

Table 5.1 Table 5.2

Central Catchment Area Lower Peirce Reservoir Golf Course Proposal: Chronology of Events

223

Table 6.1

Southeast Asian Forest Fires: Chronology of Events

248

Table 7.1

Governance and Disciplined Governance: Contrasting Conceptual Notions

293

225

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1.1 Framework of Analysis

13

Figure 3.1 Evolving State-Civil Society Relations Figure 3.2 Evolution of Social Capital Status

124 125

Figure 4.1 Sungei Buloh Environs Figure 4.2 Flow Chart of Singapore Planning Process

166 189

Figure 6.1 Satellite Image of Haze over Southeast Asia 1998

246

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FOREWORD

Governance is a multidimensional phenomenon. It is sensitive to context by being applicable in various guises to different political systems in the developed and developing world alike. There are institutional components in the form of structures, rules, operational modes, and performance expectations. The significance of responsibility, responsiveness and legitimacy is appreciated, with a keen eye on control and accountability. The arrangements are containable within state boundaries, while also transcending such boundaries by embracing relationships both between states and across state-market-civil society divides nationally and internationally. Fundamentally, governance as a political, social and economic construct is all about the existence, use and consequences of power. Power is distributed, exercised, and has effects in numerous ways, on which theories, models and ideas about governance serve to focus attention, both analytically and practically. The analytical comprises frameworks to guide and inform detailed empirical inquiries, while the practical includes measures that are influenced by, and ideally enhance, the everyday experience of designing, taking and reviewing policy initiatives. An underlying aim is to develop a well-honed capacity to understand and manage collective action as a matter of public interest and significance. This book appropriately adopts a governance perspective in seeking to assess and make sense of environmental politics and policy in Singapore as a city-state with an interesting governmental system. The intriguing notion of “disciplined governance” underpins the analysis, with its origins in an appreciation of how illiberal democracies are usually structured and run by a tightly knit political-administrative elite. The elite has an ongoing interest in xiii

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Foreword

maintaining direct and strict control, but can often over time expand its deliberative processes to involve sections of the wider society. It does this as a strategy of confined and contained inclusiveness either by itself recognizing the merits of such action, by force of political and social circumstances, or by a combination thereof. The issues of discipline and strategy are explored through selected case studies which highlight different, but related, aspects of how state-society relations in Singapore have been forged and managed in response to matters of considerable environmental importance. The studies are detailed and clear in their depiction of key actors in terms of their motivations, involvement and interaction. The findings contain important lessons about the power of “persuasion”, “protestation”, and “circumvention” which are relevant not only, respectively, to the specific areas of environmental concern in each case, but also to ways in which state-society relations are likely in future to be configured and played out in other areas of public interest and activity. The case analyses have the added value of confirming the utility of case study methodology. Each case is a fascinating story of politics and policy in action. There are plots, themes and threads that are fleshed out and supported by comprehensive interview material, coupled with extensive documentarybased evidence and insights. The result is a rich discussion of political and policy dynamics of the kind which only case studies are normally able to facilitate. The book is to be commended for making a significant contribution to the literature on environmental governance, politics and policy. It is hoped and expected that its compelling analytical framework, supported by rigorous description and reasoning, will stimulate other scholars to explore comparatively the extent to which both the framework and findings are applicable to other systems of government and governance, illiberal or otherwise. Ian Thynne Charles Darwin University Australia

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PREFACE

The idea for writing this book arose from my theoretical concerns about the ways modernizing illiberally democratic states manage state-society relations and how such relations in turn affect public policy decisions. I am intrigued by the interplay of government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) relations within the Singapore environmental sector over Goh Chok Tong’s fourteen years in power (1990–2004) during which claims have been made of greater inclusion of civil society actors in policy decisions. I suggest that these relations are crucial for understanding Singapore’s ongoing process of state formation and reconstitution occurring outside the formal structures of power. While I observe a strong paternalistic Singaporean state and its sustained capacity for governability, I also observe the equally strong emerging demands from below on policy decisions. Sweeping regional changes to the sustainability of the ‘one party’ system model, most recently in Malaysia, certainly reinforce the commitment to this academic venture. These two observations got me thinking. First, that research on environmental issues and policies in East and Southeast Asia in the past two decades had focused mainly on existing institutional mechanisms of environmental management, the establishment of new environmental management structures, the introduction of incentives to improve natural capital and foster environmental protection, and the culture of environmental or ‘green’ groups. Virtually no rigorous research had been directed towards the nature and significance of the existing relationship between government and environmental civil society in individual countries and how this relationship may evolved. Second, that the studies about Singapore statesociety relations had dealt mainly with discussions on these relations with xv

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regards to political oppositions or with general state-society conceptualisations. Subsequent studies on the activities and public participation of Southeast Asia NGOs in various areas of policy with reference to Singapore had only been a new version of earlier works on conceptualisations, and more recently, with the actions, motives and impact that the internal dynamics the Green Voluntary Movement, a ‘green’ coalition, may have had on Singapore’s political landscape. This book has been a long time in the writing. The past few years have been challenging and rewarding. I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all those who have walked with me along this important period of my life. Dr Ian Thynne, former Visiting Associate Professor of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), not only readily agreed to guide me in my writing but was through the process a source of knowledge, encouragement and generous support. From Dr Thynne I have not only learned how to ‘muddle through rationally’ in the often tumultuous waters of social enquiry but also to comprehend what it takes to be a respectable academic. Chair Professor of Politics and Public Administration, Professor John Burns; Dr Danny Lam; Dr Sonny Loh; Dr Miron Mushkat and Dr Lucy Cummings, were always available to lend their ears to puzzling queries and were ready to loan from their libraries. I also want to thank the Department of Politics and Public Administration for offering me a grant that enabled me to work on this project. I must also thank the Committee on Research and Conference Grants (HKU) for a travel grant allowing me to spend time in Singapore. Many others in Hong Kong, from and outside HKU, have contributed to making this project possible. I particularly wish to thank Professor Ian Holliday, former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, CityU, for several informal stimulating discussions at ‘Oliver’s Super Sandwiches’; Dr Y.S. Lee, Associate Professor of the Department of Geography (HKU) for allowing me to sit in his lectures on Environmentalism; Leo Goodstadt, for sharp and provocative conversations on Singapore politics; Professor Garry Rodan, Director of the Asia Research Centre (Murdoch) for insightful comments on early drafts; Professor Ian Scott, Dr Vivienne Wee and Prakash Metaparti who spared the time to read and comment on my work; Teem Wing Yip, for spending part of her holidays proofreading the material; Ed Stokes, for helpful comments on NGOs work; and the many colleagues who with their camaraderie made these years worth living: Dr Chris Skene, Dr Terence Yuen, Michelle Lui, Yolanda Tam, Dr Rikkie Au Yeung, Dr Alain Guilloux, Alex Chan; Dr Daniel Olivier, Roger Lee, Dr Benson Wong, Kelvin Sit, Dr Xiaoqi Wang, Liu Ning, Li Jing, Jonathan

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Yu, Benny To, Dr James K., Dr Tim Sim, Dr Amy Sim, Marta Dowejko, and Dr Charles Morfo. Many in Singapore have also contributed to make this study possible either by being valuable informants, sharp critics, or by simply making my stay during field trips to the city not only intellectually fruitful but also personally fulfilling. As my informants have chosen to remain anonymous I can only thank my Singapore friends and those who contributed to making the logistics of fieldwork possible. In particular, I thank Professor Lee Lai To, former Head of the Department of Political Science of National University of Singapore (NUS) and Professor Jon Quah, Professor of Political Science of the Department of Political Science (NUS) for accommodating me in their Department during fieldwork. I also thank Dr Kenneth Tan, Assistant Professor of the Department of Political Science (NUS) who spared the time to discuss the intrigues of Singapore’s civil society. I thank the Institute of South East Asian Studies’ administrative and library staff, particularly Mrs Y.L. Lee, Head of Administration, Miss Ch’ng Kim See, Head Librarian, and D. Gandhimathy, Head of Reference and Library Information Services, for accommodating my many requests. Rashidah Bte Salleh, Eusoff Hall (NUS) Administrator not only made my stay at the Hall possible but, with her ever ready smile, was a source of solace after a day’s work. Mrs Cheah-Khoo Suit Poh and Mrs Yang-Peh Soh Bee arranged access to the Library of Parliament and spared the time to help me retrieve material, I thank them too. Scholars from the Public Policy Programme at the NUS (now Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy) shared their knowledge and friendship. Among them I must thank Dr Ong Jin Hui, Dr Mukul Asher, Dr Scott Fritzen, Dr M. Ramesh, Professor Jan-Erik Lane and Dr Caroline Brassard. Two scholars from the Asia Research Institute (ARI), Dr Geoff Wade and Dr Theresa Devasahayam helped retrieve material after I left Singapore. Finally, June Fong, Conchi La Orden, Sharifah Ismail and family, and Wai Yin Pryke and family showed their hospitality and made my stays in Singapore truly enjoyable. I cannot end without thanking my family who, from afar, were always a source of inspiration and love. Maria Francesch-Huidobro The University of Hong Kong Hong Kong, China

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ABBREVIATIONS

ADB AMP APCEL APEC APU ASEAN ASEAN SOM ASEAN-ISIS ASOEN AWARE BAPEDAL BCD BDIPSS BG CBA CBOs CCCs CCs CDAC CDCs CED CEF CFC

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Asian Development Bank Association of Muslim Professionals Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Anti-Pollution Unit Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting ASEAN Institute of Strategic and International Studies ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment Association of Women for Action and Research Badan Pengendalian Dampak Lingkungan Environmental Impact Management Agency (Indonesia) Building Control Division Brunei Darussalam Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies Brigadier General Cost Benefit Analysis Community Based Organizations Citizens’ Consultative Committees Community Centres Chinese Development Assistance Council Community Development Councils Consolidated Emissions Directive Central Environment Fund Scheme Common Fund for Commodities

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Abbreviations

xix

CGIFF CICP CRISP-NUS

Consultative Group on Indonesian Forests Cambodian Institute for Cooperation & Peace Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing of the National University of Singapore Centre for Strategic and International Studies (Jakarta) Development Guide Plans Deputy Prime Minister Economic Development Board Environmental Impact Assessments Ministry of the Environment Environment Protection Agency (U.S.) European Union Feedback Unit Gross Domestic Product Geographical Information Systems Government Linked Companies Gross National Product Government Non-Governmental Organizations Global Positioning Systems Group Representation Constituency Global Social Capital Survey German-Singapore Environmental Transboundary Agency Housing Development Board Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation Institute of Foreign Affairs Lao People’s Republic International Forest Fires News International Federation of Parks and Recreation Association Institute for International Relations (Vietnam) International Monetary Fund Institute of Policy Studies Internal Security Act Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (Philippines) Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Malaysia) Institute of Security and International Studies (Thailand) International Organization for Standardization Industry Skills Standard Committee International Tropical Timber Organization International World Conservation Union

CSIS DPGs DPM EDB EIAs ENV EPA EU FU GDP GIS GLCs GNP GONGOs GPS GRC GSCS GSETA HDB HSBC IFA IFFN IFPRA IIR IMF IPS ISA ISDS ISEW ISIS ISIS ISO ISSC ITTO IUCN

xix

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MHA MINDEF MNCs MND MNS MPs MRT MSD MTI MYR NAFTA NCMP NEA NEPIs NGOs NMPs NParks NPM NPOs NSmen NSRCC NSRS NSS NTUC NUS OB Markers OCHA OECD PAB PAP PAs PFFSEA PHKA PMSC PS21 PSC PSD PSI PUB

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Abbreviations

Ministry of Home Affairs Ministry of Defence Multinational Companies Ministry of National Development Malayan Nature Society Members of Parliament Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (Singapore) Meteorological Services Division Ministry of Trade and Industry Malaysian Ringgit North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement Non-Constituency Members of Parliament National Environment Agency New Environment Policy Instruments Non-governmental Organizations Nominated Members of Parliament National Parks Board New Public Management Non-Profit Organizations National Servicemen National Service Resort and Country Club National Skills Recognition System Nature Society (Singapore) National Trades Union Congress National University of Singapore Out-of-Bound Markers Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (UN) Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Public Administration Branch People’s Action Party People’s Association Project Fire Fight Southeast Asia Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (Indonesia) Personnel Management Steering Committee Public Service 21 Public Service Commission Public Service Division Pollutants Standard Index Public Utilities Board

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Abbreviations

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PWD QUANGOs R&D RCs RSC S21 SAFRA SBWR SDC SEAs SEC SG SGP SIIA SINDA SPCP TCs Tote Board TWC UBC UK UN/ECE UNCED

Public Works Department Quasi-Non-Governmental Organizations Research and Development Residents’ Committees Remaking Singapore Committee Singapore 21 Singapore Armed Forces Recreation Association Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Sentosa Development Corporation Strategic Environmental Assessments Singapore Environment Council Subject Group Singapore Green Plan Singapore Institute of International Affairs Singapore Indian Development Association Special and Detailed Control Plans Town Councils Totalisator Board (Singapore) The Working Committee on Civil Society University of British Columbia United Kingdom United Nations Economic Commission for Europe United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development United Nations Environment Programme Urban Redevelopment Authority United States Union of Soviet Socialist Republics World Bank World Commission on Environment and Development World Health Organization World Meteorological Organization World Wide Fund for Nature World War II

UNEP URA U.S. USSR WB WCED WHO WMO WWF WWII

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Reproduced from Governance, Politics and the Environment: A Singapore Study by Maria Francesch-Huidobro (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher onIntroduction condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without 1 the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

1 INTRODUCTION

In an era of numerous government reorganizations and reforms, governance has become the latest catchword in public administration theory and practice. This suggests that modern states have undergone a metamorphosis: they are no longer managed by governments that maintain order and facilitate collective action, but are led by mechanisms that do not necessarily rely solely on government authority and approval. Kooiman (1993, p. 4) explains governance as follows: No single actor, public or private, has all the knowledge and information required to solve complex, dynamic and diversified problems; no actor has sufficient overview to make the application of particular instruments effective; no single actor has sufficient action potential to dominate unilaterally in a particular governing model.

As Chapter Two will reveal, governance is fraught with problems, the most pressing of which appears to be a lack of clarity about its actual meaning. This is compounded by its application as an alternative approach to governing, which may be particularly problematic as it causes unintended side effects to reorganization processes involving private, public, and voluntary organizations (Greca 2002; Salamon 2002, p. 12). As a concept and framework for analysis, governance has received theoretical and empirical attention from public administration scholars in the Anglo-American and Continental European traditions (Kooiman 1993; Pierre and Peters 2000; Peters 2002; Salamon 2002). Yet, it has rarely been applied to specific countries outside these traditions or to particular policy domains. 1

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Governance, Politics and the Environment

Thus, this book attempts to analyse the liberalizing process of an illiberally democratic system, namely, Singapore, by focusing on governance changes and practices pertaining to state-society relations in the past fourteen years (1990–2004). The argument is that such relations are crucial for understanding the ongoing process of state formation and reconstitution outside the formal structures of power. The book examines the contextual, organizational and sectoral factors that influence this relationship in the area of environmental and nature conservation policies. Existing studies on state-society relations in Singapore have discussed these relations with regard to political opposition in the mid-1990s (Rodan 1996), general conceptualizations of these relations (Koh and Ooi 2000), the dynamics of citizens’ participation in the policy process (Ho 2000), and the activities and public participation of Southeast Asian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in various areas of policy (Lee 2004). The chapter on Singapore in this last study was simply a revision of Koh and Ooi’s earlier work on conceptualizations (Koh and Ooi 2004). The purpose of this book is to address this gap in the literature from a “governance theory” perspective that focuses on state adaptation to the external environment and new forms of coordination and collaboration between government and civil society to tackle new societal problems. The main reason for choosing this perspective is that unlike other existing theories and approaches, governance acknowledges that such adaptations have altered the nature of public management and of the overall steering capacity of states1 (Pierre and Peters 2003, p. 4; Burns 2004; Peters 2004, p. 5). Moreover, the role of civil society organizations in public affairs is increasingly prominent with a wide range of relationships being forged between state and non-state actors in many areas of organized activity. An understanding of these relationships informed by rigorous and comprehensive empirical investigation via case studies is essential. Thus, this book is more precisely about relationships between government and NGOs with reference to the environment sector in which NGOs play an active role. While there is a large body of literature on the state and the characteristics of civil society, the focus on their interrelationships is less developed in terms of the implications these have for governance and for the more specific aspects of public policy. Moreover, while the literature on environmental politics and policies is equally large, studies have rarely focused on the role of civil society, and especially the role of NGOs. Also, while there is an ever-expanding literature on NGOs, it is still limited in terms of case material that seeks to describe and analyse their role in relation to specific countries and sectors, including the environment. 2

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Singapore and Environmental Policy There are two main reasons for choosing Singapore and the environment as the empirical focus of the book. First, Singapore has been an independent republic since 1965 and theoretically, a democracy — a representative democracy, one-party system — where political rights are availed through elections, but where civil liberties are restricted through legal and administrative means and where the voluntary sector is underdeveloped. Although there are significant gaps in the literature on present-day Singapore, it can be argued that the political accountability, participation, and transparency discourses that emerged especially after the “unexpected” 1997–98 Asian economic crisis showed that the Singapore model was not indestructible (Rodan 2001). Since then, academic research agendas have appeared to fill in the gap with regard to questions about the internal operations of bureaucracies and public institutions. One of these agendas is the growing interest in state-society relations and the adaptation of the political regime to the emerging socioeconomic order. The Singapore Government is also currently trying to develop a model in which a vibrant civil society is compatible with a strong government. Is the government’s goal to promote political participation and further liberalization or to continue building political support? Does the future hold the prospect of equal opportunity for government-initiated organizations and autonomous groups? Second, the city-state is faced with the dilemma of sustained economic growth and limited land use, which represents a challenge to environmental protection policy-makers who have to decide on issues of nature conservation versus urbanization; environmental protection versus fast economic growth. A former British colony, Singapore has seen the rise of a local, capitalist middle class as a direct by-product of economic development. These facts have had a profound impact on the focus and nature of its political processes, the most evident being the formation of interest groups demanding non-material benefits such as political participation, multi-party politics, environmental clean-up and a freer press (Thomas 1999, pp. 4, 15, 16). Moreover, the economic and social sustainability of small, highly urbanized places largely depends on their commitment to nature conservation and environmental protection. This has been recognized in the last two World Summits on the Environment — Rio 1992 and Johannesburg 2002. But, as indicated in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration,2 serious commitment to nature conservation and environmental protection is not possible without the participation of all stakeholders, including all concerned citizens. Thus, the environment is an area of public policy that is suitable for studying 3

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Governance, Politics and the Environment

state-society relations and how the various actors involved network — a policy issue involving the relationship between government actors and private NGOs that cuts across several substantive fields and where the interaction between public policy and the activities of NGOs is seen in a wide range of different areas. For these reasons, one must acknowledge Singapore’s uniqueness and intellectual interest. Various scholars (Rodan 1996; Rodan 2001; Cheung and Scott 2003; Worthington 2003; Chua 2005) argue that the city-state does not seem to obey the basic rules of political science, that is, Singapore is the only affluent nation in the world that is not a genuine liberal democracy. It has had one-party rule and a semi-authoritarian regime for forty years, but has maintained long-term economic growth. This has created a large middle class that has so far neither managed to develop a viable political opposition to the regime nor demanded full democracy. The government was led for forty years by a charismatic leader Lee Kuan Yew, but a personality cult seems non-existent. The bureaucracy has direct power over key financial and other resources, but the level of corruption is negligible. Thus, one can ask: is there something very right or very wrong about the city-state? It may be time for political scientists to stop applying intellectually fashionable concepts with which to straightjacket Singapore and instead explain the “realpolitik” of how this country is run and what the political processes it is going through actually are (Worthington 2003). This study is thus an attempt to find a governance type that best explains the Singapore reality. This is not to suggest that various theoretical approaches such as political participation in developmental states, civil society dynamics, and game theory are not legitimate and relevant to the Singapore case. Rather, this study argues that they have little explanatory power with regard to a country that is not classified as a liberal democracy, an autocracy, an oligarchy, or an élitist regime. Singapore is a polity with a mixture of coercion and consent.

Case Studies The criteria used for selecting the particular cases where government and NGOs interacted were those where the NGOs involved had the highest level of interaction with government, the maximum catalyzing effect for subsequent cases and the maximum national and international impact. The rationale behind this was that since the coordination of societal actors is very complex, 4

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there is a need to enhance our understanding of forms of coordination through explorative in-depth case studies that seek to locate these forms of coordination. Moreover, the availability and accessibility of primary data were essential criteria for selecting a given case. In deciding which NGOs to study, those that were key players in the selected cases and that fulfilled the criterion of having an organizational base, are private or non-governmental,3 non-profit making, self-governing and voluntary, were chosen (Salamon and Anheier 1992b). Thus, the three case narratives serve the general purpose of any study of policy and administration namely: bringing fresh knowledge to an existing situation and set of circumstances, and helping to formulate hypotheses about policy and governance progression. The cases investigated are as follows: •





The Conservation of Sungei Buloh (1986–89), a pioneering case of nature conservation, and its impact on subsequent nature conservation campaigns. The Campaign Against Degazetting the Lower Peirce Reservoir Catchment Area (1990–92), a case of golf course development versus nature conservation, and its effect on subsequent debates on golf course construction versus nature preservation. The Southeast Asian Forest Fires (1997–98), a case of trans-boundary air pollution and trans-boundary cooperation across states and between state and non-state actors.

The Puzzle The study identifies research questions and tries to evaluate the feasibility of answering them in terms of time and resources, and their relevance in terms of their being substantial, scientifically relevant, and socially important. The following questions are addressed: •

• •

What is the nature and significance of government–environmental NGOs relations in Singapore? How are these relations changing and evolving, and if so, what factors influence these changes? How do these changing/evolving relations affect environmental governance in Singapore as elicited by the analysed case studies? Are existing governance approaches appropriate for explaining these phenomena? If not, does an alternative governance approach have better explanatory power? Why? 5

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Can extrapolations be made about the overall governance path of Singapore in terms of the progression of civil society and democracy?

These questions are especially relevant because development in Singapore is having and will continue to have a growing global and regional impact in terms of environmental security, international funding, and investment. Also, Singapore civil society is beginning to take on roles that the state and the market are failing to take on (reactive approach), as well as other roles such as intellectual and visionary, advocate, problem-solver, watchdog, educator, service provider, and philanthropist (the proactive approach) (Zarsky and Tay 2000). Answers to these questions are worth seeking because better environmental quality is fundamental to the sustainable development of the city-state and the region in terms of long-term economic prosperity and social well-being.

The Propositions The study puts forward the thesis that Singapore environmental governance is undergoing a process of liberalization through the inclusion of NGOs in policies related to the protection of the environment and nature conservation. This process is influenced by contextual, organizational, and policy-specific factors. A governance approach where the state, civil society, governmentNGO relations and environmental protection have specific characteristics is adopted in the study as a tool for analysing this process. This approach clearly acknowledges an alteration in the nature of public management that is only partly acknowledged in existing theories and approaches. The analyses of country and case studies indicate that a variant approach has better explanatory power for the Singapore case. For present purposes, this approach is called the “disciplined governance approach”. The book thus makes the following propositions: Proposition 1: Governance as a concept and a set of ideas is a valuable tool for analysing the process of liberalization of Singapore environmental politics due to its recognition of the role of NGOs in this process and the existence of collaborative arrangements among players. A governance approach to governing recognizes various types of relations between the players within different domains resulting in various types of governance order, mainly hierarchical governance, co-governance and self-governance. Experience to date indicates that governance in the Singapore environmental policy arena is 6

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sometimes consultative, but strategically contained, such that the idea of “disciplined governance” is an appropriate way of characterizing the emerging situation. Proposition 2: The state is central to governance in theory and in practice. In the governance approach to governing, the nature of the state is democratic. The idea of “disciplined governance” is more appropriately equated with a state that is illiberally or limitedly democratic and overtly paternalistic. Organizations of the state representing the environment policy domain that are analysed in the case studies have these characteristics. Proposition 3: Organizations of civil society, notably NGOs, are an increasingly prominent feature of governance. In the governance approach, the nature of civil society is confrontational, active, and free, with the relations between government and NGOs being those of a partnership. The idea of “disciplined governance” sees organizations as being co-opted and subordinated by the state while also retaining a limited space for semi-autonomous action. Instead of a partnership, the “disciplined governance” approach elicits a patronus-libertus (master-freed slave) type of relationship. Although environmental NGOs are outside the more direct structures of political co-optation, they remain constrained by the state in various ways. Proposition 4: A governance approach to environmental protection often favours the protection of the environment and nature. “Disciplined governance” regards many issues of environmental protection and nature conservation as being secondary and opposed to economic growth, with the environment and its champions winning some skirmishes, but normally losing the overall protection battle.

BACKGROUND OF THE PROBLEM Despite the threats that Islamic fundamentalism,4 territorial disputes,5 and diplomatic rows over World War II legacies currently present to the region’s stability (Asian Wall Street Journal 22/24 April 2005), scholars foresee that Southeast Asian countries will continue to move down the path of democratization, liberalization, and pluralization largely due to responses to globalization, rapid economic growth and the consequent development of a stronger middle class (Loh and Ojendal 2005; see also The Economist 20/24 April 2004). Thus, civil society groups are expected to play a larger 7

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role in political life by articulating general concerns, both of a local and global character, such as about the environment (Yamamoto 1995). But even if the ability of civil society to drive constructive changes in environmental governance is enhanced in a more democratic political regime, conditions of political repression, deterioration of basic ecosystems, and depletion of natural resources are still likely to stir up civil society action. Civil society, in short, is likely to be a key variable in any scenario. How will it be allowed to participate in charting Southeast Asia’s future? What particular role will it play? To be able to assess the current state of any given civil society, an initial observation about civil society elements is required. Beetham and Boyle (1995, pp. 107–08) argue that the elements of civil society include “a market economy; independent media and communications; sources of expertise on all aspects of government policy that are independent of the state; and above all, a flourishing network of voluntary associations in all areas of social life through which people manage their own affairs”. Without disregarding the other important elements, this book sets out to observe the strength and significance of civil society against the last element — the growth and strength of voluntary organizations, specifically of environmental NGOs, and their ability to network.

Testing Old Assumptions Against this background, the study sets out to examine Singapore civil society. Existing assumptions are that Singapore civil society is generally weak as the state influences every aspect of life in the name of regulation, rationalization and economic development. Nevertheless, people who desire a different quality of life than what is being offered by the “air-conditioned nation” have no choice but to engage the political system (George 2000). Thus, environmental civic groups have emerged looking to protect their interests while seeking to avoid being seen as challenging government dominance. For example, as will be discussed in detail later, in 1991, the Malayan Nature Society (MNS), renamed the Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) in 1992, released its own Conservation Master Plan, endorsed by the government and incorporating some of its proposals to the Singapore Green Plan (SGP) of 1992, now revised as SGP 2012. Yet, conservationists still fear that housing, road building and golf courses will take precedence if controversies arise, as they often have. This, like other cases, illustrates the special challenges of civic action in Singapore. 8

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The above commonly held assumptions about the weakness of civil society in Singapore and the equally commonly held assumptions that government–civil society relations are in natural opposition in the city-state are questioned by critics (Thomas 1999, p. 114). Thus, systematic and comprehensive empirical observations are needed to develop a model of government–civil society relations and their connection to the creation of liberal democratic ideals and institutions from authoritarian regimes that are liberalizing due to pressure exercised by voluntary associations, NGOs, and social movements. Therefore, although this study bases its initial propositions on commonly held assumptions, it takes an inductive approach to explore and investigate phenomena to see what is happening in the real world.

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally Scholars researching into civil society and its ingredients, such as social capital, trust, and cohesion, argue that the successful realization of minimal government and modern democracy requires as end result the fostering of cooperation between individuals and the promotion of associational life, or what social scientists describe as civil society (Putnam 1995). Critics, on the other hand, affirm that much of what has been defined as civil society merely constitutes interest groups trying to divert public resources to their favoured causes (Fukuyama 2001). Yet, it is evident that in recent years, there has been an enormous rise in organized, public voluntary activity all over the world, responding to the inaction or ineffectiveness of governments and business on issues ranging from environmental degradation to human rights. Moreover, globally, civil society groups are increasingly involved in environmental policymaking and governance. The nature of their involvement will likely broaden and evolve in substance. Similarly, in Southeast Asia, the last few years have seen a remarkable growth in the number of NGOs and community-based organizations (CBOs), and in their ability to precipitate change. Civil society has addressed environmental problems exacerbated by rapid development and economic growth in the region. The sector is currently succeeding in getting issues onto government policy agendas, changing patterns of behaviour and consumption, and raising awareness overall in Southeast Asian societies (Hopkinson 2000). Moreover, civil societies in the region are playing a major role in promoting better environmental governance through a variety of means. It is argued that failure to enlist civil society in the protection of the environment leads to the worsening of environmental problems, the loss of funding for environmental 9

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protection programmes, and an overall deterioration of environmental security in a region that has begun to play a significant role in global governance. In Southeast Asia, governments’ inability to effectively deliver environmental policy and management is often related to a lack of political will, to fiscal constraints, to a lack of regulatory capacity, and to the pressures of competition in the global arena (Hopkinson 2000; Zarsky and Tay 2000). Involving civil society in environmental protection requires building the capacity of civil society. Capacity building relates to strategic planning, organizational improvement, market principles applied to public growth, and empowerment (Ganesan 2002). In environmental issues, it requires raising awareness by facilitating access to information and effective environmental education, and motivation by giving explicit information about the relations between the environment, livelihood, and health. Motivating factors are also found in cultural traditions, religious beliefs, and role models. Finally, capacity building requires action that is directly related to the exercise of the civil and political rights of every person in the community (Zarsky and Tay 2000). In the final analysis, it can be argued that civil society is the operative catalyst for implementing social change and providing the political mandate for action on environmental issues. A strong environmental movement from citizens will strengthen the accountability of government and business on environmental policy and management programmes that will ultimately benefit the region (Hopkinson 2000). An all-encompassing development mentality of unrestrained short-term growth regardless of the long-term consequences has led to unprecedented ecological degradation in the region. Ironically, this “fast-track” development undermines the prospects of future growth and prosperity. In the absence of a strong and active civil society to prevent and counteract the effects of unsustainable growth patterns, environmental degradation will become more serious. Its severity will ultimately undermine economic development and, in turn, have serious social consequences. It is in the interests of governments and corporations everywhere to capitalize on the intelligence, expertise, and talent that exist in the community (Hopkinson 2000). Thus, this study reveals that despite the command and control, and administrative rationality approaches that Singapore has traditionally taken to environmental protection and ecological preservation, civil society groups, which are usually non-confrontational, aiming rather to influence the policy process by providing alternative solutions, have worked successfully to influence thinking and policy on key environmental policy and governance issues. One can assume, therefore, that a certain degree of social capital is manifested in relations of trust, reciprocity and exchanges, common rules, norms and 10

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sanctions, connectedness, networks, and groups in Singapore (Pretty and Ward 2001). Through the lens of the environmental sector, this study looks at the progression of civil society and how NGOs are pressing for responsiveness and responsibility in the city-state. Among the various capacity-building requirements for the future of Southeast Asia, enhancing the role of civil society and of NGOs to guarantee that enough pressure is placed on authorities, seems fundamental. This is needed to ensure that, at the regional level, environmental governance replaces the development-driven mentality in the public and private sectors. It will also add capacity to deal with global environmental problems. This study argues that what is needed is more and better information about environmental action groups in Singapore and the issues they are involved with, whether successfully or not. This is necessary in order to understand whether they are just a passing phenomenon or a significant presence that is changing the scenario of environmental policy and governance in the city-state. The task of this study, therefore, is to discover the underlying approach to governing or propose a new one in the hope that the results will be of academic significance and have important implications for policy.

OVERVIEW OF THE ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK As mentioned earlier, the framework for analysis is provided by the concept of governance, specifically the dimension that focuses on the role of nongovernmental actors in producing public policies (Peters 2002, p. 167). In strictly intellectual terms, governance is a way of viewing the world of politics and government that helps to focus attention on things that happen and the way they happen. It is a return to Lasswell’s (1935) basics: “Who gets what?” (Pierre and Peters 2000, p. 24). As Chapter Two will show, governance is not only a contested term, but it is also one the meaning of which continues to evolve. Nevertheless, a precise definition of the concept is necessary for it to be a useful tool for analysis and a helpful explanation of the governing process. In this book, governance is defined as: Patterns of interaction between the state and civil society and the various processes of coordination and collaboration between government and NGOs for policy-making, as well as the participation of non-state actors in the policy process.

Voluntary and public institutions and their relationships in the environmental policy domain, and specific case studies are scrutinized to 11

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unveil which type of interaction is institutionalized among them (i.e. interferences, interplays, interventions) and within which type of governance order (i.e. self-governance, co-governance, hierarchical governance) (Greca 2002, p. 10). Governance is supplemented by two other bodies of theory that it builds on: the theory of policy networks, which explicates the existence of a systematic set of relationships between political actors who share a common interest in a particular area, with these relationships typically cutting across formal institutional arrangements and the divide between government and nongovernmental bodies (Heywood 2002, p. 406); and the principal-agent theory, which argues that accessibility and wealth of information on the part of agents empower them against principals (Salamon 2002). Both theories are further elaborated in Chapter Two. Thus, this book is firmly grounded on a conceptual framework that, recognizing the discourse on governance, suggests a strong state can work synergistically with organized communities in civil society towards common goals. The literature is reviewed and the framework of analysis built by looking at the dynamics occurring at three levels: (1) a macro level where context is important and which deals with broad concepts and theories of governance, as well as the two domains where governance occurs: the state and civil society; (2) an intermediate or mezzo level where the sector is important and which thus deals with concepts pertinent to environmental politics and policy; and (3) a micro level where organizations are important and which thus deals with organizations of government, as well as the structure and management of NGOs and their participation in the policy process. A flow chart of the logic of this framework is given in Figure 1.1. Thus, the main objectives of the book are: •

• •



To build an analytical framework that may be used to synthesize the roles of civil society and the state for the purpose of understanding what causes their relations to evolve and the impact of this evolution; To apply the framework to the empirical case studies; To report on the environmental organizations in Singapore, focusing on their legal-structural arrangements, financial resources and modes of operation, and on particular environmental cases that reflect the influence of environmental groups in environmental governance and policy; To revisit the built framework by further analysing its sufficiency, limitations, and the adequacy of its application to the case studies; and

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FIGURE 1.1 Framework of Analysis

CONDITIONING FACTORS

------

Organizations matter – Government Agencies & NGOs Sector matters – Environmental Policy

▼ INDEPENDENT FACTORS Governance & its domains: State Civil Society

▼ MEDIATING FACTOR Public Policy



Government – NGO Relations Type of GOVERNANCE order

▼▼

Legend: Direct influence Indirect influence



DEPENDENT FACTOR

-- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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Governance, Politics and the Environment

To contribute, within the parameters of the analytical framework, to the field by understanding environmental governance through the analysis of the country and three case studies.

In summary, the proposed thesis, that in the environmental policy sector, a shift from public management to public governance is occurring, will involve identifying the research problem through the series of questions suggested earlier and setting a few clear propositions that need to be proved or refuted through a systematic process that seeks to achieve the above objectives.

METHODOLOGY AND RESEARCH DESIGN The study uses a qualitative research strategy to understand state–civil society relations with specific reference to the environment (Raggin 1987c; Walton 1992; Yin 1994; Babbie 2001, p. 274; Bryman 2001). Thus, it aims to achieve two goals: (1) detailed real life observation of the problem at hand by the investigator; and (2) avoidance of commitment to a theoretical approach a priori (although the process of inquiry benefits from the prior development of theoretical propositions to guide data collection and analysis) (Yin 1994). Depth rather than breadth is the aim. Theoretically, the research is approached in an inductive manner where theory is generated by empirical data. My epistemology or theory of knowledge with special relation to its methods and validation is interpretist; that is to say, I adhere to the idea that the social world should be understood through an examination of the interpretation of the world by its participants (Bryman 2001, pp. 12–17). My ontology, the way I view the nature of human beings, is moderately constructivist: the social world is not a self-contained entity but rather a construct resulting from the interactions of individuals (Bryman 2001, pp. 17–19). Both considerations have practical implications for the way I interpret existing concepts, theories, literature and assumptions regarding the dynamics of environmental politics in Singapore. In constructivist fashion, I argue that the way a particular social phenomenon is represented is an important element in how it is socially constructed. As the literature review shows, Singapore politics has been represented, mostly by Western scholars of a positivist epistemological tradition, in a way that ascribes a particular meaning to it. Can different representations be made following a different intellectual tradition that takes into account the points of view of the actors involved in the political dynamics? 14

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The research design chosen is that of the case study. Such a design is preferred when questions like “how is this happening?” and “why is this happening?” are asked, as is the case here. It is also appropriate when the researcher is unable to control the events under investigation and when the focus of study is on current events in real life contexts that are difficult to manipulate (Yin 1994). That is, the essence of a case study is the attempt “to illuminate a decision or set of decisions; why they were taken, how they were implemented and with what result” (Yin 1994, p. 12). As mentioned earlier, the cases chosen — three chronologically succeeding events, their catalyzing effect and their impact on subsequent cases — are intended to be explanatory. That is, the same set of events is given competing explanations with the investigator’s aim being to indicate how such explanations may apply to other situations, polities, policy domains, and so forth. Finally, the quality of each case is assessed by: (1) its construct validity; that is, its ability to establish correct operational measures for the concepts being studied; (2) its internal validity, or the identification of conditions that lead to other conditions; (3) its external validity, or the area to which the study findings can be generalized; and (4) its reliability, or the ability to demonstrate that data collection procedures can be repeated with the same results (Yin 1994). The techniques relied upon and the sources used in the investigation are as follows: •

• •

Direct observation of and systematic interviews with the leaders, volunteers, beneficiaries, and so forth of environmental NGOs, and with government officials working in environment-related agencies who were the key players in the decision-making processes of the cases investigated. Singapore academics with expertise and interest in state-society relations and environmental policy and legislation were also interviewed (Appendix XII: List of Interviews). The interviews were conducted during three months of fieldwork (January and February 2003 and January 2004). The interviewees were approached as informants rather than as respondents, thus a focus type of interview was utilized. This approach, while maintaining an open-ended method, involves putting forward a set of questions that help corroborate facts found in the literature and other sources. Archival records such as organizational charts, budgets, and maps of the geographical characteristics of a place Administrative documents such as proposals, progress reports, and other 15

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internal documents like private letters/communication within and between the different organizations involved in the cases Newspaper clippings, press releases, and parliamentary debates on the specific cases Existing studies

In the process of enquiry, though the study relies on a variety of sources of evidence, the aim is that the data will converge in a triangulating fashion. The sequence, therefore, followed in the investigation is this: The enquiry begins through general research questions that lead to the selection of general sites and subjects. This follows collection of relevant data, interpretation of the data, conceptual and theoretical work, a more focused specification of research questions, and finally the writing up of the findings and conclusions. In order to avoid errors, especially the presentation of equivocal evidence or biased views that might influence the findings and conclusions, the study clearly defines the concepts and populations under study. It describes each stage of research, clearly presents the findings, carefully tests the basis for cause-effect conclusions, and involves the subjects of research in the project. However, errors and flaws are inevitable, and the findings may be subject to different interpretations. The study’s intended contribution is that it identifies the weak points of previous research or controversial conclusions, and thus it expands knowledge. But it also embarks on theory building by assessing whether the explanations given by a particular theory of “how” and “why” government–civil society relations play this or that role in environmental policy and governance are valid for Singapore at this particular time in history, and if not, which alternative explanations are valid. Theories are answers to puzzles; attempts to explain unexpected results. In the process, the study introduces new concepts and a novel approach to an old problem.

OUTLINE OF CHAPTERS The book comprises seven chapters. The first two chapters include the theoretical section of the research. Chapter One introduces the focus and rationale of the study, the conceptual and analytical framework, the background of the study, and the methodology and research design. An overall definition of governance is also given as it forms the basis of the study. Following the macro, mezzo, and micro levels of analysis, Chapter Two provides a review of the literature on the concepts of governance and its domains: the state and civil society; on the notion of governance in 16

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relation to governmental and non-governmental organizations and their mutual relations; and on concepts of environmental governance. This serves the purpose of identifying and discussing the determinants of the topic so as to locate the research gap that prevents a better understanding of the politics of environmental policy-making and governance in Singapore. Thus, Chapter Two places the study in theoretical context by providing justifications for making comparisons between the roles of government and civil society in environmental policy and governance in the city-state. The next four chapters constitute the empirical part of the book. Chapter Three analyses the changing dynamics of Singapore governance following the framework set out in Chapter Two. Chapters Four, Five and Six analyse the specific case narratives and their implications for subsequent environmental cases. The analysis concentrates on the ways in which selected environmental NGOs have used their organizational, professional, and mobilization capacities to influence policy-making in the process of interacting with state actors. Moreover, the chapters examine how the ideology of their leaders and members has in particular instances influenced the decision-making process, either in the formulation or implementation stages. An alternative explanation to the one found in the existing literature is advanced. Chapter Seven brings the analysis together by discussing the shifting Singapore scenario from government to governance as shown through the case studies. Here, the theoretical implications of the “disciplined governance” model elicited from the study are discussed. The chapter also explicates the characteristics of the state, civil society, the relation between these two actors, and the benefits the “disciplined governance” approach has for environmental protection. Finally, it makes extrapolations about Singapore’s future civil society, democracy and governance paths, and the effects the change of leadership in August 2004 and the initial policy announcements made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong may have on these developments. Though it is not claimed that Singapore can act as a model for Southeast Asian countries, the analysis concludes that alternative approaches to governance need to be elaborated in order to explicate the “realpolitik” of specific countries and policy domains.

Notes 1

2

State capacity here is defined as “the potential to act”, which is affected by factors like the socio-political and economic context, networking ability, structures and processes of organizations, and personnel management (Burns 2004, pp. 2–3). Principle 10 states that “environmental issues are best handled with participation 17

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3

4

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of all concerned citizens at the most relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their countries, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative processes, including redress and remedies, shall be provided” (United Nations Environment Programme 2004). A more detailed explanation of the features and characteristics of Singapore NGOs is provided in Chapter Three. Currently, the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah is threatening Singapore’s security and independence by seeking to create a new Islamic nation comprising Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, southern Philippines, and Singapore (Straits Times, 27 April 2004). Such disputes concerned Malaysia’s vacating of land where the naval base facilities in Woodlands were located, the signing of the Special Agreement on Pedra Blanca, etc. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release 25 January 2003, ).

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2 GOVERNANCE AS FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION As introduced in Chapter One, this book adopts a “governance theory” approach to understanding the structures and dynamics of environmental politics with reference to experiences in Singapore during the last fourteen years. Of particular relevance to the study is the governance arena in which the state and civil society interact on key issues of environmental policy, largely through the activities of various government and non-government actors. Accordingly, it is necessary from the start to address concepts and ideas of governance concerning the state, civil society, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and environmental politics. First, in macro terms with reference to the meanings and roles these concepts are awarded in the governance literature; second, from a more micro perspective in which government and non-government organizations are seen to be prominent actors; and third from a more mezzo perspective with specific reference to the dynamics of environmental politics. The focus and perspectives identified in this chapter underpin the propositions set out in Chapter One, later revised in Chapter Seven when the study is revisited. Here, they are elaborated on as an analytical framework to guide and inform the discussions in the subsequent chapters. Thus, this chapter is designed to review the relevant literature while at the same time offering the conceptual underpinnings that guide the succeeding examination of the country and case studies. 19

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GOVERNANCE CONCEPTS AND IDEAS Governance remains a fuzzy concept needing much more theoretical and intellectual justification to explain practical and political changes. In the last fifteen years, political scientists have mostly come to the agreement that changes in post-modern societies require a shift from a “rowing” to a “steering” function of the state (Kooiman 1993; Pierre and Peters 2002). Thus, processes of interpenetration among different governance domains, of political and administrative decentralization, and of international interdependencies seem to be needed and their existence acknowledged as alternatives to the traditional “top down” approach to governing (Greca 2002). This is best summarized in Table 2.1 where the five concepts envisioned by Salamon representing this paradigm shift are diagrammatically presented.

Contested Meanings Scholars argue that governance is a concept that better captures the institutions and relationships involved in the post-modern process of governing. As Peters (2002) suggests, governance is mostly about steering and the means to do so with the state, market, and civil society being involved in various ways, but not to the point of government2 being displaced by other actors. The concept is used in the literature as structure, referring to various formal structural and operational arrangements like hierarchies, markets, and policy networks; as process, referring to the strategies and dynamics of steering and coordinating by experimenting with public consultation, citizen engagement in the policy deliberation process, and so on; and as framework for analysis, as a way of viewing the world of politics and government (Pierre and Peters 2000; Thynne 2000). This study is interested not only on the development of this theory as a framework for analysis, but also on the implementation of the concept as an approach to governing. TABLE 2.1 The Governance Paradigm Classical Public Administration

Governance

Traditional Agency/Programme Hierarchy Public vs. private Command and control Management skills

Redesigned Agency/Tool1 Network Public + private Negotiation, persuasion, collaboration Enablement skills

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In any case, governance is a broader term than government, referring in its widest sense to the various ways through which social life is coordinated. Government can therefore be seen as just one more of the institutions involved in governance, thus, it might be possible to have governance without government (Rhodes 1996). The wider use of the term reflects a blurring of the state-society divide resulting from changes such as the development of new forms of public management, the growth of public-private partnerships, the increasing importance of policy networks, and the greater impact of both, supranational and sub-national organizations or multi-level governance. While some associate governance with a shift away from command and control mechanisms to reliance on consultation and bargaining, others argue that it implies a preference for less government and the free market (Heywood 2002, p. 6; Salamon 2002, p. 8). But in addition to this concurrence of meaning among political scientists mostly, a wide range of meanings related to various fields and derived from different theoretical and methodological contexts also exist. For example, in the development of private business, governance is equated with good governance, which means a commitment to obtaining wider and cheaper capital and improving shareholder value (Pettigrew and McNulty 1995). The World Bank equates governance with accountability, transparency, participation, and rule of law and with the ability of governments to put in place mechanisms that support the market for poverty alleviation and development (World Bank 2004). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) associates governance with corporate governance needed to ameliorate economic efficiency, which depends on relationships between management, board, shareholders, and other stakeholders (OECD Principles of Corporate Governance 2004). This diversity and inconsistency of meanings requires giving the concept a precise definition. For the purpose of the arguments presented in this book, governance is defined as: Patterns of interaction between the state and civil society and the various processes of coordination and collaboration between government and non-government organizations for policy-making, as well as the participation of non-state actors in the policy process.

Political Trends The governance approach to governing is not only an intellectual construct, it in fact emerged as a political agenda. Although different countries had 21

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followed different strategies depending on their constitutional arrangements, history, and circumstances, most governance reform agendas included elements of neo-liberalism (right wing, free market philosophy) and “third way” thinking (equal opportunity, personal responsibility, and the mobilization of citizens). The shift from government to governance seems to have started in the 1980s, with the beginning of a trend applying market mechanisms to the public sector so as to put in place a system that is lean, efficient, has minimum regulation, and is supportive of private and voluntary action. In the United Kingdom it appears to have emerged with the debate by Ferlie et al. (1996) about pluralism and partnership. In New Zealand the debate was coupled with that of the New Public Management (NPM) (Boston et al. 1996). Then there was the discourse on international donor policy in developing countries (Laking 1999; Wallis and Dollery 2001). In these discourses the government is seen as facilitator and partner where crosssectoral relations are the norm. This, in turn, creates an increase in accountability, transparency, and responsiveness — characteristics of a democratic government — an effective policy process that is rational and equitable, and the maximizing of service delivery. Overall, the trend increases the role of the non-profit sector in public life through inclusive partnerships between government and civil society actors. The initial common elements in governance reform agendas, both neo-liberal and “third way” thinking, were: first, an inclination towards decentralization through a renewed commitment to the principle of subsidiarity or the transfer of decision-making from central to peripheral bodies. Second, a call for greater openness and transparency on the basis that governments and the governed live in a single information environment that exposes actions to everyone’s scrutiny, thus, making it more difficult for governments to hide under a veil of secrecy. Third, the push for constitutional reforms so as to make legal forms adequate for the new trends calling for a culture of openness and accountability. Fourth, the necessity for increased administrative efficiency so as to be on par with business firms that are responsive to getting value for money and more for less, as well as increasing the effectiveness of governments in the face of more aggressive markets. Fifth, the search for means of devising other forms of democracy — in addition to the traditional voting system — by searching for ways of public participation such as consultations, interaction through e-government, and so on. Sixth, the need to find ways to deal with new risks other than the traditional ones of nuclear power, biological war, and so on, especially risks brought about by the advances of life science and technology, seeking all 22

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stakeholders’, governments’, experts’ and lay persons’ involvement in decisions against those risks. Seventh, the need to promote an active civil society in the light of a decline in solidarity, of an increase in dysfunctional families, and of higher levels of crime. This would not mean that reformers advocate leaving civil society to fend for itself, but rather building partnership arrangements between government and civic associations and keeping the role of government as facilitator, empowering agent, and monitor. Finally, the need to respect the fact that civil society itself is taking hold of running its own business in the face of mistrust and disappointment with government’s performance (Heywood 2002, p. 432). As a result, there has been an increase in self-help organizations as citizens become more educated and sophisticated and, consequently, more reflective about the way they want to run their own lives (Self 2000; Giddens 2000; Etzioni 2000; Pierre and Peters 2000).

Academic Responses In response to political trends, scholars have debated this approach to try to give it theoretical foundations. Of particular salience is the contribution being made by Guy Peters and Jon Pierre, theorizing on the intensifying connection between the state and society in the provision of public services and on the fact that governments are increasingly dependent on private and/ or third sector actors in achieving their goals. While this fact may increase the effectiveness and legitimacy of governments, it may also give raise, so they argue, to issues of accountability and control (Peters and Pierre 2003, p. 4; Peters 2004, p. 3). Thus, the intellectual and theoretical discourse on governance that began in the 1980s continued in the 1990s soon after practical changes had occurred in the way public administration had been conducted until then. Theorists acknowledged that in that decade there had been an increased pressure, generated by increased global competition, to develop more efficient and responsive means of creating public policy and delivering public services. As society had become more complex and fluid, new methods had to be devised that relied less on hierarchies and more on networks and partnerships (Kooiman 1993a; Lowndes and Skelcher 1998; Heywood 2002, p. 100). This alternative to traditional government approaches moves the public sector in the direction where government is no longer an autonomous and authoritative actor but one among equals. The approach proposes that public policy ought to be developed and implemented through interactions of public (governmental) and private (non-governmental) actors (Peters 2002). It acknowledges that governments are heavily relying “on a wide array of third parties” (Salamon 23

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2002, p. 8). Thus, the approach relies heavily on networks of actors who are prepared to partner with government or a well-developed civil society (Atkinson and Coleman 1992; Casey 1998; United Nations 1999). The discourse remains central to public administration studies of the new Millennium. Dunsire (1993) suggests that the “modern model” no longer works. A governing style characterized by processes of differentiation where professionalism, industrialization, and bureaucratization are paramount has become obsolete. A post-modern society seems to require a different process. One of de-differentiation where no clear boundaries exist and adhering to established norms and values is the order of the day. He suggests that the traditional command and control approach to governing no longer works in a fluid, diverse, more eclectic society. He proposes that what is needed, once a situation is identified, is that a decision be made about what intervention will obtain a more desirable outcome. Then, action ought to be taken, with minimum intervention, to obtain that outcome. Rhodes (1997) identifies five meanings commonly given to governance: minimal state, corporate management, New Public Management (NPM), e-government or cyber-world connectedness and, self-organizing networks. These meanings clearly break the traditional institutional and organizational limits of formal government, the Max Weber bureau system of legal-rational structure and authority, as well as the differentiation between state, market, and civil society and between the public, private, and voluntary sectors. Rhodes (1997) queries whether the position of public managers in relation to self-organizing networks will be that of maintaining a regulatory role by keeping the relationship or that of protecting the public interest. He further enquires whether governments would be able to maintain a superior position in the network, both in the hierarchical order and as actors, without distorting the balance in the discourse. Rosenau (1992) discusses possible characteristics of governance as informal lines of authority and running society by citizens’ collective action rather than relying on government, while, Kooiman’s work (1993a) is a plausible attempt in search of a theoretical framework to deal with problems of states’ governability in the post-welfare states of Western democracies or what he calls socio-political governance. His research is an effort to build a conceptual framework to understand today’s modes of interaction between governments and society, the meaning of co-managing, co-steering and co-directing, and whether governing remains the exclusive act of government or rather a process of interaction among multiple actors: authorities, groups, institutions, and so on. Kooiman (1993a) concludes his arguments by suggesting that there seems to be a “third way” of governing, that is to say, a necessity to shift 24

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from a unilateral relationship, where society and government are separated, to a multilateral relationship, where interdependencies and interactions between society and government occur. Osborne and Gaebler (1992), propose a “steering” role for the state rather than the traditional “rowing” function. They see the need to shift the emphasis from a command and control position of the state to a relation of solidarity with stakeholders in the society proposed by the “third way, new centre” politics. Fukuyama’s work (1995; 2001) relates to the notion of trust and social capital as the underlying tenets to “third way” politics. Capital refers to assets that are used in the production of goods and services, while the concept of social capital was developed in the 1970s to highlight the social and cultural factors that underpin wealth creation. The term has since been used to refer to social connectivity as represented by networks, norms and trust that promote civic engagement. Social capital is, thus, a precondition for successful communities and good governance (Coleman 1988). In common with economic assets, social capital can decline or rise, usually through education and stress on active citizenship. The alleged decline in social capital in modern society has been linked, variously, to the parenting deficit, the rise of individualism, and the increase in social and geographical mobility (Putnam 1995). Critics of the term argue that social capital is the consequence, and not the cause, of democratic government and that it ignores the role of economic well-being in fostering civic allegiance (Heywood 2002, p. 208). Thus Fukuyama (1995; 2001) argues that, if relations of trust increase the social bank, or social capital, and this in turn reduces the transaction costs incurred at present when trying to achieve profits but having to work through institutions, property rights, commercial law, and so on, then, these relations are worth considering. But if one looks at the East and Southeast Asian scenario, Fukuyama (1995; 2001) further claims that one observes there is already a great deal of social capital. In this region, goals are traditionally achieved through relationships of trust and social obligations. Connecting the society to government is something that Asians have been practising throughout history. It remains to be seen through empirical observation whether East and Southeast Asian societies, like that of Singapore contemplated here, are importing Western models or not, when, in fact, cultural and administrative traditions of social values and collective action may already be in place in these societies. Finally, Cheung (2000) argues that the literature on governance seems to suggest that there is a certain social embeddedness that cannot be separated from the act of governing. He suggests that this has found empirical evidence in the West by calls from the public for minimal state intervention, the rise 25

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of social movements, the consequential rise of civil society and greater awareness of people’s power (Touraine 1981). This, in turn, points to the need for redefining state and society relations.

Governance, Policy Networks and Principal-agent Theories Arguably, governance builds on, or is supplemented by two other bodies of theory: network and principal agent theories. With network theory the connection is made through the realization that a governance approach to governing encourages networking across the private-public divide. This has been confirmed to be effective in producing established policy regimes over a long period of time, with the state being involved, but not playing a leading role (Walker 1989; Salamon 2002, p. 13). Moreover, as it will be further argued when discussing the environmental policy sector, the multi-disciplinary characteristics of the environment facilitate the formation of policy networks. Thus, networks must be recognized when analysing government-NGOs relations from a governance perspective. Since the 1970s, scholars have accepted the role of informal representative institutions and the importance of informal processes existing in “policy networks” or “policy communities”. The relationships involved typically cut across the traditional public-private boundaries. A policy network may, therefore, include government officials, legislators, sympathetic academics, leading journalists, and others. The recognition of the existence of policy networks highlights the importance of informal processes and relationships in policy-making, particularly in policy initiation (Atkinson and Coleman 1992; Heywood 2002, p. 406). Through these communities and processes, issues gain access to the agenda and get fully incorporated into government decisions. This fact highlights the need to identify policy networks or clusters of actors that move fluidly across the private and public realm. These communities are made up of government and non-government actors that share common values, interests, or even have set strategic partnerships to get issues initiated in the process. Yet, the existence of these “cliques” is criticized as lacking the legitimacy representative institutions like legislatures, district councils, and so on have of the public interest (Heywood 2002, pp. 405–06). Principal-agent theory is part of a larger array of concepts devised to explicate organizations within a market regime (Salamon 2002). The useful insight it provides to the discussion undertaken here is that, despite the apparent superiority of principals over agents because of their control over finances, it is agents who often call the shots in decisions. In cases of third26

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party government this is attributed to agents having better information about the service they deliver or the policy they implement than their principals. Arguably, this is the competitive advantage many civil society actors have over governments made up of generalists. It is also their added strength as, when costs are comparable, governments are often persuaded to change plans at the formulation stage.

Asian Perspectives The modern governance discourse that emerged in the West, most significantly after the collapse of Eastern communist regimes, has had its resonance in the East, most notably, in relation to public sector reform agendas undertaken by various governments following New Public Management agendas (NPM). Cheung and Scott (2003) define governance as an exercise of power in the management of a country’s social and economic resources for deployment recognizing that, in East and Southeast Asia, power remains in the hands of the state and institutions related to it. As was discussed earlier, trends in governance in developed countries resemble flat arrangements, networking, and partnerships rather than the traditional command and control hierarchical structures. As also recognized earlier, this is very much due to the influence of NPM, globalization and the growing importance of supranational institutions like the European Union. Thus the general trend has been to foster a stronger market and more dynamic civil society with the involvement of the latter considered as important to social development as the involvement of the public sector. The historical background of East and Southeast Asian governments either finds its linkage with colonial governments or with autocratic paternalistic systems springing from Asian philosophies like Confucianism, kinship authority, and new statist ideologies. Local political élites have inherited the autocratic powers of their former colonial rulers, as is the case of developmental corporatist states like Singapore. Cheung and Scott (2003) thus argue that, in the Asian setting, these facts lead to the need for conceptualizing governance and looking into reforms, not driven by the market or civil society, but from within state institutions. More empirical analysis is needed to ascertain this claim. This study attempts to be another contribution to this analysis. In summary, there are seven related meanings of governance that emerge from the literature: (1) Informal lines of authority with society run by collective action (Rosenau 1992); (2) Self-organizing networks (Rhodes 1997); (3) Process of interaction, interdependence and inter-penetration among multiple actors (Kooiman 1993a); (4) Acting with minimum 27

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intervention to obtain best outcomes rather than taking a command and control approach (Dunsire 1993); (5) Relations of solidarity with stakeholders in the society (Osborne and Gaebler 1993; Fukuyama 1995, 2001; Giddens 2000); (6) the exercise of power in the running of a country (Cheung and Scott 2003); (7) participation or involvement of non-state actors in decisionmaking in order to influence those decisions (Coenen et al. 1998, p. 308). As mentioned earlier, this study adapts the various definitions conceptualizing governance as participation.

GOVERNANCE AND ITS DOMAINS: THE STATE AND CIVIL SOCIETY With governance referring to new modes of interaction between the state and civil society, new processes of coordination and collaboration between government and non-government organizations for policy-making, and the increasing importance of the participation of non-state holders in the policy process, an understanding of how the conceptualizations of state and civil society are evolving in the government towards governance spectrum is needed. Understanding what types of social institutions they represent is also necessary to comprehend how “diversity, dynamics and complexity” (Kooiman 2002, p. 9) within these domains affect their mutual interactions.

Evolving Concepts and Theories of the State In light of the governance approach to governing, the definition and role of the state has necessarily evolved. In turn, both the paradigm shift in governing and the new role of the state influence the nature and evolution of governmentNGOs relations (Curtis 1991; Kooiman 1993; Knill and Lehmkuhl 2002, Figure 1.1).

Defining the State Consistently, scholars have found difficulty giving a precise definition of the state (Berki 1989, p. 12) with others like Almond et al. (1988, p. 872) approaching the challenge by focusing on “governments” and the “political system” as the institutions and practices of the state that can be readily measured and operationalized (Pierson 1996, p. 5). Nevertheless, for the past twenty years there had been little doubt among public administration scholars on the nature of public administration, the nature of the state, and forms of organization in the public sector. Yet, as confirmed by the debate on governance 28

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presented earlier, the status quo has been upset in recent years through practice and the development of new tools for achieving public sector goals (Osborne and Gaebler 1992). Most intellectual justifications have followed established practices. Thus, conceptualizations on the nature of the state have been altered. Traditionally the state had been explicated from three different approaches. The idealist approach of Hegel identifies three moments of social existence, the family, civil society, and the state. The family is characterized by particular altruism where particular interests are second to others’ interests. Civil society, on the contrary, is distinguished by universal egotism where particular interests are put ahead of others’ interests. Finally, the state is the ethical community characterized by universal altruism. This approach denies any limits to state power. The functionalist approach, rather than focusing on the nature of the state, focuses on its organizational institutions. This suggests a definition of the state as a set of institutions that uphold order and deliver stability (Heywood 2002, p. 86). This approach regards all institutions that contribute to maintaining order like family, church unions, and so on as associated with the state. Thus its limited explanatory power on what the state actually is. The organizational approach defines the state as all those institutions that are responsible for the collective organization of social life, or that are “public” and funded by the public purse. This definition advances a clear distinction between state and civil society. For example, state institutions would be the bureaucracy, military, courts, welfare systems, etc. This approach originates in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when modern states of centralized rule emerged and were formalized in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia.3 The relevance of this approach to current concerns with whether the state is under threat, and how its power may be diminishing, is that it allows discussion about the state “rolling forward” and “rolling backward” (Evans, Rueschemeyer, Skocpol 1985). That is, whether the state’s institutional body and responsibilities should be enlarged or diminished. From an organizational approach, five features of the state are elucidated (Pierson 1996; Heywood 2002). The state is sovereign or stands above all other groups in society. This is the “leviathan” image of Hobbes. The state is public or responsible for making collective decisions. It is legitimate, that is, its decisions are binding on all members of society because they are made for the “common good” and are generally accepted. The state is dominant or enjoys the monopoly of the use of force or coercive power. Finally, the state is territorial or geographically defined. These features provide us with a differential definition or, in other words, what the state is and is not, and how it is different from civil society. 29

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But besides this differential definition from civil society, within the state there are differentiations as well. The state comprises the “political executive” or the government; the bureaucracy, administration or civil service; the legislature; the judiciary; the military, and so on. Moreover, a difference between the “state” and “government” also exists. The “state” comprises all public institutions and all people living within its borders. The “government” is part of the state, referring usually to the political executive. The state is permanent, governments are temporary. The state is the highest authority, while the government is the means through which authority is operationalized. The state is politically neutral and represents the common good, while the government is ideologically biased, representing the partisan interests of a few in power. In this thesis, the two terms are used interchangeably as they are employed to describe the political executive and the various tools through which the state operationalizes its functions.

The Nature of State Power and Interest Representation But besides defining the state, it is necessary to address the question on the nature of state power and which interests it represents to better understand how the state was traditionally conceptualized and how its conceptualization is evolving. Answers to these questions have resulted in four main theories the debate of which dominates modern political analysis. Scholars such as Heywood (2002) tend to identify these theories as the pluralist approach, the capitalist approach — which others would call the Marxist approach, the leviathan approach, and the patriarchal approach. Others like Ham and Hill (1993, p. 26) and Nordlinger (1981) follow a more classical classification: pluralist, Marxist, elitist, and corporatist. The pluralist explanation, founded on liberal ideas, regards the state as a neutral referee. Its origins can be traced to seventeenth century writings of Hobbes and Locke. They position the state as originating from the voluntary “social contract” between individuals and authority. This contract delivers individuals from the “insecure and brutish” original state of nature. Thus, the state ensures civility and liberty. Either one abides under the absolute power of the state or one abides in anarchy, Hobbes would claim. Locke limits state power to basic rights like the defence of life, liberty, and property, and advocates limited power to it through representative government. Pluralism regards the state as neutral for so long as it remains sensible to the various interests. The state is more the servant of society, not its master. Its non-elected bodies, the bureaucracy, military, judiciary, etc., are under the authority of government to which it is subordinated. Thus, the state is at the mercy of the government of the day. Neopluralists like

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Dahl (1961, 1967) and Lindblom (1979) claim that the state is less responsible to the government of the day than earlier pluralists have claimed. They argue that the state is not as neutral and tends to side with powerful interests like business, for example. The state within is also not so neutral with the state élite pursuing either its bureaucratic interests or the interests of certain patrons (Ham and Hill 1993, pp. 26–31). The capitalist explanation, founded on Marxist ideas, regards the state not as a neutral referee, but united to the economic structure of the society. The state, proponents of this theory claim, is entirely dependent on the economically dominant class, the bourgeoisie, and thus, an instrument of oppression of the exploited. What needs to be done, Marx argues, is to destroy the bourgeoisie state and create a proletarian state. After the transition, the state can be dispensed with and a stateless, classless society established. Neomarxists like Gramsci (1972), Miliband (1969), and Poulantzas (1978) argue that rather than coercion, the ruling class uses ideological manipulation or hegemony through intellectual leadership and cultural control (Ham and Hill 1993, pp. 34–39). A certain convergence between Pluralist and Marxist theories is perceived. Pluralism has, on the one hand, increasingly recognized the importance of corporate power while Marxists today regard the division between bourgeoisie and proletariat as too simplistic. Jessop (1990) for example, argues that the state is not so much a means of perpetuating capitalism, but a compilation of institutions through which competing interests struggle for hegemony (Heywood 2002, p. 92). The leviathan explanation is associated with New Right politics today, but it was founded on liberalism and radical individualism. Strongly antipathetic to state intervention in economic and social life, this approach regards the state as a sea monster, a leviathan that eats you up. Proponents of this theory ask the question, why is the state so expansionist? As they view the state as an independent entity that pursues its own interests, they conclude that bureaucratic self-interests support big government and state intervention as both require an ever-expanding bureaucracy (Heywood 2002, pp. 92–93). Finally, the patriarchal explanation founded on feminist ideas, denies the autonomy of the state, proposing that it sets out to pursue its own interests (Heywood 2002, pp. 93–94). As Marxists place the state in an economic context, feminists place it in a context of gender inequality or essentially an institution not of the bourgeoisie, but of male power. The state is an instrument of male dominance and defence of its own patriarchy (instrumentalist argument). State institutions are embedded in a patriarchal system (structuralist argument). Women are confined to the “private” and not allowed in the “public”, or if in the public, as flexible, low paid, and submissive workforce (Heywood 2002, pp. 94–95).

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Scholars like Nordlinger (1981) have argued that the four theoretical approaches give “society-centred” answers, thus contending that none gives “state-centred” explanations sufficient prominence. Ham and Hill (1993) set out to test the validity of Nordlinger’s claim and conclude that at least the corporatist explanation recognizes the importance of state action. For scholars who adhere to the classical theoretical approaches to the state, Pluralism sees government agencies as one more pressure group among others. Elitism positions bureaucratic élites as one more among other élites. Marxism acknowledges the relative autonomy of the state and its ability to counteract bourgeoisie influence. Finally, Corporatism emphasizes the growing independence of the state. This approach requires greater attention as an introduction to the Singapore state discussed in Chapter Three. Corporatism is defined as a system of private ownership of the means of production combined with public control (Olson 1986; Wilson 1990; Thomas 1993). In a corporatist system the state is not controlled by any particular economic class, but plays an independent and dominant role in its relationship with labour and capital. Business groups are “incorporated” into the governing process so as to avoid conflict by allowing these groups to share power. There are two forms of corporatism: “state corporatism” and “societal corporatism” that replaces pluralism in situations in which the need arises to secure the conditions for capital accumulation thus forcing the state to intervene and bargain with labour and capital political associations. Panitch (1980) defines corporatism as a political structure within advanced capitalism which “integrates organized socio-economic producer groups in a system of representation and co-operative mutual interaction at the leadership level and mobilization and social control at the mass level” (Ham and Hill 1993, p. 41). In this scenario, the state has moved from a position of supporting the process of capital accumulation to directing that process. In making this shift, new patterns of relationships have developed between the state and the major economic interest groups with the state enjoying autonomy because of its command of legal, organizational and other resources (Ham and Hill 1993, p. 43). Thus, the corporatist contribution to the debate on state capacity is that it claims that the state is a key actor in decision-making. This is best expressed by Nordlinger (1981, p. 1): The preferences of the state are at least as important as those of civil society in accounting for what the democratic state does and does not do; the democratic state is not only frequently autonomous in so far as it regularly acts upon its preferences, but also markedly autonomous in doing so even when its preferences diverge from the demands of the most powerful groups in civil society. 32

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He develops this thesis when he identifies three types of state autonomy. First, when the state follows its own choices even though these diverge from society choices. Second, when state and society choices differ and the state acts to change society preferences and make them converge with the state. Third, when both state and society preferences converge with either side influencing the other to achieve that conversion. Nordlinger’s contribution is that of making a case for greater attention to be given to the role of state and public officials in explaining government action after this approach has been neglected for years. The relevance of the above discussion to this study is that it relates to the question of whether states can pursue their own goals despite the actual or potential opposition of powerful social groups, or in the face of pervasive socio-economic circumstances (economic, security, and environmental crisis, etc.). Lastly, in reviewing the role and theories of the state, Evans, Rueschemeyer, and Skocpol (1985) question what determines state capacity or its ability to fulfil its own goals. They argue that, in general terms, state capacity is determined by sovereign integrity, stable administrative and military control of its territory, loyal and skilful civil servants, and financial resources. But they also see that state capacity may vary in different substantive policy areas, depending on policy instruments utilized; for example, central planning, pools of investment capital, national welfare programmes, and the state of socio-economic and political environments, which are often peopled by other actors with diverse interests and in possession of different resources.

State Roles and Forms In the light of these theoretical explanations, a classification of various state roles and forms has emerged. The minimalist state founded on liberalism and currently adhered to by the New Right, regards the state as a protective body that exists to protect order, protect agreements and ensure contracts are honoured, and protect citizens from external attacks. Everything else is the realm of civil society. Nozick for example, talks about “rolling back the state” while Hayek and Friedman advocate non-state intervention in the market (Heywood 2002, pp. 95–96). The developmental state type is one that intervenes in the economy with the purpose of promoting industrial growth and economic development. The intention is not to set up a planned socialist state, but to create a partnership between the state and major economic interests. Japan is a good example of a developmental state. A type of developmental state, generated by globalization, is the “competition state” that works out strategies to foster 33

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national prosperity in the context of transnational competition. Examples of this are the so-called new industrialized countries (NICs) of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea (Heywood 2002, pp. 95–96). Social democratic states are those that intervene in the social structure, rather than in the economy, to promote principles such as fairness and equity. Some social democratic states combine both, intervention in the economy and in the social structure (i.e. Sweden, Austria). The view of the state is positive; it is a means of enlarging liberty and promoting justice. Modern liberals and democratic socialists support social democratic states. The focus is not on the generation of wealth, but on the promotion of justice. The key features of social democracies are: Keynesian economics (to manage and regulate capitalism so as to promote growth and maintain full employment) and social welfare (Heywood 2002, pp. 95–96). Collectivized states (i.e. the former Soviet Union) are founded on state control over the entire economy, the abolition of private enterprise and the setting up of centrally planned economies where the state is permanent and increasingly powerful and bureaucratic (not only in the “transitional” period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but permanently). Finally, totalitarian states are founded on the idea of an all-embracing state like Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USRR. Here, there is an effective extinction of civil society, no private life, and the dissolution of individual identity (Heywood 2002, pp. 95–96).

Rethinking the Role of the State From the definitions, approaches, roles, and forms presented above, one can observe that traditionally the role of the state was fairly unchallenged. But from the 1980s, with the fall of communism and sequential disintegration of the state apparatus in Eastern Europe, the emergence of new developing countries or newly industrialized countries (NICs) originating from the disintegration of state systems after decolonization, the emergence of ethnic and organized crime unrests deriving from the fall of communism and colonialism, compounded with the international recession and debt crisis looming in that decade, the state began to be perceived as part of the problem. The state was not seen as the solution due to its lack of transparency, prevailing military ruling, and protection of unproductive state-owned enterprises, etc. Space was then opened for the right to self-organization, the separation of the state from economic life, and the raising of an arena between the state and the market, that is, civil society. But is the state irreversibly in decline or has its role just suffered a transformation? 34

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Pierre and Peters (2000, p. 25) argue that in the new governance scenario the state “remains the critical key political actor in society and the predominant expression of collective interest”. Yet, although the state still has a role based on constitutional power, it is gearing towards a role based on its capacity to coordinate public and private resources. They foresee two possible future scenarios in the role of the state. One that displaces state power and, where contracting out, privatization and third-sector participation in service delivery become the norm. Another sees the state not displaced, but having to reinvent itself through processes of structural and political transformations (Pierre and Peters 2000, pp. 92–93). Thus, a “network approach” seems to have better explanatory power to explicate the role of the state in governance theory. In this approach, “government is conceptualised as more differentiated and as being just another component of the complex patterns of interaction” (Gates and Hill 1995; Pierre and Peters 2000, p. 36). Networks form and disperse to form again, depending on contextual, sectoral, or organizational demands. The network approach, popular in the past twenty years, finds its origins in organizational theory and subsequent approaches to policy formulation and implementation along networks lines emphasizing interactions (Bogason and Toonen 1998). Governance theorists claim a great deal of credibility has been given to this approach as, in real life, the nature of the state has changed, governments have utilized partnerships and other types of relationships with the private sector for policy formulation and the delivery of public services, diminishing the top down authority exercised through state actors. States have also sought to consult more widely with society groups before acting (Pierre and Peters 2000, p. 45). Therefore, for present argumentation purposes elucidated by governance literature, the state is conceptualized as: All those institutions that are responsible for the collective organisation of social life differentiated from institutions of civil society but primus inter pares, first among equals.

Emerging Concepts and Theories of Civil Society As it happened with the definition and role of the state, the conceptualization and role of civil society under the governance paradigm has undergone changes that also affect government-NGOs relations. Current discourse on civil society has emerged in parallel with the governance discourse. It equally seems to have risen from the need of finding alternative explanations about societal transformations in the post-industrial (economically), post-modern 35

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(culturally) era (Chomsky 1994). The traditional explanations about why things in society were the way they were, are found, both theoretically and empirically, in the two major ideological trends of the twentieth century. Marxism conceived collective action as economic class and Pluralism visualized collective action as social group. Once the traditional paradigms were discarded as unsatisfactory, a new one emerged, the “bringing back the state” rationalization that identifies states as organizational constructions or potentially independent actors by asking questions on how states affect and are affected by societies (Evans, Rueschemeyer, Skocpol 1985). But this was found to be too state-centred, although a better explanation than the two previous rather reductionist accounts.

Defining Civil Society The current discourse on civil society deals with a new form of collective action linked to associational institutions different from the state and market. Arguably, the new discourse possesses clearer explanatory power to understand the shift to democracy from military dictatorships in Latin America and from socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, as well as to help identify the actors involved. Its usefulness as an explanation about changes in advanced, Westernstyle, capitalist democracies is more ambiguous. It is also unclear how the new discourse explains socio-political development in East and Southeast Asian new economies such as Singapore’s, researched in this study. Cohen and Arato’s seminal work Civil Society and Political Theory (1995) that traces the intellectual history of civil society, argue that a concept that originated in Hegelian philosophy has a very different meaning in today’s discourse. Hegel would have referred to civil society as the realm in which free, self-determining individuality sets forth its claims for satisfaction of its wants and personal autonomy (Hegel in Adam Seligman’s words). Today the concept is used to describe families, churches, and neighbourhood associations. Cohen and Arato (1995, p. ix) basically define civil society as “a sphere of social interaction between the economy and the state, composed above all of the intimate circle, the family; the associational sphere, voluntary associations; the social movements’ sphere, women’s, ecology groups, etc.; and forms of public communication, cyberspace, media, and so on”. These, they argue, are brought to light through “self-constitution” and “selfmobilization” and institutionalized through law. They further argue that civil society is not all of social life outside the state (administrative process) and the market (economic process). Nor is it the political society of parties, political organizations, political publics (legislatures), and economic society (or the organization of production and distribution like firms, companies, etc.).

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Revising the debates undertaken in the past fifteen to twenty years, Cohen and Arato come up with a digest of what has been discussed and what the new discourse adds to it (Cohen and Arato 1995, pp. 4–15). They review the discourse on democratic theory or élite versus participatory democracy, the Anglo-American discourse of right-oriented liberalism versus communitarianism, and that of the neoconservatives of free market (U.S.) versus welfare state defenders (E.U.). They conclude that the concept of civil society is not a new one and that its revival seems to be part of the “sustainable” vision (Howell and Pearce 2001, p. 13). Its origins are found in the political analysis of the French observer of nineteenth century America, Alexis de Tocqueville, exploring the relation between participation in associational life and effective/responsive democratic government (de Tocqueville Ann Arbor 1995 version). So, from de Tocqueville to Habermas, the concept meant those conditions of the public realm through which individuals communicate about matters of common concern, that is, a prerequisite to generation of norms that underwrite the rule of law in vibrant, pluralist societies. In the mid-twentieth century the concept re-emerged in relation to the American “pluralist school” of the 1950s (Madison and Hamilton 1961; Polsby 1963; Truman 1964; and Dalh 1967). But undoubtedly, as argued by Ulsaner (1999), the concept was revived in the 1980s by post-Marxist critics of socialist authoritarianism in connection with the successful democratization of Eastern Europe against authoritarian socialist-party states. The idea of forms of associational life, which is organized neither by selfinterest nor by the coercive power of the state, was appealing to the new self-organized communities. In the West, the concept was also brought back by post-Marxist critics like Lefort, Bobbio, Arato, and Cohen, with their ideas on the creation of new social movements pursuing human rights, reducing hierarchical layers, and influencing the political society (Ulsaner 1999). Thus, the concept emerged not only among social activists, who used it as the tool for voluntarism and freedom, but also among social and political scientists who once more recognized the powerful influence of spontaneous and voluntary associations in the life of a nation. The argument seems to be that even under the influence of powerful governments and private companies, history had once more proven that spontaneous political movements could not only survive, but also exercise powerful impact. This argument brings back to memory de Tocqueville’s argument that civil society is not just part of the process of constituting new democracies, but that it is certainly an important terrain for democratization or democratic institution building (Cohen and Arato 1995). For neo-conservatives like Putnam (1993, 1995), civil society is equated to traditional forms of association inspired by a moral discourse seeking to

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identify social origins of mistrust. But Cohen (1999), in reference to Putnam’s argument, contends that the central role of legal and political institutions that make possible the existence of these associations and their contribution to “social trust” is negligible. Something already realized by de Tocqueville in his observations in nineteenth century America, is that there is a limit to what governments can do to enable collective action. Their tools, namely laws and executive orders, are not enough. Collective action ultimately depends on the goodwill of participants, their attention to contingencies when they want to reach common interests. Therefore, as emerging from the literature, civil society is defined in this study as: The process of interaction between the state and the associational sphere; that is, the realm for citizen action in its political science dimension that emphasises aspects of social capital, trust and cohesion, and professional control.

The suitability of this definition to a governance approach to governing is that governance is about interactions between the state and society, interactions develop trust and cohesion, trust and cohesion build social capital that in turn increases the density of civil society.

Beyond the Academic Discourse As time passed, the concept was no longer used as an academic conceptualization only but was borrowed by Left, Right and Centre politicians as a political agenda. Putnam’s seminal work Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital (1993) received unprecedented attention for a scholarly piece. It looked as if the idea and the mood of the time opened a window of opportunity to bring the concept forward. Howell and Pearce, in their 2001 work, Civil Society and Development: A Critical Exploration, recognize the challenge of dealing with the civil society debate in practice, but argue the task is worth pursuing. They suggest that civil society is more than a buzzword adopted by environmentalists, NGOs, or neo-liberals, etc. after the 1980s as it has endured. Interestingly, they argue that the contribution of civil society to the discourse is found in its opening of an intellectual and political space in the traditionally more dualistic state-market debate as the arena for reform, development, etc. (Howell and Pearce 2001). Although, as mentioned in previous paragraphs, the concept was used as part of the discourse in the early capitalist states, it seems to be evolving in the globalized, post-modern, postindustrial world. 38

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Traditional versus Current Approaches What is the difference between the original concept and today’s definition? In the early discourse, the white, male, property-owning élite was the only voice heard in the discourse. Today the debate is open to many voices. It is more inclusive, although not all voices are heard equally (Howell and Pearce 2001). Howell and Pearce also argue about the politics of civil society as a normative idea guiding action, and also an empirical reality of power relations. There appears, so they claim, a constant mixed usage. Critics have denounced the concept as too vague, empirically too wide-ranging and ideologically stretched out, thus serving little purpose as a concept of theoretical or empirical research. The current debate on the political dimension of civil society refers more to that arena where actors address current social problems in the globalized world, offering critical thought (normative) and action (empirical). This debate is centred on the work of American and British scholars. The U.S. debate led by Putnam (1993, 1995), Fukuyama (1995, 2001), and Salamon and Anheier (1998) mainly focused on the place and role of associational relations. Putnam (1993, p. 167; 1995) mainly argues that generating a good stock of social capital — a commodity emanating from norms of trust, reciprocity, and networks — a strong civil society makes democratic institutions work. Civil society fosters democracy, holds the state in check, and contributes to development (Howell and Pearce 2001). Putnam also developed the concept of social capital drawing on the original use of the notion by Coleman (1988). His main argument is that social capital is the output of civil associations, and the more there is, the more development will take place. Fukuyama (1995) refers more to the relevance of trust as the social lubricant of large-scale economic organizations. Finally, Salamon and Anheier (1998) in their project at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society refer to the role of the “third sector” outside the state and the market in economic development, and develop indicators to measure the strength of the sector in various countries. The U.K. debate is centred on the role NGOs play in civil society with relevant work done at the International NGO Training and Research Centre. Chris Hann and Elisabeth Dunn look at the anthropological dimension of civil society, a perspective we are not concerned about here, while White, Howell, and Shang look at post-Mao China and emerging civil society in the transition to a market economy (Howell and Pearce 2001). They refer also to the multiple genealogies of the concept of civil society both as a normative idea and an empirical reality (associational life) (Howell and Pearce 2001, pp. 25–30). 39

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Uslaner (1999) believes that for the concept of civil society to be enriched, three other components ought to be taken into account. First, its cultural and symbolic dimension and its role in integrating society discussed by Cohen and Arato (1995). Uslaner argues that abstract norms and organizational principles have an intrinsic value and not only play a role in integrating society. Second, the informal aspects of civil society (initiatives, social movements, etc.) or that dynamic force that puts in the agenda new concerns, values, etc. besides the more formal ones or what is called “the institutionalised civic autonomy” (voluntary associations and institutions) debated by Touraine (1981). Third, the discourse on values that generates public opinion, which in turn, influences debates of political and legal publics and brings under control actions and decisions of states while remaining autonomous of legislation. After reviewing the origins and development of civil society as a concept, it is necessary to move on to review research, referring to the political science dimension of civil society that emphasizes aspects of social capital, trust and cohesion, and professional control. As mentioned, governance is about exchanges between the state and society, exchanges increase trust and cohesion, trust and cohesion develop social capital which, in turn, increases the thickness of civil society.

Social Capital As it happens with civil society, numerous definitions of social capital have been advanced (Coleman 1990; Burt 1992; Putnam 1993; Fukuyama 1995; Narayan and Pritchett 1997; Woolcock 1998). Moreover, the concept is an inherently abstract construct that requires translation into operational measures. There are even queries about whether the “capital” metaphor (an amount saved for later use) could be applied to relationships of trust and cohesion, etc. (Robison, Schmid and Siles 2002). Furthermore, observations are made that some definitions become problematic when the concept is confused with its applications. Yet, social capital is currently widely acceptable as a theoretical approach for understanding and predicting the norms and social relations embedded in the structures of society. Thus, a precise definition ought to be advanced to use the term as a good analytical tool. Among the various definitions proposed in the literature, three have common characteristics from which this study’s working definition of social capital can be drawn. Putnam (1993) defines social capital as “features of social life — networks, norms and trust — that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives” (Robison, Schmid and Siles 2002, p. 4). The 40

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main idea of the concept is, thus, to specify the conditions under which collective action is facilitated. Fukuyama (2001, p. 7) defines it as an “instantiated (actualized) informal norm that promotes cooperation between two or more individuals”. Robison, Schmid and Siles (2002, p. 19) take the approach that social capital is “a person’s or a group’s sympathy toward another person or group that may produce a potential benefit, advantage, and preferential treatment for another person or group of persons beyond that expected in an exchange relationship”. The definition of social capital emerging from the literature that best suits the arguments presented in this book is: The spontaneous ability of people to work with one another, or in other words, the patterns of social interrelationships that allow people to coordinate action in order to achieve sought goals.

Terms like civil society, trust, cohesion, and networks arise as a result of social capital, but are not social capital. The relation between all these concepts is that an abundant stock of social capital is presumably what produces a dense civil society (Fukuyama 2001, p. 11). Besides imprecision of definition, the other limitation of using social capital as a useful analytical tool is the absence of consensus on how to measure it. From the various measurement studies found in the literature (discussed below) one can distinguish three main approaches. First, one that counts groups and group membership in a given society. Second, one that conducts surveys on levels of trust and civic engagement; and third, one that looks at changes in market valuations of a company before and after takeover offers.4 Another possible approach that will be explored in the empirical Chapters of this study is to evaluate the quality and quantity of instances of engagement between government agencies and environmental NGOs in specific episodes (or environmental campaigns), measured by the impact these have had on nature conservation and environmental protection (whether successful or not) and, in more general terms, on governance progression and the strength of civil society in Singapore. This is done through the qualitative methods employed here in the country and case studies like in-depth structured interviews, analysis of organizations’ archives and of existing surveys regularly conducted by government agencies, think tanks, and NGOs. Following Narayan and Cassidy (2001) the Dimensions of Social Capital are shown in Table 2.2. The table details the relationship between the hypothesized dimensions and the questions employed to measure social capital that serves to construct the questionnaires. 41

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TABLE 2.2 Dimensions of Social Capital Hypothesized Dimensions of Social Capital Group characteristics

Generalized norms

Togetherness Everyday sociability Neighbourhood connections Volunteerism

Trust

Questions Employed to Measure Social Capital • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Number of membership Contribution of money Frequency of participation Participation in decision making Membership heterogeneity Source of group funding Helpfulness of people Trustworthiness of people Fairness of people How well people get along Togetherness of people Everyday sociability Asking neighbour to care for a sick child Asking for help for yourself if sick Have you volunteered? Expectations of volunteering? Criticisms for not volunteering? Fair contribution to neighbour? Have you helped someone? Trust of family Trust of people in neighbourhood Trust of people from other tribes/castes Trust of business owners Trust of government officials Trust of judges/courts/police Trust of government service providers Trust of local government

Source: Narayan and Cassidy 2001, p. 67.

In most surveys, measurements have been calculated through a set of statistically validated survey questions. For example, the World Value Survey by Inglehart (1997), undertakes forty-three cross-country studies during a period of ten years about the role of cultural factors in political and economic development.5 The New South Wales Study by Onyx and Bullen (1997) assesses the stock of social capital in five Australian communities by measuring 42

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the social capital of several organizations and their impact on building civic engagement. The Barometer of Social Capital Colombia by Sudarsky (1999) uses factor analysis to identify the percentage of social capital and “faith” in invalidated sources of information in Colombia. He, moreover, identifies eight dimensions under the social capital factors. The Index of National Civic Health, USA, by the National Commission of Civil Renewal (1996) identifies five equally weighted dimensions in the Index of National Civic Health. Finally, the Global Social Capital Survey (GSCS) by Narayan and Cassidy (2001) recognizes the dimensions of social capital, makes a hypothesis, sets questions to measure each dimension, applies the questionnaires to two countries (Ghana and Uganda), analyses data through exploratory factor analysis, and draws findings. Findings vary across surveys but there are common dimensions to social capital drawn by all studies. These are: trust and membership in associations, safety, connections with family and friends, reciprocity, and social proactivity.

Social Capital, Trust and Cohesion: Impact on Democratic Development Besides the important discourse on social capital, the literature debates on the symbiotic relationship between democracy and social capital, and on trust relations (Ulsaner 1999). Ulsaner argues that democracy allows criticism, admits variety, and allows trust. The premises are that democracies are more trusting and that trusting countries have more people joining voluntary organizations (Putnam 1995; Inglehart 1999). Thus, trust is part and parcel of the discourse on social capital (Putnam 1995; Coleman 1988). Theoretically and empirically there is a clear linkage between lack of trust and a nastier society (Hardin 1999). Cohen (1999) also discusses the role of civil society in generating social trust, in contributing to social cohesion, and to effective and responsive democratic government. His civil society debate argues about trust being necessary for social integration and democratic institutions. This, in turn, is generated by voluntary associations. Warren (1999) initiates an interesting discussion on the relationship between democracy and trust that seems timely to review here. He argues that the rational approach to trust has its foundation on the belief that someone can be trusted on the basis that one expects the other will act in one’s interest with respect to a given matter. That is to say, when one extends trust, one accepts the potential risk of harm in exchange for the benefit of cooperation. But by the mere act of trusting, one also makes explicit that he hopes the 43

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other will not use that power to harm. Then, he observes a trend in the West where more democracy has meant more oversight and less trust in government authorities. But can trust be understood in the same way in political situations, that is, those where there is a conflict of interests? It looks like in political situations, where democratic mechanisms like voting, freedom of speech and association, separation of power, etc. are applied, there is an atmosphere of suspicion that diminishes trust. So, this begs the question of whether there can be democracy without trust. Another interesting argument articulated by Inglehart (1999) is the role of trust not in fostering, but in maintaining democracies. He argues that trust in institutions is not very important once democracies have been established. As for trust in others and subjective to individual well-being, he thinks it is very important. Both factors, he argues, create a culture of political trust. He also observes a trend of less trust in government in the post-materialist era characterized by higher education and income, with the corresponding higher expectations from citizens. Uslaner (1999) makes a distinction between generalized trust (extended to everyone) and particularized trust (extended to a close few only). This is also relevant to the above discussion on social capital. The concept, as coined by Coleman (1988), originally referred to norms and expectations that underlie economic activity, but that could not be measured. It also referred to the regulation of economic activity through “soft” norms and mutual expectations rather than through “hard” rules of commercial law. In relation to this, Fukuyama (1995) argues that groups with accumulated social capital can be more productive. Today the concept of social capital means networks, associations, shared values, and traditions that empower individuals to act collectively. It is clear from this conceptualization that only generalized trust can contribute to social capital or what can be called the “social bank” or “social trust”. Putnam (1993, 1995) argues that generalized trust is lower and thus the “trust bank” is going bankrupt in America. Generalized trust seems to be a key dimension of the political capacity of civil society, which in turn reflects the capacities of individuals and groups to act for common ends as well as to represent their interests in the state. But can trust be created? Can social capital be augmented or even just built where it has not existed? A paradoxical relationship between democracy and trust is advanced when one observes that democracy ideally tackles and resolves issues through negotiation rather than authorization. But it also increases inclusiveness, and inclusiveness tends to draw not upon inexplicit 44

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(custom or tradition) rules, but upon explicit ones (codes) thus decreasing trust. In summary, a decline in trust in government, Warren (1999) argues, is bad for democracy. But a distinction must be advanced between trust in government institutions and other forms of trust. A point is also made that declining trust in government officials increases the demand for accountability and this is overall good for democracy. This body of literature, the work of Hardin (1999), Uslaner (1999), and Inglehart (1999), presents three main arguments in relation to three questions: •





Can institutions be trusted? If trust is defined as thick, interpersonal relations, it is difficult to apply trust to individuals/government relations. Why? Because individuals usually lack knowledge of the people representing them in government and cannot trust them. If we depend on trusting institutions by focusing on the internalized norms people working in them have — then yes — we can talk about trusting institutions. Is trust in government declining? First of all, what does this mean? That officials are conforming less to established norms? Or that citizens are having higher demands? That citizens are unhappy with unmatched expectations and delivery by officials? That norms are not matching expectations? Or that information about officials is complex and hard to obtain so sophisticated citizens mistrust them? Where is democracy located? In the state, market, or civil society?

These questions are necessarily revisited when analysing the situation in Singapore. Finally, it is necessary to note that the three authors refer to democracy as democratic government. The relation they make is, therefore, between liberal democratic government and trust. The operational definition of trust used in this book is: Trust is the firm belief in the reliability of government and fellow citizens that contribute to the interaction between the state and the associational sphere.

Cohesion is defined as: The ability to stick together that plays an essential part in the interaction between state and non-state actors.

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Professional Control Besides social capital, trust and cohesion, professional control appears in the literature as the third ingredient of civil society, and more specifically as one of the reasons for NGO formation. Di Maggio and Anheier (1990) argue that from the first quarter of the twentieth century (the Progressive Era), the organizing drive switched from local upper classes to nation-level professionals. On the one hand, professionals found NGOs’ ideology in terms of “service ethos, autonomy from market values, and exercise of expertise on behalf of the common good”, similar to theirs (Di Maggio and Anheier 1990, p. 142). On the other hand, professionals found working for NGOs and not-forprofits more adequate to their professional autonomy, since NGOs’ mission statements often resembled their professional charters; to their participation, since NGOs’ governance style often relied on their expertise; and to their ability to access donors, since NGOs’ funding structures allow them to do so. In any case, professional control has since then been felt in the third sector. For purposes of this book, professional control is defined as: The power of professionals to direct voluntary organisations due to the mutual match in service ethos, autonomy from market values, and importance awarded to scientific and technical expertise.

Civic Discourse, Civil Society and Chinese Communities But how is civil society defined in the Chinese context or what are the options offered to dominantly Chinese communities in their quest to build their civil society? Kluver and Powers (1999) propose three definitions. First, civil society is defined as civilization, culture, and transformation from rural to urban life. In this sense China is one of the oldest civil societies. Second, civil society is defined as Western democratic laws and institutions. Here there is a clear distinction between state roles and the right of people to form voluntary associations. They argue that this definition could be applicable only to nations whose institutions formally protect autonomous associations, thus only found in China in the post-Mao period. They also argue that civil society is formed through discourse, that is, it is through group discursive practices that the society discovers itself and formulates its values, character, and ethos. Third, civil society is viewed as discursive practices of people who identify with society. That is, discourse among citizens, government officials, governments and non-governmental organizations, national and international. Kluver and Powers (1999) further discuss the limitations to the development of civil society in China and other Chinese communities in the region. They argue that Chinese political culture and its tendency to stress

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the role of élites as representing “people’s interests” has influenced the way civil society has taken shape, but that in recent years “commoners” have been shaping the discourse by asking questions such as: who are the “people” — the commoners or the élites? But it is more relevant to the study undertaken here, given the nature of the Singapore polity, to return to their élite-based discourse in Chinese civil societies. As discussed later in Chapter Three, the progression of civil society in Singapore has been élite-based. Kluver and Powers (1999, pp. 2–3) claim that civil society provides an alternative to state power in social, cultural, and economic life, that is to say, it provides a voice to influence social and political life outside government domains. Moreover, civic discourse is that “dialogue and participation occurring within voluntary, autonomous associations and organisations outside state control that not only discusses political issues but also defines the nature of society, its values and ethos”. Both approaches to civil society, they argue, are necessary components of democratic mechanisms. In China and most Chinese communities, there is little tradition of independent, autonomous forces that could provide an alternative social organization outside the state, with the exception of clans and secret societies that were found mainly at the local village level. In addition to their arguments, there is the work of Waterman (1993) who rejects the idea of transporting the Western notion of civil society and calls for a Chinese version in which the state intervenes in social organization. Moreover, Metzger’s (1998) work argues that modern Chinese thought has failed to adopt the Western concept of civil society. He bases this argument on the position that Chinese scholars have rejected a bottom-up approach and turned towards an idealistic and gemeinschaft (community) ideal, as well as on his view that the Western civil society tradition is bottom-up and nonidealistic. He further argues about “prudence” taking a two-pronged approach. He claims that the top-down approach found in Chinese communities seems advisable especially on China Mainland. But that given their idealistic tendencies, Chinese scholars have been fairly imprudent as they considered it morally dubious and nothing more than a poor excuse for the corrupt vested interests of élites. Finally, Yu Ying-shih argues that according to Chinese tradition, a balance in the relation between state and society should be maintained. In the past, this balance was upset by the excessive power of the state thus, Chinese scholars welcomed the ideal of democracy. However their utopian ideal of perfect freedom and equality clashed with the modern Chinese need for an organized, powerful, modern state that had crumbled after years of imperial corruption, wars, and ideological massification. After 1949, the Communists eliminated those social sectors traditionally outside

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state control at the cost of eliminating the society’s vitality, came back to life only in overseas Chinese communities like, for example, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan (Metzger 1998).

GOVERNANCE AND ORGANIZATIONS If at the more macro level, conceptualizations of governance and of two of its domains — the state and civil society — are independent factors directly affecting government-NGOs relations, then at a more micro level, the nature and roles of government and non-government organizations, as actors of engagement, are conditioning factors impinging on these interactions (see Figure 1.1 in Chapter One). Thus, basic theories and conceptualizations of public and voluntary organizations need to be discussed here to later unveil in the country and case studies, which type of interaction arrangement is institutionalized among them (i.e. interferences, interplays, interventions, etc.) and within which type of governance order (i.e. self-governance, cogovernance, hierarchical governance, etc.) or other types (Kooiman 1993; Greca 2002, p. 10).

Government Organizations On par with governance developments and following interrelated changes in public sector management from the late 1980s onwards that resulted from the massive public sector growth that had occurred after World War II, attempts have been made to decentralize government organization, inject it with entrepreneurial spirit, and make it more accountable and fair. Besides being driven by market ideas, reforms have also been significantly influenced by the idea of “opening up government to greater participation by the public” (Pierre and Peters 2000, p. 49). This fact is consistent with the “government to governance” shift in which, without displacing government, civil society demands a greater role. In this scenario, public bureaucracies6 definitions, functions, structures, processes, and power have necessarily evolved. A variety of alternative organizational designs and redesigns have also been created to deliver various goods, services, and implement laws, for example, nonministerial semi-autonomous organizations like statutory boards and government companies, or even outright private organizations, etc. These trends mostly aimed at limiting government growth, globalizing public administration, digitalizing government through e-government, the “managerialization” and democratization of the bureaucracy, and the marketization of public administration all advocated by the New Public 48

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Management trend (Hood 1989), the “reinventing government” movement (Osborne and Gaebler 1992), and — more recently — the “good governance” paradigm of the World Bank (World Bank 1992, 1994; Das 1998). In this book a working definition of bureaucracy is adopted as: The mediating institution that mobilises human resources in the service of the affairs of the state in a given territory (Bekke, Perry and Toonen 1996, p. 2) turning inputs from the environment into outputs of policy, goods, and services (Burns and Bowornwathana 2001, p. 3).

Of particular relevance to the arguments put forward here and in subsequent chapters, as they are directly pertinent to governance developments discussed in the country and case studies, are some of the proposals that have been made, first, with respect to the “managerialization” and interrelated “democratization” of the bureaucracy through its adopting private sector management practices and its “opening up of government”, mostly through public consultation exercises; and, second, to the use of various types of ministerial and non-ministerial type organizations, the latter, most notably, through the establishment of semi-autonomous organizations. How do these reforms relate to the governance paradigm? How do they affect the role and capacity7 of the state? And, consequentially, how are the new arrangements impacting on relations between government and non-government organizations?

Managerialization and Democratization of the Bureaucracy The relevance of the bureaucracy to the governance of a state is beyond discussion. Although the term is loaded with imprecision, modern concepts of bureaucracy are equated with “rational organization”, “organizational inefficiency”, “rule by officials”, “public administration”, etc. (Heywood 1997, p. 340). The different conceptualizations are, arguably, due to different approaches taken by various disciplines. Sociologists equate the bureaucracy, or more generally, bureaucracies, with “a system of administration” rather than a system of government, thus, bureaucracies are found in all organizations of modern life, be it public or private. Economists view bureaucracies as purely “public organizations funded by public revenues”, independent of market fluctuations. Public administration scholars understand bureaucracies as “rule by appointed officials” or what is collectively called “the bureaucracy”, in contrast with rule by representative forms of government. As mentioned earlier, here the latter conceptualization is adopted. 49

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Despite imprecision in definitions, the public administration discipline advances three models of bureaucracy. First, the “Weberian model” argues that bureaucracy is a rational-administrative machine or “ideal type” of rule based on a system of rational laws and characterized by fixed jurisdictional areas of responsibility and ordered hierarchies managed on the basis of written documents through the impersonal authority of officials who are hired and retained on merit. Second, the “power bloc model” highlights the fact that the bureaucracy reflects broader class interests and can resist political control. Third, the “bureaucratic oversupply model” emphasizes the tendency of a bureaucracy to enlarge due to career self-interests of public officials. But what characteristics of the bureaucracy determine the mission of the state, how are these characteristics evolving due to its “managerialization” and “democratization” and how do they influence their relationship with NGOs? These characteristics are bureaucratic functions, bureaucratic organization and bureaucratic power. Basic bureaucratic functions are the implementation of law and policy through the administration of government business. Throughout the years these have been widely enlarged to encompass the provision of many goods and services, especially in “welfare state” systems (Salamon 2002). Recent trends like downsizing, greater value for money, privatization, efficiency and effectiveness etc., have seen the reduction of bureaucratic functions in terms of provision of goods and services, with public officials playing new roles like that of policy advisers to political executives by lobbying interests that are linked to their policy communities, increasingly maintaining stability and continuity during political turnovers, and being facilitators and regulators (Heywood 1997). Bureaucratic organization has traditionally followed a functional criterion with specific functions allocated to particular bureaux, departments and agencies. In the past, the degree of centralization was high, but with the current trend of separating policy making from policy implementation, and the adoption of private sector management practices, there is a tendency to decentralize. Organizational capacity is undoubtedly power, thus, to control bureaucratic power the conventional structure has been undergoing scrutiny since the 1970s. Osborne and Gaebler (1992) suggest a catalytic role for government of “steering rather than rowing”, by which it gets involved in policy formulation, leaving its implementation to other actors serving as agents of government (Heywood 1997). In practice, such ideas have brought about a smaller state through an increased emphasis on alternative modes of goods production and service delivery like contracting out, increasing the role for quasi-non-governmental 50

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organizations, corporatization, creation of semi-autonomous structures, various devolution arrangements, and so on. With cutting public spending being a powerful driving force, these arrangements have become more common. Yet, problems with a smaller state apparatus have been recognized. These are identified as the weakening of public accountability since appointed officials are no longer answerable to elected politicians and the public. That is, if dayto-day operations are devolved to semi-independent agencies, appointed officials would no longer be able to take responsibility for them. Advocates of such reforms argue that charters and performance pledges avoid such problems. Another recognized problem with reorganizing and cutting down bureaucratic functions is the weakening of public service ethos. In this case, corruption may emerge as the problem. Finally, relinquishing direct responsibility may lead to greater centralization through bodies set up to carry out regulatory functions, allowing politicians to have power that was formerly in the hands of bureaucrats (Heywood 1997, p. 350; Salamon 1989; Salamon 2002). Together with organizational capacity, bureaucratic power is an important factor influencing the governance of a state and, indirectly, the nature and evolution of government-NGOs relations. The power of government agencies clearly comes from three sources: strategic position of bureaucrats in the policy process, relationship between bureaucrats and the political executive, and the status and expertise civil servants command together with their command of resources (Heywood 1997). Commanding information and possessing institutional memory enable appointed officials to select policy options so as to achieve a desired decision without consciously manipulating it. Networking between public officials and organized interests further strengthens their position. As the major broker between government and businesses, professional groups, unions, etc. have a powerful role in formulating and reviewing policy options. Policy communities formed from these interactions are relatively impenetrable by the public and representative officials. Once decisions are taken, their implementation is entirely left to civil servants to interpret, delay, or even take no action. Socialization with the political executive is another source of power. Although, in theory, politicians are masters and bureaucrats are loyal servants, the latter’s sheer numbers, their command of institutional memory, and their full-time dedication enable civil servants to take considerable policy responsibility. Finally, their status brought about by their expertise and command of specialist knowledge as well as the rigorous entrance examinations and training put great power in their hands. In contrast with elected politicians that bring to the job grand ideas but little expertise in administration, civil servants are relied upon to translate those ideas into practicable programmes (Heywood 1997). 51

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Concerns with bureaucratic power relate to the threat this poses to democratic accountability. Control is therefore exerted through the establishment of mechanisms of public accountability to politicians, legislatures, ombudsmen, etc. Another mechanism of control is politicizing the civil service so that it shares the ideology of the government of the day and setting up counter-bureaucracies or policy research units acting as independent “think tanks” to senior government officials. Coupled with “managerialization” and entirely consonant and consistent with it, is the “democratization” of the bureaucracy, that is, an attempt to make it more accountable and open by strengthening the position of individual citizens and NGOs before the public sector (Pierre 1998c, p. 138). This is a step further yet from managerialization as it further transforms the bureaucracy from being client or customer-oriented to being citizen-oriented. Clients remain dependent on government action while citizens believe in their capacity to act (Osborne and Gaebler 1992, p. 52). The focus here is not on the internal democratization of the bureaucracy but on its using public participation mechanisms like public consultation exercises to “open up” government. Public consultations are becoming important tools in the governance of the environment in Singapore, the country, and policy domains studied here, so a brief theoretical reference is made here. Factors that have precipitated the mushrooming of public consultations, and more generally of alternative sources of policy advice, seem to relate to the fact that governments are becoming “leaner and meaner” and less able to “facilitate political representation and accountability according to the traditional, collective model” (i.e. party politics, organized interests, etc.) requiring to tap expertise advice outside the public service (Pierre 1998c, p. 159). Citizens are also becoming more educated, better informed, and more willing to participate in policy input through user-friendly means like electronic access, etc. Also, as reforms aim at customer satisfaction, they have, in one way or another, contributed to “a disaggregation of policy input and have encouraged the development of various models of citizen participation” (Pierre 1998c, p. 159). Public consultations are an expression of formalized rights, like the right to information, to be listened to, to intervene, and so on that have been put in place as a way to institutionalise democratic procedures and formally, in practice, to make policy processes more self-governing (Vries 2000). Such formalization entails laying down procedures in detailed or ad hoc laws pertaining to general policy problems and to specific policy domains. Often the result of the advocacy work of concerned citizens, public consultations are seen as a step further into democratizing the bureaucracy, although concerns 52

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are emerging about the bureaucratization of participation or the negative impact the formalization of the process may have on the openness (the lack of it) of decision-makers. Such concerns have been raised mostly in mature democracies (Vries 2000). In summary, the literature seems to agree that managerial and democratizing trends of public sector reform affecting the bureaucracy have mostly scaled down its human and financial resources, made it more efficient, performance-oriented, and customer driven while “opening it up” by making it more transparent and accountable. All of this seems to have occurred without affecting the centrality of the bureaucracy to the managerial and policy functions of the state and without diminishing its capacity.

Ministries and Statutory Boards Since the mid-1980s and, equally, as part of the decentralization of government functions, there has been a propensity to retain fewer and fewer economic and social functions in ministerial organizations, including departments and other inter-ministry agencies. Ministries, established in parliamentary systems under the resolution of the Prime Minister prior to the approval of the Cabinet, have mostly become “policy advisory secretariats” (Ariff, Asher and Thynne 1995, p. 174) with policy implementation being widely undertaken by a variety of non-ministerial type organizations. Of relevance to the discussion presented in this study is the establishment of statutory boards or bodies located outside the formal civil service of government. While not enjoying the legal privileges and immunities of ministries and departments, these legal entities benefit from greater autonomy and flexibility augmenting their functional performance. Statutory boards constitute important tools of service delivery, and most notably, of policy implementation in many polities (Foo 1989, 1992). Various terms have been used to name these boards: “independent regulatory agencies” (Fesler 1961, pp. 191–218), “commissions” (Simon et al. 1968, pp. 557–58), “government corporations” (Simon et al. 1968, pp. 558– 61), “advisory councils” (Simon et al. 1968, pp. 461–67) and “administrative agencies” (Friendly 1966, pp. 248–56) as they perform functions that are rather diverse in their objectives. In Westminster parliamentary systems like that of Singapore studied here, statutory boards are established by a specific Act of Parliament. This specifies the rationale for their establishment, the functions they are to perform, as well as their rights, power, and authority which may vary considerably between each board. Some are purposely established as new organizations with enhanced financial and legal powers (i.e. the authority 53

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to perform functions under a governing board, the ability to own property, and to derive finance from recurrent expenditure from the sale of goods and services, and so on). Others have functioned previously as departments under a ministry in the civil service, while others are formed to take over a specific function from an already existing statutory board. Some are further incorporated as independent corporate bodies, thus classified as public or state enterprises. Of the six government organizations involved in the three case studies investigated in this research, two are ministries, namely, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Ministry of the Environment (ENV). The other four are statutory boards under the responsibility of those two ministries. This highlights the significant role boards play in the governance of Singapore in general, and in functions pertaining to land use planning (i.e. Urban Redevelopment Authority); ownership and land allocation of sites around public utilities (i.e. Public Utilities Board); planning, development, management and regulation of nature areas (i.e. National Parks Board); and implementation of environmental protection policies and programmes (i.e. National Environment Agency), all of which will be discussed in detail in Chapter Three. The rationale behind choosing alternative types of organizational structures can be attributed to putting certain tasks at arm’s length from the government while not retreating, or as Thynne (1995, p. 3) puts it “staying in, but beefing up”. That is, remaining involved in a particular activity while improving organizational capacity. This fact is of much importance to this book’s discussion on the relationship between government and non-governmental organizations. Transfers of ownership, of performance functions, of financial bases, etc. may affect the way these “new tools” of government relate with organizations of civil society. In fact, some have argued that transferring competencies to more autonomous organizations is equivalent to transferring them to bodies that are not democratically accountable and that are shielded from political influence (Verhoest et al. 2004). As, by their very nature and legal structure, the autonomy of statutory boards is rather high, this argument immediately begs the question about the proper and expected role of the state (Thynne 1995) or even about who the state is. It also raises questions about state intervention and control, not only on areas of economic activity, but also on matters with more political implications such as public housing, population control, land use, etc. There is no congruence in the literature about what stimulates the use of statutory boards as alternative government tools and what purposes they 54

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serve. Some argue they are chosen in moments of political and economic crisis or in moments of “government activism on the domestic front” (Salamon 1989, p. 236). As for their use, some claim they are established for credit extension, insurance, transport, energy production, and so on (Salamon 1989, pp. 238–42). In any case, it is contended that statutory boards are put in place depending on the public’s response to this tool, to the political and economic environment at a given moment, to the characteristics of the polity, and to the corporate environment (Salamon 1989, pp. 242–49). Empirical data from case material is needed to ascertain what role statutory boards play in particular jurisdictions and policy domains, and what the rationale is that fosters their establishment. In summary, organizations of the state that interact with non-government organizations have a variety of structures and modes of operation. With regards to organizations, the governance literature envisions a shift in perspective with regards to state-society relations and dependencies. That is, the locus of power changes from organizations of government playing a dominant executive and legislative role to being more dependent on other society actors because of diminished capacity, legitimacy, or resources. A shift of public support is also observed from supporting the welfare state and large civil services to demanding the state apparatus be lean and mean (Pierre and Peters 2000).

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) Undeniably, the 1980s was also a decade when NGOs began to intervene where governments had stopped or had yet to begin. Some argue that the rise of NGOs is due to governments being regarded as monolithic, intensive, clumsy, and needing downsizing and contracting out. They attribute their significance to the fact that the market is effective but uncaring in allocating resources, while the NGO sector, being “softer”, is able to mobilize voluntary effort and be more linked to the community (Brinkerhoff and Brinkerhoff 2002). Yet, it is evident that the divide between the sectors has become less clear, and that rather, sectors are interrelated in such a way that no single sector is able to address all problems. Originally, NGOs seemed to have been established for delivery of certain services or advocacy of values, political ideology, and so on, thus making themselves accountable to funding agencies and sponsors. Today, their roles remain such, but besides being required to be accountable to beneficiaries and donors, they also need to be responsive to governments, the media, and the public. 55

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Basic Features Non-governmental actors are organizations and individuals not directly connected with the state and who function with independence with respect to government agencies. The line between governmental and non-governmental is difficult to draw, and a number of factors serve to blur the distinction between the two (Abzug 1999). For example, the creation of government corporations, quasi-non-governmental organizations (QUANGOs), and private enterprises with a majority of government capital, makes it increasingly difficult to define the legal and political frontiers. The fact is that there is constant movement of people between the two worlds. Many individuals traffic in and out of government, alternating periods of public sector employment with those as consultants, lobbyists, and so on; also engaging in strong corporatist relationships that can offer privileged, quasi-government status of legitimization, credibility, and participation to non-state actors. The organizations that enjoy this status vary according to societies and policy areas, but they usually include unions, churches, NGOs, etc. in various areas of influence (Casey 1998). Thus, a single definition of these organizations has eluded researchers, and in its place exist a myriad of terminologies. These include terms such as “non-profit”, “community-based”, “charity”, “voluntary association”, “independent”, “intermediary”, and “informal” which are used to describe the organizations or collective concepts such as “third sector”, “third-party government, “para-government”, “the commons”, “the shadow government” (Casey 1998, p. 44). These terms describe overlapping concepts, varying legal frameworks, participatory values, management styles, degrees of separation from the state, etc. Nevertheless, this study uses the term NGO precisely as it emphasizes the separation from government institutions. Definitions of NGOs are usually based on a combination of specific legal, social, functional, and economic characteristics (Salamon and Anheier 1992a & b). The characteristics most often used to define NGOs, also used in this book to define them, are: A formal structure, independent from government, non-profit distribution of fiscal provisions, participatory, with strong reliance on volunteers but also often employing professionals, and working in the areas of public interest like health, culture, education, welfare, environment, arts, and so on (Salamon and Anheier 1992a & b).

In the attempt to separate government from non-government, combined with the continuum of profit versus non-profit, the concept of the “third 56

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sector” originates. Its rationale is based on the inadequacy of the other two sectors. Government provides public goods, but only in categorical ways; the market allows the exercise of choice by individuals, but fails to provide public goods; the third sector lacks the coercive power of government and the driving self-interest of the market, but it provides for individual choice and for public goods (Casey 1998, p. 45). Thus, NGOs and related organizations occupy a conceptual space on the definitional divide between public institutions, private markets, and family-community structures.

Classification Coupled with the difficulty of defining NGOs, a similar challenge exists when trying to classify them (Coston 1998; Young 2000). Lipsky and RathgebSmith (1989) offer a typology based on three types of organizations: traditional charity and social services agencies; NGOs that have been created in the last twenty years to respond to the availability of government subsidies for the delivery of private services; and NGOs formed to lobby for better service coverage. However, Salamon and Anheier (1992b) review existing classifications and offer their own in the International Classification of Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) presented in Table 2.3.

TABLE: 2.3 Classification of NPOs International Classification of NPOs Group 1: Group 2: Group 3: Group 4: Group 5: Group 6: Group 7: Group 8: Group 9: Group 10: Group 11: Group 12:

Culture and Recreation Education and Research Health Social Services Environment Development and Housing Law, Advocacy and Politics Philanthropic intermediaries and voluntarism promotion International activities Religion Professional associations, unions Not elsewhere classified

Source: Salamon and Anheier 1992b. 57

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Such classifications present problems of application, both for the difficulties in classifying some NGOs, and the problems of NGOs that function in more than one sector. For example, Greenpeace could be classified either in Group 5 or in Group 7. Nevertheless, this classification offers a complete overview of the organizations that could be considered NGOs and is thus suited to the specifics of this book. The growth of NGOs, cultural differences in NGO development, and government development of NGOs, as well as their roles of service delivery, innovation, values maintenance, and lobbying are issues peripheral to this study.

Organizational Principles and Practices What ultimately defines the capacity of an organization, be it governmental or not, are the principles and practices on which it rests. The existing body of literature on theories of organization of NGOs draws heavily on work in the fields of economics, management, accounting, and organizational theory (Sjonstrand 2000; Ferraro 2000). The sector borrows from organizational theories of both the public and private sectors, with the latter having had more influence in recent years. A detailed presentation of organizational theories will go well beyond the scope of this book, thus only concepts and practices regarding NGOs’ legal-structural arrangements, governance, and management of resources will be presented here. This is necessary in order to evaluate the sector’s capacity to influence policy and their ability to relate favourably with government. Moreover, the literature makes no distinction between NGOs involved in different policy areas (i.e. social welfare, environment, etc.) thus general concepts and principles applied to all NGOs, regardless the substantive policy they are involved with, are discussed. Ferraro (2000) argues that despite NGOs having been in the local, regional, and international governance structures for years, a common legal framework that guides their establishment, governance, and financial management is not available. He further argues that now that the sector has become more established, a common legal framework or “framework legislation” that encompasses all laws related to the sector would be ideal. Although this may be desirable, it is not currently in place though some common ground exists across countries on the legal definition of the sector and the possible legal requirements for NGO registration. Any country that counts with a number of NGOs will most certainly have a legal environment that favours freedom of association. This clearly adds to the legitimacy of NGOs before the public as the sector will be perceived as “legal” and will be allowed to register, maintain, and possibly expand its scope of work. Different countries choose different approaches to

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all laws concerning the NGO sector, in general, either under individual laws in one legislative package, or a collection of articles together in one broadbase law. Certainly, the framework legislation proposed by Ferraro allows for greater accessibility and facilitates understanding and implementation. Some countries may choose to have many laws divided by subject matter (i.e. social welfare NGOs’ framework law, environmental NGOs’ framework law, and so on). The danger here is that different NGOs, even when having the same structure and general purpose, may be treated unequally before the law, thus the argument for one framework legislation. Nevertheless, in countries where the sector is not strong as yet, the government may find it easier to deal with the sector piece by piece and law by law in those issues affecting the sector. Certainly in countries where the sector has developed, grouping laws under one framework indicates a clear recognition of the sector and the willingness of government to confront the issues in which they interface with NGOs. Differences in the legal treatment of the sector may have to do with the legal traditions of either civil or common law. Common law uses precedence and case law, whereas civil law codifies laws in constitutions and various legal texts. In common law jurisdictions, the right to association is inherently granted, while in civil law countries, it must be expressed in the legal code. This study deals with a country that follows common law traditions thus, after a brief introduction on the differences between the two traditions, an explication is given of how common law affects the categorization of NGOs, their proximity to the public or private sector, and the ease of establishment. In common law countries, an association can be either a public benefit or a membership organization. Moreover, in these countries, the tax code usually distinguishes between organizations for public benefit and those for mutual benefit. Each type of organization may have its own set of regulations as to establishment and governance, but all types of non-profits must qualify for special status and are regulated in the same way under the tax code, according to their goal. Finally, in a common law country, the right to establishment is assumed, even if not defined, in a specific law. It is protected as a private act, and the tradition of case law provides wide coverage. This generally implies that this law system is more congenial to the formation of NGOs. Ferraro advances a proposal that may well be an application of his vision of framework legislation. The law administering the sector should contain a clear and simple definition of the sector, based on structural criteria reflecting the country’s local traditions, yet in harmony with regional or international NGO models. It should also clearly spell out what is the basic (and ideally minimal) documentation required for registration and what are the registration fees. The documentation should ideally include a charter indicating: name and place where the registered office is located; purposes; conditions for

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membership; governance issues like the election and composition of the Board of Directors, election of Chairpersons, powers of the Board, and so on. The documentation should also include provisions of NGO Bylaws pursuant to the Charter. Articles relating to considerations of transparency and accountability of NGOs, and stipulations on no taxes on revenues exceeding expenses for those activities that are directly related to achieving the objectives for which the organization was set up, should also be included. The internal management of a NGO is clearly the domain of the Board of Directors and of senior management. In this context, it refers to the body or bodies of persons which constitute the direction and control of an organization and which derive the legal right to exercise authority from its charter and bylaws. In addition to the Board of Directors, many NGOs count on the help of Advisory Boards. This is a group of professional and financial or management specialist Board members who are consulted in their individual capacity in particular instances or in relation to specific activities. The constituency of a NGO, to which the Board is responsible morally, legally, and financially, is made up of its donors, sponsors, programme beneficiaries, staff, the community at large, and the state. Thus, transparency and accountability are of even greater importance in the governance of NGOs than in commercial undertakings. All these elements seem to point to the success of good governance in civil society organizations. At times, however, it seems paradoxical that the very institutions that advocate transparency and accountability in the public sector are themselves often neither transparent nor accountable due to deficient or mediocre government structures. The resources involved in running a NGO are money, staff, equipment, premises, and time. Non-profit financial management provides decisionmakers and constituents with accurate financial information, which enables the organization to better achieve its mission. Thus, both successful fundraising and accurate financial management and reporting are necessary for sustainability of the organization. The main elements for managing financing resources are: an accounting system that is design to accommodate the nonprofit nature of the organization that should disclose more rather than less, so it is more transparent; a budget for programme activities that includes a generous overhead and surplus margin. NGOs should not work at cost or just aim to break even, but rather, a financial plan should be devised for the utilization of the surplus towards achieving long-term sustainability of the organization; external audits should be required, even if not called for by the legislation. Audits increase transparency, credibility, and awareness; the organization should produce an annual report, describing, in narrative form, the year’s activities, and publish in it financial statements that should be made 60

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accessible to all stakeholders of the organization and interested parties, but not necessarily to the general public; finally, expenditures should be analysed on a regular basis, to measure efficiency regularly, in other words, to verify the relationship between input and output. The two principles that should be noted from the start are that staff can only be well-managed if you have an structure approach and that voluntary work, although highly commendable, is the most difficult to manage because volunteers consider themselves not fully part of the organization and therefore not subject to the norms that regulate it. Although voluntarism will be present a core paid staff is indispensable for success. In this regard, recruiting and hiring should be done in a systematic manner by preparing a good job description, salary scale, organizational structure chart, and procedures for recruitment. Training and development should be present in a flexible manner, allowing staff to suggest what training they might require. Compensation in the form of salaries and benefits should be included in the budget and maintaining staff should be a goal with proper communication as the tool for reaching it. Some form of performance appraisal should be in place by, for example, establishing between the manager and the employee the objectives to be reached. In summary, proper resource management can save money and time and raise the quality of the organization’s work.

Government-Non-government Organizations Relations Therefore, as government and society seek to find new forms of governance and as the nature and role of their organizations change, their relationship continues to evolve. This empirical reality currently constitutes a developing area of theoretical research in public administration. The nature and significance of these relations and how they are changing remain an open question. Comprehensive and systematic empirical findings will continue to be necessary if light is to be shed on this fluid and unresolved question.

Classical Models Models have been proposed and argued to identify the nature of a whole new array of public-private relationships and how these may suit the necessities of different policy sectors (Head and Ryan 2003, p. 31). For example, Atkinson and Coleman (1989) conceptualize government-business policy networks relations in terms of different types of political relationships such as autonomous, corporatist, or pluralist. Ryan (1993) adds to this literature by arguing governments may favour business interests by acting paternally. 61

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Lyons (1997) identifies models in government-community organizations relations like the “planning model” and the “charity model”. Without going into the details of the various models, their commonality is the type of relationships they identify. First, some relationships are regarded as extensions of government. For example, the “planning model” is characterized by a “funding” relationship, that is, governments identify a need, fund it, specify it, and control outputs. The “policy community” approach views government as strong and autonomous in the relationship and making decisions on provision of goods and services based on citizens’ preferences. NGOs are viewed here as “supplements to government”. Second, other relationships are of affiliation, for example, the ‘partnership model’ that closely resembles a corporatist policy community model characterized by power sharing. That is, a contractual relationship in which government finances, public services, and NGOs deliver them (Young 2000, p. 153). Partnerships are often constructed as a means of achieving the resolution of a problematic public policy issue, especially with respect to environmental issues. Partnerships may also provide a form of governance for resolving disputes between NGOs and government. Third, there are relationships that are adversarial, focusing on the political relationship between government and NGOs. For example, NGOs may organize to stop reclamation on the grounds of environmental sustainability while governments may attempt to promote it on the grounds of economic development and the common good, and may restrict NGO activity. In this model the government and NGOs act independently and in opposition. While these models of new private-public arrangements are useful, the interest of this book is not in identifying what type of relationship exists between public-private actors in general, but between government-NGOs in particular. Models to explain this relationship are, therefore, discussed. Salamon and Anheier (1998) make the insightful observation that different NGOs dealing with different policy issues relate with governments in different ways and that a generalization is not possible. For example, the relationship between the government and an environmental NGO will differ from that between the government and a social welfare one. But overall, what is relevant is that neither governments nor markets alone can solve all societal problems (James 1989; McCarthy et al. 1992, Salamon and Anheier 1997). Because the government-NGO relationships are bound to increase, this is one more reason we no longer talk about government but “governance”, that is, going beyond government, addressing the role of citizens as individuals and organized as associations in making and implementing decisions. The classical explanatory theories of this trend of greater non-government participation and closer government-NGOs relations are the market contract

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and government failure (service delivery failure), the voluntary failure, and the political failure. In the case of market and government failure — and within the context of public service delivery — the perceived advantages of NGOs over government are identified as: (1) greater diversity of services (Weisboard 1977); (2) enhanced efficiency and competition (Hansmann 1987); (3) more trustworthiness (Lipsky and Rathgeb-Smith 1990); and (4) more efficient and effective delivery of services by being less bureaucratic than governments (Salamon, Anheier, and Sokolwski 1996). In cases of voluntary failure, Kramer (1981, p. 265) points out the disadvantages it brings, such as institutionalization or formalization, displacing aims by means, philanthropists taking the lead in a sort of minority rule arrangement with funders being more important than endusers, and general ineffectuality. Salamon, Anheier, and Sokolowski (1996) also discuss the disadvantages of voluntary failures pointing out philanthropic insufficiency due to limited scale of resources, philanthropic particularism, where NGOs choose their clientele and projects; philanthropic paternalism, where a minority controls community priorities; and philanthropic amateurism. In summary, Salamon et al. argue that, although NGOs seem to be more efficient, flexible, caring, and holistic, and governments more impersonal, generic, and inflexible, in cases of voluntary failure, governments are more reliable, equitable, democratic, legally mandated, and professional. It is important to note that these theories are too general and not applicable universally to all areas of policy. However, it is important to note too that they certainly inform public policy. They focus on NGO service delivery, not on their political roles. which is the focus of this book. But they also emphasize that clients are not only customers, but also citizens and, therefore, play a political role of advocacy. The government-NGO relation model in cases of political failure, that is, in cases where the government is insufficient in responding to citizens, helps build social capital among weaker groups. Furthermore, the literature discusses a cross-sectoral framework or models of intergovernmental and cross-sectoral relationships. This addresses both dimensions, that of service delivery and the political role.

Innovative Models Besides the classical explanations, one finds in the literature more novel models of government-NGOs relations. Some authors propose a macro framework to assess these relations by looking at different types of relationships. For example, Coston (1998) argues that these relationships are characterized by repression, rivalry and competition where government resists pluralism. In

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other cases, the relationship is characterized by cooperation, complementarity, and collaboration, where government accepts pluralism. All this helps clarify the relationship between availability of political and policy space, and where NGOs can enter the process. Najam (2000) discusses a model that incorporates the potential for service delivery and advocacy and where relationships are characterized by cooperation, if governments and NGOs have similar ends and means; confrontation, if ends and means are different; complementarity where ends are the same but means differ; and co-optation where means are the same but ends are different. Young (2000) proposes a multi-layer model where the relations coexist or follow a sequence. Either NGOs are independent but supplementing government, are complementary to government in partnership, or have an adversarial relationship of mutual accountability. Brinkerhoff and Brinkerhoff (2002) discuss government-NGO partnerships where identity is maintained through mutuality and responsibility. Bouget and Prouteau (2002) examine relations at the supranational level while Goldsmith (2002) debates the contribution of NGOs to advocacy and representation and their watchdog role in addition to service delivery. D. Brinkerhoff (2002) also examines the donor and government initiated effort that facilitates the establishment of NGOs. Brainard and Siplon (2002) debate the implications of NGOs’ use of the internet in relating with governments, providing services, and enhancing solidarity, while Warin (2002) investigates the relationship in relation to policy implementation and advocacy. Finally, Musso et al. (2002) discuss the instrumental perspective of faith organizations for governments. In summary, the instrumentalist or efficiency-oriented view of governmentNGO relations does not reflect the full extent of their relationships. Other dimensions ought to be added, such as values, social capital, and civic engagement. Economically, instrumental relationships are insufficient to negotiate the demands of an increasingly diverse, urbanized, global, and technologically sophisticated population.

Real Features Therefore, what are the real features of government-NGOs’ interactions? Is it the partnership of top-down interaction in cases where the government is the initiator or bottom-up interaction when the initiator is the NGO? Overall, the relationship between governments and NGOs impacts on the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, on the quality of responsiveness of public policies, on the degree of social exclusion, and on the expression of public 64

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values and the building of social capital, thus understanding this relationship seems crucial. This relationship can be that of participation which takes place usually through institutionalized channels of cooperation or through more confrontational tactics which create lobby pressures. Cooperation is articulated through commissions, advisory boards, and other formal channels of liaison, consultation, and oversight, as well as other mechanisms, such as public hearings, which allow actors to comment formally on legislative and administrative proposals. The increase in the number of NGO actors over the last decades has been accompanied by the growth of these types of liaison and consultation channels (Casey 1998). The alternative to cooperation is confrontation. The legal system and other channels like the ombudsman allow for some level of confrontation within the system. Most importantly for the purposes of this thesis is the policy impact of NGOs as an indicator of the evolution of governmentNGOs relations. This issue is hotly debated. Practitioners tend to ascribe almost endless powers to NGO lobbying efforts, while political scientists tend to ignore generally them except when specific organizations have achieved a high level of political power. The goal of this research is to explore the equilibrium between these two opposing views by investigating the factors that determine the possibilities for political participation by NGOs, and the impact of the different strategies available to them in environmental policy and governance in Singapore (Casey 1998). Many NGOs claim to be apolitical by affirming that their goals are the service of their members and beneficiaries, and not to influence government policies. Nevertheless, these NGOs participate in consultative committees and/or other decision-making mechanisms and most engage in some form of indirect policy action. Common activities include the act of putting forward a new proposal and hoping it be incorporated into future guidelines. This becomes the intent to influence policies through indirect means. Participation can occur through cooperation or confrontation, that is, through institutionalized channels or through tactics design to exert pressure. This thesis favours NGOs’ political stance. But what are the factors affecting participation? As argued by Casey (1998) and Shigetomi (2002), four main factors affect participation: the political and socio-economic environment; the substantive policy in question; the characteristics of NGOs; and the networking of actors. The political system in which NGOs operate provides the context for their participation in the policy process. For example, in some systems NGOs 65

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employ tactics to work directly with legislatures and politicians, others prefer persuading administrators and ministers, while others choose informal communication and networking with individuals. The political system necessarily includes the political ideology and culture. For example, welfare state ideologies, whether conservative, liberal, or socialist, symbolize a particular attitude to government intervention, responsibility for decision-making and service delivery, as well as the relationship between the state, market, and NGOs. Another example is the dichotomy between strong and weak states (or corporatist versus pluralist states). Strong states are characterized by the presence of corporatist political structures and thus closed to extragovernmental organizations, except for their chosen umbrella bodies. Thus, NGOs are forced to use radical strategies in order to make themselves heard. In contrast, weak states are more pluralist and open to relationships between the public and the voluntary sector, permitting a closer participation in policy-making. Other aspects relating to the political system are the socioeconomic development, institutional policy structures, strength of political parties, and general attitudes of what constitutes legitimate political behaviour. The policy in question is the second factor identified. Each policy area has its own peculiarities with two dimensions to this factor: the nature of the policy conflict and the stage of the policy cycle. Depending on whether the policy concerns an issue of power distribution or relates to the universalism of goods and services or is merely a technical question, or has a high or low public profile, NGOs will employ different strategies. The phase of the policy cycle is significant as most scholars generally agree that NGOs seek to participate in what is identified as the first stages of the process, that is, problem formulation and the alternatives for action. The characteristics of NGOs or the factors internal to their organization determine their capacity to influence and the strategies they choose. NGOs that choose to participate and opt for various strategies must have the organizational skills and resource capacity to bear the transaction costs and ensure their legitimacy to carry out their activities. These internal factors depend on the ideology and culture of the NGOs, their capacity to mobilize resources, their representativity among their clients, their leadership, and the status awarded by governments to these organizations with regard to the policy process. Finally, their capacity to network is another factor affecting the ability of NGOs to influence policy. An issue usually calls for the attention of multiple actors, ranging from individuals, informal groups, and formal organizations, and their patterns of relationship can be a key factor determining outcomes. The newest trends in government-NGO relations also deal with the influence of information technology on organizational structures and processes,

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and with the rise of supranational forums of government-NGO interaction like the European Union, United Nations, etc. This leads one to think that the NGO contribution to values, social capital, and civic engagement may become increasingly important in a global, high-tech world.

Asian Perspectives Features of government-NGO relations, manifestations of NGO activity in Asia, and of NGO policy advocacy are, as in Western polities, also dependent on factors just mentioned. For example, Shigetomi (2202) argues that in socialist systems like China and Vietnam, which are categorized as low in meeting economic needs and in political pluralism, NGOs lack space to engage the system. The Taiwan state, before democratization, also provided little political space for NGO activity, while it practically occupied all the economic space in meeting the economic needs of the population. The cases of Singapore and Malaysia, where to various degrees and for different reasons, the state claims to be getting smaller, if not weaker, NGOs stand a better chance of not only providing alternative sources of goods and services, but also of contributing to “better politics”. Thailand and Indonesia, which rank low in their ability to meet people’s economic needs, have also loosened their political restraints and are welcoming NGO activity. In South Korea, NGOs continue to lobby for democratization by trying to ameliorate the decisionmaking process on resource allocation.

GOVERNANCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY Together with the characteristics of organizations at a micro level, the characteristics of the sector or the substantive policy in question are also, at a more mezzo level, conditioning factors influencing the way government organizations relate with NGOs (see Figure 1.1 Chapter One). It was in 1980 that Mann suggested that environmental policy had come of age (Lester 1995). Since then, on par with the greater attention policy-makers have given to environmental issues, there has been a growing body of literature on environmental politics and policy that increasingly appears to influence government decision-making. Moreover, environmental protection and natural resources management have become an important focus of state-society relations, given the growing variety of government and non-government actors involved in this policy arena. Thus, the unprecedented number of actions that has taken place in the past twenty-five years in the name of environmental protection has made the environment clearly recognized as a political issue. Examples can be

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found in the interest world leaders and NGOs have shown in participating in two major Earth Summits, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro (1992), and the Johannesburg Summit (2002); in the intense lobbying of industrialists in the run up to the Kyoto climate negotiations; and in the increasing numbers of environmental NGOs and their growing membership, among others. Given the fact that the period of serious environmental awareness is still relatively short, the response at all levels of policy-making has been impressive. Moreover, given its resonance at the local, regional, and international levels, the question is not whether governments and other stakeholders have responded, but how they have responded. Thus, the crucial query here is whether there is anything distinctive about environmental issues and environmental politics that makes it a good case to investigate changes in governance patterns in civil society, development, and in the way government and non-government actors relate to each other.

Historical Landmarks The early period of environmental politics literature ranged from 1960–77 (Lester 1995). This was a “descriptive period” during which research intended to raise people’s awareness on environmental degradation. Works like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962), The Quiet Crisis by Udall (1963), and The Population Bomb by Ehrlich (1971) appeared in this period. The era culminated with the U.N. Conference on Human Environment (Stockholm 1972) that set in motion the next stage of the debate. Until then, the literature was dominated by sociologists with political scientists being absent from the discourse, or rather caught in the dilemma on whether to participate or not. Some favoured involvement, while others preferred to refrain. By 1975, little had still been done by political scientists on environmental policy or on studies of environmental movements related to broader political thought. On the administrative front practically nothing had been done in terms of policies at state level. The second period ranging from 1978–85 is identified as an era of “growing maturity” where empirical studies by political scientists started to emerge. For example, Sebatier takes an interest on the environment while studying the general process of policy formulation and implementation. Other political scientists who got involved in this period were Lundqvist, Lester, and Manzamian (Lester 1995). From 1986 to the present we have the third period or “contemporary era” of environmental politics and policy. Today the focus of research is on the 68

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centrality of political ideas, values, ideologies, principles of governance, and political paradigms shaping the organizations and operation of political systems. At present, more practical questions are being raised since, despite growing awareness and research, the natural environment continues to deteriorate. Frequently asked questions relate to the nature and viability of modern industrial societies, the structure of political and economic institutions, and the effectiveness of their decision-making mechanisms. Queries about the way ideologies affect our capacity to recognize and act on ecological problems, and on environmental ethics altering personal and political decisions, are also frequent. Thus, in recent years, the meaning of “environment” has evolved from concern with natural resources to concern with the next generations. There has also been a movement from concern with environmental sciences to concern with environmental ethics. Together with an evolution of meanings, an evolution of policy also has taken place. Decision-makers have moved from putting in place policies related to the wise use of natural resources to policies on pollution prevention; from merely adding environmental issues to the agenda to moving them into the process of environmental policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. Patterns in participation have also changed with time. These have moved from an elitist style to participatory modes of working out environmental policies. The way policies are evaluated also developed from first-generation problems (water rights, public lands, etc.) to second-generation (toxic waste and air pollution) and third-generation ones (global warming, ozone layer depletion, etc.). The nature of public opinion has evolved over time too. From “soft” public support in the 1960s easily overridden by economic considerations, to “strong” support advocating strict environmental protection regulations and the willingness to adhere to the “polluter pays” principle. There is also an evolution towards cross-level and cross-national environmental movements.

Factors Affecting Environmental Policy Lester’s work (1995) aggregates, synthesizes and critiques political science research on the factors affecting environmental policy. He also describes the state of policies vis-à-vis the literature on environmental politics and policy, and identifies some future areas of research. He does so by following Hofferbert’s (1974) conceptualization for analysing the determinants of environmental policy formulation. Hofferbert details the causes that promote 69

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or inhibit policy formation. He identifies factors like the historical and geographical setting, the evolution of environmental movements and interest groups, the various socio-economic contexts, mass political behaviour influencing governmental institutions, élite behaviour, political parties’ role, and government institutions’ role like, for example, the bureaucracy and the courts. Finally, Hofferbert looks at the impact environmental policies have had on the actual environment. Hofferbert’s work is corroborated by Roberts’ (2000) more recent research. As said earlier, though looking into all the factors influencing environmental policy is necessary in order to weigh the relative importance of NGOs among them, this book only presents these factors briefly, as required, in order to understand the position of environmental NGOs. Its emphasis is rather on dealing with the evolution of environmental NGOs. Hofferbert advances that “history and geography are intricately woven into actions of contemporary policy makers”, thus attention should be given to those factors (Lester 1995, p. 8). Socio-economic conditions may promote or inhibit environmental policy, thus this factor should be considered too. Mass political behaviour may influence élite decisions or governmental institutions, independently of socio-economic determinations. Thus, Hofferbert suggests that public opinion, interest groups, and political parties may or may not exert pressure on élites or institutions that causes them to respond in ways that promote or inhibit, environmental policy (Lester 1995, p. 9). The role of government institutions is discussed with the impact of legislatures, bureaucracies, and the courts. Finally, the role of élite behaviour is examined as the last factor affecting environmental policy formation. The argument is that the behaviour of élites and their responses in some formal manner are preconditions for policy formation. Both, Western and Asian models of “participatory democracy” are emerging that could provide the basis for a new approach to environmental protection that does not rely on “politics-as-usual” and that has, therefore, a direct relation with new governance forms (Lester 1995, pp. 348–62). Although this aspect will be further elaborated on when dealing with issues of environmental NGOs, a brief reference here is in order. On the one hand, the attributes of environmental governance systems influence environmental outcomes. For example, weak administrative capacity and absence of judicial independence can hamper effective enforcement of environmental laws. On the other hand, attributes of environmental and natural resource management systems influence governance outcomes. For example, low economic rent from resource exploitation like mining and logging encourages both inefficient production and an increase of political influence by “crony capitalists” by facilitating access to excessive profits.

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Therefore, the governance mechanisms used to allocate and manage natural resources not only influence the economic and environmental characteristics of a locality, but also its political and social characteristics. The term “environmental governance” is thus used here as “authority and capacity” exercised by governmental and non-governmental actors in the management of the natural environment. Thus the term refers not only to the institutional framework of the environmental sector, but also to the actors and the powers they exercise over the use of natural resources. It, moreover, includes broader governance issues like representation, legal recourse, civic activities, and protection of human rights that provide the context for a society’s management of its natural environment (Seymour and Faraday 2001). Returning to the initial question of whether there is anything unique to the nature of environmental politics, Connelly and Smith (1999) suggest that the distinctive nature of environmental issues and hence politics must be recognized. They observe a series of issues that make the sector unique. First, it challenges traditional thinking about human beings and their relation with the natural world. Second, it appeals to people to engage in acts of collective action and cooperate in ways not previously achieved. Third, it calls for adaptation of technologies, regulations, etc., thus globally requiring new thinking on international relations. And finally, it challenges the orthodox political and economic structures of the industrial era. Thus, it is radical and value laden. All these challenges are embodied in the ideas and principles defining “sustainable development”. That is, in the principle proposing economic and environment integration, intergenerational obligations, social justice, environmental protection and resource conservation, quality of life, and most relevant to this study, participation. That is, calling for institutions to be restructured to allow all voices to be heard (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). Besides these more general attributes, environmental politics have a distinctive philosophy and ideology, policy process, policy instruments and policy options. Moreover, they also have a distinctive social movement as environmental NGOs have specific characteristics.

Philosophy and Ideology Underlying traditional environmental arguments are beliefs about the relative priority of human, animal and plant life, and of the whole ecology of the planet. This philosophy is expressed in a particular ideology that responds to the lack of political attention given to two salient issues: human’s ethical relationship with the natural world, and the finite nature of natural resources and their ability to withstand persistent degradation.

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Connelly and Smith (1999) argue that the political recognition of these concerns is insufficient to generate a comprehensive political doctrine in its own right. What this recognition does is to provide a powerful critical ground from which to challenge existing and potential practices.8 Yet, Dobson, a green political theorist, argues that ecologism and environmentalism do represent a new ideology since they provide a description of the present political and social climate and a prescription on how the world ought to be arranged, and the motivation for change (Connelly and Smith 1999, p. 55). There is, however, disagreement among green political theorists on the differences between ecologism and environmentalism. The former proposes fundamental changes in present values and patterns of production and consumption and in people’s relationship with the natural world and their modes of social and political life, while the latter argues for a managerial approach to environmental problems, convinced that these can be solved without fundamental changes in values. In this book the definition of environmentalism is used to mean: A management system concerned with and geared towards protecting or conserving nature for its intrinsic value and the benefit of humankind.

Contemporary green political thinking uses two central concepts of discourse: sustainable development and democracy. Sustainable development, as defined above, is an essentially contested concept with institutional arrangements, policies, and strategies for change not simply following from its invocation. The concept was initially attractive because it offered grounds for fundamental critique of existing practices, but the term has been corrupted by political opponents, leading to the loss of its radical edge. This has led many “greens” to abandon it. Around the concept of sustainable development, there are a number of principles, which are central to green political thought, but which are equally contested. These are: the linkage between the natural environment and social and economic practices that requires integration of economic development and environmental protection; the nature of obligations to future generations; the commitment to social justice based on merits or needs; and the political institutions that support participation. But what is the linkage between environmental protection, sustainable development and democracy? The argument is that development projects that have an impact on loss of natural habitats or their degradation are seen to favour interests of particular, politically influential groups within society (i.e. business) and are unconcerned with the needs of the community at large or the disfranchised. Furthermore, where opportunities for public participation 72

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exist, the procedures and rules explicitly exclude the possibility of challenging these misrepresentations and distortions. The motives of the state and of other institutions are distrusted, leading to feelings of political alienation and a general apathy towards political institutions. Sustainable development requires radical political restructuring to reflect the needs of all sectors of society. Opportunities need to be available to challenge the environmental and social implications of current practices. Thus, as Coenen et al. (1998) affirm, environmental problems are not only technical issues but they also highlight intrinsically political questions, thus dealing directly with democratic theory and practice. In the country and cases studies presented in Chapters Three to Six, the question of whether in Singapore the knowledge and ethical commitment to nature is misrepresented by “experts” and political representatives in the technical decision-making process is investigated. How, then, is the decision-making process designed to ensure all voices are heard? Is it possible to design institutions that can guard against the manipulation of political agendas by powerful élites? The situation in capitalist systems is that they require governments to protect private capital and to ensure continued economic growth. Under such conditions, unless élites understand the implications of environmental protection for long-term economic growth and social stability, environmental considerations will never be given priority where they conflict with capital accumulation. From this, one can deduce that sustainable development points towards the priority of democracy, that is, justice of the means to achieve sustainable ends over capital accumulation. Goodin claims that “to advocate democracy is to advocate procedures, to advocate environmental protection is to advocate substantive outcomes: what guarantee do we have that the former will yield in the latter?” (in Connelly and Smith 1999, p. 60). The answer is that environmental concerns lead to the advocacy of a number of substantive outcomes. What matters is the manner in which one comes to agree on which ends to pursue. More explicitly, the connection between environmental protection and democracy is made with “deliberative democratic theory”. This theory claims decisions are only legitimate if they derive from a process of argument and deliberation in which all citizens have an equal right to be heard and decisions are made through the force of a better argument. Cohen provides a valuable portrayal of deliberative democracy: The notion of deliberative democracy is rooted in the intuitive ideal of a democratic association in which the justification of the terms and conditions of association proceeds through public argument and reasoning 73

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among equal citizens. Citizens in such an order share a commitment to the resolution of problems of collective choice through public reasoning, and regard their basic institutions as legitimate in so far as they establish the framework for free public deliberation (Connelly and Smith 1999, p. 61).

Only when citizens are able to see that their political and ethical commitments to environmental issues are genuinely taken into account will they begin to regain trust and interest in political debate and action.

Policy: A Distinctive Process Any discussion on the making of environmental policy ought to deal with three issues: collective action, power and timing. The solution to environmental problems is a collective one. Recognizing the problem and its possible solution is only the first step (i.e. many recognize the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, but few are prepared to leave their cars at home). Cooperation is least likely when those involved stand to lose out. Where there is a “public good” which can be secured only through the cooperation of a large number of individual actors, there is always the incentive for individuals to “free ride”. That is, to benefit from the public good without contributing towards it. “Rational choice theory” extends this analysis by generalizing through the assumption that individuals are selfinterested, thus achieving collective action is difficult. Its branch, “public choice theory” applies the methods and assumptions of economics to political decision-making. An example is that of the traffic jam where everybody blames everybody else but no one wants to give up his car. The outcome of individuals acting rationally, that is, maximizing their utility and self-interest leads to collective irrationality that is in no one’s interest. The classical example is Garrett Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” (1968), of herds grazing in a limited plot of land; the more herds, the less grazing. Solutions to lack of collective action are found in various policy instruments like voluntary cooperation, state regulation, economic incentives, or instituting property rights. Power is the second issue to consider in discussing environmental policy making. Power is unevenly distributed among actors with state actors counting on more power because they count on more resources. Even when a pressure group is granted access to policy-makers, there is not the slightest guarantee that its views will be adopted. Meetings between policy-makers and pressure groups may be used to diffuse opposition because they allow governments to 74

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go on making the claim that it has consulted all the relevant parties and interests, yet its decision may be what it always wanted it to be. The exercise of power consists not only of the ability to get things done, but also of the ability to make sure decisions are not made or deferred indefinitely. Now that effective collective action has been secured and power distribution issues overcome, the question of knowing when to act is a pressing one. That is, knowing when to allocate the scarce resources of time and money. What often stops action is that some environmental issues are not clearly and presently serious, but just potentially serious. They bring future costs but not current costs, and in general, there is a tendency to worry less about future burdens than current ones. Economists take this view by assigning lower monetary value to future costs and benefits, compared with present costs or benefits. But when making environmental policy, one is often faced with a situation of being either proactive or reactive. That is, of acting now to prevent future degradation, even if our current knowledge of the problem and its consequences is limited, or acting later when the issue becomes a problem, in the hope that there will then be a cheap technical fix available. If knowledge is sufficient and the estimated environmental and economic costs are enormous, it is rational to incur those costs in advance. If knowledge is insufficient and a cheap technical fix is in the pipeline, waiting then seems rational. There is also a trend among policy makers of reliance on science for the ultimate solution, arguing that science is neutral. While science provides valuable solutions, it is not a fix-it-all remedy and it is certainly not always neutral — one can think of the politics of research grants, among others. Moral expertise in relation to policy-making is a consideration too (further expanded in Connelly and Smith 1999, pp. 119–22; Roberts 2000). In summary, environmental policies and programmes are likely to be contested and subjected to responses of opposition, exclusion, and manipulation. Problems of collective action and forms of power appear as various stakeholders lobby to secure their position and achieve their goals. Successful environmental policy-making requires knowledge of both environmental goals and obstacles standing in the way of achieving them.

Instruments: A Distinctive Way of Measurement The impact of development projects on the environment is calculated through various means. The main policy instruments available to decision-makers are: economic valuation or cost benefit analysis (CBA), environmental impact assessments (EIAs), strategic environmental assessments (SEAs), and various indexes of sustainability (SIs). It is beyond the scope of this book to deal with 75

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these otherwise important policy instruments in detail, but especial attention ought to be given to EIAs and SEAs as they are significant to one of the case studies (see Chapter Five). EIAs are a process for identifying the likely consequences, for the biogeophysical environment and for human health and welfare, of implementing particular activities at a stage where it can affect the decision of those responsible (see Connelly and Smith 1999, pp. 145–47). SEAs, on the other hand, focus on policies, plans, and programmes rather than on individual projects. Both have emerged in response to limitations of national income accounting (NIC) (see Connelly and Smith 1999, pp. 148–49). Further, in 1989 Daly and Cobb developed the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW). It adjusts the GNP to take into account the contradictions found in conventional economic measures. It is based on the recognition that a single figure can be useful in making broad comparisons of welfare over time. Applications in the United States and United Kingdom showed that the ISEW rose with GNP till the 1970s when the level of sustainable welfare began to decline. Analyses showed three factors causing the drop: deepening of economic inequality, exhaustion of natural resources, and failure to invest in sustainable future practices. Anderson’s recent research in economic valuation of the environment proposes alternative indicators (Connelly and Smith 1999, pp. 150–52).

Policy Options: A Distinctive Regulatory Mechanism All that has been discussed identifies environmental problems. What is left is therefore to discuss the distinct options the environment sector has at its disposal to solve them. Options may be voluntary like recycling efforts, refraining from driving a vehicle, using cleaner energy, reducing consumption, or applying for International Standard Organization (ISO 14001) certification, a management system that provides certificates to those meeting their standards. The limitation of voluntary means is that although they indicate a shift for the better in environmental consciousness, it is unlikely this will be enough because there is no guarantee the sum of individual actions will be adequate. Regulations and enforcement come in the form of government interventions like, for example, setting up an energy department dedicated to the environment, putting legislation in place, issuing orders to industries setting standards, etc. But these are all command and control measures and, therefore, their limitation is that while they punish the transgressor for doing wrong, they do not encourage the complier for doing right. 76

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Economic instruments such as taxes and permits are also discussed as alternative options. These recognize the self-interested behaviour of individuals or decision-makers when formulating or implementing policy. They help achieve the “polluter pays” principle that makes polluters internalize the cost of use or degradation of environmental resources. Taxes are price-based instruments, which take the form of emission charges levied on the discharge of pollutants into the air, water, etc. User charges relate to treatment and disposal of sewage, construction and demolition waste, and product charges levied on harmful products. Green taxes are not mere revenue earners. For example, landfill taxes are intended to lead to the rethinking of waste disposal practices, and so on. Tradable permits are rights-based instruments. They set quotas of emissions per company. If a company falls under its quota, it can “sell” it to a dirtier company. The former will try to keep clean so as to continue raising money from sold credits. The latter will have the incentive to clean up so as to avoid having to buy quotas. Table 2.4 summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of regulations and economic instruments. In summary, the uniqueness of environmental politics ranges from thought to action. Consensus is lacking among greens themselves on what is an adequate response to contemporary environmental problems. However, any significant move towards a sustainable society would require rethinking what is development. The uniqueness of environmental politics is the near unanimous censure of existing capitalist development patterns and the values that underpin the logic of continued economic growth. Thus, it clearly requires a re-evaluation of mainstream political ideals like democracy, and social and intergenerational justice.

The Environmental Movement: A Distinctive Collective Body Besides its distinctive philosophy and ideology, the environmental sector is a unique movement. However, this is not to say that there is uniformity in ethical underpinnings and choice of activities across the actors in the sector. In fact, one finds a wide range of ideologies in green parties and pressure groups committed to environmental protection and nature conservation. In relation to parties, one finds mere “green-washing” of traditional political parties that mostly seek to exploit the “greens” to remain in power, to “pure greens” like the U.K. Green Party founded in 1985, or the German Die Grunen that emerged in the 1980s. Yet greens have succeeded or failed in elections not so much due to their convincing capacity, but often depending 77

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TABLE 2.4 Regulations versus Economic Instruments Regulations

Economic Instruments

Advantages • Objectives and means are determined independently of market forces and economic factors. • Best means of preventing irreversible damage or unacceptable levels of pollution. • Widely understood

Advantages • Allow each polluter to choose the most efficient way of reducing pollution. • Provide an incentive to continue reducing pollution. • Minimize the cost of achieving pollution reductions. • Provide finance for the restoration of damage. • Taxes may be more effective where consumer’s behaviour needs to be controlled.

Disadvantages • May not be the most cost-effective way of ensuring standards are met. • Provide no incentives for polluters to do better than the standard. • Difficult to administer and enforcement depends on resources available to the regulatory authority.

Disadvantages • Depend on trial and error to set tax/charge at the right level. • Initial allocation of permits difficult to set. • Limited applicability to more than one pollutant • Work well only in certain welldefined circumstances • Give a “license to pollute”

Source: Connelly and Smith 1999, p. 174.

on voting systems’ limitations and constraints (for further expansion on this, see Connelly and Smith 1999, pp. 71–75). But it is environmental pressure groups that tend to be the most outstanding element of the environmental movement. Not all environmental groups call themselves pressure groups. Some radicals like Earth First! find states suspicious and the actual cause of the current environmental crisis, thus they disregard the state altogether. Grant advances a definition of pressure groups as “an organisation which seeks as one of its functions to influence the formulation and implementation of public policy representing a set of authoritative decisions taken by the executive, the legislature, and by local government” (Connelly and Smith 1999, p. 75). 78

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Further distinctions are made between different types of groups, in terms of whom or what they represent. These are reflected in Table 2.5.

TABLE 2.5 Classification of Environmental Pressure Groups Type of Group

Characteristics

Cause or promotional

• Represent a belief or principle • Act to further a cause • Membership not restricted: anyone who accepts the belief can join • International examples: Friends of the Earth (FoE), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), etc. • Represent a particular section of the community • Defend and enhance the common and private interest of that community • Membership is restricted to the sectional interest • Examples: Bird Watching Societies, Marsh people associations, etc. • Certain degree of legitimacy and usually consulted by government departments on policy matters: part of a department policy community • Either stand at the threshold of official recognition or are solely recognized by some departments (for example recognized by the Environmental Department, but not by the Transport Department).

Interest or sectional

Insider

Outsider

Source: Adapted from Connelly and Smith 1999, pp. 75–77 and Roberts 2000, pp. 142–47.

Certainly, the boundaries between these categorizations are not clear cut. Yet, to understand the approaches and forms of action a group chooses, it is useful to recognize whether it stands in the insider/outsider and cause/ sectional category. Possible forms of action are presented in Table 2.6. In the arena of environmental politics, many NGOs have sprung up over the past two decades, greatly expanding their size and scope of action. They have become increasingly involved in local, regional, and global environmental negotiations. In the official negotiating process, especially but not exclusively within the U.N. system, their activities range from presenting alternatives, 79

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TABLE 2.6 Environmental Groups’ Forms of Action Form of Action

Characteristics

Informal contact and influence Formal lobbying

Letters and petitions to MPs and ministers

Scientific research and reports Consumer boycotts Court action

Demonstrations and marches

Media stunts

Non-violent direct action Violent direct action

Through discreet lobbying behind the scenes, often with transfer of personnel. For example, former civil servants moving to groups. Through governmental institutions and bodies. For example, groups making formal submissions to Legislature or Parliamentary Committees or to Standing Committees of Advisory bodies. Group members sitting at Advisory Committees on the Environment, Sustainable Development, etc. From group members or the general public organized in a concerted manner. For example, signature campaigns against development projects in ecologically valuable areas, etc. That established the credibility and professionalism of groups. Design to highlight producers’ malpractices. For example, use of GMOs in food products, etc. Where laws and regulations have been breached. For example, bypassing results of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) or not conducting one on projects. Provide visible evidence of public support. For example, against the building of a nuclear plant or an incinerator. To gain widespread public exposure. For example hanging banners on incinerator chimneys, etc. Like civil disobedience and eco-sabotage. Aiming at directly hurting those who are involved in practices considered environmentally destructive. For example, bulldozing road construction sites, etc.

Source: Adapted from Connelly and Smith 1999, p. 78.

setting agendas, lobbying activities, and monitoring local international agreements and their implementation in local legislation. Thus, NGOs have become an important component of environmental politics. In practice, the 80

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power of NGOs is increasing in fields that used to be regarded as the exclusive domain of national governments. In many ways state power has been diffused and shifted to NGOs. When talking about environmental NGOs, large and often well-financed international NGOs like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF, etc. come to mind. However, an increasingly salient characteristic of NGO activity is the formation of networks that link organizations large and small at the local, regional, and international levels. Advanced communication technology has facilitated their networking, exchange of ideas, values, tactics, and information across the globe. Environmental groups were formed very much at the beginning of the emergence of environmental politics. Originally environmental groups were those related with ideologies questioning the overall quality of life of modern society. Early groups merged “green” and “brown” issues with the former relating to wildlife and nature conservation, and the latter referring to pollution and its impact on human health. Ingram et al. (1995) argue that one of the important successes of environmental groups is having institutionalized environmental concerns. This can be seen in legislation passed and the setting of environmental programmes of higher education in engineering, economics, and politics. It is also evident in the establishment of government agencies dedicated to the environment and the expansion in the number and quality of environmental groups. This is described by Gottlieb (1993) as an environmental policy system made up of legislative, administrative and judicial policy-makers and of engineers, lawyers, environmental consultants, and NGOs. The thesis presented by Ingram et al. (1995) is that environmental group formation and maintenance over time can be best explained by the “pluralist theory”, which explicates that groups are successfully formed because of their ideological appeal, concern over public policy, and successful mobilization and maintenance of cohesion through shared common interests. Then their capacity to influence policy will depend on the quality of their leadership, the employment of the right strategies, and the forging of coalitions to disperse power distribution. The remarkable increase in the number of environmental organizations can be best explained too by the growth of government programmes relating to the environment; by improved methods of communication; by improved funding schemes, especially the support of external funding agencies, both private and public; and also by the growth of agencies connected to specific environment threats or events. The first wave (1960s–70s) of groups was more concerned with conservation of natural resources and was made up of groups that were 81

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science-friendly. The second wave (1970s–80s) shifted focus from preservation issues to problems associated with environmental pollution, emphasizing an ecological approach to the natural environment. For example, Greenpeace International, Friends of the Earth, and other well-established groups were formed during this period. These groups emphasized direct action and radical opposition to the existing system and to technological developments. The third wave (1980s–present) sees the emergence of environmental grassroots groups characterized by their bottom-up approach and decentralized nature. They seek to democratize the environmental policy process by shifting the focus to the local level. This third wave clearly constitutes an example of what was mentioned earlier of “citizen empowerment”. Communities no longer passively accept the assurances of outsiders, but demand a voice in decisions that impact the environment. But after the economic slowdown in the 1990s and with less external funding available to groups, how can we explain the persistence of mainstream environmental NGOs or grassroots organizations? Today groups rely mainly on membership dues with a few faithful patrons supporting the cause. But one must also look at the elements that help maintain membership. Ingram et al. (1995) argue that these are: the perceived threats either to one’s environment or to the general environment, and the appeal of an ideology that corresponds to that of individuals to whom the group appeals for membership. But of course there is a membership decrease and there are reasons for it. For example while incidents like the Chernobyl nuclear disaster9 was a boost to membership, events like the first Gulf War10 turned the attention of people away from environmental concerns to more pressing needs. Change of leadership and consequential political agendas are factors both for group persistence and for devising strategies to access policy. While leaders who support environmental policies will choose members of environmental groups to their Cabinets, giving them the opportunity to access policy-makers from the “inside”, other leaders completely disregard environmental policies, making it more difficult for groups to influence policy. Certainly, these general explanations on environmental groups’ formation, maintenance, strategies, and their influencing policy, forming coalitions, and maintaining cohesion, may apply to political systems that are fragmented and have a pluralistic structure, where decisions in the public sector result from a process of group interaction within the framework of accepted capitalist values (Ingram et al. 1995). It remains to be seen whether the same explanation also applies to other political systems like that of Singapore studied here. Finally, Ingram et al. (1995) present problems facing the environmental community. These are, for example, challenges from the grassroots. The

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Greens’ contribution to the local communities will depend more on their ability to create a positive shared vision on environmental protection and natural resources conservation than their ability to defeat specific development proposals. Another challenge is that of maintaining membership despite the inconsistency of support from the political system. Finally, the ability to influence public policy and environmental change is another factor influencing the environmental community as, despite the institutionalization of environmental concerns, there seems to be little progress resulting in substantive improvement. Thus, an emphasis on the improvement of environmental conditions, rather than their own organizational management, is sought after. Moreover, in the growing literature on environmental NGOs two phenomena stand out. One is the growth in size and numbers of environmental NGOs, and the other is the growing awareness among political scientists that this phenomenon is not marginal but integral to the specific nature of environmental politics (Young et al. 1991; Cadwell 1988; Thomas 1992).11 But what are the different qualities of NGO relations that can help us to comprehend the distinctive features of environmental politics? This question is approached by drawing attention to the work of Princen and Finger (1994) on the evolution of the environmental NGO phenomenon and to the indicators that confirm it. Since the 1980s the growth in their numbers and size has been dramatic. For example, just in Asian countries alone their numbers are impressive. The Indonesian Environment Forum had over 500 members in 1992; the Philippines has some 18,000 NGOs, and Bangladesh NGOs amount to 10,000 (Princen and Finger 1994, p. 2). Another indicator of growing NGO importance is their organizational growth expressed in revenue, membership numbers, structural complexity, international coalitions, presence in international conferences like the 1972 Stockholm, 1992 Rio, and 2002 Johannesburg environment and development forums and their choosing activities that aim at shaping environmental laws and institutions. The final indicator of growing NGO prominence is their access to multilateral banks like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank (WB) etc. Despite these common characteristics, individual NGOs differ in size of their budgets, staff and offices; in durability, with some established for years, and others just established around specific environmental NGOs; in the range of issues and activities, with some seemingly involved in issues from wildlife conservation to pollution control, and others just focusing on a specific issue. The ideological underpinnings of NGOs also vary. Some prefer to compromise with the political system while others are more radical. Cultural differences distinguish NGOs as well. Both the political and economic space as well as the mode of relationship depend on historical and socioeconomic developments. As indicated by Princen and Finger (1994), NGO

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activity in the Philippines sprang up from the space provided by the Aquino administration while in Latin America it grew out of the traditional Catholic Church involvement with issues of social justice. Organizational culture is equally varied across NGOs. Some have undergone a process of bureaucratization and institutionalization while others remain unstructured with few organizational or financial configurations in place. Lastly, the legal status and legitimacy also vary across organizations and countries as do their means and goals. Some are government organized and funded as is the case with some organizations in Asia, while others remain fairly independent, as long as they do not challenge state prerogatives. Thus, environmental NGOs have a wide range of interests, capabilities, and perspectives, making it difficult to analyse the phenomenon as a whole without overgeneralizating. But what role do NGOs play in environmental governance? Mori (1999) argues that NGOs play three major roles. First, it is the presentation and promotion of norms and values. Governments and businesses, through financial, technical, and human resources, are the most critical actors in the policy process, but their values are not free from national and economic interests. Thus NGOs, free from political and economic constraints, are expected to represent the interests of future generations. NGOs tend to have a strong commitment to environmental and humanitarian issues, which can help them present pluralized needs and represent diverse interests. The second function of NGOs, Mori argues, is to input directly into the decision-making negotiating process where the rules and principles for future environmental behaviour are being established. These input activities take a variety of forms, from formal sittings in meetings with government officials, to lobbying in parliamentary corridors and other forums in order to access decision-makers, to providing information and expertise by circulating position papers, research output, etc. In doing so, NGOs contribute to improving the transparency of the policy-making process and the accountability of policymakers. Also NGOs are able to raise public awareness and empower local residents by disseminating the information they have been able to obtain through the participation in various negotiating processes. Finally, NGOs have linkage functions at three levels. One is linking groups or individuals operating at various geographical levels, that is, local, regional, national and global. Following Mahatma Gandhi’s advice, “think globally, act locally”, environmental problems need initiatives and participation at the local level if they are to be solved effectively. NGOs also link scientific knowledge to the world of politics by translating it into policy options. The third level of linkage argued by Mori is connecting environmental issues with other social issues such as development, minority rights, trade, investment, 84

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etc. as developed countries have been notorious for their insensitivity to local ecosystem when pursuing investment and trade. Environmental governance, characterized by decentralization and democratization, requires both formal and informal interaction through flat and loosely bounded networks that enable the participation of various actors. Networking is the natural organizing principle of environmental NGOs, whereas the natural organizing principle of states is hierarchy, and that of businesses, markets. Key to NGOs continuous contribution to environmental governance is finding ways to coordinate diverse NGO communities without their becoming dependent on hierarchies. Thus, NGOs become agents of change because citizens alone, or as an unorganized movement, cannot purport change and because governments tend not to promote fundamental changes, especially transformations in an economic system dependent on the ever increasing consumption of resources. This chapter has revised the relevant literature on the various concepts, building the analytical framework at the macro, mezzo, and micro level and has also set the operational definitions of each notion. This is necessary in order to contrast the meanings provided by the existing literature with those emerging from the analysis of country and case studies undertaken in the next four chapters. The ultimate goal is to determine whether “governance theory” serves as an appropriate tool to explain the realities of diverse country and policy settings and, if not, which type of governance order serves this purpose best. As stated in the propositions set and in Chapter One as a starting point for further investigation from known facts, a “disciplined governance” model that suits the realities of illiberal democracies that are liberalizing is anticipated.

Notes 1

2 3

4

5 6

These are “instruments through which public purposes are pursued. For example, economic regulation, taxes, tradable permits, vouchers, and so on” (Salamon 2002, pp. v and 9). In this study the terms “state” and “government” are used interchangeably. This is a peace treaty between the Holy Roman Emperor, the King of France, and their respective allies (Yale Law School 1996). For further details see D. Narayan and Michael F. Cassidy 2001; F. Fukuyama 2001, p. 15. For details of all surveys, refer to Narayan and Cassidy 2001. Bureaucracy is generally used in this book to describe the “formal administrative structures in the public sector” (Peters and Pierre 2003, p. 8). It is also used to refer to “appointed officials, public or civil servants” dealing with public policy 85

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and administration and assisting the executive in the performance of its tasks (Howlett and Ramesh 1995, p. 56). State capacity, together with state autonomy, is one of two dimensions affecting a state’s ability to formulate and implement policy. By itself, it is a function of “its organizational coherence and expertise” (Howlett and Ramesh 1995, p. 60). In brief, it is a states’ potential to act. For a comprehensive discussion on green politics ideology engaging with preexisting Western political traditions like authoritarianism, liberalism, feminism, etc., see Connelly and Smith 1999, pp. 43–56. In April 1986, while testing a nuclear reactor in Chernobyl (Ukraine), safety procedures were ignored, causing a explosion that killed thirty people on the spot and caused high levels of nuclear radiation in a twenty-mile radius (BBC World Report 1986). This war was fought in 1991 against Iraq by an international coalition after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Cited in Princen and Finger 1994.

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Reproduced from Governance, Politics and the Environment: A Singapore Study by Maria Francesch-Huidobro (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior Singapore Governance in Flux 87 permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

3 SINGAPORE GOVERNANCE IN FLUX

INTRODUCTION This chapter begins the empirical heart of the book by addressing the changing dynamics of governance in Singapore. It does so in accordance with the analytical framework established in Chapter Two in which, for current purposes, governance is seen as a mode of governing involving not only the state, but most importantly, civil society. Within these two domains, this chapter attempts to identify why and how government and non-government organizations in Singapore form networks, thus, playing a crucial role as principal actors in a particular policy field, the environment, in this case. Network formation is an essential component of governing capacity within the governance framework (Peters 2004). Such dynamics and the type of governance order explaining them are further elucidated in the three case studies subsequently presented in Chapters Four to Six, and in the concluding Chapter Seven. The evolving dynamics of governance observed in specific features of state-society relations in various policy domains, together with succession, the limits of government control and the government’s economic role constitute, at present, Singapore’s key political issues (Koh and Ooi 2000; (I[ (12) 20 January 2004, Appendix XIII]).

GOVERNANCE, STATE AND CIVIL SOCIETY The realities of Singapore governance, in general and of environmental governance, in particular are best uncovered by analysing the country’s history, 87

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administrative and political reforms, and how these have affected the nature and role of the state and civil society.

Political Survival and PAP Monopoly: The First Thirty-six Years (1954–90) On 21 November 2004, the People’s Action Party (PAP) turned fifty. As celebrations were launched in April, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong reflected that the PAP had delivered on its promises: independence, prosperity, and lately, more political and civil space (Straits Times, 27 April 2004). It is hard to argue against the first two claims, but there is a significantly large body of literature, mostly Western in origin, challenging the latter. These and subsequent chapters are an attempt to understand the “real” features and dynamics of Singapore governance so as to comprehend whether “opening up” has been realized in the last fourteen years. But how did it all start and which are the historical factors that have shaped Singapore’s original governing ideology and subsequent strategies and policies? Singapore was found and founded in the early 1800s by Sir Stamford Raffles, an employee of the East India Company who later became assistant secretary to the British Governor of Penang (Malaysia). Raffles chose the island as a strategic port of trading due to its location on the main trade route between China, India, and Europe — the Malacca Straits. The enclave seemed appropriate for the establishment of a British settlement as it had abundant fresh drinking water and a deep natural harbour. British rule was then established on 6 February 1819 after Raffles signed a treaty with the Sultan of Johor and the Temenggong, the island’s chieftain. The island soon became a trading port attracting immigrants who wanted to make quick fortunes before leaving to more promising shores. Malays contributed to trade and education; Chinese acted as middlemen between the British and non-English speaking merchants, and as traders and planters; Indians contributed their business, police, and banking skills, while Europeans traded and participated in the government of the day (Turnbull 1989; Chew and Lee 1991). In 1826, Singapore, together with Penang and Malacca, formed the Straits Settlements under British India rule. A Governor was put in charge of the Straits Settlements. The East India Company instructed the GovernorGeneral in India on how to rule the Settlements and which orders to give to the Settlements’ Governor. With the closure of the East India Company in 1867, the Settlements came under the British Colonial Office, becoming a Crown Colony and, remaining so until World War II (Turnbull 1989; Chew and Lee 1991). 88

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The next significant landmark in the enclave’s history is the Japanese Occupation. From 1942–45 the Japanese occupied Malaya (then including the island of Singapore). After the war, in 1946, the Malaya Union Scheme was created, transferring sovereignty from the sultans to the British Crown. In 1948 the reverse occurred with the establishment of the Federation of Malaya Agreement that transferred sovereignty back to the sultans. In 1949 the Malayan Forum was formed in London by a group of politically aware students, a Malayan student (S. Rajaratnam) and three Singaporean Chinese (Lee Kuan Yew, Toh Chin Chye, and Goh Keng Swee), who would eventually become the founding fathers of the People’s Action Party, the ruling party from 1959 to the present. Eventually, on 24 November 1954, the PAP was inaugurated by these three English-educated radicals, Chinese-educated professionals, and trade unionists of moderate left-wing ideological inclinations, who tapped on communist resources with the aim of using their tactics to topple British rule. At that stage they still remained committed to keeping ties with Malaya, a necessity from the economic viewpoint (Turnbull 1989; Chew and Lee 1991). From the start, the PAP called for independence and socialism (Far Eastern Economic Review, 26 August 1965). The motivation of its ideology was that neither the Japanese nor the British had the right to control their lives; that Malaya included both Malays and Chinese; that the influence of communists over the masses had to be recognized and therefore utilized; and that they were not ready to face the discrimination they were certainly going to encounter when joining the civil service on returning home from their U.K. studies. The early 1950s had seen a strong communist infiltration in Singapore, and in 1955 a first general election was held as a first step towards self-governance (Hill and Fee 1995). In 1959, Singapore achieved self-governance. Forty-three of fifty-one seats of the Legislative Assembly were won by PAP candidates governing as a united front. By 1961 the PAP split into two factions: left wing (Barisan Sosialis) and moderates (Lee, Toh, Rajaratnam, and Goh) who kept strong Malaya ties. The latter abandoned socialism and embarked on a practical policy of economic expansion and social reform. Their ideology — later reflected in their interventionist approach — was shaped by determination, authoritarianism, socialism, and humanist philosophy acquired during their years of Western education (Low 1991, p. 44). The main issues the PAP tackled at that stage were industrial growth, unemployment, foreign investment, reorganization of labour unions, accommodation, sanitation, women’s charter (1962), law and order, aiming at curbing secret societies of migrant origin, and education (Hill and Fee 1995). 89

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In 1963, the Malaysian Federation, that included Singapore, was founded. Its short history, of less than two years saw turbulent days culminating in a coup d’état attempt in January 1965 by the Pan-Malayan Islamic Party supported by Indonesian saboteurs which aimed at toppling the Kuala Lumpur government. But although the coup d’état seemed to have dealt a death blow to the Federation, it was internal strife that really broke its unity (Far Eastern Economic Review, 22 July 1965). The situation climaxed when Singapore was awarded a very small proportion of textile quota for export to Britain. Thus, on 9 August 1965 Singapore separated from Malaysia to start its independent economic development that, at that stage, was hardly seen to be viable. Soon afterwards, on 21 September, it was made a member of the United Nations “by acclamation”, and received into the Commonwealth a month later (Gilbert 1999, pp. 332–33). The new state was made up of three ethnic communities: Chinese, Malays, and Indians. It had just split from a colonial-originated government and was now independent and in need of finding an inward identity with common values. Unlike nineteenth century democratic revolutionary states where the sense of citizenship and nationalism was very much the product of national sentiments, nation-building in Singapore would not come naturally. A turbulent past had forged Singapore’s reality by 1959 when the PAP started ruling. On par with the historical and political realities that surrounded the start of PAP’s rule and of Singapore as an independent nation, governing challenges began to emerge. The 1960s and 1970s constituted Singapore’s early days of political survival where class and ethnicity were essential elements of political mobilization. Those were also years of nation-building. From the mid-1980s to 1990, on the other hand, Singapore experienced a period of PAP monopoly characterized by an interventionist approach and proactive strategic planning. Change and rising expectations started to be felt during this period.

Inescapable Shift, from ‘Government to Governance’: The Last Fourteen Years (1990–2004) Such structural changes, together with the governance style of the last fourteen years under the Premiership of Goh Chok Tong (1990–2004), although incremental, have purported profound modifications to the governance of Singapore. Lee and Goh’s leadership styles are diagrammatically compared in Table 3.1. Moreover, there are forces driving change and influencing the governance of the city-state. Externally, the Republic is under the influence of globalization in an increasingly interdependent world. Internally, changes in countries 90

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TABLE 3.1 Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong: Leadership Styles Compared Lee Kuan Yew

Goh Chok Tong

Personal Traits • Authoritarian, innovative, creative. Has elitist views on educated upper class being more capable of governing • First among equals, less a team player: consulted mostly with his immediate “inner circle” • Played dominant role in agenda-setting and policy initiation; limited mechanisms for public feedback • “Made it happen”

• Elitist, brokerage, consultative • A preference for a more participatory system, buttressed by élitism • Team leadership: preferred to consult his colleagues as equals and worked with them as a team • Open to feedback from public through institutionalized channels of participation • “Encouraged it to happen”

Policy Concerns • Political survival/stability • Economic development • Building a credible defence force • Public housing for the population • Establishing education structure and framework • Managing basic needs • Emphasis on “hardware” • Consolidating state authority and legitimacy • Newly Industrialized Nation

• Political continuity/stability • Economic growth • Defence-maintenance of defence capability • Upgrading HDB flats • “Oasis of Talents”, “Boston of the East” • Managing rising aspirations • Emphasis on “heartware” • Advocacy of civil society as legitimacy • International financial service hub (IT and knowledge-based economy)

Legitimacy • “Delivered the goods” • Founding father/“first generation” • Charismatic legitimacy • “Street-fighter” • Confrontations with colonialists, communists, Malay ultras — “baptism of fire”

• • • • •

Continued to “deliver the goods” Mentee/ “second generation” Collective legitimacy “Mandarin” Consultative politics — approval from electorate • Economic crisis of 1997 onwards

Source: Ho 2000, p. 39.

surrounding Singapore shape its geopolitical scenario. Moreover, Singapore is a city-state aspiring to be, at the same time, a world city. Scholars theorize about the dimensions characterizing these cities, with Low applying these conjectures to the Singapore case (Low 2002). City-states, she argues, are more sensitive to economic, political, and security issues of countries surrounding them than large states. World cities, on the other hand, are 91

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generally modern production hubs characterized by specialized services and financial sophistication. In these cities the workforce is better educated, leading to dynamism, high growth, and the consequential challenges of class polarization and issues of social and economic equity. World cities are not just the outcome of the global economic machine. They are less sensitive politically to changes in the hinterland or surrounding cities. They are characterized by international division of labour that goes beyond political determinants of territorial interests. Low also argues about the characteristics of small city-states as opposed to large states. Large states put high on their agendas issues like security and domestic markets, which in fact constitute their strengths. Small states, on the other hand, are vulnerable by the fact of being open societies that are tolerant, attractive to talent and where the commercialization and patenting of ideas is a daily occurrence. They are also vulnerable because they are open economies, dependent on overseas markets, highly sensitive to politics shaping the democratic corporatist structure, and having more reliance on, and participation in, regional and international organizations. The strength of city-states is that they benefit from the world of liberal trade, globalization, and technology. They are able to formulate rational and well-articulated policies as they have fewer interests to reconcile. They are also able to join trade blocs, increase specialization, and be less dependable of technology strategies. In the case of Singapore, Low maintains, its weaknesses are due to the fact that the state is totally dependent on land, labour, fuel, and food. Problems with Malaysia over water, with Indonesia over haze pollution from forest fires, and with its path towards democratization are ever present. These factors make Singapore dependent on the political will of its two big neighbours to give it physical sustenance and economic space. The question here is whether Singapore relies on the region, or on the global economy and follows practices that are already in place in countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that are more stable and technologically superior, and where the rule of law, transparency, and corporate governance are in place. The other pertinent question refers to how to survive both, as a world city and as a city-state. Table 3.2 summarizes the Singapore characteristics. Besides changes caused by external and internal forces, Singapore’s polity has undergone several structural changes. As already mentioned, the 1970s were years of political survival, while the 1980s saw the emerging of a compact monopoly of the PAP, with class and ethnicity disqualifying for political mobilization. This was also a decade of an interventionist approach 92

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TABLE 3.2 Singapore Characteristics • Small, highly developed • Depending almost exclusively on international trade and investments • Qualitative state intervention: in promoting infrastructural development and investment through GLCs in partnership with MNCs (GLCs 60 per cent of the economy, MNCs 80 per cent of manufacturing) (Cheung and Scott 2003, p. 158) • One-party system • Government objectives: political stability and effective governance • Drawbacks of objectives: lack of political and social pluralism • One natural asset: harbour • Benefits from cooperation with ASEAN • Information technology policy and infrastructure in place • A government led model suitable for long-term activities like high-tech and research and development (R&D) to avoid externalities • Tight fiscal and regulatory framework • People tend to be sheltered and not hardy and nimble as Singapore Government acts as a “good caring father”. Source: Adapted from Low 2002 and Cheung & Scott 2003.

to government and proactive strategic planning. The 1990s, on the other hand, saw the emergence of mechanisms that ensured greater participation. Besides the establishment of the direct elected President, of NCMP and NMP, the turn of the decade also saw the establishment of the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) to ensure minority representation in Parliament. All of these mechanisms were put in place as a Westminster style of governance, combative in nature, was rejected by its leaders as not suited to Singapore and ill-fitted to achieving consensus on issues. Besides structural changes there have also been administrative and grassroots organizational changes, which are presented in detail in subsequent sections. These aimed, leaders argued, at decentralizing administrative services and at calling for citizens’ participation in the formulation and implementation of public policy in order to administer to the needs and demands of citizens and to spread information about public policies. Yet, there are major political issues constraining the new governance scenario. Ganesan (2002) identifies three. First is the government’s lack of bonding with the community as the art of government is entrusted to technocrat élites who have been successful at it, but are perceived as far removed from the people. Although suggestions may come from the ground, 93

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policy must be formulated at the top. Besides, citizens take for granted that the government must be clean and efficient and are lost when this is not the case. This makes them apathetic and complacent. Second is the issue of the importation of foreign talent and class stratification with the potential this has for social disruption. Finally, there is the issue of pressure for greater participation and consultation with the grassroots and not only with the more educated class. Moreover, regulatory measures governing the mass media and the formation of interest groups are still firmly in place mainly because the government considers them to be making negative demands. The government faces the dilemma of how to keep regulations, on the one hand, while accommodating public opinion on the other. Signs indicating the government may be opening its hand appeared already in the 1980s that saw the emergence of public debates on policy matters with the government issuing various White Papers for public consultation, and with the establishment of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), a policy think tank established to facilitate state-society relations, and the Feedback Unit (FU), within the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, established to receive policy comments from the public. Two NGOs also emerged as discussion groups, namely the Roundtable, discontinued in 2004, and the Socratic Circle. But how did these changes in government style come about and what are the major debates? Coupled with structural, administrative, and governance style changes occurring in the last fourteen years, several debates have also emerged. These relate to the politics of consensus building, the discourses on illiberal and limited democracy, and new emerging tensions in relation to freedom and empowerment. Together they are shaping the governance scenario of Singapore.

The Politics of Consensus Building: Towards Public Participation? Singapore’s political economy and government form has moved throughout the years from a multi-party system to one party system; from an economic entrepôt to a manufacturing, service, and industry economy; from a laissez faire to a planned development oriented state. The latest significant development is the government-led initiative to move Singapore into an “open and consultative” political system. BG George Yeo (Koh and Ooi 2000) gives an account of how Singapore is undergoing a paradigm shift from the “old” to the “new” form of governance. His views are summarized in Table 3.3. 94

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TABLE 3.3 Singapore: From the “Old” to the “New” Governance Paradigm Old Paradigm

New Paradigm

State hard, Society soft

State and Society in parallel

Organizations hierarchical

Organizations less hierarchical

Public Sector agencies strong core

Public sector core reduced, more flexibility to non-core agencies

Government Departments

Public Corporations

Government Statutory Boards

Private Statutory Boards

Government Linked Companies (GLCs)

GLCs market driven with outside operators

Parliament only elected Members (MPs)

Nominated Members of Parliament (NMP)

Centralized government

Local government devolved to Town Councils (TCs) and to nine Community Development Councils (CDCs), which are governmentsponsored civic organizations

Government Committees in charge of campaigns like clean and green city, no smoking, healthy lifestyle, Mandarin speaking, etc.

Civic Committees in charge of these activities

Few civic organizations based on religious beliefs

More civic organizations based on religious beliefs running hospitals, day care centres, etc., serving all races, religions, etc.

Few organizations based on ethnic affiliations and particular social causes

More organizations based on ethnic affiliations and particular social causes. For example: MENDAKI (Council of Malay education), SINDA (Singapore Indian Development Association), CDAC (Chinese Development Assistance Council), AMP (Association of Muslim Professionals), AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research), the Roundtable, etc.

Few Art and Heritage groups

More Arts and Heritage groups in, for example, organizing the 2002 International Film Festival.

Source: Koh and Ooi 2000, pp. 20–23. 95

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Despite the shift, BG Yeo acknowledges that the government remains adamant about groups keeping what it calls a “common consciousness”. That is, the government considers collective interests above individual and groups’ interests, thus the latter should not become politically motivated or manipulated by nations of their ethnic origin (Malay, Indian, Chinese). The government believes that as it sees the “common consciousness” grow, the bonds of the debate will be relaxed but “we will always need an outer perimeter to hold the society together” (Koh and Ooi 2000, p. 22). To comprehend this approach better, one needs to go back to the “Asian Values” literature. Borrowing from Putnam (1993, 1995) and Fukuyama (1995, 2001), the Asian system — as discussed in Chapter Two — is built on social capital and trust, two attributes that form a good base for civil society and voluntary associations networking with government. In contrast, and referring to the separation of powers as not being an Eastern tradition, BG Yeo affirms that a certain level of top-down central leadership is needed to hold civic organizations together since diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds render societies unable to bind well spontaneously. In the Singapore experience, he recalls, civic organizations had been plagued by internal strife in the past, rendering them ineffective and disruptive (Koh and Ooi 2000). At this point, it is necessary to also draw attention to the “illiberal democracy” (Engberg 2001) and “limited democracy” discourses (Vasil 2000). Both debates are relevant to the discussion of changes from government to governance and the consequential discourse on an emerging civil society since both relate to transitional political arrangements for new Asian states, Singapore being a case in point. Democracy in Singapore has often being depicted as illiberal, exercising stringent control over political and social expressions.

The Riddle of Illiberal Democracy Engberg (2001) argues that despite the fact that non-liberal democratic countries in Asia have incorporated democratic elements into their governance style, they are not going through the process of fully-fledged Western style democratization. Focusing on the factors that might have triggered the Asian economic crisis and looking at the fact that the crisis struck in two of the newly democratized nations, namely Thailand and South Korea, Engberg makes an alternative argument to the usual causal relation between economic development and democracy. The Asian alternative to democracy seems to limit the capacity of civil society to go about playing a catalytic role for political participation. Social interests are controlled by the state. How? In 96

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the midst of fair elections, one usually finds a one-party system that monopolizes the political arena oppressing dissenting voices. While fairly democratic in theory, Engberg argues, this constitutes a different system requiring a different concept. Bell, Jayasuria, and Chua have titled this concept “illiberal democracy” (Engberg 2001). Illiberal because it restrains civil society activities while remaining democratic by providing political rights that allow open elections. The question is whether illiberalism forms an alternative to liberal democracy that may work better in East and Southeast Asia. To find an answer one needs to know how illiberalism works. What are the conditions that seem to give rise to illiberalism? And what are the challenges facing illiberalism in practice? Engberg (2001) argues that illiberalism works in a country where free elections take place, thus respecting political rights, but where civil liberties, relating to freedom of speech, assembly, religion and property, and respect for the rule of law (as opposed to the rule by law or the rule by man) are restricted. In practice, illiberalism works by first, parliamentary control. This is reached through a one-party dominance system, that is, a system where membership to the party is required for getting a job or a business licence, being recipient of government aid, etc. Patronizing is then the norm where citizens relate to governments in a patron-client manner. It is all about controlling the electorate rather than the government. Second, he also contends that legal fine-tuning is also the norm in illiberal systems whereby, as mentioned above, the rule of law is replaced by the rule by law. In practice, arbitrariness on the part of government is seen when a government outlaws any kind of behaviour it chooses to. In the full scheme of things, people are regarded as managerial problems to be dealt with rather than citizens with rights. Engberg argues that the intellectual origins of this system come from the colonial days when governments protected themselves with a series of draconian emergency and internal security laws. At present, the Societies Act deems all political actions taking place beyond the arena of approved political parties to be illegal and subversive. Thirdly, in material terms, societal control is also executed in a more practical manner. For example, the Singaporean state owns seventy-five per cent of the land, provides housing, education and health, controls wages and labour unions, and regulates labour supply. It dominates the domestic financial market and runs state corporations and joint ventures. This clearly gives the state the strength to create steady patterns of dependency through a topdown paternalistic approach (Engberg 2001). Fourthly, to control the agenda and activity of potentially problematic civil society groups, the government invites them to an orderly form of 97

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interest intermediation. The government may develop, as in the Singapore case, parapolitical organizations. The establishment of organizations like Community Centres (CCs), Citizen’s Consultative Committees (CCCs), Residents’ Committees (RCs), and Town Councils (TCs) are examples of this. For all these organizations, the government provides both the rules and aims of the organization and the candidates for leading positions (Engberg 2001). Since Singapore’s independence, the dominant party has steadily experienced support from the majority of the electorate. The PAP ruled the Parliament in exclusivity from 1965 to 1981, when the first opposition candidate won a seat. In subsequent elections, the level of support has been sixty per cent in the 1988 elections, sixty-one per cent in 1991 and sixty-five per cent in 1997. After the 1991 scare, the PAP took additional measures to ensure landslide victory. It changed the electoral boundaries in favour of the incumbent, by promising to upgrade housing estate facilities in constituencies supporting the ruling party, by issuing a very short (nine days) election campaign period, and by using the judicial system to bankrupt the opposition after the election, Chin argues (Engberg 2001). Although results in different constituencies differ, depending on religion, class, and ethnicity, with not everyone supporting the PAP, it is surprising that those divisions are unable to become important political forces, hence speaking volumes about the strength of illiberal democracy. How is the electoral arena to be evaluated in illiberal political systems? On the one hand, restrictions imposed by illiberal practice make the democratic content of the elections highly questionable. On the other hand, electoral processes, the nature of opposition politics, the growth of NGOs, incidents of cultural resistance, the sometimes critical role of the media, and the voices of independent intellectuals, make the political climate much more interesting in illiberal democracies than in authoritarian regimes. Sustained economic growth is a very strong argument in any electoral arena and in Singapore it has been impressive for more than two decades. But what are the challenges to illiberalism? Engberg (2001) argues that these are mainly the middle class; a variety of international pressures and external conditions; the integrative processes Southeast Asian countries are involved in; and information and knowledge of rights and duties. These factors are present in the Singapore scenario in a manner reviewed in the following paragraphs following Engberg’s arguments. First, the middle class has traditionally been the only strata that can mediate successfully between modernist demands for democracy and greater participation, on the one hand, and traditional values and practices, on the 98

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other. A growing middle class involved in rapid modernization will, owing to self-interest and societal pressure, pursue a change towards liberal democracy. But what is the relevance of the middle class hypostudy in the Southeast Asia scenario? A new middle class is definitely emerging, but it is hard to say what political impact it will have. The new NGOs emerging in the region are dominated by middle class citizens. In Singapore, there are few records of middle class activity with political underpinnings, Rodan argues (Engberg 2001). It seems as if this symbiosis between economic growth and illiberalism is a system that the middle class actually thrives on. Maybe the key to understanding the vague and passive nature of the East and Southeast Asian middle class, when it concerns political activity, has to do with the character of state-society relations. The fact that the Singapore Government has intervened in almost all aspects of the economy may have profound effects on the relationship between citizens and the state. If the state were regarded as the guarantee for economic growth and prosperity, then the middle class would have few incentives to complain. In this regard, Jesudason introduces the concept of the “syncretic state” where there is a mix of coercive elements and electoral and democratic procedures (Engberg 2001). Here every group has the incentive of being supportive of the ruling order because it provides benefits, and because opposing it will lead to repression. The second challenge to illiberalism is the variety of international pressures and external conditions. The West has embarked for some time on a campaign against Asian states for their records on human rights violations, labour laws, etc. Illiberal democracies, rather than denying these or sitting back, are launching a campaign to defend the Asian Way. Finding Western ideals of individualism, pluralism, democracy, and welfare unsuited to Asian states, they come up with alternatives such as those presented in the White Paper on Shared Values (Singapore 1991): “Nation before community and society above self ” is the main message. But what is the Asian Way? Engberg argues that it is a construct of Confucianism and neoconservative notions of communitarism, that is, a society where the individual is subordinated to the collective of the family, the community, and the state under paternalistic leaders. The third challenge to illiberalism identified by Engberg comes from the processes of integration Southeast Asian countries are undergoing, ranging from the participation in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to forms of sub-regional cooperation such as the establishment of growth triangles like Singapore, Johor (Malaysia) and Riau (Indonesia). These arrangements, no doubt, increase cooperation, but also oblige states to deal with issues like sovereignty, legitimacy, and regional differences. 99

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Finally, information and knowledge about rights and duties constitute the last challenges to illiberalism in Engberg’s argument. The influence of external information at your fingertips brings the opportunity for alternative values to those suggested by illiberal democracies to unlimited ends. A whole well-informed community on alternative ways to those presented by the government easily creates a situation where the legitimacy of the state is put to the test.

The Conundrum of Limited Democracy Vasil (2000) focusing on Singapore, equally argues for what he calls “limited democracy” as a legitimate political arrangement for Asian new states. He suggests that in these new states alternative democratic models have to be adopted to make it possible for them to produce economic progress and prosperity as well as ethnic peace and harmony. He blames the West for labelling “limited democracy”, or what he describes as reconciling democracy with national development, as a disguise for Oriental despotism. He disagrees with the affirmation that democracy or majority rule through the ballot box is a cure for all ills for Asian new states. Vasil then argues why Singapore chose to establish a limited democracy. He explains that Singapore founders faced the challenges of developing a small, overpopulated, ethnically divided, and underdeveloped island. Moreover, the place was hardly endowed with any natural resources, had no hinterland on which to fall back, and was constituted by a mixed immigrant population extremely diverse and divided. In building the limited democracy model, Lee Kuan Yew retained the colonial political system and laws. However, Singapore’s rulers were democratically elected representatives of the people, and as such, they were aware of the need to be accountable to the electorate and to rule by consent. Vasil argues that Lee Kuan Yew established a cultural democracy in Singapore that aimed at guaranteeing autonomy and equality with reference to peoples’ identities, cultures, languages, and religions (see also Lee 2000c). Despite the fact that Singapore’s polity offered its citizens only limited rights and freedoms at a time when democratic rule was firmly in vogue and firmly established in surrounding countries, Singaporeans remained silent and did not complain. Not many displayed antagonism or opposition based on democratic tenets towards the limited democracy allowed them by the PAP. Vasil, in a rather strong statement, says: “PAP’s first generation rulers never faltered or attempted to turn their governance — often tough, overbearing, combative and sometimes even intolerant and authoritarian — into one that was erratic, arbitrary, corrupt or not totally devoted to promoting 100

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national development” (Vasil 2001, p. 238). Then he goes on to suggest that Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues’ commitment to a style of governance that had allowed them to achieve a high level of national development had made the difference between Singapore and other Asian countries. When arguing about the transition from Lee Kuan Yew to Goh Chok Tong, Vasil suggests that although the first generation of leaders had selected, tutored and trained their successors, they also showed a clear and ready willingness to transfer power to them. Lee was well aware that prosperity and modernization had created a large class of well-educated and successful Singaporeans that had begun to seek greater participation for themselves in the polity. From the start he endorsed the “consensus politics” style of Goh. Singaporeans expected the government to be more consultative. So when Goh Chok Tong took the helm in 1990, the key challenges he had to face were first, to continue producing economic growth, second, to maintain ethnic peace and harmony, keeping the dominant majority of the population (Chinese) under control of any chauvinistic advances, and finally, to face the consequences of the social and economic revolution brought about by prosperity. All this suggested reforms and required the political entity to develop in harmony with societal developments. Moreover, Singaporeans expected that the balance between continuity and change would be weighted in favour of innovation and change. Thus, Goh’s government started to show tolerance for dissent and alternative views were allowed for greater popular consultation. Singaporeans then began to express their views more often through the mass media. But were changes that significant? Vasil, despite his obviously strong support for the Singapore model and for the way it evolved, acknowledges that changes brought about by Goh and his team were less radical than what had been talked about. The transfer of power to the second generation leaders had generated unprecedented expectations of political change leading to a more democratic polity and governance. Singaporeans tended to believe that glasnost (openness) would lead to perestroika (reforming the economic and political system). The challenge facing the new ruler was how to create a polity that is more democratic, open, consultative, and participatory, and at the same time, does not in any way delay the critical processes of national development. This is clearly addressed in the Singapore 21 (S21) Report that identifies “consultation and consensus versus decisiveness and quick action” as one of the five “dilemmas” Singapore will have to face in strengthening what S21 calls the “heartware” or attributes like social cohesion, values, attitudes, collective will, etc. (Singapore 21 Online 2003). The pressing question, also posed by Vasil, 101

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is how to harmonize the key political institutions, processes, and policies inherited from the first generation rulers as founding principles, with the dramatically changed socio-economic realities of Singapore in the new millennium. Although the first parliamentary election held under Goh’s leadership before the expiry of the five-year parliamentary term was intended to secure public mandate, it failed to provide the monolithic support it was seeking. But the results of the election were seen by citizens and the media as the first manifestation of implementing Goh’s agenda for political change. During the first eight years, from 1992 to 2000, there was not a great deal of talk by Goh or his colleagues on the need to transform Singapore’s limited democracy. As Vasil argues, Singapore is not likely to see substantial transformation. A consensus seeking culture prevails. Singapore’s limited democracy may not fully conform to accepted democratic norms and values, but it is difficult to deny that the system has worked extremely well and has produced remarkable national development. Lee and his colleagues had before them the failed experiment of liberal democracy in different parts of the Third World. The questions that Vasil proposes for further research at the end of his analysis are: •



Is it only the rulers of a polity that is substantially based on the Western model of liberal democracy who can claim that they rule by consent and that they are responsive to the wishes of the people? Can they be accorded recognition and acceptance that they rule by consent when their achievements with regard to socio-economic change and progress and management of ethnic divisions have only been minimal?

The direct causal relationship he makes between liberal democracies ruling by consent, and being successful in their policies and programmes, may be flawed and it is argued in the discussion chapter of this book. At this junction an argument may be advanced that a system may be good in itself (i.e. liberal democracy), even if in its way of implementation, it produces undesirable outcomes (inefficient management of social change, etc.). The will of the people through the ballot box may, arguably, be considered of higher value than successful policies engineered through the will a selected few.

Governance, Freedom and Empowerment: New Tensions The last governance issue that has emerged in recent years is that of tensions between governance and freedom, and empowerment. The Western tradition favours the contractual government, thereby trimming the role of the state as

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it believes individuals are rational utility maximisers. This is in contrast with the legalistic and interventionistic Singapore governance style. Ganesan (2002), in venturing to spell out issues that may appear in the future governance of Singapore, identifies three. First, he claims, there will be increased pressure for participation and greater challenges brought about by the information revolution and globalization. Second, the leadership generational change will influence the future of Singapore’s governance. Finally, there will be greater impact from the regional political development. Whether the current political system can continue taking a paternalistic, top-down and unidirectional approach to governance is to be seen. Ganesan foresees demands from citizens continuing to increase the number of constituencies in the near future, making the community more divisive. Due to the increasingly easy access to information, the government will also find it increasingly difficult to control information flows. The ability of citizens to access information they want will influence their way of thinking. Thus, interconnectedness and interdependence will exert pressure on governance. In this scenario, global cosmopolitan values will compete with Asian values like the family as the basic unit of society, filial piety, and society above self. This, in turn, will necessarily lead to changes in policy-making. From this analysis, a conceptual notion of “disciplined governance” contrasting with that of “governance” emerges as follows: A disciplined governance approach to governing implies limited patterns of interaction between the state and civil society. These are characterized by the limited institutionalization of established processes of coordination and collaboration between government and non-government organizations for policy-making. That is, a consultative yet strategically contained process that is not fully participatory.

The State: Perennial Protagonist No matter what characterizes each period of Singapore political history, there is an issue that needs to be well understood, the role of the state due to its tremendous influence in the life of Singaporeans (Rodan 2001).1 Its role may be assessed from various perspectives. For example, Asher (1994) claims that, on the one hand, the market is shaped by extensive state policies while, on the other, the planned economy is constantly revised to “feel the market”. Economic intervention of the state influences social policies, for example, resistance to state welfare provision despite the fact that an ageing population continues to put pressure on the state to provide. Ramesh (1995) maintains that

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globalization has not eroded the state’s capacity to maintain sovereignty. On the contrary, the Singapore state has actively facilitated globalization and harnessed this economic strategy to the objective of PAP political consolidation and control, he maintains. Brown (1998) proposes that the strength of the Singaporean nation state is tied to its capacity to deliver developmental promises and commitments to social justice against “decadent Westernoriginated influences”. Thus, state élites emphasize their role as guardians of national identity. Yeung (1998) maintains that Singapore has moved from being a “corporatist state” to being an “entrepreneurial state” in an attempt to build regional economic capacity. Koh (1997), when investigating the challenges the bureaucracy faces in the contemporary governance scenario, argues that the state (here identified with the bureaucracy) is under pressure from the political élite to apply some of the managerialist practices. Emerging interest groups, she maintains, also require certain political accommodation in case the autonomy and coherence of the state as a corporate actor be compromised. This requires, Koh (1997) proposes, a shift from hierarchical to organic structures of policy-making so that diverse social groups and interests can be consulted and incorporated into the bureaucracy’s considerations. Koh (1997) sees changes to the role of the state already happening, with being conspicuous, the various ad hoc consultative policy review committees and the increase of private sector co-optation into advisory boards connected to ministries and statutory boards. But her surveys of senior administrative officers in the public service indicate that the bureaucrats themselves may not fully comprehend the force and nature of the challenges they are facing. She suggests that “training in ethics, political philosophy, sociology, public organisation theory, communication skills, critical thinking and argument construction are important to complement their technocratic skills in the new climate”. She approves of the establishment of policy committees and interest groups, but she also suggests that the government look into normative questions about social justice and wider public and social good. But, Koh argues, the insistence of the PAP on a non-competitive political system renders this approach rather problematic. Jayasuriya (1996) considers Singapore a conspicuous case of administrative law exercised in the service of state power consolidation. For example, he argues, the Societies Act curtails and conditions the operations of independent social and political organizations such that the power of the state is augmented rather than the capacity to challenge state power increased. Despite the liberal appearances of the legal system inherited from the British, legal institutions are used to realize illiberal political objectives, Jayasuriya claims. Li-ann 104

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(1995) argues that “the legalism to suppress dissenting voices’ judicial reasoning, displays a marked disregard for the importance of an individual’s civil liberty as well as a misapprehension of the [judiciary] as a guardian of the constitution”. Lingle (Rodan 2001, p. xviii) questions whether there is an irresistible pressure from the market to shift towards liberal politics or whether it is impossible for Singapore to move into a fully-fledged liberal democracy. Rodan (1992) and Chua (1994) both argue that political change in response to social and economic pressures can take illiberal forms, maintaining that liberal democracy is not the unavoidable path in Singapore. Other forms of democracy may be possible. Rodan (2001) also argues against the “dictatorship of the middle class”. He contends that the interests of the middle class are tied up to those of the regime. Although some quarters of the middle class are calling for greater autonomy from the state, these refer mainly to greater freedom in arts and culture. He maintains that pressure for change comes rather from the working class that has become increasingly alienated and materially poorer. However, he also admits that there have been instances of pressure from the middle class, most notably in the 1980s elections, which saw a decline of support for the PAP. This, he argues, prompted a series of measures to co-opt the middle class (professionals, entrepreneurs, etc.) by seeking their feedback through mechanisms like meet-your-MP sessions, Feedback Unit (FU) sessions, etc. What possibly best summarizes these converging, but viewed from different angles, arguments about the role of the state in Singapore’s contemporary socio-economic scenario is Rodan’s (2001, p. 215) observation about the “realpolitik”. He argues that: Although there is an increased co-optation of the PAP to politically incorporate more elements of the diverse middle class, in few instances, more independent organisations have also surfaced. While they remain politically moderate and non-threatening, they may be tolerated, but should the perceived need arise, they could be targeted for co-optation.

Interesting enough, since Rodan came to that conclusion in 1992, two of the organizations he was writing about, AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research, a women’s advocacy group) and AMP (Association of Muslims Professionals) have had representatives appointed as Nominated Members of Parliament. The essential point Rodan makes is that “the political significance of the emerging middle class lies then mainly in its indirect effects rather than its own immediate role. But this should not be underestimated. Unless addressed, it has the potential to further reduce the PAP’s parliamentary dominance” (Rodan 2001, p. 225). 105

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Jones and Brown (1994) also refute the idea that Singapore’s middle class represents a liberalizing and political force. From a behavioural perspective, they depict the middle class as “neurotic and anxious” in large part due, they argue, to the effects of contradictory ideological messages from the PAP (liberal pluralism on the one hand, Asian communitarianism on the other). The middle class is also portrayed as paternalistic, lacking in political selfconfidence, afraid to lose (kiasu), unable to have free choice, and thus susceptible to PAP activism. Overall, the state is still very much in charge and able to contain emerging social forces. Chalmers (1992) also argues that although the state remains strong, the inclusion of social forces into the political process casts doubts on the longer term viability of the PAP’s corporatist strategy. Despite the PAP’s intention to resist liberalism, the involvement of non-state actors in policy-making within state structures clearly has liberalizing tendencies, he affirms. Chua (1994) contends that social developments are precipitating political responses from the PAP, notably the promotion of “communitarian democracy”, the PAP’s alternative to liberal democracy. While the commitment may not necessarily include much space for formal political opposition parties and their candidates, there might still be significant political change, Chua maintains. He takes the concept of communitarianism on board, arguing that if real content is given to it, it may lead to greater substantive democracy. That is to say, the rhetoric of “communitarianism” can be exploited to open up political space. The message behind Chua’s argument on the changing role of the state and emerging alternatives modes of governance is that one should not only look for changes leading to liberal democracy. If one does, one may miss important changes that remain unnoticed. Bell (1997) argues that democracy is a precondition to communitarianism. He observes that not only substantive democracy is lacking in Singapore, but also procedural democracy. Elections are held but the obstruction of selfgenerated political groups negates electoral competition. Bell understands communitarianism to mean individuals in society generally committed to certain forms of community over the claims of individual freedom. He maintains that in Singapore a natural and spontaneous sense of community is lacking. Used to regulations and dictations, Singaporeans do not proactively love their nation unless they are told to do so. Democracy, if it were to exist with its vibrant associational life, has the capacity to inject a sense of belonging and connection to the nation. This is because groups foster norms of cooperation and commitment. Not surprisingly only six per cent of Singaporeans are involved in voluntary work. 106

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Finally, Rodan (2001) challenges the East-West dichotomy so central to the notion of Asian values. He submits the “Asian values” ideology to scrutiny to show its elements of “classical conservatism”, that is, society ahead of individual, reliance on traditional values, emphasis on the imperfection of human beings and consequential need for discipline, and the primacy of social order. Rodan argues that the “Asian values” ideology is simply a reaction to perceived fears that social pluralism, as opposed to communitarianism, will be accompanied by calls for political pluralism.

The State and Policy-Making But perhaps what best explains the protagonist role the Singapore state plays is its position in the dynamics of the policy-making process (Chan 1997, Ho 2000). When analysing it, attention is given to various contexts and other factors like the role of leadership (Prime Minister and Cabinet) in contrast with that of the legislature, the administration (bureaucracy) and citizens. The context in which policy is made determines the kind of politics and policies a particular society chooses (Casey 1998; Francesch 2000; Ho 2000; Roberts 2000; see also Chapter Two). Its size, history, demographic profile, regional dynamics, etc, also play an important part in the policy alternatives chosen; all the more in small city-states. Territorial size matters as it affects aspects of policy decisions as varied as defence, foreign relations, economic development, human and natural resource management. The downside of being small is vulnerability and economic constraints. The upside is the capacity of small states to make quick turns in moments of, for example, economic crisis. The historical context also matters. In Singapore the past has had and still has a profound impact on policy decisions. British colonial rule, the Japanese Occupation, the brief period within the Malaysian Federation, and internal factions within the PAP and the Barisan Sosialis, consolidated the determination of the politically conscious élite to build a new nation. This has also had a clear impact on various nation-building and harmony programmes the PAP has put in place throughout the years. Together with history, the socio-cultural context is an important determinant of policy choices. Singapore is a multiracial, multicultural, multireligious and multilingual society that is having problems of an ageing population and low fertility rates. The literacy rate is 93.1 per cent (Ho 2000, p. 15) with twenty-one per cent of the population able to speak English. These characteristics are discussed later in greater depth when dealing with the emerging role of civil society. 107

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The political context is also significant and in Singapore it is rather straightforward and stable with the PAP having being continuously in power since 1963 and having effective control over the bureaucracy and nongovernmental sectors. Thus, Singapore has been described as a parliamentary, soft-authoritarian, one-party state, illiberal, with a corporatist system, among others. Perhaps the best way to describe the current political context, from a policy-making perspective, is as an “administrative state” where authority of political and policy actions resides in the political leadership, with civic participation and consciousness being rather limited. Moreover, besides these contextual factors, Ho (2000) argues for three other factors impacting decision-making. These are leadership, administration, and citizen participation. The PAP leadership has provided direction since it came to power in 1959. The party’s ideology has been socialist in nature with an emphasis on élitism in social engineering, pragmatism in fiscal and monetary policies, efficiency in service provision, and strong defence in ensuring sovereignty. The executive clearly dominates, with the role of the Prime Minister being extremely important. Thus, the function of the legislature has been weak from the start, being a rubber stamp of policy initiated and formulated by the executive. This has resulted too from the general lack of expertise and skills found in a mostly part-time and not-expert legislature. The personalities of the two first Prime Ministers and the circumstances in which they have ruled have also determined policy initiatives and changes. Overall, the executive dominates the policy agenda, as well as the bureaucracy, and sets the limits for citizen participation in policy-making. The administration has been effective in implementing policies. The scope of activity the civil service has been involved in has grown with the years. From the traditional task of keeping law and order, the bureaucracy is today involved in the provision of housing and education, monitoring of economic development, and imparting civic education to the population. This has increased the impact of civil servants in policy decisions as well as made them politically savvy. Politics and administration are tightly intertwined in Singapore. After a period of public participation during which Singapore experienced a multi-party system (1948–68), the dominance of the PAP lasted till the1980s. In the 1981 Anson by-election, the PAP’s monopoly was broken and this fissure was repeated in subsequent elections. After the first change in leadership in 1990, demand has been rising for more popular involvement in policymaking. In principle, the PAP adopts a conscious ideology of pragmatism, whereby citizens are urged to identify with the national policies; undeniably, this has been beneficial to all in terms of economic success. Moreover, an 108

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increasing invocation of Asian-style democracy — putting collective interests before individual interest and advocating consensus rather than dissent — is also in place and regarded as a pragmatic government strategy. The public has complied, and overall the political arenas have been depoliticized. Thus, policy adaptation has been unidirectional. Nevertheless, citizens and citizens’ groups constantly test the limits of public discourse. Ho (2000) thus suggests that from the perspective of the governing élite, the functions of citizens’ participation are spelled out as practising consensual politics, mobilizing grassroots’ support for administrative and policy reforms, and receiving feedback in order to fine-tune policy initiatives. He adds that Singapore’s political élite realizes that more people’s participation would contribute to public information and public education about issues. It also realizes that the public’s confidence in decisions will be enhanced. Mechanisms for participation are thus in place and it would be inaccurate to dismiss them even though they do not fully meet the standards of non-official, totally autonomous institutions, which political scientists view as one of the significant steps in the transition from authoritarian regimes to democratization. In addition, as this book will be arguing, there are positive indications in this direction. Citizens’ organizations and civil society groups, which are critical to fostering and sustaining a democratic way of life, may develop by taking advantage of the currently frequent official invitations to openness and consultation. Their ability to influence the public policy process can be further enhanced and institutionalized as Singapore’s society develops. However, Ho (2000) suggests that caution is needed. The governmentapproved mechanisms of feedback and the limited social autonomy permitted by the increased democratic process and the declining power of the state should not be mistaken for a fully-fledged civil society endowed with autonomous associations organized independently of the state. The independence and autonomy of civil society organizations is constantly tested. In his view, the deliberative functions and consultative procedures of the state should be used to bring affected interests into the stages of deliberation of policies, and effort should be exerted to gain the widest possible consent to policy. The sensitive and cosy liaison arrangements the government maintains with the civil service, their political supporters, and the citizens at large, are important instruments in ensuring the relatively smooth operation of the policy-making process and are necessary to promote a more active citizenry. Ho (2000) also claims that it will be unrealistic to expect ordinary citizens to exert great influence on the policy-making process given the contextual constraints and competing interests. Besides, influence does not need to be dramatic, but it rather comes from allowing one’s views to be heard 109

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TABLE 3.4 Institutional Mechanisms of Policy Process Institutions

Roles

Prime Minister and Executive Branch (Cabinet) — political and executive leadership

• Dominates policy-making — autonomous actor. The individual leadership in the person of the PM defines the collective leadership of the governing élite. PM is the PAP’s leader, bureaucracy manager, most visible leader of people. Head of Cabinet (Ministers designated by PM and appointed by Elected President), head of Party that rules Parliament, Secretary General of Party, Chairman of Cabinet. • Dominates policy-making — powerful actor (through patronage, support of PAP, support of bureaucracy and big business, attention of public and uncritical local media) • During Goh Chok Tong’s premiership (1990–2004) some degree of “controlled devolution and greater popular consultation and participation in the policy formation process” took place (Ho 2000, p. 63). • Does not make policy but it is the modifier and legitimator of policy. Ritualistic as a body but legislators are agenda builders and managers in their constituencies. • Mostly a deliberative body but recent structural and procedural reforms like parliamentary committees and induction of non-constituency members of parliament (NCMPs) and nominated-members of parliament (NMPs) are used as mechanisms to structure political conflict and give voice to the opposition (Ho 2000, p. 88). • Takes place only after a policy option has been taken, but it is carefully stage-managed by officials of the relevant ministries to restrict it to exchanges on issues of detail and implementation, rather than of principle and rationale. • Part of the executive branch. Its role is of implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. There is a strong sense of loyalty between the PAP leadership and the bureaucracy. The latter is tightly controlled by politicians. • A complement to party policy and the legislative process through public forums, consultation and feedback. • Play an ambiguous role in agenda setting and policy formulation in a one-party dominated system (Ho 2000, p. 136).

Legislature

Consultation

Bureaucracy

Citizens and NGOs

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and factored into policy considerations, however minimal. Active citizen participation and popular involvement represent no threat to the PAP’s dominance, Ho claims, as participation mechanisms are in place to correct policy errors by reflecting citizens’ discontent. In turn, citizens’ input would enhance trust in the legitimacy and responsibility of political decisions (Ho 2000, p. 213). From the above discussion, the major institutional mechanisms of the policy process and their corresponding roles are summarized in Table 3.4.

The State as Actor in the Policy Process Although the discussion about the state and policy process already gives an indication of the role of the bureaucracy in it, a more specific presentation is required. Bureaucrats in Singapore have similar roles as those of bureaucracies elsewhere, namely, policy advice to elected politicians and implementation of policy decisions. Although the specifics of how this takes place is difficult to envisage, given the secrecy surrounding the PAP government and the lack of accessibility to information for researchers, scholars’ views converge in arguing that, once issues have been identified by the political élite and the agenda is set, policies are formulated, implemented, and evaluated by civil servants (Quah 1987; Ho 2000). The Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, sets the general strategic directions of policy. It then reflects on the political, policy, and administrative implications of proposals and manages possible conflict among the different ministries. It moreover ratifies decisions required by the “status of orders of the elected President” (Ho 2000, p. 151) and acts as the forum for information exchange. The change from the Lee Kuan Yew to the Goh Chok Tong era is that Goh’s Cabinet introduced informal sessions that included the participation of Senior Minister (now Minister Mentor) Lee. From the Cabinet, ministries receive policies pertinent to their portfolio and administer regulations and orders of Parliament besides running the operations of departments and agencies. Initiating and coordinating policies is the role of Ministers who rely heavily on civil servants’ expertise and knowledge. Thus, the bureaucracy plays no significant role in problem definition and agenda setting as these are driven by the political élite. It is in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation stages that the bureaucracy plays a crucial role. But what is perhaps more interesting and unique to Singapore’s bureaucracy is its political role. This has its origin in the very first years of PAP rule after independence when the civil service found its identity after years of colonial rule by pledging unwavering alliance to the ideology of their political masters. Although more than forty years have gone by since independence and the latest thrust of civil service reform is to adopt elements

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from New Public Management (NPM) approaches, the bureaucracy continues to play a politico-instrumental role in the development of the city-state. Ho (2000) identifies three fluid stages in the development of Singapore that are also characterized by corresponding stages in bureaucratic political functions. The first stage (1959–60s) was years of consolidation and survival. Politicization of the bureaucracy was necessary to socialize civil servants with the ideology of the PAP which they would need to translate into programmes. In the second stage of development (1970–mid-1980s), instrumentalization of the civil service was required in this nation-building period where political ideology and national values like meritocracy, discipline, and orientation to achievement were emphasized. This period saw the establishment of statutory boards like the HDB (Housing Development Board) and EDB (Economic Development Board). As will be discussed later, the importance of statutory boards as bureaucratic mechanisms cannot be underestimated. These are legal entities that do not enjoy the legal privileges and immunities of government agencies, but enjoy greater autonomy and flexibility, thus becoming more efficient in accelerating the implementation process. At the same time, statutory boards have further increased the penetration of government into practically all aspects of social life. Boards manage issues ranging from urban planning to culture and arts development, to national values, courtesy, remaking Singapore campaigns. Their impact in social engineering cannot be sufficiently emphasized. The third period of development (mid-1980s – present) coincides with the gradual devolution of power from the first to the second generation of leaders, culminating in 1990 with the change of guard from Lee to Goh. The latter proclaimed from the start of his rule a new approach of government characterized by openness and consultation, arguably characteristic of the global thrust on the governance approach to governing. Although it may be argued that Singapore society today is what its government wanted it to be, given the strong engineering role the government has played with little room for surprise, factors like globalization of communications, mobility of the workforce, socialization of youngsters in overseas educational systems, etc., and the impact these have on values and culture, are making governing Singapore an increasingly challenging process. Civil servants are themselves affected by these trends although there is no indication of lack of stability within its ranks or less loyalty to political executives.

Élites and Policy-Making Therefore, who constitutes the élite and who really makes policy in this citystate? (Chen 1997). Until 1965, for politico-historical reasons discussed 112

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earlier, pressure groups influenced government more than élites. For example, until World War II, it was the British population that had the greatest influence because of its ties with the British Government. After the war, the Chinese-educated non-English speaking members of the population became more influential due to their growing numbers and their political links with communist China. In the early years after the war it was students and workers who had the greatest impact, while between 1955 and 1959, it was trade unionists members of the PAP who exerted influence. From 1959–61 trade union members continued impacting the government, but in a more collaborative manner while still keeping checks and balances. Chen (1997) argues that when in 1963 the PAP became the ruling party against labour unrest, pressure groups were still policy formulators, but their influence ended when the power shifted to élites in 1965. Theoretically, counter élites and pressure groups could still influence policy in situations where the élite lacked cohesive power, or pressure groups could gather enough strength to put forward ideologies and create a situation of conflict of interests, or when the ruling party did not manage to rally the masses or the government was seriously controlled by foreign powers. But this was not the case in Singapore then, nor is it the case now. Singapore’s élites are characterized by wealth, status and power. These are usually obtained through education and social recognition. According to Chen, the Singaporean élite is made up of individuals with political, business, and professional backgrounds who influence the decision-making process and form the bulk of Members of Parliament (MPs). In addition, civil servants (Permanent Secretaries) constitute an added élite, the bureaucratic élite, heavily involved in business enterprises through the government linked companies (GLCs). There is also a selected group of professionals who influence decision-making, but only in the periphery and when their input is approved by political élites. Unlike in other countries, the military and business élite (entrepreneurs) are outside the power structure. As such, Chen argues, policy formulators in Singapore form a highly homogeneous group eliciting a high degree of efficiency in planning and implementing projects. The policy process is dominated by development bureaucrats who favour top-down planning where the masses are alienated.

Challenging Élite Dominance In the last fourteen years or so Singapore authorities have recognized emerging socio-economic demands stemming from inescapable global changes. Thus, in recent years, the government has been undergoing changes to its 113

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administrative system and, arguably by default, to its political system. Various approaches to the “traditional public administration model” have been suggested as plausible explanations to Singapore’s reforms. Cheung (Cheung and Scott 2003) suggests three approaches. First, the “building state capacity” approach identified here with “building government capacity” as in Singapore the public sector dominates political and social institutions (Cheung and Scott 2003, p. 6). The approach argues for the strengthening of institutions so that policy can be made rationally and independently of special interests, and so that it can be implemented effectively. To strengthen them, institutions should be transparent, accountable, predictable, participatory, efficient, and corruption free. As discussed in Chapter Two, the “governance approach” utilized as a conceptual framework in this book contains many elements of this model. Second is the “New Public Management (NPM) approach” that advocates reliance on market mechanisms and processes rather than on the government. Finally, more directly relevant to this study, is the rebuilding and strengthening of social networks, communities, and the civil society approach. Here Cheung (2003) distinguishes between the Western and Asian concept of civil society. The former argues about building communities that are autonomous from government, yet perform functions that have traditionally been undertaken by government. The latter signifies certain reluctance on the part of governments to devolve power to communities. The Asian approach to civil society is only interested in renewing communities through mediating structures approved by the state, Cheung argues. Thus, he regards the ‘“civil society approach” as part of the “building state capacity approach”. While recognizing the merits of this way of reasoning, this book argues that ongoing processes in the government-environmental civil society relations lead one to think that the “civil society approach” may become a plausible explanation of Singapore’s governance in its own right. Nevertheless, this book also recognises that the “governance approach” is a combination of “state capacity and civil society capacity approaches”. This is not an unusual phenomenon in political science where theories are hardly clear cut or neatly compartmentalized. Table 3.5 presents a chronology of recent administrative and political reforms. Cheung (2003, p. 143) argues that these reforms, rather than the consequence of public management reform approaches, are a sign of “the continuing effort of a proactive and pre-emptive state in steering society and enterprises forward to face what the state leadership perceives as the new century’s challenges to the survival and prosperity of the nation and to take 114

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TABLE 3.5 Singapore’s Recent Administrative and Political Reforms Year

Reform

1987

Announcement of privatization programmes (previous to the announcement there were 505 GLCs, including those under ministries and statutory boards). Currently there are 419 GLCs. “Budgeting for Results” programme devised in 1996 by which all government units such as Ministries and Departments will be managed as autonomous agencies (except Defence and Internal Security). Public Service for the 21st Century Programme (PS21) launched to nurture an attitude of service and foster an environment that induces continuous change for greater efficiency and effectiveness. Asian financial crisis did not alter Singapore’s longstanding philosophy of state-directed governance. Goh’s government has tried to forge social consensus and inclusiveness so as to better face the more competitive external economic environment. PS21 was followed by Singapore 21 (S21), a political agenda of nationbuilding. Economic Review Committee (ERC) and Remaking Singapore Committee (RSC) mapping Singapore’s post-Asian crisis strategies.

1994

1995

1997

1999 2002

Source: Adapted from Cheung 2003 and Ministry of Finance Archives 1996; South China Morning Post, 16 August 2004.

advantage of opportunities presented by globalization”. Moreover, Cheung claims that the public sector reform project, Public Sector 21 (PS21), is part and parcel of the larger state-managed project Singapore 21 (S21). Its objectives are to re-invent the Singapore “developmental corporate state” so as to maintain the same old state-economy relation under a strong leadership that is both proactive and pre-emptive, in the face of changes in the domestic and global environments. It all looks to be, Cheung maintains, a “different style but same substance” (Cheung 2003, p. 161; Lim 2002). From this discussion, the conceptual notion of the state in a “disciplined governance approach” to governing emerges as follows: In a “disciplined governance’ scenario the state is conceptualised as those institutions responsible for the collective organisation of social life, including para-political institutions of civil society. Rather than being primus inter pares, the state is the paramount supreme authority.

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Contemporary Civil Society: From Falling to Rising Star If the state is the perennial protagonist, what role does the Singapore civil society play? Has its definition and identity evolved through the years? During the colonial years, strong civic traditions existed. These were based on ethnic, religious, and language linkages catering for welfare needs neglected by the British administration (Koh and Ooi 2000). These temple, clan, ethnic, etc. associations were dismantled by the PAP as part of its social engineering policies and have been superseded by self-help groups and, most importantly to this discussion, by parapolitical organizations with strong links to the PAP. Since its establishment, the PAP policy in relation to social activity has been to curb opposition through citizens’ surveillance. Examples of this are found in its reactions to the 1963 left-wing trade unionist uprising, already mentioned, and the 1987 detention of Catholic social activists.2 Together with this more reactionary position, the Party has embarked on the reconstruction of civil society through the co-optation, construction, and adoption of mediating structures. To understand Singapore’s mediating structures requires a brief theoretical introduction to the term. Theories on mediating structures are multiple with the most salient being found in sociology (Durkheim 1957; Giddens 1971; Lukes 1969, 1973; Abercombie 1980; Dahrendorf 1959).3 These relate to the relationship between the individual and the state, individual-society and the state, and issues on the conceptualization of the relationship between the individual and society in capitalist states. The literature identifies three levels of social relations. Primary level: family; secondary or intermediate level: local community, voluntary organizations and occupational groups; and tertiary level: individual and the state. Mediating structures in relation to public policy are “institutions standing between the individual in private life and the large institutions of public life” (Hill and Fee 1995). They are like buffer zones that need to be institutionalized or made part of public policy as a basis for the political process to legitimize it. When these are absent, coercion is required, killing the possibility of democracy. Scholars believe that the mega structures of public life alienate individuals by failing to provide meaning and identity to individual existence. The private sphere, trying to find the meaning of individuals, is under threat of disempowerment under administrative agencies invading it without resistance.

Mediating Structures: The Nation-Building Project In Singapore, mediating structures are neighbourhood structures and associational groups within housing estates managed by the Housing 116

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Development Board (HDB). They form parapolitical associations that are not wholly new or artificial, but based on traditional associational groups. Their main function is to support the legitimacy of the PAP at grassroot level and facilitate feedback from the working class. Together, they are alternatives to party institutions and bureaucratic agencies. Over the years, but especially after the 1961 party split brought about by left-wing grassroots activists (Barisan Sosialis), the PAP established a strong ground-level basis through these government-sponsored organizations. The institutions established, all under the control of the Prime Minister’s Office, are mainly the People’s Association (PA), Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs), Residents’ Committees (RCs), and Town Councils (TCs). These arrangements made the state develop into a paternalistic government that tried to shelter Singaporeans from the sufferings of the past, namely, harsh labour, ethnic strife, and overall underdevelopment. Soon after its establishment the PAP instituted the pillars of its philosophy: multiracism, pragmatism, and meritocracy, to address those harsh issues the community was confronting. But how do these organizations differ from one another and what is their raison d’être? Community Centres (CCs) started as food centres after the Japanese Occupation and were eventually used to consolidate PAP power. The People’s Association (PA) is registered under the People’s Association Ordinance and manage a system of 128 community centres offering cultural, recreational, and day-care services. Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) were set up in 1965 to speed up the handling of minor grievances. Residents’ Committees (RCs) were established in 1978 to experiment on grassroots’ participatory democracy, and for the security and policing of public housing. They are especially active in public housing estates of the HDB. Finally, Town Councils (TCs) were established in 1986 to replace HDB in the management of public housing estates. Forming them was aimed at utilizing the existing resources of community leaders and involving them in decision-making. Upon its establishment, the PAP government created and made use of community organizations to get political influence and build the community. Later on, and still committed to nation-building, other measures were taken, like the “Confucian Values” campaign and the debate over the issue of anomie (or lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group, or lawlessness). In 1991 the civil society concept was also debated in the “Shared Values White Paper”, which introduced the discourse initiated both by academics and politicians about the state-society divide. Questions that emerged from this consultation paper are, for example: how does an emerging middle class influence interest group activity? What are the implications for political economic direction? How do private sources of

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information (as opposed to government sources) and the demands of a more sophisticated work-force influence economic direction? The “Shared Values White Paper” is today part and parcel of Singapore 21 (S21). Initially a speech by Prime Minister Goh to Parliament shortly after the 1997 general elections where he outlined his vision for Singapore, S21 is today a report, or better yet, a political agenda, on “what Singaporeans want to make of this country” (Singapore 21 1997). In 2002, the “Remaking Singapore Committee” (RSC) was established as another instrument for nation-building. It claims to complement the Economic Review Committee (ERC) work to review strategies for the twentyfirst century. The Committee aims at “reaching out to a wide cross-section of Singaporeans to understand their aspirations and goals, and to explore new ideas, directions and plans to remake Singapore along side (sic.) its search for economic strategies under the Economic Review Committee (ERC) chaired by then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong” (Remaking Singapore 2003). Singaporeans have often been described as being obsessed with the pursuit of purely economic objectives (the five Cs: career, condominium, car, cash, and club). The Committee uses the paradigm of looking beyond the five Cs as a framework for specific subject areas to be reviewed by five subcommittees (Remaking Singapore 2003). Issues relevant to this study that appear in the topics to be addressed in the subcommittees are: promoting community-based social compact (through philanthropy and volunteerism), the growing voice of special interest groups and green lobbyists, preserving and promoting “natural endowments” like hot springs in Sembawang and Chek Jawa, for example. Hill and Fee (1995) bring all these initiatives into context by recalling that the civil society discourse in the city-state is grounded in three debate directions. The first, based on the work of Dahrendorf (Hill and Fee 1995), defines civil society as autonomous institutions, not run by the state, which act as agents of the will of the people. Dahrendorf includes institutions like political parties, social movements (i.e. ecology/green groups), professional bodies, universities, etc. All groups operate on the assumption that no one possesses the ultimate solution. A creative chaos among them gives rise to an open society. In Singapore, signs of the existence of this type of civil society can be seen in the founding of the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) in 1990, which was spontaneous rather than initiated by government. In the 1960s and 1970s, there were earlier attempts to set up similar organizations with, for example, the founding of the Singapore Planning and Urban Research Group of professionals acting as watchdogs on government policy and making independent policy initiatives. The group was dissolved in 118

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1975, having crossed the fine line between social concern and political activity (Hill and Fee 1995). The second, based on the work of Asad Latif, a senior writer with the Straits Times (Hill and Fee 1995), considers civil society’s autonomy from the state as a mirage. Latif believes that determining how people organize their lives is the very reason of existence of the state. Critics to this argument think that he misunderstands the nature of the state by suggesting that it is the ideology that represents the community’s thinking through its representatives, that is, that state and civil society are complementary. This is in opposition to the theory of state versus civil society (middle class and Western political culture approach). The third approach is that of Chinese political tradition in which the role of the state and society are not adversarial. In cases where this balance has been broken through greater political participation, as is the case of South Korea and Taiwan, the results have been violent social activism. In the end people requested the government to restore peace. There are implications of these various ways of thinking for Singapore. First, with reference to Dahrendorf ’s theory arguing that the scope of the state is limited by autonomous institutions (classical Western liberal position), the Singapore case shows that most society institutions have become coopted, curtailed, or legally circumscribed. Second, with reference to Latif ’s views, the Singapore case represents the typical dominant political ideology of the state determining citizens’ lives where the ruling group’s ideas become the society’s ideas through a sense of authority and objectivity. The relationship between the growth of interests groups and the growth of civil society is doubted in the scenario of the weak commitment of the middle class to political activism. Finally, with reference to the Chinese political tradition theory, BG George Yeo, former Minister for Information and the Arts, believes that following Western values will lead to political chaos, whereas in the case of “Asian values”, what is sought is for the state to create a peaceful, though regulated, existence. The state delimits the scope of civil society and only allows for those apolitical interest groups. Only the state (PAP) possesses the political expertise, equivalent, in the Singapore case, to rational administration.

After Nation-Building: Space for Civil Society? As seen above, the first task of the PAP was that of nation-building or creating a strong state. Although this task has never been abandoned, more recently the government believes it should undertake a second task, that of creating a strong civic society, that is, establishing civic organizations that would anchor 119

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Singaporeans to their country and avoid their emigration to other shores. For this, government officials believe, the state needs to “pull back” and allow development of local initiatives following Mencius’4 dictum, “governing a state is like frying small fish, it must be lightly done”. The government believes there should be a proper balance between centralization to allow rapid response to quick change, and decentralization to allow civic institutions to thrive. The process seems that of empowering mediating structures (Kornhauser 1961; Berger and Neuhaus 1977; Nisbet 1986).5 Using the civic society instead of civil society concept sees emerging civic institutions at one end, which are limited to their mandate and refrain from adopting a political adversarial role — as conflict for the sake of conflict will result in uncivil society — leaders argue, and autonomy for the individual in the political space and accountability of government to a critical populace, at the other end. Government officials affirm that the Singapore case is that of a questioning, but understanding, population, working together with a responsive government. This creates a civic culture to complement Singapore’s economic success. The civic society agenda is that of recapturing the ideological ground by steering the debate with the purpose of discouraging the long-term emigration of skilled citizens. To foster incentives for them to stay, there is a need to create an appropriate social and cultural environment. Hill and Fee (1995) argue that in the Singapore context, civil society — initiatives of the individual, what people can do in their capacity as members of groups — refers to voluntary engagement and negotiation. It is located in the zone of voluntary organizations promoted by local initiatives beyond the individual and family, without involvement of any state authorities. As already mentioned above, the 1950s saw this development through the creation of community and ethnic associations in response to the colonial government’s neglect of social services. From the 1960s to 1980s, there was a clear decline in voluntary organizations (mainly trade and student unions) as the state consolidated power and became an effective deliverer of community services. After the 1984 electoral change of fortunes where landslide victory for the PAP was first challenged, there was an emergence of interest groups and voluntary associations. Because the ruling party sought new mechanisms for support, voluntary associations’ role was enhanced. After 1989 the real debate on civil society started with its depolitization (formerly overregulated and manipulated by the state). Nascent social movements are evidence of the re-emergence of a civil society independent of state sponsored grassroots organizations. The characteristics of these movements are: first, they are critical of official initiatives led by urban intellectuals; second, they are not confrontational but work within established limits; lastly, their ideological position is related to non-institutional politics or party

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activity. Hill and Fee (1995) also argue that in Singapore, the reason civil society development was fostered seems to have nothing to do with legitimacy or uninterrupted economic growth as the PAP was always in a good position. Thus, this emergent civil society can be classified into three groups. First, the one formed by the establishment of parapolitical or government sponsored organizations at the residential level (housing estates). Second, the one formed by spontaneously grown social initiatives still circumscribed by the Societies Act that denies any association from speaking on issues out of their declared constituency. And third, that formed by incipient NGO development, most relevant to this study. Singapore NGOs, representing the interests of several constituencies, have achieved a degree of rapport with government and are playing a consultancy or advisory role. Some examples are: the Nature Society Singapore (NSS), looking after issues of environmental protection and conservation; the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), engaged in women’s issues; and the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP). These organizations are trying to challenge the position of other organizations that are far too identified with the government’s policy line. They avoid public debate and work through written submissions rather than public campaigns. They are non-confrontational and thus have successfully influenced government policy. But grey areas remain, such as whether or not the demands they make on the state are considered political activities, although the issues they propose and the tone with which they propose them are not overtly political. Occasionally, some members of these groups are recruited to government positions. Overall, it appears that the debate over civil society in Singapore emphasizes the crossroads at which the PAP finds itself for wanting, on the one hand, to be more responsive to the legitimate demands of a more educated community, while, on the other hand, maintaining political hegemony. The way NGOs have worked shows that there is space between the “political” and the “legitimate”. NGOs in Singapore espouse consensus politics and have thus pursued one of the mandates of the “Shared Values” agenda, that is, consensus instead of contention. The PAP with its paternalistic and interventionist policies has addressed the material problems of nation-building, but has reduced the political and social space within which Singaporeans are allowed to operate. The PAP has created its own version of civil society (parapolitical organizations) to recapture the legitimacy grounds it has lost in the last decades. Another interesting aspect of the government initiated participation politics debate is the “return to sender” policy. It operates by taking into account proposals or comments from concerned citizens by modifying policy, 121

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at times, but is otherwise consistent with the three basic elements of the PAP philosophy: pragmatism, multiracialism, and meritocracy (opposed to ethnic privileges). Cases at hand are, for example, the family policy and eugenics of reproduction that hit hard the electoral campaign of 1984, the housing policy in which a decision was made to increase prices to adjust them to wages that hit hard the 1981 electoral campaign with the first opposition candidate winning the elections since 1968, the role of religion that instigated social activism (in 1989 the religious education programme was terminated), and in 1990 the debate over civil society. In the political sphere the PAP remains in control. What is being developed is the autonomous space between the family and the state. Overall, the way things developed is very much part of Singapore’s political history (Hill and Fee 1995).

Civil Society: Two Alternative Approaches In view of these discourses, Chua (da Cunha 2002) tackles the issue of autonomy of the state and civil society in Singapore. He argues that there are two different approaches to civil society in Singapore. One approach is taken by organizations working in cooperation with the government and “kowtowing” its policy line, discussed above. These organizations are supported by government resources, both financial and administrative. They are not radical, but rather take a progressive, reformist approach to improving policy and thrive under current political conditions. The second approach is taken by organizations that want to remain outside government influence and take alternative policies. Their restriction is the Internal Security Act and the Societies Act under which they must be registered. Although their activities are necessarily political, they avoid a confrontational approach and try to be within the limits of what the PAP defines as acceptable. As Rodan proposes, they present their entry into the public arena as consistent with government discourse about consultations, consensus, and the welcoming of technical expertise that assist policy (da Cunha 2002). Under the present political climate, Chua suggests that organizations taking this approach are in a precarious situation facing an unclear future. Nevertheless, this dilemma has not passed unnoticed by the government that in 1991 addressed the issue through the speech by Minister BG George Yeo mentioned earlier, where he suggested the government should roll back and allow greater space for civil society groups to grow and develop. As it has emerged, with an increasing plurality of views due to an ever growing diverse society, Chua argues, it is becoming clear that not all groups are ready to be co-opted into government-initiated organizations under the banner of 122

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“honouring the collective interest”. Chua also claims that it is to the advantage of governments to listen to alternative policy formulations, and to these groups to selectively engage the government through official channels of participation. Finally, Chua suggests that these two differential approaches to civil society, the competition between them, and of both with the state, is not a unique Singapore occurrence. What matters, Chua argues, is that both survive, and that the latter stops being marginalized to the detriment of social capital (da Cunha 2002). Mauzy and Milne (2002) argue that Goh’s government was serious about consulting the people and that interviews published in the local press confirm the general impression that mutual trust between civil society and the state is lacking and that this constitutes an obstacle to participation. The kind of participation the government seeks is that of voluntary organizations focusing on local issues rather than action-oriented civil society groups concerned with national issues or advocating particular interests. The first action taken as a result of the Singapore 21 Report is the setting up of a National Volunteer Centre to enhance the volunteer movement in Singapore. The government will allow increasing numbers of NGOs and tolerate nationally-focused civil society organizations, but the PAP will not allow interest or pressure groups tactics to be employed as it regards interest groups politics to be flawed. The former Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong summarized these sentiments when he argued that a combination of strong government and vibrant civil society will not be an easy task (Mauzy and Milne 2002). In the “disciplined governance” approach to governing, civil society is understood as: The process of interaction between the state and the associational sphere where individual and organised citizen action is co-opted and subordinated by the state, while retaining some semi-autonomous action.

Taking Stock of Social Capital, Trust and Cohesion As identified in the general literature, social capital needs to be conceptualized as one of the essential ingredients of Singapore’s civil society. Tan’s (2001) research is a breakthrough in identifying social capital stocks by analysing three case studies in three different policy sectors. He argues social capital is a catalyst for change in state-society relations in Singapore. In Figure 3.1 the way state-society relations are evolving as well as the progression of social capital is presented diagrammatically. The figure shows that the traditional state-civil society relations in Singapore are characterized 123

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FIGURE 3.1 Evolving State-Civil Society Relations Past

Transition

• Control • Co-optation • Contestation



(+) Social Capital

Future ➤

Partnership

Source: Adapted from Tan 2001.

by control or domination, co-optation, or disputation. Through the building of what may be called positive social capital, the vision of partnership — actively sought by the PAP as one of the tenets of its S21 — may be attained. Figure 3.2 presents, on the other hand, what we can call the status of social capital. Positive social capital, traditionally embedded in the legitimacy of the state, has been in constant tension with the “small circle” exclusive networks which do not contribute to partnership. A period of transition is envisaged in which stronger norms and networks of consultation and inclusion may empower civil society and ultimately contribute to democratic development. The question, however, is how is social capital being created and renewed in Singapore’s evolving political scenario? Answers are expected to be provided and extrapolations drawn from analysing the cases discussed in Chapters Four, Five and Six. Tan (2001) argues that the government’s vision is that Singapore ought to undergo a slow but steady opening up of the political space to civic participation and NGO engagement. There are two projects initiated by government to support this argument. First is the S21 project that sets the direction of political and socio-economic development for the year 2000 and beyond. Active citizenship making the difference is one of the tenets S21 is based on. This view is operationalized by encouraging volunteer involvement in community associations and activities, by getting involved with grassroots politics and seeking to influence policy formulation or implementation, and by taking the initiative to form organizations to further collective interests (women’s, nature conservation, etc.). It aims at making citizens more active in local and national politics and empowering them to hold the government accountable for its policies. Second is the Remaking Singapore Committee (under the Ministry of National Development and Sports), working alongside the Economic Review Committee (under the Ministry of Finance). Its work is a follow-up to S21 and seeks to review strategies for twenty-first century 124

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FIGURE 3.2 Evolution of Social Capital Status Past/Present

Transition

(+) • Embedded in the authority and legitimacy enjoyed by the political institutions (last 4 general Elections 95.1–98.8 seats in Parliament)



• Stronger norms and networks of consultation and inclusion • Clearer structures of representation • Increased trust between state and non-state actors

• Entrenched in institutionalized norms and networks in traditionally élitedominated policy processes

Future • Nurture a more empowered civil society ➤ • Foster a more inclusive governance • Ultimately promote democratic development

(–) • Mistrust between government agencies and “non-traditional” civil society actors • Exclusive networks of consultation and participation • Vaguely defined norms, authority relations and boundary lines Source: Adapted from Tan 2001.

Singapore. The Committee’s plan is to reach out to citizens to understand their aspirations and goals, to explore new ideas, directions and plans, and to remake Singapore. It does so through an e-forum, launched on 24 May 2002, 125

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where citizens can share and discuss their views. The forum aims at being a “nexus for the people and the public sector to engage on public policy” (Remaking Singapore 2002). If the government is serious about promoting an active citizenry, it must have in mind making political space available. But the question is why would a government that counts on its citizens’ support and has throughout its years in power managed to maintain stability and steady economic growth want to share power? Two surveys conducted in 1998 by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) reflected that nine in ten respondents agree to the statement “every citizen should have equal freedom to express his or her views on government”. In the same survey, 44 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement “the government makes policies without consulting us” (Ooi et al. 1998). This may give the government an indication that its citizens are better informed than before and will thus demand greater participation. The government seems to have come to realize that it does not have all the answers to the increasingly complex and fastchanging political and socio-economic scenario and, thus, will need to bring talent from outside. Moreover, as expressed on various occasions by ministers and Goh Chok Tong himself, the PAP recognizes that to retain a citizenry that has become increasingly mobile and outward looking it needs to open up political space. The reality is that Singaporeans have initially been puzzled by this newfound freedom. People were too scared to voice out their opinions in case they went beyond the “OB markers” (Gomez 2000, 2002c). But three case studies, investigated by Tan (2001) in three different policy areas, show that civil society actors are playing an expanding role in collaboration and contestation with the state (Tan 2001). Conceptualizations of social capital, trust, and cohesion that emerge from the above discussion are: Social capital is understood as the spontaneous ability of people to work with one another to achieve common goals limited by the existence of exclusive networks among élites and engineered volunteer involvement. Trust is defined as a limited confidence on the reliability of government due to ambiguity about acceptable boundaries (“OB markers”) and frequent “robust rebuttals”. Cohesion is the limited ability to bond together resulting from a deficit in social capital and trust among state and non-state actors that hampers state-society interactions. 126

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Professional Control As was evident in the general discussion about civil society, professional control in the Singapore context also constitutes an important ingredient of civil society. In a society that highly prizes education and social recognition for wealth, status, and power accumulation, professionals are not only part of the political and bureaucratic élite, but also of civil society associations (Chen 1997). A common ethos of service, the importance given to technical and scientific expertise and certain autonomy from market values are important elements attracting professionals to civil society leadership positions. Their influence in the governance of the city-state is as limited as that of civil society itself. Professionals outside the political and bureaucratic élite remain on the periphery of decision-making, being only able to input at the government’s discretion when asked to do so. Professional control in a “disciplined governance” approach to governing can thus be conceptualized as: The power of professionals to direct voluntary organisations due to the mutual match in service ethos, autonomy from market values, and importance awarded to scientific and technical expertise, limited by a system that awards a greater role to professionals who are within the bureaucratic and political élites.

Critique to Government’s “Opening up Civil Society” Initiatives: The “Realpolitik” In contrast with government initiatives intended at opening up the political space for civil society, critics argue otherwise (Straits Times, 10 January 2004; 13 January 2004; 14 January 2004, 19 January 2004). Tan, Chia and Lee put it in these words “Nanny may be cutting the apron strings but Nanny is still in charge ultimately” (Straits Times, 10 January 2004). Worthington (2003, p. 226) also argues that “the cabinet controls the government, the legislature, the party and approximately sixty per cent of the nation’s GDP through the GLCs”. Thus, he contends, there are no alternative sources of power. Civil society, he claims, remains shallow, the media and telecommunications systems are government controlled, almost all political discourse is mediated through government controlled mechanisms, and there are no independent means of accountability for the executive other than general elections within a gerrymandered electoral system. Worthington (2003, p. 226) also claims that consent building mechanisms based on control of the media, political socialization mechanisms, and the 127

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penetration of the social structure of Housing Development Board (HDB) estates by social, cultural, sporting and community organizations under the direction of government and quasi-government agencies, restrict political space. The situation is compounded by the overseeing of these mechanisms by a system of appointed advisors and party cells. What is interesting, though, is that these institutional arrangements lack the support of forty per cent of support of the adult population. Although strategies to promote broader community consultation, which is almost wholly restricted to the middle class, have been implemented, these, Worthington (2003, pp. 228–29) claims, have been designed as a “pressure valve” for middle-class frustration with the inflexibility of the political system. These mechanisms almost wholly exclude the working class except through limited closed-door focus group sessions by the Feedback Unit (FU) and the union-based consultation programmes operated by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). Otherwise, any opposing views only take place within the political arena and not within the broader, less controlled institutions of civil society. The government’s preference is to coopt informed and intelligent opposition and to constrain the debate within its own rank and forum. This lack of accountability, Worthington (2003, pp. 231–32) claims, has challenged the moral integrity of state-society relations and the political system. It is a relationship that to be durable and effective must be propositioned on trust, but in Singapore there are no independent institutional indicators with which to verify that trust. Therefore, he argues, “while eighty eight per cent of the population trusts the government to run the country in the broadest of senses, very few trust the government in how it runs the country” (Worthington (2003, pp. 231–32; see also Straits Times, 20 June 1998: Survey Data by the Feedback Unit). “The government seems to believe that economic performance is an adequate substitute for trust. The economic contract that defines state-society relations is fulfilled more than the social contract, however, the capacity for this contract to continue to underpin state-society relations is limited” (Worthington 2003, pp. 232–33). Writing in 1989, Chan Heng Chee noted that “the transition from the Lee to the post-Lee governments would probably lead to a resolution of the concept which emerged from the mid-1980s between public aspiration for political openness and the goals of the political élites” (Worthington 2003, p. 233). A redefining of the contract would look something like this, Chan affirms: “… a compromise in Singapore will ultimately be struck: for the leadership somewhere between economic effectiveness and political stability, for the citizenry, somewhere between 128

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economic well-being and increased political participation” (Worthington 2003, p. 233). Worthington claims that Chan’s vision is not as yet being realized. Statements from Goh Chok Tong like “we know best, but we listen to views from elsewhere; if the views are sensible we co-opt them as our own, or make them into our policies. But in the end, I believe that we are the people who can make the best judgment of where Singapore should go”,6 Worthington claims, offer no immediate hope for progress in an institutional framework that will replace “hegemonic core executive” prevalence with more bottom-up, legitimized, structures (Worthington 2003, p. 233). He argues (2003, p. 234) that his research demonstrates that current power structures depicting Singapore’s governance offer no hope for evolution. He claims that these structures are neither state nor societal corporatist. For example, state mediating structures are initiated by the state, but are virtually limited by the state’s relationship with the unions, which in Singapore he proposes, are neither representative of most workers, nor of class interests. Network structures are not formalized because all policy networks operate at the discretion of the political and civil service executives, with other policy actors almost powerless to initiate policy community or network activity. Similarly, the working class, industry, business, and community organizations have no power to negotiate within the political executive in resource exchange terms and, therefore, neither societal corporatism structures, nor “private interest governance” have emerged. Networks, policy, and governance mechanisms are developed, controlled and overseen by the core executive through the exercise of its power, not through negotiation. Entry into networks is by selection by the core executive, not through affiliation to unions, NGOs, or private organizations. Thus, the system is not corporatist but rather oligarchic and élitist. Is this sustainable in the long run? Hall (Worthington 2003, p. 234) notes that to understand fully the possibilities of the modern state (maybe better said to envision how the state can play a more effective role in modern society), one needs to depart from a definition of state power as the ability to coerce as a zero-sum game, with the state always the winner. “Societal energy is likely to be enhanced when social institutions are designed so that contributions made by many can be synthesized and utilized” (quoted in Worthington 2003, p. 234). Efforts to harness societal energy are partial, narrowly targeted, and in the longer term, prone to failure as they do not attempt to genuinely renegotiate statesociety relations, but to broaden hegemonic co-optation strategy by making it shallower, occasional, and requiring less commitment by involving mainly the middle class in consultations. BG George Yeo has on occasions complained 129

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that Singaporeans are treating their country as a hotel rather than a home. The government complains that the apathy and lack of commitment lie with the hotel guests (citizens), though many believe the problem lies with the hotel management (government).

“Disciplined Governance”: An Alternative Type of Governance Order Contrasting the governance theory approach to governing with Singapore’s “realpolitik”, the characteristics of the state and civil society, the type of interaction resulting from their engagement, as well as a type of governance order that better explicates the city-state’s scenario, may be elucidated. This book argues that governance as a term and set of ideas is a valuable tool for analysing the process of opening up of the Singapore governance scenario due to its recognizing the role of NGOs in this scenario and the existence of collaborative arrangements among players. A governance approach to governing recognizes various types of relations between players within the state and civil society domains, for example, interface, interplay, interaction, and so on resulting in various types of governance order, mostly, hierarchical governance, co-governance and self-governance. Experience to-date indicates that governance in Singapore is sometimes consultative, but strategically contained and certainly not fully participatory such that the idea of “disciplined governance” is an appropriate way to characterize the emerging situation. This characterization emerges from recognizing evident constraints to the system, like lack of bonding between political leaders and the community, class stratification created by privileges awarded to “foreign talent”, control of the media, and increasing pressure but limited participation from grassroots. The state is central to a governance approach to governing in theory and practice although just one more component in the pattern of interactions. In this approach, its role shifts from just being recognized by mere constitutional legitimacy to being recognized for its ability to coordinate public and private resources. Thus, in the governance approach, the nature of the state and of its organizations is democratic. The idea of “disciplined governance” is more appropriately equated with a state that is illiberally or limitedly democratic and overtly paternalistic. The influence that economic intervention has on social policies, the retention of state capacity despite globalization trends, and its strength awarded by “having delivered the goods”, are dimensions of paternalism. Yet, as already recognized, initiatives like consultative policy reviews and private sector co-optation into advisory boards connected with ministries and statutory boards, etc. are already afoot. These are liberalizing trends though they are clearly limited.

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Civil society, notably NGOs, is an increasingly prominent feature of governance. In the governance approach, the nature of civil society is confrontational, active, and free. The idea of “disciplined governance” characterizing the Singapore scenario sees civil society being co-opted and subordinated by the state, while also retaining a limited space for semiautonomous action.

GOVERNANCE AND ORGANIZATIONS In light of the incipient shift from traditional approaches to governing to new forms of governance in Singapore, it is essential to analyse the role played by organizations within the state and civil society domains. As it was argued when constructing the framework for analysis, organizations as actual actors of engagement do matter. Are government organizations losing capacity by devolving managerial and policy functions? Are NGOs strengthening their capacity in this scenario? How do the characteristics and the organizational structures of government and non-government institutions influence the governance progression of Singapore and how, in turn, are governance changes affecting organizations?

Government Organizations Following the characteristics of the “administrative state”, the “developmental state” and more recently, the “entrepreneurial state” (Asher 1989; Thynne 1989a, 1989c; Chan 1997) by which the city-state is known, Singapore is planned and governed by a multiplicity of agencies having various degrees of managerial, policy, structural, financial, legal, and auditing autonomy. In any case, government organizations are omnipresent, influencing economic, political, and social engineering. Over the years, and, most significantly, in the running to independence and in the first years of PAP ruling, adjustments were made to the bureaucracy and to the various government or government-related organizations to keep them on par with developments. Efforts to reform the system have occurred since the establishment of the PAP in 1954 (Cheung 2003). Thus, reforms to the Singapore public administration system are not solely a recent phenomenon brought about by worldwide trends influenced by the New Public Management approach to governing the public sector (Hood 1989). Yet, from the mid-1980s and through the 1990s, significant public sector reforms, in tune with those taking place elsewhere, have been undertaken. These have been sped up after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis that proved the “Asian model” was not indestructible (Cheung 2003). Reforms included

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privatization arrangements initiated in 1985 that brought about the divestment of various public enterprises, but also saw the creation of new undertakings involving private-public mixes which rather than cutting government involvement in public affairs, especially in economic activity, saw greater government intervention (Ariff, Asher and Thynne 1995). Budgetary and institutional reforms occurred in 1989, with the introduction of Vote Block Budget Allocation, giving ministries autonomy over human and financial resources; in 1991, with the introduction of the Singapore Government Management Accounting System (SIGMA) computerizing financial information to facilitate tracking; in 1994, with the putting in place of Budgeting for Results (BFR), requiring agencies to establish performance targets for their programmes; and in 1997, with the creation of autonomous agencies (Jones 1999). Significant personnel reforms took place in 1993, with the creation of the Civil Service College, and in 1995, with hiring and promotion tasks being devolved from the Public Service Commission to individual ministries. Worldwide trends of a client-oriented, “managerial” public administration also took place in Singapore through various measures, ranging from improvements to front-desk physical set-up to the appointment of quality service managers (Quah 1994, pp. 152–85; Jones 1999; Cheung 2003). In tune with the discussion in Chapter Two and of relevance to the types of government-NGOs relations analysed in the case studies subsequently discussed in this book, are reforms more directly related to the “managerialization” and “democratization” of the civil service7 and those involving the use of statutory boards for advisory, regulatory, and service delivery functions (Foo 1989). In the “disciplined governance” approach government organizations are conceived as the mediating institutions that mobilise human resources in the service of the affairs of the state in a given territory (Bekke, Perry and Toonen 1996, p. 2) turning inputs from the environment into outputs of policy, goods and services (Burns and Bowornwathana 2001, p. 3) while further enhancing the capacity of the state to intervene in various social and economic activities.

Reforms in the Civil Service: Managing but not Empowering Citizens The Singapore civil service has undergone changes that have modified its role over the years. Constituting the executive arm of the government and promoting the interests of the administrative state, the Singapore civil service is at present 62,0008 strong, consisting of the President’s Office, the Prime 132

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Minister’s Office (with the Public Service Division under it), 14 ministries, and 20 departments (Singapore Government Directory 2004; Quah et al. 1987, pp. 113–17). Organizationally, Quah et al. (1987) argue, the civil service has over the years been able to adjust to environmental changes and specific personnel characteristics. The main organizational changes from colonial days to independence were undertaken from recommendations made by the Rendel Constitutional Commission of 1955.9 Various recommendations directly affected the bureaucracy. First, the introduction of a Cabinet government made up of locally elected politicians; second, the establishment of the principle of ministerial responsibility, with the exception of three ex officio ministers, who were appointed from the civil service, arguably maintaining a stronger influence in the Cabinet than the other ministers; third, the subordination of civil servants to political leaders (Quah et al. 1987, p. 103); and fourth, the creation of the post of permanent secretaries. Until then the civil service organization had followed functional arrangements. From the start, the PAP claims to have paid a lot of attention to reforming the civil service to ensure it remained nimble to innovation and change as the country evolved. After the start of self-governance in 1959, the PAP leadership reshuffled departments according to portfolios, with an additional Ministry created, that of National Development, which would undertake the task of operationalizing the building of the new independent state. Ex officio members in the Cabinet were discontinued, while the local government layer was also scrapped. Civil service competency continued to be upgraded over the years to improve its economic professional viability (Quah et al. 1987, p. 113; Public Service Commission 2004). From the beginning, PAP reforms mainly aimed at, first, changing the mindset of bureaucrats from, arguably, that of alienation to that of sensitization to the needs of the local community. These were effected through, for example, first, the creation of the Political Study Centre in 1959, established to conduct courses to expose senior civil servants to the local context, and the setting up of the People’s Association (PA), intended to ensure community centres acted as bridges between civil servants and the people; second, making the civil service responsive by setting up, for example, the Central Complaints Bureau in 1961 as a redress system for maladministration; third, making the civil service representative by opening recruitment to Chinese-educated citizens so as to stop it being identified with the English-educated élite; fourth, introducing a selective retention and retirement system based on competence; fifth, fighting corruption by instituting a strong penal system and introducing the Prevention of Corruption Act in 1960 (further amended in 1963, 1966, 133

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1969), and establishing the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau under the Prime Minister’s Office; sixth establishing an employee-centred personnel management system to attract and retain the best. This was implemented through the work of the Personnel Management Steering Committee (PMSC) under the Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC). Currently, civil service management is undertaken by the Public Services Division (PSD) in charge of formulation and evaluation of personnel policies. PSD is responsible for pay, grading, training, and efficiency; the Public Administration Branch (PAB), under the Budget Division of the Ministry of Finance is in charge of manpower control; and the Public Service Commission (PSC) recruits, promotes, and applies disciplinary proceedings to civil servants (Das 1998). Of all the reforms undertaken recently, the one having greater impact in directly shaping the civil service and indirectly influencing the way government relates to other stakeholders in the governance process (NGOs among them) is Public Service 21 (PS21) (Lim 2002). This reform is part and parcel of the state-initiated and managed S21 vision that, as mentioned earlier, aims at reinventing the Singapore “developmental state” by letting it play the “traditional” role of leading economic development while being proactive in foreseeing future challenges. PS21 emerged from within the service rather than from the political leadership. Initiated by Lim Siong Guan, the current Head of the Civil Service, PS21 does not aim at adopting private sector principles because the state has failed, or at trimming the state down because the service is too large. It aims at adopting these principles to create a “public sector par excellence”. It is, thus, an exercise to improve leadership and processes, as well as changing the mindset of public officials from regulators to facilitators. It incorporates all the traditional credits of the service: clean and effective government model, meritocracy, free from corruption, fair and impartial, but claims to move one step forward to transform public servants into innovators, critical thinkers, and entrepreneurs besides being loyal and diligent followers (Lim 2002). Its first goal is continuity and consistency plus flexibility and enterprise. Its second aim is service excellence of street level bureaucrats who ought to see the public as customers. The new civil servant is required to be more than just a technocrat who implements a political policy in a cost-efficient manner, but a person who is responsive to the needs of the community as well as those of the political leadership, PS21 claims. Initially Singapore adapted a development policy as a matter of survival, once the survival crisis was overcome and success obtained, the next step has been management of success (Public Service Commission 2004; Public Service 21 2004). 134

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Confronted with these arguments, one can claim that both past civil service reforms and PS21 with its entrepreneurial initiatives, have transformed and are transforming the civil service into a more competitive, missiondriven (as opposed to rule-driven), results-oriented, customer-driven, enterprising and anticipatory government (Osborne and Gaebler 1992). Yet, elements missing in these reforms, which would indicate a shift from a government to governance approach to governing, are changes leading to empowering rather than serving the community, and those leading to participation and teamwork rather than hierarchy. Thus, all these reforms have occurred without, in any way, diminishing the central role of the bureaucracy in managerial and policy functions.

Statutory Boards: Securing Government Intervention The theoretical underpinnings of statutory boards as types of organization have already been discussed in Chapter Two. This section intends to highlight the major role statutory boards played in Singapore’s post-independence development strategy, with their activities usually serving multiple economic and political roles (Appendix XI: List of Major Statutory Boards in Singapore; Thynne & Ariff 1988, pp. 26–28). Statutory boards are a type of government tool through which the government has chosen to carry out various economic and political functions, mostly in the 1960s and from the 1970s to mid1980s, due to market failure, accommodation of externalities, amelioration of income distribution, and reduction of transaction costs (Low 1991, p. 50). Boards were also set up as powerful nation-building tools since Singapore achieved self-governance in 1959 (Ho 2000). The Housing Development Board (HDB) offers a powerful illustration of the role these more legally and managerially autonomous, yet highly influential semi-government organizations played in nation-building. Briefly, established by the first PAP government in 1961 to provide low-cost public housing, the Lands Acquisition Act of 1966 granted the HDB the compulsory purchase of any private land required for housing development. The prices paid by the Board were about 20 per cent of the estimated market value of the land. Between 1960 and 1979, the percentage of land owned by the government rose from 44 to 67 per cent, increasing the government’s control over that scarce resource and benefiting low-income voters, who supported the PAP, at the expense of the much smaller number of private landowners. Rents for HDB apartments were subsidized, with selling prices being lower than construction costs and not including land acquisition costs. Purchase prices in the 1980s were 50 to 70 per cent below market prices. By 1988, 135

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86 per cent of the population was living in HDB apartments. What can be attributed to HDB’s success? Its easy access to large amounts of government capital raised from the Central Provident Fund (CPF), a compulsory savings plan into which all Singaporean employees then contributed 25 per cent of their monthly income, low-interest, and long-term loans from the World Bank. This access to funds was followed by its sweeping power to acquire land, the ability to train its own construction workers and engineers, the capacity to act as a building corporation developing its quarries and manufacturing its bricks, the flexibility to enter into contract with suppliers of construction materials, and the ability to prevent corruption in contracting and allocating flats (Foo 1989; US 1989 Country Studies, Singapore). The government became the landlord or the mortgage holder for most of the population. It provided employment in the construction industry to many, it used resettlement as a way to break up ethnic enclaves, and it kept the cost of housing low by averting pressure to raise wages. The HDB served as a nation-building programme. This was a highly visible political reward from the PAP to the population which, arguably, laid the foundation to successive electoral successes (US 1989 Country Studies, Singapore). From the mid-1980s additional statutory boards were established as a mode of implementing decentralization, thus giving an alternative to the traditional ministry and department. Government departments that had a high growth and revenue potential were turned into statutory boards. Consideration was also given to privatizing some of the existing statutory boards, but this was fraught with dilemmas of conflicting aims (profitmaking versus welfare principles), legalities and sensitivity of area of activity (Low 1991, p. 110). As none of the statutory boards involved in the case studies presented in subsequent chapters was privatized,10 further elaboration on the topic is unnecessary. But what is important is to highlight the rationale that makes the Singapore case for the decentralization unique. The exercise was not an attempt to cut government expending through budgetary and personnel reduction due to economic or social pressure associated with the need to reduce its scope and responsibilities, or to the inefficiency of civil servants, but rather a means to reduce direct government personnel intervention (Low 1991, p. 103). In fact, the rationale behind distancing civil servants from being involved in what were considered non-core competencies was an attempt to let “civil servants free to concentrate on their primary jobs of administering the country” (Ariff, Asher and Thynne 1995, p. 180). As elicited from the roles played and the functions assigned to the various newly established 136

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statutory boards, these alternative state agencies continued to act as powerful tools of centralized planning and social engineering, leading to an increase in the scale of government. This atypical function of Singapore statutory boards is in contrast with functions played by this form of government tool elsewhere. By definition, statutory boards, as other semi-autonomous government agencies, are classified as having a high degree of autonomy, both understood as decisionmaking competencies and as the “exemption of constraints on the actual use of the decision-making competencies” (Verhoest et al. 2004, p. 108). Since statutory boards have their own legal status under public law through their creation by an act of parliament, the board would also enjoy a high degree of managerial, policy, structural, financial, and auditing autonomy. Managerial in the sense of its ability to decide, within wider guidelines set by government, on the principles it wants to use in its financial transactions; policy in the sense of its ability to choose policy instruments and decide on specific applications of policy norms; and structural in that the head of the board is appointed and evaluated by the “supervisory board” where government representatives have majority vote. The supervisory board, can in turn, be dismissed by the government. Financial, although the agency is not solely financed by sources other than the central government, it has to cover any major deficit it runs into on its own. Finally, auditing autonomy, referring to the “limited reporting requirements to government” with sanctions being possible only after the government has obtained the agreement of the board. In contrast with findings in the general literature on the effects of institutional reform of government organizations, in Singapore, the choice of alternative tools to governing, such as statutory boards, has not diminished state control (Thynne 1989c). Ministerial, budgetary, auditing and parliamentary control remain in place (Thynne 1988; Foo 1989, pp. 122– 27). This shows that the various roles of Singapore statutory boards are a reflection of the pervasiveness of government involvement in policy and plan implementation. In fact, as regarded by Foo (1989, p. 132) “[they] enhance the capability of the government to participate in various social and economic activities”.

Non-Government Organizations Ho (2000) argues that in the Singaporean context, non-governmental organizations NGOs — a major channel of non-electoral participation in the 137

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political life of the city-state — are basically organizations of people who share common objectives. Rather than being established to contest elections, they are formed to influence public opinion, and indirectly, public policy. There are many of these groups in Singapore — all of them, to various degrees, facing serious constraints.

Features of the Singapore NGO Sector What constitutes an NGO in Singapore? Tanaka (2002) advances a definition when proposing that organizations falling under the category of nongovernmental, non-profit-making, voluntary, of a solid and continuing form, altruistic and philanthropic, are generally regarded as NGOs. Almost all NGOs are registered either under the Societies Act (Cap. 311) or the Companies Act (Cap. 50, 1994 Rev. Ed.) (Tan 1999). In order to be exempted from taxes, they must also seek recognition under the Charities Act (Cap. 37) that requires associations to file under one of four categories, depending on their goals (poverty, education, religion, or community). These organizations deal with a number of local issues that include environmental protection and nature conservation, human rights, education, arts and culture, and so on (Tanaka 2002). The nature of these organizations has evolved through time. From the colonial period to Independence (1918–65) mainly Chinese communitybased, self-help groups were active in filling the gap left by the colonial rulers in matters of housing, assistance to new migrants, etc. What started as provincial self-help groups ended, near the time of Independence, as highly politicized and nationalistic workers’ and students’ unions. The period after Independence, or what came to be called the years of “survival or nation building” (1965–90), sees self-help groups losing their role as the PAP, partially because it was wary of these groups’ political agendas, forcefully put in place a comprehensive plan of subsidized social welfare services.11 The PAP took a hard stance then on freedom of expression and association in fear of Communist infiltration, but even after that had stopped being a threat, a high degree of centralized social control remained, restricting the scope of voluntary activity (Chan 1995c; Tanaka 2002). Besides, the PAP took the initiative to organize neighbourhood groups of residents using them as watchdogs over the people. Up to today the government retains extensive discretionary powers over the issue of licences for NGOs and has dismantled a large number of them. The political space available to NGOs is, thus, small. Economic space is equally limited with the government providing substantial high quality 138

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public services in areas such as housing, education, medical care, etc. Thus, the level of NGOs activity has been low. However, since the 1990s, the government has started relaxing political restraints on NGOs. Activities demanding participation and greater democratization of processes have emerged (Tanaka 2002). Thus, the last fourteen years seem to have brought a new dawn of civil renewal, with easing of controls and the rise of “real” NGOs. The government of Goh Chok Tong pledged among its nation-building goals to practise a more constructive, participatory style of democracy. It established channels like the Feedback Unit to promote exchange of views between the government and the people, and set up the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) as a government think-tank with the brief of conducting research on civil society. The term “civil society” itself began to be used in government circles, starting with the 1991 landmark speech by Minister George Yeo. The second landmark in what can be termed the “new era for civil society” was the already mentioned Singapore 21 speech by Prime Minister Goh himself in 1997, which was subsequently turned into a political agenda. As Tanaka (2002) also argues, one perceives from the above developments, a clear change in the nature of government-NGOs relations mainly due to the acknowledgement on the part of the state of changes in the socio-political scenario, and NGOs seizing the opportunity to grow and, most importantly, reinventing themselves in the newly-found space. Although the government remains more comfortable with NGOs’ involvement mainly in local (district) issues rather than with national policy issues, NGOs have managed to take the lead in issues considered non-controversial, non-political, where their expertise is many times greater than the government’s. But has the government really relaxed the control it traditionally exercised over voluntary associations? Although the methods may have changed, control still exists in the form of legal instruments and informal mechanisms. Article 14 of the Singapore Constitution guarantees freedom of association, but organizations of more than ten members, and committees with more than five, are required to register under one of the corporate laws (Tanaka 2002, pp. 208–10). All NGOs acquire corporate status by registering under the Societies Act or the Companies Act. As mentioned earlier, the Charities Act recognizes benevolent organizations as tax-exempt institutions.12 The Societies Act (Cap. 311) regulates associations working in areas of peace, social welfare, social order, which also contribute to the national interest. But most of the associations filing under this Act are clubs which have “solid and continuing form” and are altruistic in nature, but of a different nature from NGOs. The Registrar of Societies is empowered to 139

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exercise discretion with regard to registration and to impose conditions governing recognition. This allows the government to effectively suppress the activities of groups it considers contrary to its interests. Societies might be dissolved by order of the Minister of Information and the Arts, or denied accreditation altogether. This is, for example, the case of some foreign-based NGOs like Oxfam and other NGOs engaged in international cooperation requiring flow of funding from abroad. This is so because the current tax system for charitable contributions penalizes groups involved in activities abroad. In the case where a licence to operate is obtained, eighty per cent of funds should be spent inside the country. The Companies Act (Cap. 50) registers NGOs as companies limited by guarantee or as a company limited by shares. Registration is automatic if rules are followed, but NGOs tend to think that registering as a company creates confusion about the nature and aims of NGOs. NGOs still register, Tanaka (2002) argues, for greater accountability and public trust as they are required to issue public financial statements and for assets holdings, and efficiency. Besides legal constraints, Tanaka (2002) argues that the government also controls NGOs through other means. He identifies six “informal” controls. First, setting up of “umbrella” organizations through which NGO activity can be monitored and regulated. The incentives to join the umbrella group range from tax-exemption status to additional funding sources. An example of this type of organization is the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) that acts as an umbrella to other environmental NGOs and allocates funds through the Central Environment Fund Scheme (CEF), which can be utilized by successful applicants. Second, establishing “quasi-NGOs” or government assisted organizations or those specifically designed to curb anti-government NGOs. An example of this type is the Academy of Law established to curb the critical role the Law Society played at one point in time. Third, exercising control through financial support by enabling the government to intervene in an organization’s activities and influence its leadership. Fourth, putting in place controls related to freedom of speech and association through the application of laws such as the Newspaper and Printing Press Act, which gives the government partial ownership of newspapers and publishing houses so it can exert influence over editorial policy and staff assignments. The Act extends to foreign media. For NGOs this has implications on the policy proposals they can make and the questions they can raise. In relation to freedom of expression, any group of more than ten members must be registered or face possible apprehension under the Internal Security Act that allows for preventive detention by order of the Minister (for Security), without due process or the right to a court hearing. This clearly puts the state and NGOs on an unequal footing.

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Fifth, “soft control” in the form of indoctrination on the part of the government of social and ethical values it wants NGOs and citizens to uphold. This, Tanaka maintains, could be regarded as a means the government employs to foster cooperation and avoid confrontation with NGOs, but is in fact also a politically motivated form of social constraint. The related term the government uses is “out of bound markers” (OB markers) indicating that individuals and groups should not only be within the law but also within what is socially acceptable. This grants the government the prerogative to intervene whenever it thinks a certain conduct threatens the norms it so forcefully propagates. Finally, there is what Tanaka terms political co-optation. Through the Nominated Members of Parliament system (NMP), the government approaches citizens who are usually professionally or socially prominent to serve as Ministers (without portfolio). Members of NGOs such as AWARE, Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS), etc. have been approached to serve and while this may be a rare opportunity for them to intervene effectively in the policy process, it may well be a way for the government to identify the critics and co-opt them into the system. Chan (1995c) adds his arguments to this discourse by maintaining that Singaporean NGOs that have their origins in informal traditional groups that existed in the enclave long before the state was established as a nation, have in the last fifteen years, re-emerged under another sort of arrangement, different from the more informal former modes, that is, as developmental NGOs. Their origin stems from political history and greater civic awareness of a more educated population. At the same time that the Singapore state was rising, civic groups, with their own vision of good society, were established. What makes these groups different from the traditional mutual help groups is that they are issue-oriented, and rather than exclusively providing or delivering services, they act as vehicles for change. They do so by raising awareness and getting people involved in the process of improving a specific aspect of society, but aiming at progressive social development and change in society as a whole. The emphasis on the process by which peoples’ independence is protected is an important characteristic of these groups. Groups like NSS, AWARE, and Young Women’s Muslim Association are examples of this development that reflects a change in orientation of NGOs. Chan (1995c) also argues that regional arrangements like ASEAN and the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) were important catalysts in promoting the development of NGOs. With the world’s eyes focusing on the development of another regional superpower in competition with the mature economies of the United States and the European Union, NGOs proved to be the appropriate tool for promoting a sense of community and for establishing regional links in finding solutions to common policy concerns. 141

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From the above discussion, in the Singapore “disciplined governance” context NGOs are defined as organizations that are registered, nongovernmental, not-for-profit, voluntary, permanent, and philanthropic, working in areas of public interest.

Structure of Singapore NGOs As of 1 April 2004 the total number of registered societies13 in Singapore was 5,850, that is, 1,288 more than a decade ago when 4,562 were listed (Personal Communication MHA 20 August 2004). While most NGOs register as societies, as mentioned earlier, there are also NGOs registered as companies and as charitable fund trusts. The distinction between state or government NGOs (GONGOs) and private NGOs (autonomous) is presented in Table 3.6 using the classification proposed by Tan and Singh (Chan 1995c).

Prospects of NGO Development With the acceptance by government of recommendations made by the Remaking Singapore Committee on 15 April 2004, the future for NGO development looks brighter (see Chapter Seven for full discussion). Primary among these recommendations are changes to the registration of societies. Instead of requiring all groups to obtain prior approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), only those whose potential activities may constitute a threat to national interests will be required to seek previous approval with the rest getting automatic registration. What is encouraging is the spirit behind these changes, that is, to “promote self-regulation by civil societies by allowing [them] … to be registered based on self-declaration” (Remaking Singapore Committee 2004 36, p. 16). Yet, despite what these changes may signify and the shift in mindset within and outside government they may purport, inhibiting factors of varying degree across policy domains remain. Although government-led growth and centralized authority may still be in place, through the space provided by the “opening up” rhetoric, the limited action following the rhetoric, NGOs growing professional expertise and political skill, NGOs are incrementally enlarging their scope for action and deepening their involvement in the running of Singapore.

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TABLE 3.6 Classification of Singapore NGOs Type of Organization

Characteristics

GONGOS

• Voluntarily formed, but initiated by government, which provides both human and financial resources. • Managed at the local level, but inserted in the bureaucratic structure (under ministerial control) as a government tool to implement policy. • Examples of these are: community self-groups established along ethnic lines, welfare organizations under the umbrella of the National Council of Social Services, and professional associations.

NGOs

• Spontaneously initiated to serve a specific purpose. May or may not receive professional advice and financial support from the government • May be classified as community-based, community service, worker employer oriented, women, youth and professional (this is a target audience classification that deviates from a common-goal or common-method classification. A different classification would separate developmental NGOs from community service NGOs and welfare organizations).

Source: Adapted from Tan and Singh (Chan 1995c).

Constraints to Government and Non-government Organizations Capacity Despite reforms undertaken in the public sector there are important issues facing the bureaucracy and related government agencies that affect their organizational capacity to implement policy, and the relationship between government and NGOs. Non-governmental organizations remain equally constrained. First, with the role of the bureaucracy being that of carrying out routine tasks of basic structures that enable it to function and the management of statutory boards (more than sixty) and state enterprises, mostly through secondment arrangements, the civil service takes a leading

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role in the day-to-day government of the city-state. The service counts on the strength of one third of the best brains through a system of bonding scholars for a working career in the service. Yet, all of the status allotted to it does not foster a strong “identity” within the service and intraorganizational cohesion is not strong. For example, institutional ethos is weak with junior officers not helped to internalize the values of the institution. Upward mobility and career are above the sense of pride in serving the nation. Hence, there is more commitment to jobs than to the institution (Ho 2000). Second, the policy needs and expertise required have traditionally drawn people from the humanities and liberal arts as the system follows the generalist U.K. system, although in the 1970s and 1980s there was more recruitment of systems engineers to cater for the needs of the industrial development-based economy. Recently, again, graduates from the arts and humanities are brought into the service as it has been perceived that engineers lack a clear perception of the complexity of human nature, making them less sensitive to public sentiments (Ho 2000). Koh (1998) argues for other issues affecting the role of the civil service. First, the rise of a “second wave” of industrialized economies in the region; second, the embeddedness of the information economy in the global economy; third, a maturing industrial society, and fourth, increasing social stratification. Thus, Koh (1998) argues, the bureaucracy has needed to change from passively supporting development and tackling problems defined by political leaders, to engaging proactively in defining problems and creating future visions, from system maintenance (problem solving) to vision-building (innovation). As technocratic management was not achieving this, reforms were undertaken, examples of which have been given above. Thus, these reforms have not modified the essential role of the state. PS21 does not seek to “roll back the state”, but rather to retain a strong administrative state by reinventing its role so as to keep it in step with a future of greater complexity, less predictability and an environment in which information flows freely and in which changes take place at high speed. Thus, as advocates of the campaign affirm, PS21 is about state leadership rather than public management. As a developmental state, Singapore continues to retain, among other things, a cohesive bureaucratic structure with a strong identity and an autonomous civil service isolated from social influences that are indicative of its capacity to steer society. With such a central role, it is doubtful that its relations with other actors in the governance of the city-state would be on an equal footing (Cheung 2003). 144

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NGOs are equally constrained. The discussion about citizens’ participation in Singapore, whether in an individual capacity or as part of a group, is linked to state dominance and administrative control over a fragmented and underdeveloped civil society. It is commonly perceived that well-established topdown hierarchical arrangements in the system make the political and administrative leadership extremely prominent, and citizens and civic groups relatively redundant, in governmental policy matters. As argued earlier, the PAP has from the start practised administrative, corporatist, and paternalistic politics, with an emphasis on technocracy and élitism, and its legitimacy based on Singapore’s impressive and continuous economic growth (Ho 2000; George 2003). Knowing this mindset, one could easily jump to the conclusion, as Ho (2000) suggests, that the citizens’ role in policy-making is very limited. The issue, he argues, is more complex than has been generally reported and requires greater in-depth study. Ho also suggests that such a study should pay attention to the élite’s belief system in relation to the citizen’s role in policymaking, to looking into the mechanisms of participation, both government initiated and through autonomous organizations, and into limits — legal and psychological — of citizen participation. Ho (2000) argues that the most effective way for ordinary citizens to influence public policy is to form organized groups. By doing so, he claims, they can have a better chance to convince the government that their concerns are public and not private, thereby triggering the process of policy initiation. Moreover, organized groups have more resources, which thus make them more powerful when demanding policy change. NGOs, as mentioned earlier, are a growing phenomenon in Singapore, with each trying to champion certain rights and having different demands. The advantage of joining a group is that they have more resources so they can more easily convince the government that their demands require the government to act. However, NGOs in Singapore have several limitations, the most important one being that their influence is usually derived from personal contacts and informal penetration into policy-making circles.

Government-NGOs Relations: Two Perspectives With its highly centralized power structure and the government’s good management record, the scenario is set for rather unequal power distribution between the government and NGOs, and little room for power sharing or even participation of civil society groups in the running of public affairs. 145

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The term NGO and its infrequent usage locally are indicators of the weak social and political climate that accepts a voice outside the government with difficulty. Moreover, the legal restrictions on group registration are an important curbing force. The government remains adamant that any groups wanting to have a political voice by way of making comments on government policies should be prepared to enter the political arena officially, that is, by joining a political party so as to make their opinions accountable to the electorate (Straits Times, 27 June 2000; 7 January 2004; 10 January 2004 (2); 13 January 2004; 19 January 2004; New Paper, 7 January 2004). The government tends to sanction outside voices. As mentioned, in 1987 sixteen members of a Catholic Church group were detained under the Internal Security Act for spreading Marxist ideas under the guise of welfare activities. But although there are tensions in the government-NGOs relationship, given the structure and perceived role of both players, it would be incorrect to label this relationship confrontational. But what is the nature of these relationships and how are they evolving? Following Tanaka’s (2002) and Chan’s (1995c) arguments, we can draw some ideas. The political space NGOs are given is larger in Goh’s than in Lee’s era. More recently Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also stated in a landmark speech to the Harvard Club that he had “no doubt our society must open up further” (Straits Times, 7 January 2004). But the nature and goals of NGOs have also changed. What used to be associations engaged mainly in complementary activities to the government’s are today groups that zealously guard their independence, are professionally competent, and, thus, are able to make a convincing argument against government policy. Organizations like NSS, for example, undertook an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study against a government proposal to build a golf course at Lower Peirce Reservoir and successfully managed to stop the project (see Chapter Five). Although this book is more interested in looking at the process by which NGOs engage government and participate as external actors in the policy process than with their successes, successful outcomes due to NGO intervention are surely a confirmation that governments do not hold all the answers to today’s complex governance scenario. Not only is the government more open to policy proposals and input by outsiders, but its way of taking criticisms has also changed. For example, after the 1997 electoral campaign, the PAP was criticized by the Roundtable in the Straits Times. Although the government made a formal reply, it did not repress the NGO as it did, for example, in 1987 the Law Society. The legal system has its advantages to NGOs too, as both government policies and Cabinet bills can 146

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be challenged in courts. Moreover, the fact that NGO representatives sit in Parliament as Nominated Members of Parliament (NMP) offers advantages to participate in government policy also from inside. For example, when in 1992 the Singapore Green Plan was being formulated as Singapore’s green blueprint, the Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) provided necessary conservation data and advice through the work of Simon Tay, then an NMP.14 Thus, Tanaka (2002) maintains that there seems to be a paradigm shift in the way government-NGO relations are evolving that is indicative of a policy shift that, he claims, can be observed in three areas. First is fiscal policy. Unable to cope with growing social welfare demands — consequence of an ageing population — the government welcomes more than ever self-help groups, voluntary groups, and the private sector to deal with welfare issues. Second is non-reliance on government policy. Singaporeans have grown accustomed to depending on their efficient and effective government. The government is, at present, fostering a “do-it-yourself ” mindset as it believes a certain “sheep mentality” and lack of creativity are undermining the value of human resources and overwhelming welfare resources (I (8) 15 January 2004, Appendix XII). Thus, their civil society project enshrined in the Singapore 21 campaign document (S21) of 1998, popularizing “heartware” and active citizenship, and in the Economic Review and Remaking Singapore of 2003, is a major objective of the new Millennium (Straits Times, 7 January 2004). Lastly, leadership style seems to be playing a crucial role in the governance scenario. Goh’s “open and consultative” mindset allows NGOs to participate in government decisions through the main gate, permitting them to partake — albeit attempting to co-opt them — in the established political arena. Can one predict what the future prospects for NGOs will be? Theoretically one can do so by looking at experience gathered until now, and empirically, researchers must continue monitoring and investigating whether the growing space will be maintained. At least for now, developments have shown that NGOs have moved from service delivery to advocacy activities. For example, environmental groups have, in many cases, more professional expertise than the government and are utilizing this as a means to pursue their agendas on what they consider important social issues. Moreover, in fieldwork undertaken by Tanaka, all interviewers maintained that the significance of civil society and its representatives is growing quickly. It is one of the goals of this study to investigate if this is the case by looking through the lens of three environmental NGOs and their work. But, given the institutional structure, can it be said that the relationship is unequal? Not necessarily, as things are evolving and both sides are learning 147

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to deal with each other and make the most of that relationship. NGOs’ perceptions of the role they play in society and the relationship they have with government is that there are many ways they contribute to the development of a healthy society and, thus, they should pursue the goals sought after by their founders and members within the constraints set for them by the system (Chan 1995c). Of course, there is no uniform opinion across NGOs on how they perceive they can influence government, or uniform strategies to further goals either. Differences are marked across policy sectors (I (6) 29 November 2003, Appendix XII). Shigetomi (2002) argues that the concrete way in which NGOs manifest themselves in a country is determined by three factors. First are the “characteristics of NGOs” influenced by their ideological orientations, members’ profile, and financial means. Second is the “economic space” allowed to them when goods and services are not available or affordable in the market or provided by the state, and thus need to be provided by, what he calls, traditional community channels. Lastly is the “political space” allowed to them, or their ability to influence policy and the distribution of resources the state is unable to provide or ineffectively doing (Shigetoni 2002, p. 10). At this juncture of the discourse, an analysis of how this applies in practice would be precipitative. For now it is sufficient to say that in Singapore the demand for NGO services is small and restrictions to their activities are strong. Lim (Chan 1995c) mainly states three roles at which NGOs find themselves able to contribute to society development. First is that of checking the government. By criticizing government policies and presenting alternatives, NGOs exert a certain pressure on the government, keep it accountable, and monitor abuse of power. Second, is their role in alternative thinking. No one holds the only solution in an era in which, through the effects of globalization, issues are many times beyond government control. Listening to diverse views and considering them in an integrated manner seems the prudent way ahead for any modern government. In the Singapore case, the government continues policing every aspect of its citizens’ lives. This has contributed to NGOs sharpening their wits to find loopholes where influence is still possible and to develop a non-confrontational way of intervention. Third, is their role in spreading information. In their areas of expertise, NGOs have become important data banks which they utilize in educational programmes. This seems to be an area where the government welcomes help, and where Singaporean NGOs are contributing to teaching self-reliance to the population. They act as feedback mechanisms from grassroots to government and as sources of analysis and research. 148

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A Disciplined Governance Approach to Organizations and their Mutual Relations From the above discussion and in contrast with the characteristics the governance approach envisions for organizations and their mutual relations, that is, one of partnership, the nature of the relations between government and non-government organizations in the Singapore context resembles more a patronus-libertus type of relationship. The formal act of liberating a slave in Roman times created a new relationship between the manumissor or patronus and the freed slave, libertus, which was equivalent to that between a father and a son. The libertus owed respect and gratitude to his or her patron who had obligations extending to supporting him or her in times of scarcity, and looking after his or her children in case of necessity. The patron could punish an ungrateful libertus with summary punishment, in the first years of the Empire, and with relegating him from Rome at the end. In any case, patronus (i) and libertus (i) were never equal partners. In the Singapore case, this study argues that organizations of government remain hierarchical and serve without really fostering participation and teamwork as envisioned by the governance approach to governing. Organizations of civil society in the “disciplined governance” order are co-opted and subordinated by the state, while also retaining a limited space for semi-autonomous action.

GOVERNANCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY To identify the types of interactions resulting from the engagement of government and NGO actors, and the type of governance order resulting from these interactions, one needs to understand not only the domains in which governance occurs and the organizations within these domains, but also the characteristics of the policy sector under study. The following section looks into Singapore’s environmental politics’ characteristics. With a land area of 692.7 square kilometres, a population of 4.19 million (2003 estimates) (Singapore Data Sheet 2004; Asian Development Bank 2004) and a coastline of 193 kilometres, Singapore is the smallest country in Southeast Asia (World Fact Book 2002; World Development Report 2003). The island plays a crucial role in manufacturing, trade, and service activities, and as with all city-states that are highly urbanized, densely populated, and depending on limited natural resources, Singapore presents a unique case of environmental governance. Relevant environmental issues are those pertaining to pollution (“brown issues”) from industry, urbanization, and the protection of the few remaining undisturbed nature areas (“green issues”). Challenges 149

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related to these issues are maintaining a pollution-free urban area, clean marine waters, and protecting the few remaining nature areas from lucrative development. Despite these challenges, on the face of it, Singapore can be considered a city that has achieved world-class environmental quality standards. This can be attributed to policies and programmes put in place by the Ministry of the Environment (ENV) since its establishment in 1972, currently enshrined in the Singapore Green Plan 2012 (SGP, 2012),15 to the city-state’s environmental law, and to the work of small, “quiet” but dedicated NGOs that help monitor pollution and the indices of nature. Yet, policies, programmes, and legislation are not without problems. Especially in issues relating to nature conservation, differing opinions appear with the government facing housing and other developmental needs, and conservationists trying to save the few natural resources that are left on the island. A “disciplined governance” approach to governing conceptualizes environmentalism as: A management system concerned with protecting or conserving nature, for the sake of economic development and the benefit of human kind.

So how has Singapore fared in balancing environmental protection and economic development? In other words, how has Singapore approached the goal of sustainable development or the development that “meets the needs of today’s generation without hampering the coming generations to meet their own needs?” (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987).

Policies, Programmes and Problems The first environmental agency set up in Singapore was the Anti-Pollution Unit (APU) established in 1970 under the Prime Minister’s Office. In 1972 the Ministry of the Environment (ENV) was set up to look after issues of sanitation, public health, and water pollution prevention. In 1983 APU and ENV merged. In July 2002 the National Environment Agency (NEA) was established with the brief to look after environmental policy implementation. Together, ENV and NEA manage environmental planning and preventive control and the enforcement of legislation. The problems ENV and NEA face in implementing policies are multiple.16 Land scarcity, air and water pollution, handling and management of toxic wastes, waste and wastewater management, and controlling vehicular emissions appear most pressing. Land scarcity and the consequent challenges for land use are important issues. There is not enough land to provide buffer zones between industrial 150

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and residential areas. There are two major solutions provided. One is to consider environmental controls as a factor in land use planning. The sequence usually follows that the Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA)17 consults ENV, then ENV checks the impact of new developments and compatibility with surrounding land use. ENV, if it deems it necessary, imposes pollution control requirements and may require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for major developments and polluting industries. The second solution is to establish building controls, a factor considered after development has been granted planning approval. The sequence in this case is as follows: the developer is required to submit plans to the Building Control Division (BCD) of the Public Works Department (PWD) and to ENV (Technical Department of Central Building Plan Unit) that checks it for incorporation of pollution abatement facilities. It is in policies related to land use where controversies between NGOs and government agencies arise. Briffett and Ho of the Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) (2002) argue that Singapore’s environmental planning, assessment, and management appear successful if one looks at the policies and programmes that are in place for abating pollution (“brown issues”). Yet, the question is whether those processes are adequate for nature conservation in the long run. They maintain that it is evident that at present efforts are insufficient, expertise is deficient, and the importance of nature conservation is hardly stressed. In Singapore it is perceived that nature is to be saved for its own scientific value alone and, thus, it is only of interest to life scientists. But environmentalists argue that the issue of saving nature for future generations is equally important as indigenous nature areas are part of a country’s heritage. Because Singapore is a signatory of, and has ratified, the Convention on Biodiversity, nature conservation recommendations appear in the Singapore Green Plan (both 1992 and 2012), but have yet to be implemented. While it may be the case that environmental management and technology are actively pursued in Singapore, this is done through end-of-the-pipe approaches concerned with cleaning up rather than with preventing and foreseeing damages to the natural environment through development. Briffett and Ho (2002) suggest that planning should mediate between protection of the natural environment and the development of land. They propose three stages in planning. First, strategic planning (of the whole country) that offers the earliest possible opportunity for the environment to be registered as an issue of importance and expressed alongside other policy concerns. As government planners may have limited knowledge and expertise in ecological conservation, they should opt for obtaining information from other government departments 151

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or from non-governmental experts. As part of this strategy, the selection, design, and location of large infrastructure works and installations should be considered with the environment in mind. The location of environmentally unfriendly developments such as landfills and sewage treatment plants should be carefully considered to avoid negative environmental impact. The second stage they suggest is regional planning (of a particular district or region, as districts are known in Singapore). According to Briffett and Ho (2002), regional planning is undertaken by planners at the URA with their work being undertaken, in an ad hoc manner, by people with various levels of expertise and interest in environmental conservation, thus resulting in piecemeal planning approaches. The third stage Briffett and Ho (2002) propose is local planning. Although guidelines are used for land use, plot ratio, building height, urban design, urban conservation, road networks, etc., owners and developers tend to ignore issues that necessarily emerge from such guidelines such as soil condition, vegetation, wildlife habitats, etc. But before decisions are made and permits issued, there is no way for the public or interested NGOs to look at plans and comment. Greater transparency and more educated concern for the planning process are needed. At present, they argue, opportunities for conservation are lost with expensive landscaping substitutes that are by far inadequate for the area they are planted. Another issue of concern related to land policy is the lack of mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) (Straits Times, 16 August 1992). EIAs are now widely used worldwide to forecast the scope and intensity of a development project’s impact on natural resources, but are not required by law in Singapore. EIAs aim at raising awareness of all those involved in the planning and development process (Briffett and Ho 2002). They are decisionmaking tools bringing environmental considerations into the project development process. They are not the sole tool used to determine whether a project should be terminated, modified, or allowed to go ahead. Rather, they are used alongside other tools available to planners like cost-benefit analysis, reports on the social and political implications of the project, and scientific and technical reports (Straits Times, 12 September 1992). Briffett and Ho (2002) argue that using EIAs will improve the processes of the environmental assessment facet of the existing planning system. They also argue that EIAs help determine the scope by identifying impacts and issues, that is, critical factors such as type of development and ecological impact are to be considered. Thus, they involve drawing up a list of all possible impacts to identify significant ones. Besides determining the scope, EIAs facilitate participation. In fact, public participation is one of the tenets on which EIAs rest. Practices elsewhere have shown that public involvement

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at the early stages of the development process not only facilitates acceptance by stakeholders affected by the project, but also taps on the community’s know-how. In Singapore, public participation in planning and development is limited. In recent years “it is suggested that increased opportunities are identified for responsible groups to comment on proposed developments. The development guide plan process of a public forum system could perhaps be usefully extended by circulating development plans, for all individual developments occurring in close proximity to existing nature areas, to appropriate professional groups and responsible NGOs for comment” (Briffet and Ho 2002, p. 102). Together with land scarcity, issues related to air and water pollution are also pressing. The approach that the ENV takes is the “polluter pays” principle for emissions (air) and effluents (water). There are mainly four policies to address this problem. First is the monitoring of air and water quality. Air is monitored through telemetric networks established in fifteen stations linked to a control station positioned at the ENV. The standards established are those approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Water of streams and rivers is monitored on a monthly basis at ten water sampling points in the Straits of Singapore and the Straits of Johor. The second policy established to ensure water and air quality is preventive control as part of planning. Third is the enforcement of, and checking on compliance with, the Clean Air (Standards) Regulations and the Trade Effluent Regulations for water. The final policy is to clean the Singapore River and Kallang Basin that was initiated in 1977 to establish a ten-year programme. On this front, the government was successful in phasing out duck and pig farms and monitoring the waste disposal of hawkers and vegetable farmers. The third area of concern besides land scarcity and air and water includes the control and handling of hazardous and toxic waste that is on the increase due to development. Policies applied here are those related to hazardous substances control, such as the enforcement of the Poisons Act and Poisons (Hazardous Substances) Rules, and those related to toxic waste control through the administration of the Environment Public Health (Toxic Industrial Wastes) Regulations that require industries collecting and disposing of such waste (including hospitals) to acquire a licence before operation. Of great concern is wastewater treatment. With few water resources, the storage and maintenance of water facilities is of enormous importance to the city. The policies in this respect relate to prohibiting industries generating pollution to be within the perimeter of water catchment areas. Moreover, polluted water like domestic wastewater, industrial effluent, and farm wastewater that constitutes ninety-nine per cent of sewage water are

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collected and treated at six centralized treatment works plants before being flushed out to sea. Other issues where policy is in place are those related to vehicular emissions. The government has set up policies to improve engine and fuel quality. Policies have become more stringent as time goes by. For example, in 1984 Singapore adopted the U.N. Economic Community European Regulation number 15 (UN/ECE r.15.03) now known as the Consolidated Emissions Directive (CED) of the European Community and the Japanese Emissions Standards. In 1991, diesel vehicles were regulated by the UN/ECE Regulation n. 24. 03. In 1992, Carbon Monoxide Emissions were also regulated through the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 86.410-80 (for motorcycles). Finally, there are matters relating to solid waste collection and disposal. The ENV collects domestic and trade rubbish daily, including Sundays. Street cleaning is carried out by seven Environmental Health Offices scattered throughout the island. Large commercial and industrial waste is contracted out to licensed operators under ENV supervision. Due to limited landfill capacity there are three incinerators that burn eighty-five per cent of waste, all of them equipped with flue gas cleaning services. Iron collected is recycled, ashes are disposed to landfills, and energy produced is used for electricity. The landfills are in Ulu Pandan (1980), Tuas (1986), and Senoko (1992). There are two other policies in place related to solid waste disposal. The first is waste minimization through segregation and recovery at housing estates started in 1990. The second is the green labelling scheme that labels products that are environmentally friendly. To tackle the five areas of concern, in 1993 the first Singapore Green Plan (SGP93) was formulated. The Plan outlines broad strategies for action and is operationalized through Action Plans. In 2001 the government undertook a revision to the plan under the title, Singapore Green Plan 2012, which welcomed public input and was released in August 2002 (Ministry of the Environment 2002 and Straits Times Interactive, 19 October 2002). The SGP 2012 claims to take a “holistic and long term view of the environment with an attempt to underpin our economic activities with the principle of sustainable development” (NSS Feedback on SGP 2012, 2002). The strategy is multidimensional (education, technology, conservation, etc.) and takes into account Singapore possibilities: economic feasibility, scarcity of land, and desirable environmental standards. It defines sustainable development as economic and industrial growth not at the expense of the environment (Ooi 1995). Thus, the latest government response to the challenges of sustainable development is also enshrined in the SGP 2012 that comes ten years after the first SGP was drawn up and as a response to the programmes and action plans 154

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adopted at the Johannesburg Summit (2002). SGP 2012 outlines key measures and targets in areas of waste management, nature conservation, air, water, health, community partnership, international cooperation, and innovation. The Minister of the Environment, Lim Swee Say, makes Singapore’s commitments to sustainable development in the Foreword to SGP 2012. After the world community recognized in 1992 (Rio Earth Summit) the need to pursue sustainable development and the Johannesburg World Summit reaffirmed it, Singapore decided to: … continue supporting the capacity building efforts of fellow developing countries in the area of human resource development even as we learn from other countries’ best practices in sustaining a quality living environment […] the Singapore Green Plan sets out our responses to the challenges of sustaining a quality environment while pursuing economic progress […] Addressing sustainable development is like aiming at a moving target: It is not enough to adjust policies to present-day realities; we have to anticipate change and be ready to respond to challenges of tomorrow. We will continue focus on sustainable development, coupled with good governance and forward planning (SGP 2012, 2002).

Table 3.7 presents a summary of SGP 2012’s main areas and targets. The first draft issued by the Ministry of the Environment in November 2001 was circulated in the community. NSS made comments and recommendations to the draft in January 2002; these are discussed later in this chapter when talking about NSS views on government policies and programmes.

Legislation Environmental framework laws and provisions as well as problems and issues pertaining to legislation itself and to its implementation are introduced by Tan (1998). Singapore has three levels of legislation: a) the Constitution of the Republic, b) Acts enacted by Parliament and c) Subsidiary Legislation (in the form of Regulations and Orders) issued by Ministers. The Singapore Constitution carries no provisions on the environment. Singapore does not have a framework law on environmental protection and management. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are required by law but only in certain projects at the ENV’s discretion. Therefore, current environmental law provisions are found in various Acts and Regulations with environmental litigation being almost unknown. Thus, Tan argues, environmental protection in Singapore is almost exclusively administrative 155

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TABLE 3.7 SGP 2012 Areas and Targets (excluding public health targets) Area

Target

Waste Management

• Raise overall waste recycling rate from 44% to 60% • Extend the lifespan of Semakau landfill to 50 years, and strive towards “zero landfill” needs • Reduce the need for new incineration plants from the current one of every 5–7 years, to one every 10–15 years

Conserving Nature

• Keep nature areas for as long as possible • Verify and update information on indigenous flora and fauna through biodiversity surveys • Put in place new parks and park connectors • Set up a National Biodiversity reference centre

Clean Air

• Strive for the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) to be within the “good” range for 85% of the year, and within the “moderate” range for the remaining 15% • Meet 60% of Singapore’s electricity needs through use of natural gas • Extend use of natural gas beyond public buses and taxis • Enhance public transportation as an attractive alternative to private cars

Water Supply

• Increase catchment areas from 50% to 67% of Singapore’s land surface • Increase supply of water from non-conventional sources such as desalination and water reclamation, to at least 25% of Singapore’s water demand • Ensure that water quality meets international standards

Community Partnership

• Set up public education on environmental protection and nature conservation • Strengthen joint 3 P (public, private, and people sector) ownership of environmental concerns • Continue to work closely with ASEAN neighbours on common environmental concerns

International Collaboration

• Increase capacity-building partnerships with developing countries • Intensify collaboration with partners at regional and global levels to tackle environmental challenges • Remain committed to international environmental efforts and obligations under international environment treaties

Innovation

• Enhance environmental management industry in Singapore through greater use of technology • Stay at the forefront of innovation and adopt best practices from the world to achieve environmental sustainability

Source: Singapore Green Plan 2012, 2002, p. 23. 156

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in nature (See Appendix I: Major Environmental Laws in Singapore; Tan 1999, p. 502). There are two general categories of environmental legislation. The first deals mainly with the regulation of wastes and emissions from industries, hospitals, households, and vehicles, and constitutes pollution control laws. The second category deals with the protection of natural habitats and wildlife, and constitutes nature conservation laws. But what are the problems Tan (1999) identifies in relation to legislation per se as well as to its implementation? First is the dilemma of dispersed authority versus centralized planning and implementation. There are many agencies involved in environmental matters and the enforcement and administration of at least twenty-four pieces of environmental legislation is also scattered throughout various departments other than the ENV. For example, nature conservation policies and legislation come under the Ministry of National Development while planning matters fall under the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The problem of dispersed authority is partially mitigated by Singapore’s comprehensive and integrated planning process that brings together representatives from all agencies involved in the process. Moreover, interfacing between agencies is a common practice. Besides, Singapore’s small size facilitates rapid and rigorous enforcement of laws. Thus, the problem of dispersed authority is offset by the highly centralized planning and implementation process that is certainly facilitated by the citystate’s small size and the strong, one-tier government. With regards to planning, the Concept Plan is the main document outlining land use policies for the whole country that is then implemented in each district through fifty Development Guide Plans (DGPs). DGPs are coordinated by the Master Plan Committee where agencies like the URA, HDB, National Parks Board (NParks), ENV, etc. are represented. Environmental considerations were taken into account when drawing up the DGPs and include issues like identifying land uses that affect the environment (i.e. areas for highly polluting and hazardous industries), possible areas for nature conservation, maintenance of land used as landfills or incineration, etc. Despite the relative efficiency of the centralized planning system which, as said before, offsets the problem of dispersed authority and the lack of a framework environmental law, various groups are calling for the setting of an “umbrella” legislation. This will certainly improve coordination of policy formulation and implementation. Tan (1999) identifies a second dilemma, land scarcity versus protection of natural areas. The Singapore Green Plan (SGP) outlines general guidelines for nature conservation, which in Singapore, comprises five per cent of total land, including nineteen nature sites and four coral reefs. The SGP also 157

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includes the protection of “managed nature or urban landscaping”. To date, only two National Parks and four Nature Reserves are protected by the National Parks Act (see Appendix II: Singapore Green Plan). NGOs have been active in making the argument that in Singapore, due to its highly builtup area, it is all the more important to protect the little undisturbed wildlife and natural areas remaining. Third is the issue of lack of the legislation to make EIAs mandatory. Although EIAs have been required for highly polluting development projects like petrochemicals, incinerations, etc., the process is still left to administrative discretion and the praxis has been to require them only for pollution control purposes. Thus, there are areas of high biodiversity value that will easily be developed if a housing estate or even a golf course is planned. Finally, no legislation exists to govern soil contamination with the consequential danger of contamination of groundwater or leaching, although the Jurong Town Corporation in charge of industrial estates requires companies to decontaminate their sites before leases are renewed or ended. Lye (1997) also argues that while Singapore has achieved world standards in terms of environmental hygiene and level of urban landscaping, most of its vegetation is cultivated rather than natural, with the few remaining natural spots being under threat from development and lack of legal protection. Although the Singapore Green Plan 2012 committed five per cent of land for nature conservation, only three per cent is legally protected. It is argued that since the Singapore Government made a commitment by presenting its Green Plan at the Rio Summit, as the “trustees of Singapore’s nature areas for future generations” it should deliver to future generations what it has promised (Briffett and Ho 2000). In summary, it appears that calls for a framework environmental law that will facilitate coordination and added emphasis on nature conservation are the issues that occupy the environmental agenda at present. The linkage between the specific attributes of environmental politics and policies with the governance debate is made through queries relating to the nature and viability (sustainability) of modern industrial societies, the structure of political institutions for environmental protection and nature conservation, their ideologies, and their ability to recognize and act on ecological problems, issues of citizens’ empowerment, and so on.

Environmental NGOs It comes as a surprise that when searching through the National University of Singapore (NUS) Library Catalogue, one finds the link heading “Singapore 158

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Environment Policy — Citizen Participation” but without publications attached to it.18 Thus, this is one more reason why embarking on this research is both theoretically and empirically significant. With the literature silent on theories and concepts about the organizational nature of Singapore’s NGOs in general, and environmental NGOs in particular, much of what is revised in the following pages is drawn from empirical studies occasionally grounded on theory. Unlike in Chapter Two, where when dealing with organizations, this book referred to NGOs’ general organizational issues, in this chapter, after the brief introduction already made to Singapore NGOs, the discussion focuses on organizational characteristics of environmental NGOs. The argument is that at the country level it is more relevant to focus on organizations related to the specific policy sub-sector than to make a broad presentation of the whole third sector. The specifics of the three NGOs involved in the case studies, namely, the Nature Society of Singapore (NSS), the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), are discussed in subsequent chapters, together with the respective cases in which they were involved. Tan (1998) argues that environmental NGOs have shown a fair degree of activity in recent years, acting often as bridges between the government, industry, and the community. It is commonly believed that Singapore does not have environmental movements. For example, Allen (Mekani and Stengel 1995, p. 289) affirms this “in the sense of broad coalition of urban or rural citizen action groups fighting against pollution, environmental degradation or the inequitable allocation of natural resources”. Groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and WWF are not present in Singapore. Mekani and Stengel (1995) argue that with the exception of the NSS and SEC, there are no independent environmental NGOs that are concerned mainly with environmental issues. The impact of the NSS is evident when some of the Society’s proposals were incorporated in government policy. Although the NSS has lost some battles, proposals such as the setting up of a bird sanctuary in Sungei Buloh (1986–89), the Society’s own Master Plan (1990) being partially incorporated into Singapore’s Green Plan, and the putting on hold of the Lower Peirce Reservoir golf course development following an EIA submitted by the NSS (1990–92), are clear victories. The SEC also played a catalytic role in raising awareness among stakeholders when it held the International Dialogue on Indonesian Forest Fires in 1998 (Poh 2002). In Singapore there are other NGOs that incorporate the environment as one among their often multiple interests, but are not considered environmental NGOs. These range from organizations connected to the Zoo to Cathay 159

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Pacific and the Scout Association, but they are not included in the directory drawn up by the ENV or SEC that defines environmental NGOs as groups that have been formed voluntarily, with the aim of preserving the environment. In general, these groups are not political pressure groups aiming at lobbying the government, but are rather working towards raising awareness and proposing well-researched alternative policies when they think the environment is jeopardized at the expense of development. But how do Singapore environmental groups differ from Western concepts of environmental NGOs? Western scholars usually classify NGOs either as “insiders” or “outsiders”, with the former having access and direct links to government and being consulted as experts, and the latter working independently by trying to create public opinion against government proposals in order to purport change. Mekani and Stengel (1995) contend that by these standards Singapore environmental NGOs are clearly “outsiders”, that is, they are not internal actors in the policy process, and do not fit the “insiders” confrontational style either. In this case, they claim, we would need to agree with Allen’s argument that in Singapore there are no broad environmental coalitions fighting against degradation or for nature conservation. But as it was also discussed in Chapter Two, NGOs are changing in nature and style and while trying to preserve their autonomy, they are finding new ways of partnership and cooperation with government to make their case. Perry, Kong and Yeoh (1997, pp. 221, 225) corroborate Mekani and Stengel’s (1995) positive outlook on the role of environmental NGOs. They maintain that although in many policy sectors, the government plays a big role in defining the agenda and identifying solutions to problems at hand, the environmental sector “is one where a few environmental NGOs and near NGOs have featured in recent years, if not challenging the government’s agenda then at least by participating in it”. Thus, they maintain that environmental NGOs have a significant role to play, not in agenda-setting, but as connectors between the government and the private sector. They agree with Mekani and Stengel (1995) too that an Asian style of non-government activity founded on cooperation rather than confrontation is the only practicable way to work with government and obtain the public’s endorsement. The only exception they make is the often controversial environmental issue of nature conservation, but here they also think “soft pressure” on government will produce best results. However there are critics to this way of thinking, like Kong (1994) who affirms that environmental NGOs like the NSS are approached by the government for opinion, but are left out in the cold when it comes to defining and negotiating the nature of the problem. Thus, Kong classifies 160

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environmental groups in Singapore, including the NSS, as “insiders”, that is to say, they have certain access to public officials but must play by their rules. From this position their influence in agenda setting is largely constrained. Kong expresses it saying: “the group is cast in the role of providing information [before a government-led committee]. It is not defining and negotiating the nature of the problem. The group becomes one voice among many. When the committee hearings are over, the committee becomes the new experts and authorities on the subject. The environmental group has lost itself in the process, and it is the committee report that defines the issues” (quoted in Mekani and Stengel 1995, p. 225). Thus, Singapore does have people who care for the environment, but what has emerged here is a style of non-confrontational NGO activity that has to be evaluated by its success in achieving its objectives, rather than by the style it utilizes. In the 1992 Singapore’s National Report, it is stated that “the Asian style of environmentalist action has tended to conduct [in camera] private dialogue sessions among NGOs, the relevant government authorities, and corporate or business entities, leading to moderate compromise solutions in a ‘give-and-take’ atmosphere” (Singapore 1992, p. 51). Mekani and Stengel (1995, p. 297) argue that a proactive and conflicting approach by environmental NGOs can be justified on the basis of neglect of the environment or outright destruction of natural resources by the government. They claim that this is not the case in Singapore as the government “… has been championing environmental issues and … there is hardly any indiscriminate environmental destruction that is not taken seriously by the authorities. Under such circumstances, a non-co-operative and destructive attitude on the part of NGOs would be a sign of immaturity, narrow-mindedness and pig-headedness rather than of the democratic spirit” (ibid.). They claim that for environmental NGOs to operate effectively in Singapore, the government’s endorsement is also required by citizens as these tend to be rather suspicious of new groups and reluctant to get involved with, or support their activities. Although they admit this is part of a mentality created by years of top-down governing style, they think that it is nevertheless a real mentality that will not change overnight. They also admit that criticism of the work of government agencies is not taken as an additional tool employed in the process of decision-making, but rather taken personally leading to serious tensions. For example, the NSS has been clear in its publications that the government’s efforts are acknowledged and that they just want to contribute to the decisionmaking process. This does not mean that there are no opposing views 161

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between the government and environmental NGOs. The disagreements usually relate to nature conservation versus development, or loopholes in legislation that disfavour nature while favouring unrestrained development. Mekani and Stengel (1995, p. 299) arguably maintain that environmental NGOs have to realize that “material[istic] issues [goods] as well as controlled and managed environments are currently preferred by the public than a seemingly chaotic natural environment and mere intangible values such as nature appreciation”. Lastly Mekani and Stengel (1995, pp. 299–300) have the following recommendations to make to environmental NGOs: • • • •

• • • • •

Be constructive, not destructive; Use your expertise; Do your homework or what is called “constant revision of positions and updating of data”; Use the existing channels such as grassroots organizations, unions, consumer associations, the army, religious bodies, to educate the public on environmental awareness; Be professional, but not insensitive; Be clear and precise; Be pragmatic and flexible; See companies as allies not enemies; and Be firm, but not dogmatic, vocal, but not noisy.

Mekani and Stengel (1995) think that environmental groups have an important role in protecting the environment as the government needs to roll back and the private sector needs to take on more responsibility for issues that affect people’s lives. The challenge, they acknowledge, is how to work in a cooperative style without losing one’s identity, how to oppose government proposals without being censored, and how to go on existing without becoming redundant or unable to survive due to saturation of human and financial resources.

Environmental Government Agencies The nature of a particular bureaucracy is not only linked to the system of government and the society in which it operates (Cheung and Scott 2003, p. 151), but also, arguably, to the substantive policy in which it is involved. The characteristics and capacity of the agencies involved in the three case studies chosen in this book will be discussed in detail in the respective case 162

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studies’ chapters. These are: the Ministry of National Development (MND) and two of its statutory boards; the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the National Parks Board (NParks); the Ministry of the Environment and its two statutory boards, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the National Environment Agency (NEA).

A “Disciplined Governance” Approach to the Environment While a governance approach to environmental protection favours the environment being a winner, that is, successful in lobbying for protection and conservation due to policy outcomes being mostly the result of inclusion of stakeholders in the policy process and allowing space for environmental activism, the idea of “disciplined governance” sees many issues of environmental protection and nature conservation being diffused, with the environment and its champions’winning some skirmishes but normally losing the overall battle. And this is despite the efforts the Singapore state has made in protecting the environment with appropriate policies and programmes and transforming the city-state into a Garden City. These ad hoc outcomes are due to factors that will be discussed in detail in the individual case studies. In general, a development versus ecological view still prevails, hampering nature conservation and environmental protection in many cases. Following the same structure utilized in Chapter Two, this chapter has contrasted the existing literature on governance, on governance domains (state and civil society), on the organizations within these domains (government and non-government organizations), on the relation between the two, and on a governance approach to the environmental sector with the realities of governance dynamics in Singapore in the last two decades. After the exposition of each concept, each of the propositions was revisited such that the discourse on the “disciplined governance” model begins to take shape. The next three chapters further strengthen this conceptualization in more specific terms through the analyses of three cases of environmental conservation.

Notes 1

2

As in the general discussion in Chapter Two, the terms “state” and “government” are also used interchangeably in this chapter. Here such usage is even more warranted as, since 1959, the state in Singapore is de facto the PAP government. In July 1987, sixteen people from militant catholic movements for social justice and human rights were arrested and imprisoned in the Whitley Road Detention Centre under allegations of being involved in a “communist plot” (Far Eastern Economic Review, 2 July 1987). 163

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Cited in Hill and Fee 1995. Actually it is Tao Te Ching’s dictum translated by D. C. Lau 1963, p. 60. Cited in Hill and Fee 1995. Quoting Asiaweek, 25 November 1999. As was the case in Chapter Two, the terms “civil service” and “bureaucracy” are used interchangeably. This figure excludes the 55 statutory boards’ personnel, totalling 50,000 (Ho 2000, p. 164). The Commission was headed by Sir George Rendel and was charged with “a comprehensive review of the constitution of the Colony of Singapore, including the relationship between the Government and the City Council, and to make such recommendations for changes as are deemed desirable at the present time” (Tan 1999). In 1995 the PUB was corporatized with the exception of its water supply operations (Jones 1999). Some of these provincial associations had strong links with Communist China. Triads or “black societies” also thrived. In January 2004 the Council on Governance of Institutions of Public Character was set up, aimed at making the charities more transparent, better governed. The Chairman and Members of the Council are appointed by the Ministry of Finance and chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development and Sports. This is an added control framework on NGOs (Press Release joint MCDS and MOF, 24 January 2004). The Societies Act defines societies as any club, company, partnership and association of ten persons or more whatever its nature. The Registry of Societies Electronic System (ROSES) states the eligibility criteria (Ministry of Home Affairs 2004). See Chapter Four for positions Simon Tay holds across various statutory boards and NGOs dealing with environmental and nature conservation policies. The first Singapore Green Plan drawn up was in 1993. Discussed in detail later in this chapter. The ENV and NEA will be discussed in detail in Chapter Four in relation to the role they played in the Sungei Buloh conservation episode. The URA is also discussed in detail in Chapter Four. Searched during the February 2003 fieldwork.

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Reproduced from Governance, Politics and the Environment: A Singapore Study by Maria Francesch-Huidobro (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior The Power ofofPersuasion permission the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available165 at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

4 THE POWER OF PERSUASION: CONSERVING SUNGEI BULOH

INTRODUCTION This chapter analyses the decision made between 1986 and 1989 to preserve the Sungei Buloh wetlands from development and its implications for subsequent nature conservation campaigns. What makes this narrative a powerful empirical case to support and illustrate the study undertaken here is that it constituted the first instance of government-environmental NGO engagement in the public sphere. This resulted, against all odds, in the protection of a nature area — the first since Singapore’s independence in 1965 (George 2000, p. 141). Looking at this case under the light of the theoretical framework and conceptual notions of the governance approach to governing (Chapter Two), as well as the conceptual notions that emerged from analysing the realities and practices in Singapore (Chapter Three), this case effectively illustrates a “disciplined governance” approach to governing that is further elucidated in the other two cases discussed in Chapters Five and Six. The conservation of Sungei Buloh not only transformed the Nature Society (Singapore), from a “hobby to a lobby” group, empowering it for successive campaigns, but also brought about organizational changes and modifications in the way various government and related agencies began to approach NGOs’ advocacy and opposition to policies, and to manage what was to become an inescapable collaborative manner of governing.

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BACKGROUND The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) is a microcosm of cultural and natural history springing from its traditional agricultural practices and natural value.1 The Reserve is situated northwest of Singapore (West of Kranji Dam) within an area of 318 hectares of wetlands, mature mangroves and fish farms (see Appendix II: Singapore Green Map 2000 and Figure 4.1 below). FIGURE 4.1 Sungei Buloh Environs

Source: Hale et al. 1987. Reproduced with the kind permission of Nature Society (Singapore). 166

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In 1989, as a result of the Malaya Nature Society (MNS-NSS) advocacy work, eighty-five hectares2 that were initially zoned as an agro-tech park were designated by the Ministry of National Development as a nature park. Between 1989 and 1993, the site was developed so that it could be more conducive to migratory shorebirds to roost and feed in (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004). The park officially opened on 6 December 1993. On 1 January 2002, Sungei Buloh was gazetted as a nature reserve and renamed the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. A chronology of Sungei Buloh’s conservation history is presented in Table 4.1.

TABLE 4.1 Sungei Buloh Conservation: Chronology of Events • 1986, Richard Hale chances upon Sungei Buloh. He brings it to the attention of MNS (now NSS) Bird Watching Group. Three months after Hale’s discovery, the government announces its reclamation for high-tech agriculture. • October 1987, six members of the MNS write a proposal to the government calling for its conservation. • January 1988, three months after the MNS proposal, the government announces it will be conserved as a bird park. • 1988–93, Parks and Recreation Department (precursor of National Parks Board) develops Sungei Buloh in consultation with Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (U.K.), Jurong Bird Park, World Wide Fund and MNS. • 1989, 85–87 hectares of the wetland site are designated as a nature park. • 6 December 1993, PM Goh Chok Tong officially opens the nature park to the public. • 1994, Sungei Buloh welcomes its 100,000th visitor. • 1997, Sungei Buloh is sponsored by HSBC, which sets up the Sungei Buloh Education Fund to support nature and outreach programmes. • 1999, Woodlands Secondary School becomes the first school to adopt the park. This is followed by the Commonwealth Secondary School in 2001, and Hillgrove Secondary in 2002. • 10 November 2001, Minister for National Development, Mah Bow Tan, announces that Sungei Buloh would be one of two parks gazetted as Nature Reserves. • 1 January 2002, 130 hectares of Sungei Buloh are gazetted as a Nature Reserve and renamed Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR). • 7 December 2002, SBWR is recognized as a site of international importance. Wetlands International presents a certificate to commemorate its entry into the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Site Network. • 18–20 February 2003, the 6th Shorebird Working Group Meeting of 19 government and NGO participants from 11 countries is held. Sources: Nature Society 2004; Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004; (I (15) 27 January 2004, Appendix XII); Ecologyasia: Singapore 2004; Singapore Green Plan 2012, 2002, p. 11. 167

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Today, the Reserve is an important stopover and breeding ground for migratory birds3 and home to herons, kingfishers, doves, and others. The Reserve’s Scientific Department monitors species and populations regularly. The number of species has increased from 126 in 1990 to 169 in 2003 (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004). Particulars of the site are given in Table 4.2. The Reserve is currently managed by a team of eight officers from the National Parks Board (NParks): one Assistant Director, two Senior Outreach Officers, two Outreach Officers, one Senior Conservation Officer, and two Conservation Officers (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004; National Parks Board 2004). It publishes a quarterly magazine, Wetlands. On its 10th Anniversary on 6 December 2003, a commemorative book was launched. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve — A Decade of Wetland Conservation attempts to capture the past decade of conservation and education at the Reserve. Sponsored by the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the TABLE 4.2 Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Particulars of site

Location: 1 degree 27’N, 103 degrees 43’E, NW Singapore Area: Wetlands c.29 ha. total designated c.85 ha. Altitude: sea level Area of degraded mangroves which has been almost entirely cleared for construction of prawn culture ponds, but with better stands of mangroves on the small adjoining island of Pulau Buloh. The whole area adjoins former farmland which was abandoned at the end of the 1980s. The ponds are fed by inflow, which is tidal and run off from the adjacent areas, and vary in depth from 0–2 m. The tidal range is 3.2 m. Reverted to the State under the resettlement scheme. In late 1980s proposed as bird sanctuary, education and research centre. Currently a designated Wetland Reserve. 139 species of birds, or about 42% of the Singapore avifauna have been recorded. 44 species of waterbirds and high counts of around 5,000 have been recorded. A mature stand of mangroves on Pulau Buloh, the only one in Singapore.

Description of site

Land tenure and use

Fauna

Flora

Source: Compiled from NSS Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature 1990, pp. 101–02 and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004. 168

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book highlights recent achievements such as its being gazetted as a nature reserve, its recognition as a site of international significance for migratory shorebirds by Wetlands International, its acceptance as a member of the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Site Network in late 2002, and its organizing the Protected Area Wetland Management Course for the ASEAN region in 2003 (National Parks Board, 6 December 2003). To fulfil its objectives, such as conservation, education, recreation and research, the Reserve organizes activities with schools like coastal clean-ups, mural paintings, nature guides, and so forth. The Reserve counts on the Sungei Buloh Volunteers in Reserve Service who are involved in education programmes, ground and reserve maintenance, and scientific studies.4 In addition, HSBC — the Reserve’s sponsor — runs the Young Naturalists badges programme5 (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004). But how did its conservation come about?

NGO PROPOSAL AND GOVERNMENT RESPONSE Malayan Nature Society (MNS) Proposal In 1986, Sungei Buloh was chanced upon by Richard Hale, an avid birdwatcher and today a member of the Nature Society of Singapore (NSS)6 (I (15) 27 January 2004, Appendix XII). On discovering the site, he introduced it to members of the MNS who had neither heard of it nor seen it. Three months after the “discovery”, the government announced that “the whole area was going to be reclaimed for hi-tech agriculture” (I (15) 27 January 2004, Appendix XII). So, in 1987, Hale persuaded five other members of the Society to put together a proposal for conservation. In his words: Six of us got together. The next thing was to actually send a brochure to every single Member of Parliament and every single civil servant. But more importantly, it was trying to get hold of people who had the right contacts at the top, not to get them to lobby, but merely to explain to them the idea telling them what we were trying to do. That this was part of our heritage and that it was going to have an educational role; if we let it perish there is nothing left. Eventually we submitted the proposal, in October, and nothing happened. Then, three months later, sometime early 1988, the government announced that they had the bright idea of creating a bird reserve of 90 hectares. I think the instructive thing is the way we got it; through engagement and an informal approach. I have to say that this was in Singapore’s best interest. It was not just a small number of people [who were interested] that is why it succeeded (I (15) 27 January 2004, Appendix XII). 169

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Newspaper reports of the subsequent months confirmed Hale’s account. One reports that the proposal to conserve the area was made by the Bird Group Conservation Committee of the then Malayan Nature Society in October 1987 in view of the fact that the zone was scheduled to be developed under the Master Plan for Agro-tech development (Straits Times, 9 April 1988). The MNS argued that such a development could be combined with that of a tourist attraction showing new agro-technology in addition to traditional agriculture. Their proposal was to conserve all 318 hectares of land in the site. They claimed that the significance of this area was that it contained the last wetland bird species, mature mangroves, and coconut plantations of Singapore. Moreover, they argued that it had 139 bird species (or 42 per cent of all species) of which 40 were wetland birds, mainly herons and egrets. Furthermore, the area had been a favourite haunt of Singapore birdwatchers; its importance as a sanctuary for birdlife was increasing each year as other sites were overtaken by development. The MNS claimed that although this aspect alone could justify its preservation for future generations, Sungei Buloh had the potential to be much more than a bird sanctuary. If properly conserved and managed, they suggested, it could become a unique feature of Singapore, offering educational opportunities for the young, a glimpse of the “alternative” Singapore for tourists, and a living museum of enduring interest for residents (Hale et al. 1987). At the time of the proposal, and later in 1990 as part of the Society’s Master Plan for Conservation of Nature proposal, the MNS also claimed that there were existing and potential disturbances to the area. These were accidental effluent discharges from the proposed agro-tech and aqua-tech farms to be located in the surrounding areas; depletion of ground water drawn by these farms that could negatively affect freshwater habitats; and trespassing by fishermen, bird-catchers, and other hunters. Besides its recreational and educational value, the MNS considered the research potential and scientific interest of the site. The area could contribute to research into the migration, life history, and behaviour of mangrove-associated animals, especially birds. In its Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature, the MNS agreed that the designation of Sungei Buloh as a bird sanctuary was adequate for the present, but also argued that its long-term existence could be enhanced if it was designated as a nature reserve or wetland listed under the RAMSAR Convention.7 The Society recommended that: The management plan being prepared should allow for the correct control procedures to be implemented. This is to ensure that water levels are maintained and that a regular tide movement occurs to sustain 170

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ecosystems for the propagation of fish and marine life. As this site is likely to cater to a large number of visitors in the future, special care is needed to control numbers, provide guides, avoid abuse, prevent camping within the site, and minimize captive breeding introductions which may upset the prevailing natural balance (Nature Society Singapore 1990, p. 103).

Thus, the MNS proposal sought to provide the following (Hale et al. 1987): •



• •

In liaison with the Science Centre and school teachers, broad-based educational facilities for local students and others undertaking field studies in biology and other environment-related disciplines; Areas of habitat especially managed to increase their attractiveness to the wide variety of flora and fauna already found there, and to increase this variety, with special emphasis on birdlife; Promotion of the concept of environmental conservation among the general public of Singapore; and An attraction to a type of tourist already numerous in Europe and the Americas, who is interested in birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat rather than in captivity.

The plans proposed were for the initial stages. The proponents expected that recurrent costs and most of the capital expenditure could be met through corporate donations and sponsorship.

Government Response In response to the well-researched and feasible proposals made by the MNS in October 1987, S. Dhanabalan, then Minister for National Development, announced in April 1988 that 85 hectares of a total of 318 hectares of mangrove area next to Kranji Dam would be preserved from development. In terms of agricultural practices, only low intensity prawn farming would be allowed, he added (Straits Times, 9 April 1988). He explained that the government decided against conserving the whole 318 hectares proposed by the NSS because land allocation had to be done rationally, taking into consideration competing needs, planning evaluation, and cost. He also argued that in giving up 85 hectares, the government was suffering economic loss, but it had decided to do so because it “wants to preserve an important part of our natural heritage” (Straits Times, 9 April 1988). The rational allocation of land is a “hard headed but not hard hearted approach”, he added (Straits Times, 9 April 1988). Subharaj, representing the MNS, welcomed the decision, 171

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arguing that ideally the conserved 85 hectares should be along the coast as this was necessary for the conservation of birdlife (Straits Times, 9 April 1988). The same news report also elucidates the mindset of the government when it comes to land allocation. The driver of the decision is cost. When cost is a concern, if more than one proposal is equally acceptable, then they, the proponents, have to compete for the land on the basis of what the market will pay for either use. But the government says that being paid the market value is not the only criterion in determining allocation of use. The need for sports, recreational facilities, or housing will determine allocation. But even when paid the market price, the government will not allow a polluting industry to set up its business in an area affecting nature (Straits Times, 9 April 1988). On 19 February 1989, in an official ceremony attended by the then First Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, the then Minister for National Development, Dhanabalan, and Tay, the then Minister of State, the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation,8 announced the project was to be undertaken at a cost of S$8.5 billion over the next two years, with the expected date of completion to be in 1991. The plan then was that ten prawn ponds in the area, already acquired by the government, would be leased to the NSS. The NSS was then interested in maintaining the ponds9 and launched an education programme to create greater awareness of nature conservation. However, these plans never materialized. During the launch, Goh, Dhanabalan, and Tay were made life members of the NSS at a fee of S$600 (Straits Times, 19 February 1989). The site eventually opened to the public in 1993 (Straits Times, 21 September 1993). The delay was purely administrative and not due to hesitation in going ahead with the plans. It was also due to the fact that the government decided to construct facilities such as walkways and watching towers gradually, so as to minimize disturbance to birdlife (I (7), 12 January 2004, Appendix XII). In Parliamentary Debates of 1990, general issues of land allocation were often debated and the conservation of Sungei Buloh mentioned as a case in point. The then Minister of State for National Development, Peter Sung, mainly addressed the issue from the perspective of the Concept Plan10 review of 1991. This was to be undertaken in two phases: first, by identifying critical land use areas for housing, industry, commerce, defence, recreation, and transport, and second, by examining the allocation of these land uses across the country. He affirmed that ministerial reviews found that: With proper planning and greater efforts to optimize the use of land, we have sufficient land to accommodate a population of 4 million people. 172

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If the economy continues to grow and if the need arises, we can reclaim land and this will increase our present stock of land of about 62,300 hectares by another 15 percent. This additional land that may be reclaimed is tantamount to 13 Ang Mo Kios.11 Then a greater variety of parks will be developed. Some natural areas will be preserved. These would include the Pasir Ris Mangrove Park and the Bird Sanctuary in Sungei Buloh (Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 7, 1, 55, 4, 14 March 1990).

A few days later in an “Oral Answers to Questions” Parliamentary Session, to the question asked by MP Chew Heng Ching on whether the MND was to step up efforts to develop more leisure and recreational facilities, particularly on offshore islands, the then Senior Minister of State for National Development, Lee Boon Yang, answered: “Apart from new developments, natural areas of high environmental quality have been safeguarded for the enjoyment of the public. For example, we will preserve the mangrove park in Pasir Ris and the bird sanctuary in Sungei Buloh” (Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 7, 1, 55, 7, 19 March 1990). Perhaps the most significant debate on the Sungei Buloh episode took place on 29 March 1990 when the Second Reading of the National Parks Bill was undertaken. In his speech, the then Minister for National Development Dhanabalan, addressing MP Dr Koh Lip Lin’s request to consider preserving a nature reserve by the sea, affirmed: He will be glad to note that we have set aside an area in Sungei Buloh of about 85 hectares, to develop a bird sanctuary. This is an area which is at present used for prawn farming. We basically intend to leave the area as it is with some very minor developments to provide visitors easy access, and it would be an attractive bird sanctuary. The programme will be completed by July next year. It is an area where many migratory wetland birds now come twice a year and I think some of us may have been there and have seen very attractive bird life. So this area will be preserved as a bird sanctuary. It will be managed by the Singapore Bird Park people because they know best how to manage this type of area. So we have provided another nature reserve near the sea (Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 7, 1, 55, 15, 29 March 1990).

On the broad issue of land allocation for nature, the most revealing arguments put forward by the government with regard to their policy approach to the dilemmas compounding land use are found in Column 1065 of Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 7, 1, 55, 15, 29 March 1990 and Columns 1325 and 1326 of Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 8, 2, 173

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62, 15, 18 March 1994. In response to MP Ng Pock Too’s concerns about the negative impact certain activities carried out by government agencies have on nature reserves, Dhanabalan argued: Members must concede that in land scarce Singapore, multiple land use is a national necessity. Certain activities have to be allowed in the Nature Reserves. This Bill12 of course, will enable the Board to have the power to manage the Nature Reserves properly and to mitigate potential dangers posed by such activities and avoid irreversible negative impact on the Nature Reserves. SAF13 men who use the Nature Reserves for various exercises think that as long as they do not damage the trees or the bushes they do not do any damage (Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 8, 2, 62, 15, 18 March 1994).

Mr Ng also asked whether some of the areas in the nature reserves could be used for golf courses, to which Dhanabalan replied: I think this is the hope now. Everybody is interested in golf. We are, of course, constantly looking for areas that are not usable for other economic uses to be put to recreational use, such as golf. But we must realize that golf courses are no substitute for the intrinsic value that a natural stand of forest trees can provide. In developing a golf course, the established trees must of course be removed and the whole natural condition of the area has to be completely changed. It will be wrong to think that as long as we keep the area open for catchment purposes, it does not matter what kind of vegetation we have there. Having said that, we are looking at parts of the Central Catchment area which can be converted to golf courses, especially where we can justify the golf courses as a buffer between the forest and the built-up areas. So to the extent that we can do this without affecting the nature of the Nature Reserves, we will do so (Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 7, 1, 55, 15, 29 March 1990).

Four years later, in 1994, Lim Hng Kiang, Acting Minister for National Development, argued: Let me take up nature conservation. We have set aside 5% of our land for nature areas. This is a significant portion of land set aside considering Singapore’s small size. We are prepared to set aside land for nature conservation but the bottom line is that we have to be pragmatic and 174

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we have to strike a balance between nature conservation and the socioeconomic needs of Singaporeans. So setting aside 5% of our land area, or approximately 3,000 hectares, is already a very significant move. The identification of these areas was done by the work group of nature conservation, which had the representation of a cross-section of Singaporeans, set up to select a list of nature areas. 19 nature areas which represent a good coverage of the natural habitat in Singapore were selected. I know there is some unhappiness why Senoko and a few other places were not included. Let me just take Senoko as an example. The Nature Society of Singapore wanted the Ministry for National Development to conserve 168 hectares of land in Senoko because they argue that it is very good habitat for birds and other species. Let me give a history of the area. This was not a nature area for 100 years and, therefore, we ought not to preserve it. In fact, this area comprised an old ex-British forces’ land which the government had taken over. Part of the land was also farming land which the government had acquired for housing, and part of it was State land occupied by squatters. So 20 years ago, this was the composition of the land. In the 1980s, we were about to embark on building the industrial estate in Senoko; there was a recession and, therefore, the plan was put on hold. So while the plan was put on hold, the birds came, other species came and have “squatted” and claimed ownership of the land. Meanwhile, we are building an MRT line with a MRT station very close to this area. If we are to keep 168 hectares of land for a bird habitat, it would mean taking away housing for 17,000 units. So if the Nature Society of Singapore can give me a petition to take 17,000 applications for upgraders from my waiting list, then we will keep the Senoko land and keep it for the birds. But with the pressing needs of Singaporeans, I think Singaporeans’ needs come before birds. We have conserved Sungei Buloh Bird Sanctuary and Khatib Bongsu (Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 8, 2, 62, 15, 18 March 1994).

Public response supporting the conservation project showed in letters to the editor, with some rather poetic ones. Referring to the report on the measures to preserve a site in Sungei Buloh as a bird sanctuary, one contributor is glad that: Singaporeans will finally have the pleasure of hearing the beauteous and melodious chirpings of birds in their natural surroundings with the introduction of Sungei Buloh Bird Sanctuary, I hope that Singaporeans will do away (with) keeping birds in cages. We should create more of 175

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these bird sanctuaries and strive to become true birdwatchers (Straits Times, 4 March 1989).

In 1998, on the fifth anniversary of the opening of Sungei Buloh, Koo Tsai Kee, Parliamentary Secretary (National Development), had this to say: Sungei Buloh Nature Park is a testament to NPB’s effort at promoting nature conservation and increasing nature awareness. This 87-hectare park is not just the only wetland nature park in Singapore; it is also one of the largest conservation projects. It has been argued that our parks, being man-made, do not exemplify nature conservation. Sungei Buloh Nature Park, however, is a fine example of man working in harmony with nature (Speech by Koo Tsai Kee, 5 December 1998).

In 1999, Sungei Buloh’s conservation was threatened by an NParks proposal to provide recreational activities like boating and fishing (Straits Times, 4 August 2000). The NSS opposed it. On this occasion, the campaign took the form of an e-mail appeal urging conservationists to write to the NParks opposing the plans. This created a temporary fissure between the NSS and the NParks, which traditionally have partnered in conservation projects. This also brought about the resignation of the then President of the NSS, Professor Khoo Hong Woo. In June 2000, Dr Geh Min, incumbent NSS President, was elected. The NParks’ proposal was never implemented (I (17) 29 January 2004, Appendix XII). The gazetting of Sungei Buloh as a nature reserve in January 2002 confirmed the government’s resolution to give legal protection to land purposely set aside for conservation: Legal protection is given to key representative sites of Singapore’s major indigenous ecosystems. To date, Singapore has gazetted four sites as protected Nature Reserves. They are the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Labrador Nature Reserve (Singapore Green Plan 2012, 2002: V).

Sungei Buloh was initially managed by the Parks and Recreation Department of the Ministry of National Development. At the time, there was also a statutory board under the MND, the Nature Reserves Board, with responsibility for the two then gazetted nature reserves: Bukit Timah and the Central Catchment (Singapore 1989, p. 239). On 6 June 1990, Sungei Buloh was placed under the administration of the National Parks Board,

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established then under the National Parks Act (Cap. 198A) that came into force after the repeal of the Nature Reserves Act (Cap. 205). The new statutory board was also responsible for the management of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Fort Canning Park, and the two nature reserves. The Parks and Recreation Department remained in place with responsibility for “greening the city and planning and constructing new parks and green open spaces (Singapore 1991, p. 158; Singapore 1992, pp. 160–61). In 1996, the Parks and Recreation Department and the NParks merged, with all tasks being allocated to a new statutory board also called the National Parks Board (Singapore 1998, p. 270). Currently, the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve remains under the management of the NParks, which is also the authority advising the government on development proposals and on management policies for the gazetted nature reserves and designated nature areas. Since then, the area has been a popular destination for nature lovers, conservationists, and educational institutions. But how did contextual, policy, and organizational factors affect government-NGO relations in this case?

GOVERNANCE IN ACTION: CONTEXT, ORGANIZATIONS AND PLANS Context and Policy The political climate of the time, the existing expertise, possible swings in administrative and political culture, and the global and social values of the period are all factors affecting the setting up of a distinctive policy. Timing is arguably a reason for success or failure (Francesch 2000). This study argues that global governance contexts and trends clearly influenced approaches to governing and relations between state and civil society actors in Singapore at the time the decision to conserve Sungei Buloh was made. Globally, the more consultative modes of managing public affairs which began to characterize the late 1980s, already discussed in Chapter Two, clearly influenced the way governments approached decision-making. Locally, the second half of the 1980s were years of preparation for leadership succession, culminating in Goh Chok Tong’s premiership in 1990. Soon after the decision to conserve Sungei Buloh was made, and as it was being developed as a wetland reserve, Professor Tommy Koh commented that “the new Prime Minister has a more consultative style and prefers to arrive at decisions by

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consensus. Will the new Prime Minister bring about changes only in the style of governance or in substance?” (Singapore 1991, p. 2). Seven institutional arrangements put in place at the time the Sungei Buloh debate was underway are indicative of this clear trend towards greater openness in the political system. These arrangements were the establishment of the Nominated Members of Parliament, an elected President, a freer press, new receptivity involving the private sector, and the establishment of the Association of Muslim Professionals and the Town Councils (Singapore 1991, p. 2).14 Under the “new receptivity and involving the private sector” campaigns, independent civil society groups could flourish so long as they were sensible. The NSS, before government eyes, seemed a credible prototype of civil society. Nevertheless, the fact is that politicians of the time, although admitting the government was now more open to feedback in general and to conservation issues in particular, disagreed that the decision to conserve Sungei Buloh was catalytic or representative of a change in governing style. For example, a former Minister for National Development argued that conserving Sungei Buloh was not really part of any particular “national campaign or new governing trend” (I (7) 12 February 2004, Appendix XII). It was more related to “the fact that in the second half of the 1980s the second Singapore Master Plan, gazetted in 1993, was being drawn”.15 He clarified: At that time we always looked at the issue of how to use land. We were forecasting a population of 5 million or more and we came to the conclusion that our reclamation will give us sufficient land to house people. [We realised] we did not need to use the land in the old part of Singapore, as we initially thought we would. Many old houses had already been cleared16 and the intention was to knock them down, but when we did a study we found we could preserve them. We also realized we neither [sic] needed to develop abandoned agricultural land (I (7) 12 February 2004, Appendix XII).

Perhaps what is most interesting in this discussion on environmental governance is what follows: So, partly it was a conscious decision but we could make the conscious decision because of a series of fortuitous events which resulted in the place being preserved. We came to the conclusion that we had enough land and could afford some of the things in the past we thought we will not be able to afford (I (7) 12 February 2004, Appendix XII).

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The belief that nothing fundamental had changed in government thinking on development versus conservation priorities was reiterated by the incumbent Minister for National Development, Mah Bow Tan, in 2002. In an interview with the Straits Times on the subject, he affirmed that feedback from the public on, in this case, preserving the National Library Building, went unheard as the area needed to be developed to accommodate a new campus for the Singapore Management University: On the other hand Chek Jawa17 was not developed and URA was able to find an alternative site for the Defence Ministry. Has there been a change in our thinking? No. What has changed is the environment as people are more aware of natural and cultural heritage and the government is also more aware and accommodative of people’s requests (Straits Times, 15 January 2002).

But he added: Because Singapore will always be short of land … no matter how high we build or how far down we go underground, there is still a limited amount of land that we have … Chek Jawa is not so much a turning point in government policy as it is a “good model of public consultation at work” (Straits Times, 15 January 2002).

With the public providing detailed information on the biodiversity of the area and the government willing to be brought into the discussion to find alternative sites, the outcome was positive, he added. But Mah could not help saying: the government is always open to feedback but it always wants to take the pragmatic point of view. When there is congruence of all these forces there will be a good outcome (Straits Times, 15 January 2002).

If government officials thought that global and national contexts and mindsets did not influence the decision to preserve Sungei Buloh, NSS members argued that the catalyst for conservation was the way they went about their campaign. One member affirms: “It had nothing to do with context. It was purely a question of how we went about it” (I (15) 27 January 2004, Appendix XII). To substantiate his point he adds: The Society’s prior lobby to save Serangoon Estuary failed. Previously, when they were making the Jurong Industrial Estate, that too was a

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wonderful nature area but at that time, as far as I know, there was nobody with a powerful voice, and anyway, at that time everything was subordinated to industrialization. For Serangoon we tried to write to newspapers and there were people who were interested, but the trouble is, most of Singapore was not interested (I (7) 12 February 2004).

What is instructive about these arguments is that while denying contextual factors, both government and non-government actors — when arguing about the causes that brought about Sungei Buloh’s conservation — implicitly admit changes in the internal dynamics of their organizations and in the rules of engagement of state and society actors. Only with time would these changes, which are clearly perceived by this researcher, become apparent to them, too. If context matters, it is often the characteristics of the policy sector per se or the specific programmes of a particular place and time that determine decisions. The decision to conserve Sungei Buloh was influenced by international and regional, mainly ASEAN, landmark policy developments in environmental protection and nature conservation (see Table 4.3 for a chronology of landmark events). For example, the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, was published in 1987, the same year the proposal to conserve Sungei Buloh was made by the MNS.18 In the last few years of the 1980s, preparations were also underway for the 1992 Rio Earth Summit in which Singapore participated. Nevertheless, as a former Singapore Minister for National Development argues, “it is difficult to draw a general connection between what was happening in environmental politics in the world and in Singapore” (I (7) 12 January 2004, Appendix XII). But he agrees that since the mid-1980s, following international trends, Singaporeans have become increasingly conscious of the need to protect the environment. Reflecting this popular perception, politicians too have begun to look at nature conservation projects more sympathetically. All this has happened despite the fact that the government has always remained highly conscious of Singapore’s land scarcity. Often, decisions taken amidst competing demands may not please the purest environmentalists. Global incorporation of the principle of sustainable development that takes account of economic, social, and environmental considerations for the present and future generations also appears to have influenced decisionmakers’ approaches to environmental protection and conservation. The same former Minister for National Development stated that the government tries as much as possible to balance environmental, economic, and social needs, especially when there are social reasons to conserve the environment; that is, 180

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Source: Compiled by the author from ASEAN 2004.

• 1972 ENV is set up • • 1986 NSS proposes conservation of Sungei Buloh • • 1988 Ministry of National Development announces Sungei Buloh • to be preserved • 1989 Sungei Buloh designated as a • Nature Park by the Ministry of National Development • • 1990 NSS publishes its own Master Plan for Conservation of Nature • • 1992 Government publishes its first Green Plan • • 1992 Singapore Resolution on Environment and Development • • 1992 Lower Peirce Reservoir development as golf course put • on hold after EIA by NSS • 1993 Sungei Buloh Nature Park opened • 2001 Sungei Buloh gazetted as Nature Reserve • 2002 Sungei Buloh designated as Wetland

Singapore Environmental Protection and Nature Conservation Landmarks 1981 Manila Declaration on the ASEAN Environment 1984 ASEAN Declaration on Heritage Parks and Reserves 1984 Bangkok Declaration on the ASEAN Environment 1985 Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources 1987 Jakarta Resolution on Sustainable Development 1990 Kuala Lumpur Accord on Environment and Development 1994 Bandar Seri Begawan Resolution on Environment and Development 1997 Jakarta Declaration on Environment and Development 2002 ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution

ASEAN Landmark Events • 1972 Stockholm Conference • 1987 Brundtland Report, Our Common Future • 1992 Rio Earth Summit • 2002 Johannesburg World Summit

International Landmark Events

TABLE 4.3 Singapore, ASEAN and International Environment Landmarks: Chronology of Events The Power of Persuasion 181

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not only for itself but to give an opportunity to our own people to appreciate nature and creatures in the wild (I (7) 12 January 2004, Appendix XII). He further argued that the environment plays a role in educating people: People do not get educated by what they read, or hear, or watch on TV but by what they see around them. We have put a lot of emphasis on creating as much greenery as possible in order to make it more habitable, more conducive for people to rest because most of them live in high rise apartments and need breathing lungs. So when Sungei Buloh came up, people — decision makers — were prepared for it (I (7) 12 January 2004, Appendix XII).

In the case of Sungei Buloh, according to the same former Minister for National Development, it was mainly affordability that prompted the decision to conserve it: There are many things we want to do but we cannot afford [to]. But because of our commitment to conserve the environment [in the MND], we stretched our argument of affordability. Sungei Buloh was not a wild area, it was settled by people and it was actually an agricultural and fisheries economic area. The place was cleared because it had no proper sewage, electricity … if we would have adopted the policy that was adopted in the 1960s or 1970s, we would just have filled up the area with houses but we did not need the land immediately so the area was available and migratory birds were coming on their way down South (I (7) 12 January 2004, Appendix XII).

Coupled with affordability, the same former government official argues that it was also the mindset of politicians then serving in the MND who influenced the decision. He elucidates his argument by affirming: The mindset of politicians influences decisions. Unless the matter is so important that it requires the whole Cabinet to decide, normally it is the Minister who makes the decision. In the case of Sungei Buloh I do not remember going to Cabinet, I was committed to preserve the environment and I preserved it (I (7) 12 January 2004, Appendix XII).

Organizations and Plans As Cheung (2003, p. 151) argues, the nature of a particular governmental or non-governmental organization is not only linked to the system of government 182

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and the society in which it operates, but also to the substantive policy in which it is involved.19 A former Minister from the MND affirmed that the late 1980s and early 1990s were years of high growth and government restructuring: We did not plan Sungei Buloh but those were the days of high growth and the money that was required [to develop the area] was not too much. When Sungei Buloh started, organizationally we went through many changes. We then had the Botanic Gardens under the MND and we had the Parks and Trees20 Department. So initially, the development and management of Sungei Buloh was put under the Parks and Recreation Department until the NPB was established in 1990. There was talk it was going to be under the management of the Jurong Bird Park and also discussions that NSS could manage it, but that was changed. NSS had no resources and Jurong Bird Park is a commercial venture that together with the Zoo comes under Temasek Holdings, thus it plays an entirely different role (I (7) 12 January 2004, Appendix XII).

Arguably, the conservation of Sungei Buloh acted as a powerful catalyst for government restructuring that eventually reflected the recognition of the relationship between national development, land use, and nature conservation. That is, shortly after the decision to conserve Sungei Buloh was made in 1989, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the National Parks Board were established in 1989 and 1990, respectively, and strategically placed under the Ministry of National Development’s portfolio (see Appendix III: MND Organizational Chart). Equally, relations between the major government actors and the MNS were affected by the generally more consultative governance policy of the 1980s.21 In the interview, the same former Minister for National Development affirmed: NSS actually prepared a document recommending the area to be preserved. The report was made at the right time because we were beginning to consult the public more. We were beginning to come to the conclusion that we should tap the talents and views of the private sector. I think that if NSS had come in the early 1980s, they would not have got a chance. It was a combination of favourable events. It would be nice to say that someone thought of the whole thing and it was implemented, but life and policy are not like this (I (7) 12 January 2004, Appendix XII).

Thus, the agencies to which submissions were made by the MNS (NSS) were the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Ministry of the 183

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Environment (ENV) in its capacity as decision-maker for environmental policy, although it had no direct remit in relation to land use and nature conservation policies. In Table 4.4, the two Ministries involved, their corresponding functions, Departments/Divisions and Statutory Boards under them, some of which were created soon afterwards, are diagrammatically presented. The data are for 2004. Two other agencies involved in the debate, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Nature Reserves Board, which in 1990 merged to form the National Parks Board (NParks), no longer exist.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) As mentioned, the MND and two of its current statutory boards, the URA and the NParks, were the main government actors involved in the preservation of Sungei Buloh. To better understand the MND’s capacity, it is appropriate to look at its position within the government machinery, as well as at its vision, mission, history and the resources it commands now and especially at the time of the conservation episode. Established in 1959 as the most important tool for national development planning, the MND today ranks eighth among the fourteen-member Cabinet line-up (Singapore Government Directory: The Cabinet 2004; Quah 2004).22 The MND is responsible for the physical development of the city-state through long-term land use planning and infrastructural development. Its portfolio comprises areas such as land use and development planning, urban redevelopment and conservation, public housing, the construction industry, provision of parks and urban landscaping, conservation of nature areas, food safety, and animal and plant health. To accomplish its mission, the MND — through the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) — uses the Concept Plan23 as its principal instrument. The MND’s vision is “a home for our people”, or for a population that is projected to reach 5.5 million in the next forty to fifty years, and “a global city of distinction of tropical characteristics”. Its mission is “to create the best physical and living environment for building a robust economy, vibrant city and cohesive communities” (Ministry of National Development 2004 ). In the MND’s 2002 addendum to the President’s Address, Minister Mah Bow Tan spelled out the MND’s future challenges and strategies. These boiled down to optimizing land use, adopting a lighter regulatory touch, upgrading the construction industry, keeping public housing affordable, and ensuring other aspects of a quality living environment such as a food supply and recreation avenues. Of interest to this study and to the conservation of Sungei Buloh is how the MND envisions land use policies. Singapore’s limited size drives decisions on zoning, lease tenures in government land

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TABLE 4.4 Government Agencies Involved in the Sungei Buloh Case Ministry

Functions

*National Development Responsible for physical (MND) 2004 (8th place development: provision of in Cabinet hierarchy) public housing, urban redevelopment, public – Minister works, primary production, – Minister of the State parks and recreational – Senior Parliamentary facilities. Secretary – 1 Permanent Responsible for state and Secretary city planning, development – 2 Acting Permanent and building control, car Secretaries parks management, and – Deputy Secretary the import and export of – Deputy Secretary agricultural and animal (Special Duties) products. Regulating the maintenance and management of buildings and common properties, controlling the development of infrastructure in urban and rural areas, promoting the expansion and improvement of construction capabilities, research and collation of statistics on the building industry and the property sector. *Ministry of the Environment (ENV) 2004 (10th place in Cabinet hierarchy) – – – –

Responsible for the protection and improvement of the environment, pollution control, food control, the Minister provision of environmental Senior Parliamentary public health services and Secretary health education. Acting Permanent Secretary Deputy Secretary

Divisions/ Departments Infrastructure Division Planning and Research Unit Corporate Development Division

Statutory Boards Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority Building & Construction Authority *National Parks Board

Computer Information Systems Department

*Urban Redevelopment Authority

Strategic Planning Division

Housing Development Board

Housing Division

Corporate Development Division

National Environment Agency (NEA)

Corporate Communications & International Relations Division Strategic Policy Division Infocomm Technology Division

Source: Compiled by the author from Singapore 1989, 1991, 1992, 2003. MND, ENV, and NEA. Websites 2004. *Directly involved in the Sungei Buloh case study or created soon afterwards.

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sales, and land reclamation. As the MND’s Minister put it, “In order to meet the increasing demand for land, MND will also continue our land reclamation programme from our territorial waters” (Ministry of National Development 2002). Such policy clearly conflicts with the visions of nature conservationists. This policy is currently also receiving objections from Malaysia on political and ecological grounds.24 The MND’s stated policy on the preservation of the natural heritage is currently aimed at establishing an inventory of nature areas and ensuring that studies are carried out before development (Ministry of National Development 2004). Landmark developments in the MND that are directly relevant to the study on the interface between state and non-state actors are those that took place in the early 1990s. Two examples are the establishment of the URA in September 1989 after the merger of the Planning Department, the Research and Statistics Unit, and the then existing Urban Redevelopment Authority, first established in 1974 (Foo 1992, p. 116), and the fostering of private sector participation by inviting professionals to the April 1989 dialogue on the Draft Master Plan for the Urban Waterfront at Kallang Basin, and to the October 1989 dialogue on HDB’s Upgrading Programme (MND Annual Report 1989, p. 11). The year 1990 also saw the completion of Phase I of the Concept Plan Review25 with preliminary findings indicating that Singapore could easily accommodate four million people in the existing land available. This was the year in which the National Parks Board (NParks) was also established to manage the Botanic Gardens, Fort Canning, and the nature reserves. The purpose of the nature reserves was also defined as a reserve for wildlife and plant conservation, and a resource for education and outdoor recreation. The preservation of Sungei Buloh was announced that year too (MND Annual Report 1990, p. 11). The early 1990s saw another landmark in land use planning and a new reason for conservationists to be concerned. The reclamation of Marina Bay and Tanjong Rhu was started with its completion expected in mid-1994 at a cost of S$317 million. The project added 38 and 5.6 hectares of land to the two sites respectively (MND Annual Report 1991, p. 12). Organizationally, besides a Minister, the MND counts on the leadership of a Minister of State, a Senior Parliamentary Secretary, one Permanent Secretary, two Acting Permanent Secretaries, one Deputy Secretary and one Deputy Secretary (Special Duties). Besides the five main divisions dealing with infrastructure, planning & research, corporate development, strategic planning and housing, the Ministry heads seven statutory boards: the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Development Board, the Building & 186

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Construction Authority, the National Parks Board, the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority, the Board of Architects, and the Professional Engineers Board (Ministry of National Development 2004; Appendix III: Ministry of National Development Organizational Chart).

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) The URA is a statutory body under the MND established in 1989 under the URA Act (Cap. 340). The Agency is in charge of national land use planning and conservation (of built heritage). Its importance within the government machinery is due not only to its position within the government hierarchy under the MND portfolio (strategic planning division), but also to its command of human and financial resources and to the extensive scope and important activities under its auspices. Its role is not only substantive due to its major public service and economic importance, but also political due to the political underpinnings of land use (Foo 1989, p. 111). Its mission statement since 2002 has been “to make Singapore a great city to live, work and play” (URA Annual Report 2001–2002, p. 2). This is accomplished by planning and facilitating the physical development of the city “in partnership with the community, to create a vibrant, sustainable and cosmopolitan city of distinction” (URA Annual Report 2002–2003, p. 6). Thus, the URA’s challenge is to provide a planning design that maximizes limited land resources, or 682 square kilometres of total land area, to meet present needs and ensure there is sufficient land for future development, while maintaining living quality (URA Annual Report 2002–2003, p. 6). The URA’s approach to land use and planning is best expressed in the following statement: Take a small island like Singapore, with an area of just 680 square kilometres. Then make sure there is sufficient land set side for industries, infrastructure, water catchment and military needs. There must also be room for 800,000 more homes, to add to the current one million. At the same time, offer Singaporeans quality living: by carving out more parks and greenery to soften the city’s hard edges, by preserving quaint neighbourhoods like Joo Chiat and Anak Bukit to give the city character and keep its heritage, and by offering exciting new lifestyles. That sums up the challenges planners at the Urban Redevelopment Authority have to grapple with, the juggling act they have to master, as they come up with strategies to make the best use of Singapore’s most limited resource: land (Urban Redevelopment Authority 2003). 187

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This approach is operationalized through three tools used in the planning process, namely, the Concept Plan, the Statutory Master Plan, and the Urban Design and Conservation Plans. These are explained and graphically represented in Figure 4.2. Physical development is actualized through planning and facilitating functions. Planning functions are spelled out in the Concept Plan, the strategic long-term land use plan for the next forty to fifty years, reviewed every ten years; the Statutory Master Plan, the island-wide land use planning instrument reviewed every five years that formulates strategies to translate the Concept Plan’s long-term goals; and the Urban Design and Conservation Plans, which develop urban design proposals and plan for built heritage conservation respectively. Facilitating functions include development controls that process development applications, enforce regulations, and so on; sales of sites through the Government Land Sales Programme; real estate information; development coordination of building projects in specific areas; and car-parks management (URA Annual Report 2002–2003, p. 7). Relevant to this study is a statement made by the URA for the first time in its Annual Report, of “taking a balance approach [that is] mindful to plan sensitively in relation to the natural environment” (URA Annual Report 2002–2003, p. 8). The Concept Plan is the “big picture” that charts Singapore’s long-term land-use concepts and directions for the next forty to fifty years. The focus of the plan has evolved since the first one was drawn up in 1971. At that time, the emphasis was on addressing the basic needs and infrastructure of a new nation. Concept Plan 1991, in contrast, looked at sustaining economic growth and providing a good quality of life. Many of the ideas proposed in that plan are now part of Singapore’s landscape. For example, Singaporeans now have a wider range of housing types from which to choose, from waterfront housing in Tanjong Rhu, once an industrial area, to Punggol 21, a new waterfront town that is planned with a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system right from the start, and new planning ideas such as clustering of community facilities and a common green for each housing estate. Other ideas that have borne fruit include land reclamation, which saw three small islands amalgamated to form the new petrochemical hub of Jurong Island, and the development of regional centres in Tampines, Jurong East and Woodlands HDB estates, which integrate services, shopping, and transport to form significant business and commercial nodes in the heartlands. Concept Plan 2001 strived to create a world-class city in the twenty-first century for a projected population of 5.5 million, up from the current 3.9 million. It promises new homes in familiar places, high-rise city living, more recreation choices, greater flexibility for businesses, a global business centre, and an extensive rail network (Concept Plan URA 2001). 188

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FIGURE 4.2 Flow Chart of Singapore Planning Process

Concept Plan 2001 (revised every ten years) Purpose: Broad long-term plan that guides Singapore’s physical growth Process: Two focus groups were formed and public feedback was solicited through dialogues and surveys Outcome: Public response reflected that people value identity and built heritage which help to link them to Singapore emotionally Comprising the 55 Development Guide Plans (DGPs)

➞ Statutory Master Plan 2003 (revised every five years) 23 July–22 October 2002 Parks and Waterbodies & Identity Plan (Draft) (PWBIP) Public consultation undertaken: a. Subject Groups: Three Subject Groups were formed to study proposals under the PWBIP (SEC, NSS, Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects, etc.) b. General public: URA opened up feedback channels for input c. Stakeholders: For selected nodes under the Identity Plan, discussions with stakeholders were held to debate ideas and issues in greater detail February–June 2003 Master Plan (Draft) The Draft incorporated ideas from the public consultation on PWBIP The Draft was exhibited on a regional basis 10 December 2003 The Master Plan 2003 was gazetted

➞ Urban Design and Conservation Plans Source: Compiled by the author from various sources: URA 2003, 2004: Master Plan 1998, 2003; Concept Plan 1991, 2001. The making of the new Master Plan, Living the Next Lap, URA, no date. 189

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The second tool is generating the statutory land use plan or Statutory Master Plan that involves making decisions on land use, intensity, infrastructure, and transportation. This short- to medium-term plan is reviewed every five years, and brings the broad directions of the Concept Plan down to more localized and specific strategies. The previous Master Plan, gazetted in 1998, was the first one to offer Development Guide Plans, prepared within the Concept Plan’s framework, for each of the fifty-five planning areas covering Singapore. Each plan captures in detail the land use intentions for a particular area, and allows homeowners and business people to respond to changes to site boundaries, revision of land uses and other issues that affect their homes and businesses. The focus then was on identity and quality of life issues with proposals to retain and enhance Singapore’s built and natural heritage. The latest Statutory Master Plan, gazetted in December 2003, comprises five regions, namely West, North, North-East, East, and Central. It focuses on enhancing the way Singaporeans “live, work and play”. The plan was exhibited to the public and their feedback is claimed to have been incorporated in it. Before the Master Plan was drawn up and gazetted, a period of public consultation was allowed where the so-called Subject Groups (SG) comprising professionals, representatives of interest groups and NGOs, and laymen were appointed by the Minister for National Development and tasked to study the various proposals for the plans. They also conducted dialogue sessions with stakeholders and considered public feedback before putting forth their recommendations. Representatives from green groups were among those appointed to the Parks and Waterbodies and Rustic Coast Group such as Dr Geh Min from the NSS, and Professor Victor Savage and Mr Howard Shaw from the SEC. The SG were assigned to look at public feedback in three areas: Parks and Water Bodies Plan and Rustic Coast Proposals; Urban Villages and Southern Ridges and Hillside Villages; and Old World Charm. The SGs this study focuses on are those working in the subject area of Parks and Waterbodies and Identity Plan directly relevant to nature conservation. Recommendations made by SGs were sent to the URA, in its capacity as the land use allocation and planning authority, and to the NParks, in its capacity as the agency responsible for developing and enhancing Singapore’s brand as a Garden City. Both authorities presented responses to those recommendations (Appendix IV: Subject Groups’ Recommendations and URA/NParks Responses to Master Plan). In Table 4.5, extracts from URA/NParks Proposals, Subject Groups’ Recommendations and URA/NParks Reponses in relation to making nature areas in Northern Wetlands, where Sungei Buloh sits, more accessible, are shown. 190

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TABLE 4.5 Making Nature Areas More Accessible — Northern Wetlands URA/NParks’ Proposals Provide new nature parks next to Sungei Buloh mangroves. Allow camping near mangroves.

Subject Group’s Comments and Recommendations

URA/NParks’ Responses

Support the new nature parks next to Sungei Buloh mangroves and keep them as Category A to Category B open spaces.26

The proposal will be incorporated into the Master Plan 2003 and implemented by NParks. The Kranji Nature Trail will be kept largely in its natural state and some basic facilities provided.

Support camping at new nature parks if suitable sites are found but consider waste management and impact of interference with mangrove and wildlife. Provide new nature park at Kranji Marshes

Support new proposal and keep it as Category A or B open space. Provide a buffer along the shorelines of the Kranji Reservoir where possible.

Provide 5 km of broadwalk linking the Kranji marshes and Sungei Buloh.

Support the proposal but allow public access only to the southern 500 m of the 2-km PUB bund, and do not extend the broadway walk across Sungei Jelutong estuary to protect this particularly sensitive area.

NParks will take into account the suitability of sites before campsites are allowed. The proposal will be incorporated into the Master Plan 2003, and the new nature park will be kept in its natural state with facilities such as nature trails. A buffer can be considered by URA if it does not contravene existing developments or compromise operational requirements. Agree with SG’s recommendations as it allows public access with minimum disturbance to flora and fauna. NParks will study appropriate location of hideouts.

Allow inland trails perpendicular to the mangrove coastline leading to the edge of the marsh. Study appropriate locations for hideouts to watch birdlife along the reservoir edge. continued on next page 191

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TABLE 4.5 — cont’d URA/NParks’ Proposals

Subject Group’s Comments and Recommendations

URA/NParks’ Responses

Provide nature trails through Lim Chu Kang farmland.

Support nature trails through the farmland for both recreational and educational value. The trails should have Category B access.

URA will study the details for this proposal with other agencies.

Allow boating on Kranji Reservoir.

Support non-motorized boating, organized by responsible operators. Boats should not go within 50 m of the bund where access is restricted.

URA will work with relevant agencies to identify operators to implement the proposal.

Source: Parks and Water Bodies Identity Plan, Subject Groups Report File 2004.

The gazetted Master Plan 2003 is accompanied by Special and Detailed Control Plans (SDCP) (within and outside the Central Area) which highlight areas subject to special guidelines. These SDCPs, in turn, are accompanied by the Parks and Waterbodies Plan (within and outside the Central Area). As mentioned earlier, this document is relevant to this study and is the one which environmental NGOs involved in nature conservation will look at as it deals with safeguarding the natural heritage by reflecting the proposed green spaces and waterbodies, which, besides parks, include nature reserves and nature areas. The last panning tools are the Urban Design and Conservation Plans. These narrow the planning focus to specific places, such as Chinatown or Orchard Road. In April 2001, for example, a plan was unveiled for Singapore’s premier shopping street that presented ideas on “Making Orchard Road More Happening”. In drawing up the plan, the URA consulted various stakeholders, the Singapore Tourism Board, and architects both locally and abroad. Their efforts would see shoppers enjoying a revamped Orchard Road Mall, with new landscaping, paving and street furniture, more public places with activities to fill them and the new concept of urban verandas on the second storeys of buildings. These, they claimed, would have outdoor refreshment areas and act as covered walkways to bus stops and neighbouring buildings. Organizationally, the URA is headed by a Board comprising one Chairman and eight Members. The Board meets eleven times a year. The Management 192

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Team is headed by one Chief Executive Officer and two Deputy Chief Executive Officers, one for Development Control and Corporate Development and another, the Chief Planner, for Physical Planning, Conservation and Urban Design (Appendix V: Urban Redevelopment Authority Organizational Chart). In the case of Sungei Buloh, as in other cases involving land use allocation, the NSS necessarily interfaces with the URA when areas the Society deems ecologically important are planned for alternative land use and development. The NSS also gets readily involved in the consultation process surrounding the Master Plan.

The National Parks Board (NParks) The NParks is the other statutory board of the MND (under the infrastructure division) established in 1990–91 and re-established in 1996 under the National Parks Board Act (Cap. 198A). At the time the proposal to conserve Sungei Buloh was made, the NParks did not exist in its present form. Its current functions were then undertaken by the Parks and Recreation Department, the former National Parks Board, and the Commission of Parks and Recreation. Yet, the NParks traces its origins to 1967 when the Parks and Trees Unit was formed within the Public Works Department “to help achieve the objective of greening the city” (Personal Communication NParks 7 January 2004). Reconstituted on 1 July 1996, following the merger of the Parks and Recreation Department (PRD) and the former National Parks Board, the NParks claims to be the leading agency in enhancing the quality of life in Singapore (NParks Annual Report 2002–2003, p. 7; National Parks Board 2004). It achieves this through the three goals of recreation, education, and conservation. Unlike the URA, the NParks does not belong to the major public service boards. It is rather small and its functions are rather advisory and regulatory (Foo 1989, p. 107). The years 2002–03 saw an important reorganization of the Board “to align NParks’ role with the Remaking Singapore vision” (NParks Annual Report 2002–2003, p. 5).27 The changes can clearly be seen from modifications to the management organizational chart from August 2002 to August 2003 (NParks Annual Reports 2001–2002, p. 9, and 2002–2003, p. 13). Comments made then by the Minister for National Development, Mah Bow Tan, explain the changes. Mah was of the opinion that the NParks was still involved in some operations that could be better handled by the private sector. Although he did not give details, it was thought that design, development, and management of some parks could be devolved. Yet, standing in the way of devolution was the 193

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lack of expertise in the private sector, especially the lack of trained plant and tree specialists (Straits Times, 27 February 2003). The reorganization also brought about new strategies and goals which the NSS and other NGOs advocating the conservation of nature in the future would need to monitor closely. Strategically, the NParks is committed to contributing to Singapore’s economy by providing sustainable quality green infrastructure and enriching lifestyle opportunities so as to secure Singapore’s competitive edge as the Garden City. The Board intends to leverage the Garden City brand to develop business internationally. But the reorganization saw the creation of the Recreation Management Branch to strengthen the recreational aim of the NParks through programmes in parks, nature areas and reserves. The restructuring also emphasizes developing the horticultural industry with the aim of training 2,500 workers through the National Skills Recognition System (NSRS)28 and establishing the landscaping and horticultural Industry Skills Standard Committee (ISSC),29 with the NParks providing training and certification programmes to upgrade skills in the two specialty areas. Finally, the restructured Board aims at more park development, mainly though schemes that make parks, nature areas, and reserves more accessible to the public. For example, a twenty-kilometre Nature Trail along the MacRitchie Reservoir was completed in 2003. The Cool House and Ginger Garden were developed at the Botanic Gardens with plans in the pipeline to extend its boundaries and create a Children’s Garden (Straits Times, 27 February 2003; NParks Annual Report 2002–2003). Together with the URA, the NParks has also drawn up the Parks and Waterbodies Plan and stepped up plans for roadside greenery through the Streetscaper Greenery Master Plan. It also continued its programme on skyrise greens, expansion of the “Adopt-a-Park Scheme” that counts 139 groups as members, launched the “Park Watch Scheme” that received 400 volunteers, and put in place the Heritage Trees Scheme to protect mature trees, and the Heritage Roads Scheme that has initiated legislative amendments to facilitate conservation and management of green buffers along roads. Moreover, the Board is now offering consultancy to India and China on greenery planning and park management (NParks Annual Report 2002–2003). As the scientific authority for nature conservation, the NParks represents Singapore in international and regional conferences. In 2002–03, it participated in the Sixth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in The Hague. Regionally, it presented the Garden City at the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Association (IFPRA)30 Asia Pacific Congress in October 2002. It regularly participates in and contributes 194

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to, annual meetings of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Conservation. A landmark event in 2002 was the ENV’s launching of the Singapore Green Plan 2012, of which NParks is the Secretariat for its Conserving Nature Committee in which the public, NGOs, the private sector, and government agencies are represented. The Board manages 1,700 hectares of parks, park connectors, and open spaces, and 2,839 hectares of nature reserves. In addition, the Board maintains 4,100 hectares of roadside greenery and vacant state land. The NParks also owns the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Fort Canning Park, and is the trustee for the nature reserves. Thus, the NParks manages 44 regional parks, 300 community parks, 9 park connectors, 1 nature area (Pulau Ubin Recreation Area), and 4 nature reserves (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Labrador Park, and Central Catchment Nature Reserve). The NParks is responsible for preserving the nature reserves as sanctuaries for wildlife, for plant and animal conservation, and as valuable resources for education and outdoor recreational activities (NParks Annual Report 2002–2003). Unlike the URA, which commands extensive financial and human resources, the NParks is not well endowed. The Board only employs 900 staff and the MND has not devolved policy-making functions and executive power to the NParks (Appendix VI: National Parks Board Organizational Chart; Straits Times, 15 January 2002). Its role is purely technical and scientific, thus more substantive and less political (I (13) 26 January 2004, Appendix XII; NParks Annual Report 2002–2003). Given the interest the NSS has in nature conservation, the Society continues to work closely with the NParks and the Board utilizes the Society’s expertise and community outreach connections. In the Sungei Buloh case, the NParks was a key player.

The Ministry of the Environment (ENV) Set up in 1972, the ENV, together with its two statutory boards, the Public Utilities Board (PUB)31 and the National Environment Agency (NEA),32 aims at providing Singaporeans with a clean living environment and environmental public health that is protected against the spread of communicable diseases. The ENV accomplishes its mission by providing environmental infrastructure for solid and liquid waste disposal and for storm water; implementing pollution control measures; and establishing public health standards through education, surveillance, and enforcement to ensure air and water quality meet international standards, food will be safe, and 195

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sources and modes of transmission of tropical diseases kept under control (Ministry of the Environment 2004: About Us). Its vision statement includes “a dynamic and caring organization … commitment and pride to make environment among the best in the world, and working in partnership with all Singaporeans” (Ministry of the Environment 2004: Vision). The ENV pledges to strive for excellence; to take ownership of actions; to commit to protecting the environment; to act and help resolve an area of environmental concern when it comes across it; to take pride in explaining environmental issues to people it comes in contact with; to seek feedback; to try new ideas and learn from failures; to anticipate change; to be gracious in interacting with the public, partners, and colleagues; to foster responsibility; and to participate in caring for the environment (Ministry of the Environment 2004). The ENV ranks 10th in the 14th ministry line-up (Singapore Government Directory 2004: The Cabinet 2004; Quah 2004). The ministry is divided into four divisions: Corporate Development (that looks after finance and corporate planning, human resource and organization development, and office administration and building management services), Corporate Communications and International Relations, Strategic Policy (that looks after Strategic Policies Review and Formulation and Corporate Planning), and Information Technology (Ministry of the Environment 2004: Organisation; Appendix VIII: Ministry of the Environment Organizational Chart). It only has an indirect relation to the Sungei Buloh conservation episode. The NSS submitted its proposal to the ENV as a de jure environmental agency, but at the time of the proposal, the ENV had little de facto responsibility over nature conservation. Nevertheless, the then Minister, Ahmad Mattar, was well-known to be knowledgeable about nature conservation and supportive of NSS activities (I (15) 27 January 2004, Appendix XII). Today, the ministry is involved in conserving nature in its capacity as formulator of the Singapore Green Plans (1993 and 2012) described in Chapter Three, specifically in relation to the work of one of its implementation committees, the Action Programme Committee (APC) on conserving nature, the Secretariat of which is served by officers from the Biodiversity Centre of the NParks (National Environment Agency 2004: SGP 2012). In Tables 4.6 and 4.7, the human and financial resources available to government agencies involved in this case are presented. In the six-year span, no significant variation is observed for either indicator.

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TABLE 4.6 Government Agencies’ Operating Expenditure (S$ Mil) Ministries/Statutory Boards

2002

2001

1997

MND URA NParks ENV NEA PUB

370.6 114.7 93.637 468.7 17.8 n.a.#

366.1 112.1 100.390 413.3 n.a.* n.a.#

458.8 100.4 n.a. 303.9 n.a.* n.a.#

Source: Singapore Statistics 2004 . * not applicable; # not available.

TABLE 4.7 Government Agencies Personnel Ministries/Statutory Boards*

2002 Actual

2001 Estimated

1997 Actual

MND URA NParks ENV NEA PUB

10,259 n.a. # 880 5,490 3,433 1,230

11,407 n.a. # 1,089 5,684 n.a.# n.a.#

11,808 n.a. # 843 5,478 n.a.# n.a.#

Source: Establishment List, Budget FY 1999, 2003, 2004.

# not available; * total numbers.

The NGO: Malayan Nature Society-Nature Society Singapore (MNS-NSS) The MNS-NSS (a.k.a. NSS) was the sole civil society actor involved in the conservation of Sungei Buloh. The episode not only empowered but also transformed the Society as an organization. Its capacity at the time this case took place needs to be assessed by tracing its history. What was originally conceived as a hobby group by an assortment of mainly expatriate conservationists has since been transformed into a fully Singaporean lobby group advocating the protection of regional and national nature areas (George 2000, p. 139; Sharp 2002, p. 56; I (17) 29 January 2004, Appendix XII).33

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Arguably, such a development is reflective of a broader evolution of Singapore politics towards a more liberal approach to non-state actors. As the government increased its control, following a philosophy of regulation, rationalization, and economic development, people began to engage the political system through collaborative rather than confrontational arrangements: “we are a lobby group, but we are not a pressure group”, NSS members affirm (Straits Times, 2 October 1993; George 2000). What the NSS does today is “to monitor the environment through the indices of nature, by surveying the remaining wildlife” that remains in Singapore’s forests and seas (Briffett and Ho 2002). The key government agencies with which the NSS inevitably interacts are the Ministry of National Development (MND), the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Ministry of Environment (ENV) mentioned earlier (personal communication from NSS, 10 May 2002). But how did it all start? The Nature Society of Singapore traces its origins to 1940 when it was set up as the Malayan Nature Society.34 The group was dedicated to the “study, conservation and enjoyment of the natural heritage in Singapore, Malaysia and the surrounding regions” (Nature Society Singapore 2004). It was from the start a truly spontaneous grassroots organization driven by volunteers.35 Its first Annual General Meeting in 1948 listed 400 members (Sharp 2002, p. 54). In 1954, the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) was formed, but it was only in 1991 that the Singapore Branch separated from its founding parent, forming in 1992 the NSS. The Society is registered under the Registry of Societies, but has no charitable status nor is it an institution of public character (IPC). The NSS first played an advocacy role when, in the 1970s, its then President, Roland Sharma, requested the protection of the original zoological collection of the Raffles Museum.36 The collection was eventually saved in all its integrity and has since 2001 been exhibited at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (Sharp 2002). Another example of the controversies faced by the Society in the 1970s, almost two decades before the landmark victory of Sungei Buloh and way before the NSS became a regular player in the nature conservation arena in the late 1980s, was its opposition to the reclamation at the Serangoon Estuary, which was not heeded by the government (Sharp 2002). Opposition was also strong in the early 1980s against the alignment of the Bukit Timah Expressway cutting across the Reserve and thus separating Bukit Timah Nature Reserve from the Central Catchment. This project also went ahead (see Table 4.12 for a chronological list of campaigns the NSS has been involved with). 198

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In 1990, encouraged by its success in proposing Sungei Buloh as a nature conservation area, the NSS came up with its own Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature, which identifies sites that require protection of Singapore’s biodiversity. Some of these sites were incorporated in the URA Master Plan with the ENV designating nineteen terrestrial and four marine sites as nature areas in the Singapore Green Plan 2012. Yet, threats to nature due to development are still present. Conservationists still claim that hills are being flattened, woods removed, and natural river systems canalized with a continuous loss of mangroves to reclamation. Coral reefs face the threat of silting and other pollutants, and freshwater streams are being filled or changed. As mentioned earlier, these facts reflect that the government is more concerned with “brown” than “green” issues (personal communication NSS, 4 February 2003). However, in recent years, greater consciousness of the importance of protecting the environment has brought about improvements to the natural environment and its management. These include the extension of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the realignment of the Selatar Expressway so as to avoid damaging the Nee Swamp Forest, the restoration of degraded areas in the Central Catchment, both at the Upper and Lower Peirce Reservoirs, revegetation at Kent Ridge, and more eco-oriented management approaches in the Botanic Gardens and the Sungei Buloh Wetlands, although no areas outside the existing designated public park system have been officially set aside and managed primarily for biodiversity protection. Together with greater government commitment and consciousness, recent years have also seen an increase in public awareness. Signature campaigns led by green NGOs collected the names of 14,000 people opposed to the construction of another golf course in the Central Catchment area at Lower Peirce Reservoir in 1992 (see Chapter Five). Not everything, though, has been a success for the NSS. For example, in February 1992, another proposal for conservation was made: to preserve the outlying island of Pulau Ubin, in the northeast, threatened by reclamation and development as a military training camp and a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) link (see Appendix II: Singapore Green Map). The NSS argued that the island possessed the most viable and extensive mangroves and was extremely important to the wildlife then present. It proposed that the island be kept undisturbed as a site for nature appreciation, outdoor recreation and adventure, and that a Visitor’s Centre be established. The NSS also argued that the place could offer an alternative to Sentosa, which was becoming too manicured. Part of Pulau Ubin was the Chek Jawa mangrove, which can only be appreciated at low tide three to four times a month. Yet, still in 2001, the debate was 199

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going on with strong opposition from the NSS to reclamation. Unexpectedly, two days before the reclamation was to start, the project was put on hold. It has not been pursued since. However, Chek Jawa has not been included as part of the Pulau Ubin nature area nor has it been incorporated in the URA Master Plan 2003 for any form of designated protection (Nature Society News 2002; Conservation Documents and Publication produced by the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) and the Nature Society (Singapore) from 1985–2003). In 1993, the Society made a proposal to conserve Senoko, North of Singapore and manage a bird sanctuary. This area had been zoned for residential development as part of the Sembawang New Town despite the fact that the zone, off the Sungei Sembawang River, constituted the richest nature area in Singapore in terms of species and numbers. The proposal was turned down by the government (Conservation Documents and Publication produced by the Malayan Nature Society [Singapore Branch] and the Nature Society [Singapore] from 1985–2003; see also Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 8, 2, 62, 15, 18 March 1994). That year, the NSS was making plans to increase its capacity by doubling its student membership, raising public awareness through nature watch projects, conducting more research by offering EIA consultation for companies, and networking with NGOs in ASEAN. On 2 October 1993, the Society launched its quarterly magazine Nature Watch, at Fort Canning. It then had 1,300 members (Straits Times, 2 October 1993). Those were the years in which the NSS was making an impact on the government’s land use policies and raising public awareness of environmental issues through a series of detailed conservation proposals. More recently, the NSS has been concentrating its lobbying efforts to impact the second Singapore Green Plan (2012). Table 4.8 summarizes NSS views

TABLE 4.8 NSS Views on Singapore Green Plan 2012 Area Definition and principles

Comments and Recommendations • Definition of sustainable as “balancing of development with the environment” is too vague. Not useful in formulating environmental management policies and plans. • Proposed definition that takes into account all costs of economic development including “externalities” or “ecological footprint” approach (Wackernagel and Rees 1996). continued on next page

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• Unconvinced that a balanced approach has been taken between maintaining a clean environment and protecting natural heritage and capital. For example, no attempt is made to institute legal protection for marine life. Monitoring and sectoral involvement

• Draft Plan fails to set up a time frame for review of the action programmes for the implementation of the Plan (a review of ten years is far too long). NSS proposes a review of five years. • Ecological health indicators: not addressed in the Plan as far as nature conservation is concerned. Proposing a monitoring panel to be set up, chaired by a non-government official. • The three Ps: not clearly defined. NSS proposes: state/ government for public; business for private; and community for people.

Air, water and land

• Supports proposals of clean energy sources, but not of generating it by using hydropower from foreign sources or the creation of dams that destroy remaining rain forests (i.e., in Pulau Ubin). • Concerned about plans to use 67 per cent of land for water catchment as this will increase the need to build more reservoirs to store the water caught and fill ponds and marshes, and will lead to canalization of rivers and soil erosion at construction sites. All these should be stopped. • Monitor illegal dumping in remote areas.

Nature conservation

• 8 per cent of total land to be designated as nature areas, up to 3 per cent from the 1993 Green Plan. Increase in lieu of the fact that 100 sq km will be added through reclamation and because new ecologically important sites have been identified. • Add to nature areas, four marine sites demarcated in 1993 Green Plan, plus Chek Jawa. • Clearly define and officially demarcate nature areas. • All currently identified nature areas be safeguarded in future developments. • All nature areas be given legal protection. • Mandatory EIAs be implemented for projects in the periphery or boundary of nature areas.

Community partnership

• Not enough done to promote nature awareness in the past. • Apart from carrying out programmes to promote awareness of “brown” issues, SEC should also promote green issues. • Environmental studies being introduced in universities: do they include conservation, natural history, and environmental ethics?

Source: Adapted from NSS Feedback on the Singapore Green Plan 2012, 2001–2002. 201

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on this environmental protection blueprint. While welcoming the revision initiated by the government to the 1993 Green Plan, the NSS addresses issues of concern. The Society’s Constitution (Article 3.1), by stating its objectives, helps elucidate its roles and tasks. As a promoter of interest in the flora and fauna of Singapore, and of awareness and responsible attitudes towards nature conservation, the Society’s activities focus on the protection of common pool resources. In relation to this, the Society’s roles are those of a regulator, a watchdog, and a facilitator, while ownership, production and provision of goods — natural capital in this case — remain in the hands of the government. In relation to these roles, the Society carries out the tasks of policy formulation (albeit to a limited extent, as will be discussed later) through advocacy and lobbying, and policy evaluation by assessing government policies and programmes. Specific examples of these tasks can be derived from the Society’s major achievements, such as the designation of Sungei Buloh discussed here and the protection from reclamation of the Chek Jawa Wetlands in Pulau Ubin. As an initiator and supporter of research projects in relation to the study and conservation of nature, and especially when the government incorporates in its policy, recommendations made in these research projects, the Society also plays the role of provider of knowledge and information. Because it administers those research projects and in relation to its role as provider of information, its task is also that of managing and administering policies and programmes. Examples in this case can be found in the research report entitled Proposed Golf Course at Lower Peirce Reservoir — Environmental Impact Assessment published in 1992, opposing and successfully stopping the development of the sports facility. This case is discussed in detail in the next chapter. Moreover, the NSS collaborates with regional and international organizations, and is a partner of the Birdlife International and Member of the World Conservation Union or International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The collaboration arrangements with these organizations are mainly in the form of exchange and sharing of information, cooperation, and ecological data collection. The strategy involves “steering clear of any involvement that could be perceived as of a political nature by Singapore government or governments in other neighbouring countries” (personal communication from NSS, 10 May 2002). Given the educational nature of both its scientific and recreational activities for a wide cross-section of Singapore society, the NSS, we can extrapolate, is, to a certain degree, integrated in the educational function of the state while 202

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maintaining its autonomy. This can be seen also from the type of activities the Society has organized in the past few years: the first Singapore Nature Day in October 1997, Annual Clean-Up-the-World Day, Annual Bird Census, and so forth. In addition, the Society’s Education Group conducts Enrichment Programmes in schools. The NSS 2,000-strong membership has a broad base in terms of age, gender, education, ethnicity, and occupational background. Particularly notable is its broad-based Mandarin-speaking membership of late that is indicative of the majority of Singaporeans. The NSS is run as a voluntary enterprise by its members and is registered under the Registrar of Societies (Societies Act, Cap. 311). It has eight categories of membership: ordinary, family, life, honorary life, junior, corporate, affiliate, and sustaining donors. Its leadership profile is more sophisticated and interesting. The Society has as its Patron, Professor Tommy Koh. This is an honorary position created in the 1990s shortly after the NSS separated from the Malayan Society (Sharp 2002, p. 58). Informants stated that in choosing Professor Koh, the Society considered his high public profile locally and internationally as well as his “great deal of sympathy to the nature conservation cause. He commands a great deal of respect in both the public and the governmental circles” (personal communication from NSS, 10 May 2002). The Society is led by a Council and an Executive Committee that manages day-to-day business. The Executive Committee comprises a President, a Vice-President, an Honorary Secretary, an Honorary Treasurer and Members, all of whom are elected at an Annual General Meeting. Complementary to the Executive Committee is the Advisory Council, established in 2000. Its members are drawn from various sectors of the community. Table 4.9 lists the NSS Presidents and their background. In addition, Special Interest Groups have been formed to further the Society’s objectives. These Sub-Groups are in the fields of Education, Birds, Vertebrate Study, Photography, Marine Conservation, Research and Consultancy, Butterfly Watching and Research, Youth Environment Group, and Video Documentation. Chairpersons of these groups also attend all Executive Committee Meetings. There are also three Sub-Committees on Conservation, Planning, and Finance. To gauge NSS capacity as an effective advocate of nature conservation, it is important to look into the internal dynamics of the organization as well as its relation to key government and non-governmental agencies. Throughout its history, the NSS has developed factions along diverse interests as well as ideological approaches to conservation. The current Bird Group (congenially called “the birdies”) is an ambitious vocal group that follows deep ecology ideology. In the early 1990s some of the members of the 203

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TABLE 4.9 MNS and NSS Presidents and Their Background Names of Presidents/Chairpersons and Year of Presidency

Background

1940 E.O. Shebbeare (MNS)

Transport Officer and Deputy Leader in the British Expeditions to Mount Everest in 1924 and 1933. A career civil servant with the Indian Forestry Department. Served as Chief Game Warden in Malaysia beginning in 1938. Captured in World War II by the Japanese in Singapore and held from 1942–45. Well-regarded author; published several books on natural history

1948–49 A.T. Edgar (MNS)

No data

1954 Humphrey Burkill and other Botanic Gardens Directors (NSS)

No data

1965–80 Ronal E. Sharma

Department of Zoology, National University of Singapore

1971 Dr P.N. Avadhani

Department of Botany, National University of Singapore

1975 Dr Francis Ng (MNS)

No data

1978 Dr Chang Kiaw Lan

Mycologist, Botanic Gardens

1979–present Dr Salleh Mohd Nor (MNS)

No data

1982–84 Prof P.N. Avadhani 1984–85 Dr Rexon Ngim

Plastic Surgeon

1985–88 S. Rajamanickam*

School Principal

1989 Dr Rexon Ngim*

Plastic Surgeon

1991–97 Dr Wee Yeow Chin#

Botanist, National University of Singapore

Prof Ng Soon Chye

Gynaecologist

1997–2000 Prof Khoo Hong Woo

National University of Singapore

2001 Dr Geh Min

Eye Surgeon

Sources: NNS files, 27 March 2004, Malayan Naturalist, Malayan Nature Journal Periodicals, Everest News. * Sungei Buloh case # Lower Peirce case 204

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Group set up the Conservation Committee, which claims to “play a wider role within the Council of the Society” (Nature Society Singapore 2004). This Group is less prepared to accommodate the government’s ambiguous commitment to nature conservation, usually spelled out as “we shall conserve it for as long as possible” (I (2) 11 January 2003; I (16) 28 January 2004; I (18) 6 February 2004, see Appendix XII for all). The Group has always been extremely important to the Society’s dynamics. In particular, in the case of conserving Sungei Buloh, the members who actually wrote the submission have been influential not only because of their interest in, and commitment to, the cause, but also because of their expertise and connections. For example, Richard Hale37 was CEO of HSBC and thus commanded a powerful linkage of both business and political networks. Today, he has chosen to adopt a low profile and does not identify with the bold approach the current Bird Group takes. Ho Hua Chew’s passion for nature has driven and still drives powerful campaigns. His approach is rather radical for Singapore NGOs’ standards, something that has at times threatened to split the Society and stalemate dialogue with government. Subharaj is a selfmade conservationist with many hours in the field. He too has distanced himself from the current Bird Group members, though remains connected to the Society in major campaigns. He is now commercially engaged in nature and birding guide activities. Finally, Rexon Ngim, former President of the Society, was also a player in the proposal, if perhaps a less significant one. Two other persons contributed to it: Clive Briffett and Chris Hails. Briffett, with expertise in biodiversity, rational commitment to conservation, and political savvy, has for years been pivotal to the Society’s success. It was Briffett who led teams of researchers to make important proposals such as the Sungei Buloh Conservation Proposal and the NSS Conservation Master Plan. He has also chosen not to identify with the more radical characters of the Bird Group and has now moved back to the United Kingdom. Hails, a career biologist, currently works for WWF International at its Swiss headquarters in Gland. He was in Singapore at the time as consultant to the government to review Singapore’s ecosystems. He worked, attached to the then National Parks Board in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. His knowledge and expertise were crucial to the proposal, though he worked behind the scenes due to his official position (I (18) 24 February 2004, Appendix XII). The then President S. Rajamanickam, in the opinion of other members, was not a catalyst in the Sungei Buloh proposal, although his contribution to the Society was important in providing leadership in a period when choosing a leader proved a challenging endeavour (I (18) 24 February 2004, Appendix XII). 205

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The mainstream faction, which officially controls the Society but every now and then loses control to the “birdies”, favours working with the government in the latter’s preferred terms; that is, behind the scenes. This faction is rather more anthropocentric than eco-centric in its approach to conservation. Then there are the less politicized factions made up of pure and simple nature lovers such as members of the Education, Photography, and Youth Committees (I (18) 6 February 2004, Appendix XII). Financial resources are drawn from membership fees, donations from non-governmental sources, sales of goods and services — mainly publications and outings — and investments. Specific sources of income are sales of publications, donations and sponsorships for projects, and nature events. The Society does not receive grants from the government. Since 2000, the NSS has owned its own premises at the Sunflower in Geylang Road. The premises were purchased for S$675,000 (Sharp 2002, p. 55). The NSS first started publishing its own magazines when it was part of the Malayan Nature Society (MNS). The Malayan Naturalist and the Malayan Nature Journal are both highly regarded scientific journals. The NSS now publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, Nature News, and its own quarterly magazine Nature Watch. The NSS also conducts studies and publishes books on aspects of the natural environment on a regular basis. The NSS impact on the environment is seen from its multiple contributions to nature conservation, including: • • • •

• • • • • •

Educating Singaporeans on the need to protect nature; Advising the government on development plans; Conducting environmental impact assessments — not required by law in determining land use in Singapore (George 2000); Publishing the Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature and participating in deliberations of the government’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Green Plan; Assisting the National Parks Board in its four-year flora and fauna survey (1994–97); Setting up the Sungei Buloh Mangrove Nature Park and monitoring the only wetland nature park in Singapore; Providing updates for the fauna section of the Singapore Yearbook; Working in partnership with the Singapore Zoo; Assisting the Jurong Bird Park in its management and activities; and Working with organizations such as the National Youth Council of Singapore and the Singapore Environment Council.

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Rodan (2001, pp. 224–25) argues: NSS has flourished in recent times in part because Singapore’s expanding middle class, including policy makers have shifted attention to quality of life considerations. Lacking the party structures to generate the appropriate expertise, the PAP has thus made use of the NSS’ Master Plan for Conservation of Nature in Singapore submitted to the government in 1990. Most importantly, NSS lobbying is done privately, with letters to newspapers and petitions eschewed to avoid public disagreements with the government. Although it has a membership in excess of a thousand, the organisation’s legitimacy derives not so much from its right to exist as a pressure group but because it can be seen to have technical expertise that can be drawn upon by the government. Clearly, these organisations are not fundamentally threatening to either the PAP or the political system. However, they do exist outside the more direct structures of political co-optation. To that extent, the more substantive middle class appears to have facilitated organisations that could, at some later point, proliferate and complicate the process of co-optation.

Table 4.10 presents a list of individuals who sit on boards and committees of the various government agencies, statutory boards, NGOs, and consulting committees involved in this and the two other case studies of this book. As can be seen, cross-fertilization, or what has been called “interlocking directorship” (Jones 1999, p. 1), is a common phenomenon. These individuals are elected or selected by the government mostly to deliberate on an issue that, besides requiring the individuals’ expertise input, also requires their reaching consensus. Those individuals straddling the quasigovernment and NGO arenas, such as Simon Tay and Geh Min, also provide input on a self-appointed basis through submissions their NGOs make, mostly to contest a government proposal or to give evidence to support their organizations’ proposals.

OUTCOMES AND LESSONS Today, there is no doubt in the minds of conservationists and policy-makers alike that the protection of Sungei Buloh from development was worthwhile, though it is difficult to quantify the benefits. As a former Minister puts it: It is difficult to calculate the economic value of a park, obviously it has an economic value because the population is healthy, can find an outlet on weekends, but how do you calculate it? I am very convinced in my

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TABLE 4.10 Common Players Player

Positions

Prof Simon Tay

Kay Kuok Oon Kwong Dr Tan Wee Kiat MG Lim Kim Choon Lim Jim Koon Dr Leong Chee Chiew

Dr Geh Min

Howard Shaw

Prof Victor Savage

BG (NS) Lam Joom Khooi Tan Gee Paw Loh Ah Tuan

Prof Leo Tan

Uma Sachidhandam

Chairman SIIA, Board Member NParks, Chairman NEA, Chairman Research and Publications Committee SEC Chairman SEC, Board Member NEA, Coordinating Committee Member SGP 2012 CEO and Board Member NParks, Board Member NEA, Founding Member SEC Board Member PUB, former Board Member URA Board Member URA, Advisory Council NSS Chief Operations Officer NParks, Board Member SEC, Coordinating Committee Member SGP 2012, Conserving Nature Committee Member SGP 2012 President NSS, Board Member SEC, Subject Group Member of the Parks and Waterbodies & Identity Plan (Master Plan 2003) of URA, Conserving Nature Committee Member SGP 2012. Executive Director SEC, Subject Group Member of the Parks and Waterbodies & Identity Plan (Master Plan 2003) of URA. Board Member SEC, Chairman Research and Publications Committee SEC, Subject Group Member of the Parks and Waterbodies & Identity Plan SGP 2012. CEO NEA, Coordinating Committee Member SGP 2012 Chairman PUB, Coordinating Committee Member SGP 2012 Director General Environmental Protection NEA, Board Member SEC, Coordinating Committee Member SGP 2012 Chairman NParks, Coordinating Committee Member SGP 2012, Vice-Chairman SEC, Chairman Education Committee SEC Researcher SEC, Conserving Nature Committee Member SGP 2012 continued on next page

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Dr Lena Chan

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Assistant Director Biodiversity Centre NParks, Conserving Nature Committee SGP 2012 Deputy Director Physical Planning URA, Conserving Nature Committee SGP 2012 Vice-President NSS, Chairman Community Relations Committee SEC, Member Industry Committee SEC Director Environmental Policy and Management Division ENV, Member SEC Industry Committee.

Seow Kah Ping Richard Hale

Joseph Hui

Source: Compiled by the author from ENV, NEA, PUB, NParks, URA, SEC, SIIA, and NSS organizational charts and Master Plan 2003, Singapore Green Plan 2012. All data are from March 2004.

own mind that ‘green’ outlets like Sungei Buloh, where people can go and spend time contemplating nature, have great economic value although we cannot actually calculate it (I (7) 12 February 2004, Appendix XII).

Although the conservation and gazetting of Sungei Buloh is an important landmark in nature conservation, as evidenced by subsequent NSS campaigns, it has not set strong precedents. Sungei Buloh’s conservation itself is at stake. In the Parks and Waterbodies & Identity Plan accompanying the recently gazetted Master Plan 2003, there is a clear thrust to make the Reserve, Kranji Marshes, and surrounding areas more accessible to the public “while still preserving its ecological value” (Parks and Waterbodies & Identity Plan 2003). Specifically, the Plan spells out plans to develop nature parks in the coastal and freshwater marshes, link them by a five-kilometre broadwalk, and construct nature trails in the surrounding farmland and along Sungei Buloh. Campsites at Sungei Buloh and boating at Kranji are also in the Plan. Sungei Buloh does not seem to be the only exception. As stated in the same document, the Central Catchment Area and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are threatened by similar plans. A new linear park along the edge of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve at Chestnut is proposed as a buffer to the Catchment from development. Parcels of land at sites such as Dairy Farm and Windsor are also planned for development of temporary recreation sites until they are needed for development. Finally, as well as a canopy walk through trees, a continuous broadwalk is proposed to link Upper Peirce and MacRitchie Reservoirs. 209

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TABLE 4.11 NSS Campaigns 1985–2003 Site/date Kranji Marshes (1985)

Campaign

Agencies Lobbied

An outline proposal for a new Nature Reserve. This area refers to the Kranji Dam Mangrove at the Sungei Kranji Estuary from the Dam to Sungei Buloh.

Not recorded

Sungei Buloh A proposal for a nature (undated c. 1987) conservation area at Sungei Buloh.

MND, URA, ENV, HDB

Singapore (1990)

Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature in Singapore.

MND, URA, ENV, HDB, NParks

Sungei Khatib Bongsu (undated c. 1990)

A proposal to conserve Khatib’s heronry that belonged to the blackcrowned heron.

MND, URA, ENV, NParks

Senoko (1990)

A proposal to conserve the area.

MND, URA, NParks

Kranji Heronry and Marshes (1990)

A proposal to conserve the area.

MND, URA, ENV, PUB

Outcome Contributed to the designation of this section of mangroves as a nature area in the Singapore Green Plan 1993. The area is now managed by NParks and is incorporated into the URA Master Plan 2003. Contributed to the preservation of the Sungei Buloh area. The park was declared a Wetland Nature Reserve in 2002. It is now incorporated into the URA Master Plan 2003. Contributed to the formulation of the Green and Blue Plan of the URA Master Plan: Living the Next Lap (1991) and the nature conservation chapter of the Singapore Green Plan 1993. The heronry was destroyed due to fogging against mosquitoes. The mangrove and ponds are still intact, but the herons have never returned to nest. The area has been completely developed into the Sembawang HDB housing estate. Contributed to the designation of the marshes at Kranji Bunds as a nature area included in the

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Kent Ridge NUS Campus (1991) Pulau Ubin (1992)

A proposal to conserve the Adinandra Belukar (Tiup Tiup tree secondary forest). A proposal to conserve the area.

Marina South A proposal to conserve (undated c. 1992) the growing of the “secondary forest” and ponds formed on this reclaimed unused land.

Sentosa A proposal to conserve (undated c. 1993) Sentosa.

211

Singapore Green Plan in 1993 and the establishment of the marsh south of the BBC station as the Kranji Marshland Park, also designated as a nature area in the URA Master Plan 2003. Eighty per cent of the marsh has been destroyed by the National Service Resort and Country Club (NSRCC) golf course project. NUS, URA The forest is now designated a nature area in the URA Master Plan 2003. MND, URA, Contributed to the ENV, NParks designation of Pulau Ubin as a nature area in the Singapore Green Plan 1993. It eventually led to some parts of Ubin being managed by NParks as a nature-cum-public park. It is now incorporated as a nature area in the URA Master Plan 2003, minus Chek Jawa. MND, URA, The area was completely ENV, NParks filled (the ponds), the rationale being that it was a mosquito breeding ground. The forest is now a veritable secondary forest. No development has occurred, so far. MND, URA, Contributed to the Sentosa designation of Mount Development Embiah and Mount Corporation Serapong as parts of (SDC), NParks Sentosa nature area in the SGP 1993. It is now

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TABLE 4.11 — cont’d Site/date

Campaign

Agencies Lobbied

Lower Pierce Reservoir (Central Catchment Nature Reserve) (1992) Singapore (1993)

A proposal to stop the development of a golf course in the area. An EIA of the project.

MND, URA, ENV, PUB, NParks

Feedback on the Singapore Green PlanNature Conservation (1993).

MND, URA, ENV, NParks

South Simpang (1993)

A proposal to conserve the site in the Sungei Khatib Bongsu area.

MND, URA, ENV, NParks

Chek Jawa (2001) Feedback on the impact of reclamation on Chek Jawa.

MND

Outcome incorporated as a nature area into the URA Master Plan 2003. Contributed to the shelving of the 120 ha. golf course project. Helped to put Sungei Khatib Bongsu into the SGP 1993 19 nature areas. Khatib was not listed in the original draft of the SGP 1993. It also contributed and reinforced the designation of Sungei Khatib Bongsu as a nature area in the SGP 1993, as well as the incorporation into the Simpang Development Guide Plan. In 2003, Khatib Bongsu was again under threat as there is a plan to develop the area into a reservoir. It has been left out of the URA Master Plan 2003. Contributed to the shelving of the government land reclamation project for the government sand and mudflats. Chek Jawa, however, has not been included in the URA Master Plan 2003 for any designated protection. continued on next page

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Singapore (2002)

Kranji Bund Marsh (2002)

Kranji Golf Course (2002)

Singapore (2002)

Pulau Ubin (2003)

Feedback on the SGP 2012.

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Contributed to upholding the nature areas already identified in the SGP 1993 as well as the implementation of the Action Programmes for the SGP 2012 currently under way. Feedback on impact and National Contributed to the proposal for conservation Service extension of the marshland and mitigation of the Resort and buffer along Kranji Bund construction of the Country Club beyond what was Singapore Armed Forces (NSRCC), originally given by the Recreation Association URA, NParks NSRCC. NSS was called (SAFRA) golf course. for consultation on mitigation measures on the construction of the golf course. More detailed NSRCC, The major mitigating recommendation for URA, measures are not being impact containment and NParks incorporated into the mitigation measures for latest golf course design, the construction of the as far as NSS knows. golf course. Feedback on the URA URA, NParks, Some of the proposals are Parks and Waterbodies URA Subject accepted (i.e., scrapping Plan (2002), which is Focus Groups motor-car scenic trails), now part of the URA some are rejected (i.e., Master Plan 2003. incorporating the cat-tail marsh into the new Tampines Quarry Park) and some are undetermined (i.e., scrapping the east-west broadwalk trail through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve) Feedback to the Police Police Force NSS was called for a Coast Guard Force on meeting on 7 May 2003. the construction of a The debate is ongoing. security fence on the north shores of Pulau Ubin.

Source: Compiled by the author from data of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (NUS) and the NSS Conservation Committee 2004.

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Analysis of the various campaigns and proposals made by the NSS to the various government agencies and outcomes presented in Table 4.11 clearly reflects that the NSS would need to continue keeping a close eye on commitments made by the government in its major environmental protection and nature conservation blueprints, namely, the Master Plan 2003 and the Singapore Green Plan 2012. For example, in May 2003, the URA announced plans to alter its 1993 gazetted Master Plan to dam Sungei Khatib Bongsu by 2008. The site is located in the Khatib Bongsu nature area, north of the territory across Pulau Selatar (see Appendix II: Singapore Green Map). This area was considered one of the “important nature areas” in the 1993 SGP. A snap poll conducted by the Straits Times found that more than 96 per cent of respondents were in favour “of planners finding a way of meeting housing needs and other needs without tearing remaining green sites” (Straits Times, 2 May 2003). In response, the local press reported that a PUB spokesperson put forward the argument that the project is part of developing “a more robust and sustainable water supply system” with desalination as well as reclaimed NEWater.38 If plans go ahead, this will constitute the loss of important mangroves, argued the Chairman of the Conservation Committee of the NSS, Ho Hua Chew. Moreover, he felt more discussion was needed: “We are not against increasing water supply, but have alternatives been explored thoroughly? The authorities must explain why a dam is necessary.” He also argued technologies like desalination may be cheaper and more feasible. “Better to go step by step before flooding the whole area.” PUB, the same paper reports, has engaged specialist consultants to study the proposed reservoir’s impact on biodiversity and suggest ways to rehabilitate where possible. Ho retorted: “how can rehabilitation happen when you change the ecosystem from tidal mangrove to freshwater lake” (New Paper, 17 June 2003). The debate reflects people’s priorities. The Straits Times Interactive conducted a poll in April 2003 in which 320 of 337 respondents agreed with the statement that housing needs must be met without occupying the remaining green sites (New Paper, 17 June 2003). Other debates like the reclamation of Sembawang Beach, opposed by the Heritage Society, further highlight the conflicts that exist between government goals and public interests. Even when government agencies try to enshrine social values, such as the URA Identity Plan that claims to protect Singaporeans’ roots, they easily bypass them by developing places people are culturally and emotionally attached to (Sunday Times, 22 June 2003). In 2002, the SGP 2012 was published by the Ministry of the Environment. The main targets for conserving nature were: keep nature areas for as long as 214

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possible, verify and update information on indigenous flora and fauna through biodiversity surveys, put in place new parks and park connectors, and set up a National Biodiversity Reference Centre. In August 2003, the Action Programmes under the SGP were published with the main targets spelled out. The SGP 2012 Action Programmes and the URA Master Plan 2003 clearly overlap. For the first time in Singapore’s environmental protection history, the gazetted nature reserves will be reflected in the Master Plan. The Master Plan was gazetted in January 2004. Moreover, nature areas (other than the already gazetted nature reserves) are reflected in the Special and Detailed Control Plans (SDCP). These will capture seventeen terrestrial areas and one marine area. The SDCPs were also gazetted in January 2004. Nature reserves and nature areas will continue to be identified and documented. The indigenous ecosystems will continue to be rehabilitated, enhanced, and managed to ensure their biodiversity is maintained. What perhaps best summarizes the vulnerability of Singapore’s nature conservation policy, the various interests involved, and why the relations between government and NGOs will continue to evolve with NGOs needing to play a more powerful role in ensuring nature protection, are issues related to the newly gazetted URA Master Plan 2003. Gazetted on 10 December 2003 as the 7th amendment to the Master Plan under the Planning Act (Cap. 232), the document comprises the Master Plan Written Statement; Planning Strategies for the five Singapore regions, namely, West, North, North-East, East and Central; and the Parks & Waterbodies Special and Detailed Control Plans for the Central Area and Outside Central Area. The latter plans are relevant to nature conservation policy as they reflect the existing and proposed green spaces and waterbodies. These include parks, open spaces, interim greens, nature reserves, and nature areas. In the section defining terms, nature reserves are denoted as “any area of land designated as a Nature Reserve in Part II of the Fifth Schedule under the National Parks Act (Cap. 198A)” with a list in Table 3 of the Written Statement (Master Plan 2003 Written Statement: 2 and 20). Yet, it is worth noting that with regard to the lack of commitment in defining the uses applied to sites zoned as reserves, the same document states: “These are areas where the specific use has yet to be determined. Interim uses that are compatible with the uses in the locality may be allowed subject to evaluation by the competent authority.” No examples of developments are given (Master Plan 2003 Written Statement Table 1: 17). This definition is in clear contrast to that determining uses applied to sites zoned as parks which are clearly spelled out: “These are areas used or intended to be used mainly for parks or gardens for the enjoyment of the 215

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general public and includes pedestrian linkages” (Master Plan 2003 Written Statement Table 1: 14 and Table 3: 20; Part I Fifth Schedule National Parks Act [Cap. 198A]. Examples of development are: national parks, regional parks, community/neighbourhood parks, park connectors, zoological and botanic gardens. There are yet other sites zoned as open spaces. Examples of development here are: wooded area, swamp area, natural open space, public promenades and outdoor pedestrian malls (Master Plan 2003 Written Statement Table 1: 13). It is not clear whether open spaces include Nature Reserves. The observation of the lack of commitment in defining the uses applied to sites zoned as reserves is consistent with comments made by the Chief Operating Officer of the National Parks Board. To the author’s question on whether consideration could be given to developing a gazetted nature reserve, he replied: Yes, it is a consideration. There will always be contest for other uses; there will always be a tension but the process allows us and different parties to offer different views. The area will have to possibly be degazetted or someone will have to say: I want to change a Nature Reserve for some other use. But in the same way, there will always be new land gazetted, you can always add or subtract. The quality of the decision will depend on the information NGOs, NPB and other outside interests can provide (I (13) 26 January 2004, Appendix XII).

The Assistant Director for the Biodiversity Centre of the NParks added in the same interview that bartering with new areas is not uncommon. She supported her statement by declaring that: As a result of new surveys, we have discovered that some areas are rich in biodiversity and thus we should push for their gazetting, while there are areas within existing Nature Reserves that are degraded when cut over by some utility like a road, a pipe, etc. So why to (sic) hold them? We take a very pragmatic approach to the situation. We give due credit and think that Nature Reserves should be legally protected but we are constantly reminded that we also have to be responsible for recreation. If recreation means that we have to put a few installations in the fringes of the Nature Reserves we will put them. In areas that are of less value, we will consider having a more intensive use, intensive visitation by people as we need to expose the public (to them) so they will gain ownership and know they would like to keep them. If we do not give people access and they do not feel close, they are not going to feel like fighting for them (I (13) 26 January 2004, Appendix XII). 216

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A DISCIPLINED GOVERNANCE APPROACH: THE POWER OF PERSUASION What does this case have that further illustrates the type of governance order already envisioned when analysing the country study? How does it illustrate a particular form of government-NGO relations? What are the institutional arrangements created to facilitate future government-NGO relations? What effect do these arrangements have on Singapore’s nature conservation? The resolution of nature conservation issues tends to favour the “partnership model” of government-NGO relations. Partnerships are nonadversarial and resemble a corporatist model characterized by power sharing (see Chapter Two). The case analysed here fits the non-adversarial aspect of the model, but not the power-sharing aspect. Although this case is a clear landmark in nature conservation, it did not set a strong precedent either of devolution of power to non-government actors, or of the government’s commitment to preserve natural heritage. Despite the various public consultation and feedback arrangements established by the government agencies involved in this and other nature conservation cases, mostly those of the URA and the ENV, submissions from NGOs, subject groups’ reports and so on find their way into the policy process only in a limited way and usually at a very late stage. Patterns of inclusion also tend to be ad hoc, dependent on context, political timeliness, personalities and so forth. Although this case illustrates that the NGO involved had sufficient capacity to win the conservation of Sungei Buloh, it never attributed it to its credit. This is a clear indicator of a strategy employed by the NSS to continue furthering its cause. The analysis of this case elicits an approach to governance that can be categorized as “disciplined governance”. This approach suggests a government extensively consultative, but contained. That is, the public and interest groups are consulted in a controlled environment and the government does not go as far as diminishing its role or augmenting that of NGOs. Yet, this soft form of governance has initiated a process which will be difficult to turn back. In fact, this appears to be the way forward set by the government. In a 2004 speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the government reiterated its willingness to continue opening up space for civil society while setting the rules of engagement. These are: guidelines for public consultations, favouring “rigorous” debate on policies, favouring a critical but constructive media and retaining the government’s leading role in the process (Straits Times, 7 January 2004). Despite the limited form of governance awarded by the “disciplined governance” approach, the institutional arrangements put in place to facilitate 217

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cooperation for nature conservation cannot be dismissed. The public consultation exercises, subject groups meetings, official and NSS behind-thescene meetings, co-optation of NSS leaders into processes like the Master Plan and the Singapore Green Plan, and so on, are structures created to facilitate partnership. The government remains the agenda setter, implementator, and regulator in land allocation, but an incipient, more strategic structure of cooperation with NGOs appears. This trend follows the general guidelines of the “governance model” that favours mutual trust and NGOs’ inclusion in the delivery of policy. These arrangements favour nature conservation as long as NGOs are able to sustain their efforts to use the channels of participation effectively, continue educating the government on the value of saving natural heritage, and maintain their advocacy work, and as long as the government sustains its commitment to the consultative process as this tends to complicate and add short-term costs to the land allocation process. The explicit theoretical links between the analysis of governance progression in Singapore (Chapter Three), that of the general literature on governance (Chapter Two) and findings from the case of conserving Sungei Buloh are that this case not only adequately supports the “disciplined governance” conceptualization to governing, but also, by doing so, adds to the existing literature on the four major governance models that have been conceptualized so far; that is, the market model for reforming government, the flexible government model, the deregulated government model, and the participatory state model envisioned by Peters (1996).

Notes 1

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Prior to the settlement of Singapore, land around Sungei Buloh was made up of tidal mudflats and mangroves. In the nineteenth century, with an increase in the rural population, prawn farming became the mainstay. Today, the prawn farms are gone but the mudflats and mangroves are protected as a nature reserve. Sungei and Buloh are Malay for “river” and “bamboo” respectively (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004). The size is inconsistently reported in official documents. Between 85 and 87 hectares were set aside first. The Reserve is 130 hectares in size today. Attracted by exposed mudflats, waders and other shorebirds stop here while migrating between the summer breeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere (Siberia, China, etc.) and the Southern Hemisphere (Australia, etc.). A group of people committed to the protection of the local wildlife and willing to share time and knowledge to support the Reserve’s activities (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004).

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A group that on registering with the Reserve, obtains a “passport” that will be stamped as various programmes are completed. These programmes include nature rambles, writing essays, painting, and “special missions” (Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve 2004). The Singapore section of the society was formally established in 1954 with the name of Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch). In 1991, it separated, by mutual consent, from the Malayan Society. It finally became independent in 1992 as the Nature Society Singapore (Sharp 2002). See also the section on Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) in this chapter. Made in 1971 in Ramsar (Iran), this international treaty provides a framework for national and international cooperation on the use of wetlands of international importance (Ramsar Organization 2004). National Parks Board since 1990–91. Essential breeding and feeding grounds for birds migrating South during the winter months (September to March). See discussion on URA below for a detailed explanation of the Concept Plan. A Singapore district. The National Parks Bill. Singapore Armed Forces. See Chapter Three for an expansion on these arrangements. See URA below for a detailed explanation of the Master Plan. He later clarified he meant vacated. An ecologically rich marine area off the coast of Pulau Ubin (see Appendix II: Singapore Green Map). See Chapter Two for details of the Brundtland Report. Cheung is referring here to Sayre 1967. Actually, it was the Recreation Department. See Chapter Three. The line-up is as follows: Finance; Law; Foreign Affairs; Home Affairs; Transport; Trade and Industry; Information, Communication and the Arts; National Development; Defence; Environment; Community Development and Sports; Health; Education and Manpower (Singapore Government Directory, the Cabinet 2004). Discussed later in detail. Since July 2003, disputes over reclamation works at Tuas and Pulau Tekong compelled Malaysia to launch international arbitration proceedings against Singapore. The narrowing of shipping lanes in the Straits of Johor was the main complaint (Straits Times, 14 January 2005). Of the 1971 Plan. Subject Groups suggested the categorization of parks according to ease of access, type of facilities, and degree of landscaping. Category A parks would be kept pristine while category B parks would be kept as wilderness areas with basic facilities. Category C parks would have been landscaped for family use (Urban Redevelopment Authority 2004: Parks and Waterbodies and Identity Plan). 219

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See Chapters Three and Seven for details on Remaking Singapore. A national framework for establishing work performance standards, identifying job competencies, and certifying skills acquisition. Officially launched in September 2002, it is managed by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (Ministry of Manpower 2004). The Committee implements the National Skills Recognition System (Singapore Workforce Development Agency 2004). An international non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom that maintains contact with professional bodies involved in park management, recreation, etc. (International Federation of Parks and Recreation Association 2004). See Chapter Five for the PUB’s history and organization. See Chapter Six for the NEA’s history and organization. Eighty per cent of members are Singaporean citizens, with the rest being mostly Singapore permanent residents (Sharp 2002, p. 54). Sharp argues that its origins can be traced further back to 1921 when the Singapore Natural History Society was formed. In 1922, the Society had sixtysix members. It published Singapore Naturalist till 1928 and then faded into oblivion until after World War II (Sharp 2002, p. 53). Even today, the NSS has only three full-time, paid staff working at its Secretariat (Sharp 2002, p. 54). Now the History Museum of Singapore. Names of members that appear on published material are mentioned. Names that were only mentioned in interviews remain confidential. A project aimed at reducing Singapore’s dependence on external water supplies. Wastewater is treated by purifying and processing it under stringent conditions. The final product is used in industry for cooling systems, for example, but also incorporated into the reservoir system to support supplies of drinking water (Singapore on the Web 2003 ).

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5 THE POWER OF PROTESTATION: DEGAZETTING THE LOWER PEIRCE RESERVOIR CATCHMENT AREA

INTRODUCTION This chapter analyses a proposal made by the government in 1990 to build a golf course in a gazetted nature reserve, the reaction this proposal generated from NGOs and the public, how the decision to halt the plan was eventually made in 1992, and how the case has affected subsequent nature conservation versus golf course development debates and decisions. After the precedent set by the conservation of Sungei Buloh, the type of interaction structures institutionalized among the actors of engagement, the organizational forms established, and the strong support the project received from the public, the mere idea of the government proposing degazetting a nature reserve to build a golf course was unthinkable. Nevertheless, the inconceivable happened. This case is chosen since, while also reflecting a powerful instance of engagement between the government and NGOs, it contrasts with the Sungei Buloh case in terms of the motivation for NGOs to get involved, the strategies employed by government and non-government actors during the course of the debate, the type of interaction resulting from the engagement, and the structures institutionalized thereafter. If Sungei Buloh was conserved through proactive persuasion, reactive protestation was required to preserve the Lower Peirce Catchment Area. NGOs would have to adjust continuously to the government’s ad hoc approach to land use planning and conservation. 221

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As with the Sungei Buloh case, this case further expresses the practice of disciplined governance as an application of the theoretical governance approach to governing discussed in Chapters Two and Three and further expanded in Chapter Seven.

BACKGROUND The Lower Peirce Reservoir,1 formerly known as the Kallang River Reservoir, is a major public works project that was started at the end of the nineteenth century by the British colonial government to supply water to the island’s growing population (see Appendix II: Singapore Green Map 2000). The forest around the reservoir has long been recognized as rich in flora and fauna (Ecology Asia 2004). The catchment area2 of Lower Peirce is 123.8 hectares, part of the 1,622 hectares which make up the Central Water Catchment Area protected under the Nature Reserves Act (repealed Cap. 205).3 Together with the Upper Peirce and MacRitchie Reservoirs, Lower Peirce is managed by the Public Utilities Board (PUB), a statutory board under the Ministry of the Environment since April 2001.4 In Table 5.1, a description of the Central Catchment Area is presented.

GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL AND NGO RESPONSE Government Proposal Sometime in 1990, as it eventually emerged, the PUB considered constructing two 18-hole golf courses in the Lower Peirce Reservoir catchment area, although the area was gazetted as a nature reserve. The PUB’s plans were found out by a member of the NSS sometime in May 1991,5 although, as the then Minister for National Development Dhanabalan later stated, “no announcement was made by my ministry or the Planning Department” (Straits Times, 1 August 1992). When the NSS learned about the plans, it immediately opposed them and sent a letter to Dhanabalan in July 1991, arguing that the development would split the area in two, cutting corridors needed for fauna to cruise the land. Dhanabalan replied in January 1992, arguing that no decision was to be made until the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) commissioned by the PUB were ready. These were expected in September 1992 (Koh and Ho no date; I (15) 27 January 2004, Appendix XII). By May 1992, the news had also reached the local media. An article in the Straits Times announced that the PUB’s appointed consultants 222

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TABLE 5.1 Central Catchment Area Particulars of site

Location 1° 22-N 103° 48-E in the centre of Singapore Island Area: 1,622 hectares Altitude: 10–72 metres

Description of site

The site covers the area bordered by Mandai Road to the north, Bukit Timah Expressway to the west, Pan Island Expressway and Lornie Road to the south, and Upper Thomson Road to the east. It mainly consists of a substantial tract of undulating, secondary forests more or less separated into segments by four reservoirs. This stretch of forest is the most extensive in Singapore and although heavily logged in the past, is now in a regenerated state. A limited stand of primary forest still survives close to the MacRitchie Reservoir. To the south-east of Seletar Reservoir is an area of freshwater swamp forest, which is unique to Singapore.

Land tenure and use

A gazetted nature reserve, serving as a water catchment area under the management of the National Parks Board and the Public Utilities Board.

Fauna

The forest is crucial for the preservation of a number of forest birds now extinct elsewhere in Singapore. At least forty-four resident bird species are present in the forest, twenty-three of which are found nowhere else in Singapore, such as the crested serpent eagle (Spilornis cheela), the changeable hawk eagle (Spizataeus cirrhatus), and the spotted wood owl (Strix seloputo). The forest is also an important refuge for migrants, such as the forest wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus), the tiger shrike (Lanius tigrinus), and the Indian cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus). The forest is also an important habitat for several uncommon forest mammals that still survive in Singapore, such as the lesser mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus), the pangolin (Manis javanica), the flying lemur (Cynocephalus variegatus), the Malayan flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus), and the slow loris (Nycticebus cougang). Reptiles include the king cobra, the red-tailed racer, and the stentor gecko.

Flora

In the MacRitchie Reservoir area, there are large trees, but the majority of trees and plants are secondary growth.

Source: Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature in Singapore NSS 1990, pp. 40–44. 223

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were working on the environmental impact report to be submitted for approval to the Ministry of National Development (Straits Times, 10 May 1992). Neither the names of the consultants, a zoologist and a botanist, nor the government-commissioned EIA were ever made public. Table 5.2 presents a chronology of the events. The rationale behind choosing this particular site — or in fact any other site for golf course development — was that water catchment areas, as well as aircraft flying zones, are unsuitable for housing or other intensive uses (Singapore Parliamentary Reports System, 7, 1, 55, 15, 29 March 1990; Straits Times, 9 and 16 August 1995). For example, later in 1995, it was reported that the Singapore Turf Club was moving out of its 140-hectare site at Bukit Timah to free it for housing and was proposing to build a golf course in an area surrounding the Upper Peirce Reservoir and neighbouring the Central Water Catchment Area (Straits Times, 5 July 1995; Appendix II: Singapore Green Map). Such rationale continued to determine site choices through the 1990s and into the new millennium. Moreover, the government had chosen golf as part of its tourism policy and was implementing it in earnest. For example, in 1999, the Straits Times reported that Singapore was to be marketed as a golf vacation destination in Asia. A plan initiated by the Singapore Tourism Board proposed a “play-in-three-countries” package that included Singapore, Johor (Malaysia), and Bintan and Batam (Indonesia). Regulations were being eased by the Tourism Board to facilitate easy access to all three places (Straits Times, 7 August 1999).

Response of the Nature Society Singapore (NSS) Back in 1990, when the NSS had drawn its own Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature, it had already warned of existing and possible disturbances to the Central Catchment Area where the Lower Peirce Reservoir sits. Besides problems of poaching and threats from feral dogs, the Society argued that the area was heavily used by the military for jungle warfare training. For example, the cutting down of young trees to clear spaces for camping had thinned the forest out and caused soil erosion. But the biggest threat the Society envisioned then was the “encroachment and whittling down of the boundary to create golf courses, firing ranges, and sensitive industrial sites”. The forest, the NSS maintained, “is already under threat in this regard and because of its limited size cannot take any more large-scale encroachments if the viability of the wildlife is not deteriorated further” (NSS Master Plan for Conservation of Nature 1990, pp. 42–43). Some developments within the area had already caused soil erosion, leading to heavy siltation 224

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TABLE 5.2 Lower Peirce Reservoir Golf Course Proposal: Chronology of Events Chronology of Events • October 1990, NSS publishes its own Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature, calling for mandatory EIAs for future projects. PUB “proposes” to develop two 18-hole golf courses on the north banks of Lower Peirce Reservoir (area: 124 ha.). In National Parks Bill, Second Reading in Parliament, reference is made to the rationale behind building golf courses on nature reserves (Singapore Parliament Reports System, 7, 1, 55, 15, 29 March 1990). • January 1991, NParks agrees for PUB to engage consultants to conduct independent EIA. EIA is not published as it is not required by law. May 1991, NSS finds out about the proposal and in July 1991 sends letter to Dhanabalan, then Minister for National Development, opposing it. NSS notes the Lower Peirce Reservoir is not part of Concept Plan development projects. August 1991, PUB engages a botanist and a zoologist recommended by NParks to conduct an EIA. The process is internal, involving various government agencies (see below). • January 1992, Dhanabalan replies to NSS letter. He announces that the governmentcommissioned EIA would be ready by September 1992. May 1992, NSS deploys members and volunteers to survey the flora and fauna of Lower Peirce Reservoir. June 1992, Rio Conference (U.N. Conference on Environment and Development — Earth Summit) takes place. Professor Tommy Koh, NSS Patron, heads the Singapore delegation. 31 July 1992, in a parliamentary session on Oral Questions and Answers, Dhanabalan replies to questions on the project, stating, among other things, “my Ministry is as aware, as anybody else of the need to protect our nature reserves”. August 1992, Dhanabalan states that his Chief Planner is unlikely to approve the project if the EIA indicated extensive damage. He also reports that the government-commissioned EIA is finalized. It concludes that the project will not damage the environment provided the layout is changed. PUB makes a formal proposal to URA (revised 27 holes instead of 36 holes). URA disapproves the project. On 3 August, the Straits Times reports Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying that the “rationale for building golf courses still prevails”. 17 August 1992, IPS and NCE (now SEC) organize a forum to discuss the implications of mandatory EIAs recommended at the Rio Conference. • September 1992, NSS publishes its own EIA opened to public scrutiny. It conducts a signature campaign gathering 17,000 signatures opposing the project. • October 1992, proposal put on hold till today. Sources: Compiled by the author from: Koh and Ho no date; Tan 2001; Parliamentary Debates, Singapore Parliament, retrieved on 12 May 2003; NSS Archives. 225

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which adversely affected water purity and collection, as well as the many rare species of freshwater life in the streams. Also, the Society suggested then that the site “should remain undisturbed and undeveloped as a forest reserve, not only for the purpose of water catchment but also for the preservation of rare and scarce wildlife” (NSS Master Plan for Conservation of Nature 1990, pp. 42–43). The proposal to construct a golf course in Lower Peirce was, thus, strongly opposed by the NSS. On learning about the plans, the NSS surveyed the area’s fauna and flora for three months and conducted a full EIA in an effort to gather evidence of the negative impact the development would have on the ecosystem (Wee et al. 1992; Sunday Times, 10 May 1992). The NSS EIA is a 32-page well-documented study including very detailed baseline studies on the flora and fauna found in the area and the impact a golf course development would have on the ecosystem, the freshwater habitat, the water quality, and so on. The recommendations made to the government ranged from finding another site for the golf course project to halting the project altogether to show the world that development need not damage the environment. Particularly lucid are the arguments put forward to ensure gazetted nature reserves are respected. Citing Singapore’s report to the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) Preparatory Committee, the Society pointed out that in that document, the Singapore Government had declared that the existing nature reserves, totalling 2,079 hectares, will be preserved. In the draft to the first Singapore Green Plan published in 1993 and tabled in 1992 at the UNCED, the government had renewed that commitment by increasing the percentage of protected areas from 2 to 5 per cent. NSS also recalled that the 1991 Concept Plan, entitled Living the Next Lap,6 also recorded the government commitment to keep natural areas of rich diversity. The fact that the NSS had conducted an EIA was reported in the local media. The Straits Times quoted Professor Tommy Koh, NSS Patron, saying that “a golf course on a nature reserve and protected catchment forest constitutes a violation of the ethic which we have always professed to believe in and practised” (Straits Times, 1 October 1992). He did not question the project of building another golf course, but of building it on this site. Moreover, the Society opposed the development of the zone on the basis that it was gazetted as part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve under the National Parks Act of 1990. They also argued that a development of Lower Peirce Reservoir was not in the URA’s Concept Plan 1991 and that there were already 15 sites designated for golf course development in addition to the already existing 14 sites (Straits Times, 1 October 1992). 226

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Besides conducting an EIA, the NSS also organized a signature campaign in June 1992 with 17,000 people signing the petition opposing development. The signatures were never submitted to the government as the project was halted before this became necessary.7 As the government found out about the signature campaign, its Internal Security Agency (ISA) decided to summon the NSS then President, Wee Yeow Chin. Wee was contacted by the ISA through his then employer, the National University of Singapore (NUS), who arranged for a meeting. He was visited by ISA officers at his NUS office. The ISA wanted to check possible links the then Malayan Nature Society may have had with Malaysia and the purpose of the signature campaign. No further action followed from this one-time visit (I (16) 28 January 2004). A television programme was also broadcast on the debate. This included a pre-recorded message from Professor Tommy Koh who, shortly afterwards, left for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (I (2) 11 January 2003; I (16) 28 January 2004, both Appendix XII). The project has been on hold since then. In correspondence files made available to the author by the NSS, twentythree pieces of correspondence on the issue were found. The correspondence begins on 29 May 1991 and ends on 5 October 1992. During that period, the NSS consulted experts on the effects of chemicals used such as pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers on water pollution (Letters from Shimin Undo Zenkoku Centre 17 June 1991; Citizens Alliance for Saving the Atmosphere and the Earth 21 June 1991). It also surveyed various national country clubs on the type of chemicals used in their golf courses and the frequency with which they were used. Responses from country clubs were mixed, with some sending detailed information, like the Keppel Club, Sentosa Golf Club, and Jurong Country Club, and others refusing to disclose information, like the Raffles Country Club (Letters from Raffles Club, 22 February 1992; Tanah Merah Country Club, 29 February 1992; Keppel Club, 10 March 1992; Sentosa Golf Club, 11 March 1992; Jurong Country Club, 16 March 1992). The NSS also requested the Water Department of the PUB to provide a list of approved chemicals allowed in golf courses within water catchment areas (Letter from Public Utilities Board, 26 March 1992). Most relevant to this research, since they reveal the politics of engagement between government-“trusted brokers”8 (Koh and Ho no date; Faerman, McCaffrey and Van Slyke 1999) and environmental NGOs, are two communications between the then President of the NSS, Wee Yeow Chin, and its Patron, Tommy Koh. In a letter dated 9 September 1992, the former President announced to its Patron that the NSS EIA is now published. Then he adds: 227

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However, National Parks has requested us not to distribute it to government — especially to PUB — and to the media for the following reasons:9 PUB’s EIA is now with the Ministry of National Development and National Parks is countering it officially, making use of information contained in NSS’ EIA. According to National Parks, it would be easier for PUB to back down from building the golf course as a result of another ministry’s opposition than if opposition comes from a NGO. If NSS’ EIA goes public, National Parks will not be able to make use of our report.

Then the former President remarked: By not going public with our EIA, NSS will provide an avenue for PUB to back down gracefully. On the other hand, if we do not use our EIA now to our benefit, its impact may be very much less later on. Should, by any chance, National Parks lose out to PUB and the fact is made public, any impact our EIA may have will be minimum then. Can we have your views, please? (Letter from former NSS President to NSS Patron 9 September 1992)

Tommy Koh, who had just returned to Singapore after a trip to China, replied on the same day through his personal assistant. The copy of this faxed letter is partially faded but one can still read the following: “With reference to paragraph 2 of your … Professor … Send NSS EIA report to all MPs and NMPs, Editors of all newspapers, and all Members of the National Council” (Faxed Letter from private assistant of NSS Patron to NSS President, 9 September 1992). Proof that the NSS EIA was sent out to those indicated by Koh are the various letters acknowledging receipt of the document that followed (Letters from Chief Librarian of NUS, 18 September 1992; the Cabinet Office, 19 September 1992; the Ministry of Information and the Arts,10 19 September 1992; the British Council, 21 September 1992; and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, 29 September 1992).

Echoing the NSS Response: Public Reaction The NSS opposition to the project found groundswell support in the community. From May to November 1992, a steady flow of opinion letters and reports appeared in the local papers. Some are puzzled that the parties involved in the proposal are the same as those appointed as guardians of nature. One contributor suggests that nature reserves around reservoirs should 228

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be respected like “sacred cows” and never sacrificed to any alternative use except when water shortages justify their enlargement. “What is more critical,” he asks, “golf or water?” (Straits Times, 14 May 1992). Another contributor, in this case from the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects, expresses his professional body’s concern about developing a nature reserve. “We should not view the nature reserves as a land bank reserved for future development, but rather as a permanent national asset” (Straits Times, 1 June 1992). He lists a series of adverse consequences such development will have, such as increased soil erosion, degradation of water quality, increased siltation and contamination of reservoirs by runoff water from turf treated with pesticides. He also calls for the NParks to opine on the matter and for a thorough EIA to be conducted by a multidisciplinary expert team whose report ought to be made public. Ultimately, this contributor suggests, it is the public who should decide whether the project should go ahead or not (Straits Times, 1 June 1992). This opinion letter received a reply from the Urban Development Authority five days later, claiming that a decision had not been made on the golf course proposal. The reply is another clear revelation of the URA’s mindset at the time regarding nature conservation. It first refers to the Concept Plan 1991 as the document identifying areas of ecological value that will be kept. But then it moves on to affirm that “whenever possible, such assets will be put to compatible use, so that as many Singaporeans as possible can enjoy them” (Straits Times, 6 June 1992). This clearly indicates that fringe developments like recreational facilities and other public access installations were not ruled out of the nature reserves. Moreover, the URA spokesperson reiterates that it would not stop “worthy development” under public pressure. In an August report by the then Straits Times political commentator, Cherian George, then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s thinking on the matter is presented.11 He affirmed that “Singaporeans obviously enjoy playing golf; an extra golf course will be something which they would appreciate” (Straits Times, 3 August 1992). He urged Singaporeans not to be emotional about the environment, making it clear that if the need arose, a golf course would be built in a nature reserve. Three days earlier, Minister Dhanabalan, talking in Parliament, had affirmed that no firm plans had been made: I would like to assure the House that my ministry is as aware as anyone else of the need to protect our nature reserves … no planning application has been made yet and when it is made, it will be considered in the usual way (Straits Times, 1 August 1992). 229

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Perhaps the most contentious report on the matter was made in the 8 August 1992 Straits Times Insight column “Thinking Aloud: Go Green, But Don’t Confuse Hard Choices with Polemical Hysteria” by Cheng Shoong Tat. He makes the argument of sacrificing growth for the environment. He implicitly suggests that nature should be financially measured and that conservationists should not pursue their proposals if they do not make economic sense: For each item of proposed expenditure on improving the environment, attention ought to be directed at the best alternative use for the proposed spending and how the resources can be best employed among competing demands. I am relieved, populist environmentalism has not caught on here in a big way, and so we managed to put the Bukit Timah Expressway across the nature reserve (Straits Times, 8 August 1992).

Cheng’s views were refuted by a reader who argued that it was impossible to assign a price tag to ethical values like nature heritage, and drew attention to the recognition that the Singapore authorities were giving to preserving these assets by putting aside three per cent of the land for nature reserves. Cheng replied that his purpose was not to advocate the building of the golf course, but to remind Singaporeans of competing land use demands (Straits Times, 12 August 1992). Another reader suggested that NGOs conduct a survey calling on people to give a price to “intangibles” by asking questions such as: What value will you give to saving a forest? What would you be willing to accept as compensation for losing it? The contributor suggested that both people visiting Lower Peirce and those not visiting it should be surveyed to compare the differences. Responses could then be used to extrapolate the annual value that the population places on the undeveloped site (Straits Times, 29 October 1992). Earlier reports had conveyed the message that there was an “absence of consistent policy on the use of land on which golf courses are developed” (Straits Times, 25 April 1991). Interestingly though, the Ministry of National Development had suggested that land allocated to golf courses was either that which could not be used for other purposes, like “protected” water catchment areas surrounding reservoirs, or land earmarked for future long-term development used as golf courses in the interim (Straits Times, 25 April 1991). Subsequent reports also continued to suggest incongruence in government policy even after the project was halted at the end of 1992. 230

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GOVERNANCE IN ACTION: CONTEXT AND ORGANIZATIONS Context and Policy The global and regional governance trends that had characterized the late 1980s continued to influence the way the Singapore Government went about making decisions in the early 1990s. Nationally, a change of leadership had furthered the governance trend to governing. The new leadership brought about the incipient institutionalization of public consultation. The final decision taken in this case shows a certain government sensibility to public opposition and, mostly, to well-documented alternative views presented by NGOs. It also shows that public consultation before policies are formulated was far from institutionalized. Overall, the case illustrated to the government: that interest groups and ordinary citizens were, from now on, going to protest if the government was to continue an all-out development policy. The Rio Conference (1992) was about to take place when this case was debated and the opportunity presented itself to use this case as an example of “sustainable development”. Interest groups, the public, and “trusted brokers” had this to their favour. It was difficult for the government to pursue its plans with scientific evidence and public support clearly against them. Although, as is clear from comments made then and subsequently by government officials, the case had no impact on the government mindset on development, after this episode took place, the policy process was no longer top-down and unidirectional. The subsequent institutionalization of a certain form of public consultation on land-use policy supports this argument, although the main policy instrument through which this could be institutionalized, mandatory and open EIAs, were neither then, nor now, institutionalized. In fact, around the time this episode was being debated in the media, the lack of mandatory and public EIAs was also intensely discussed. Cherian George of the Straits Times reported that at a public forum organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), the National Environment Council12 and the NSS, the implications for Singapore of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) at Rio in June 1992 were being reviewed. Loopholes in environmental legislation were a main theme discussed. Opposing views had emerged between an environmental law expert arguing for legislation on the impact assessment of projects, and others arguing that the current provisions were adequate. Lye Ling Heng, of the NUS-based Asia Pacific Centre for Environment Law (APCEL), argued that the use of EIAs was part and parcel of the Rio Declaration announced after 231

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the conference. On the other hand, Foo Kim Boon, of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, said that although Singapore had no EIA legislation, there were other mechanisms of assessment. This was corroborated by Khoo Chin Hean of ENV, who argued that significantly large projects were already included in the territory’s Master Plan and, thus, their environmental impact had been assessed (Straits Times, 16 August 1992). A letter from Gillian Tan of the URA followed in response to George’s report. She argued that the URA does not treat environmental issues on an ad hoc basis, claiming that it comprehensively identified all natural assets to be conserved when it drew up the Singapore Concept Plan (Straits Times, 20 August 1992). Tan’s letter drew a reply from YC Wee, then President of the NSS. He maintained that Singapore, unlike other countries, had no EIA legislation and, thus, it was unlikely for developers to undertake EIAs voluntarily. Even if this was the case, he doubted these EIAs would be objective. He called for a specification of projects requiring EIAs and for the assessments to be made available to the public. Moreover, he claimed, EIAs ought to be evaluated by a panel of independent experts who would then make recommendations to the government (Straits Times, 22 August 1992). In another commentary, Cherian George argued that EIAs are not meant to be weapons to stop development projects. They are simply decisionmaking tools that include environmental concerns into the development process. As such, they are meant to be considered together with other tools available to policy-makers such as cost-benefit analysis, technical and scientific reports, and studies of the social and political implications of projects (Straits Times, 12 September 1992). To date, Singapore has not made EIAs mandatory. The Assistant Director of the Biodiversity Centre and the Chief Operating Officer of the NParks confirmed that the Singapore Government was “not ready in terms of legal EIAs” as such, but that internally, it does have a procedure that broadly follows the United Nations Environmental Programme guidelines and that tightly captures the EIA spirit (I (13) 26 January 2004, Appendix XII). They explained that the Master Planning Committee that draws the Master Plan for new development projects gathers views from the various government agencies concerned. In line with the NParks’ mandate of guarding the country’s biodiversity, the NParks contributes to the process by doing a rapid assessment of the value of the flora and fauna of the area proposed for development, especially of the effects development may have on trees and nature reserves. Depending on the findings, the NParks may then do more detailed studies, assess the impact, look at mitigation measures, and set monitoring programmes 232

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for six months to a year to evaluate how biodiversity changes, before, during, and after the development. The NParks then sets the Terms of Reference of environmental impact assessment for that particular project. If the development project is done by the public sector, the NParks assessment usually suffices. If it is a private sector development, the NParks usually requires the developer to commission an EIA (I (13) 26 January 2004, Appendix XII).

Organizations Most government agencies involved in this debate, namely, the Ministry of National Development, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the National Parks Board, have been discussed in detail in Chapter Four. Fundamental organizational changes took place in the three agencies from 1989 to 1992 in terms of function, administrative level, and organizational type, with the URA and the NParks being established then (see Chapter 4). Government officials and NSS members suggest that the fact that Dhanabalan was still Minister for National Development when this episode took place may have had something to do with the final decision. As with the case of the conservation of Sungei Buloh, Dhanabalan understood the need to preserve natural heritage. The Parks and Recreation Department and the former National Parks Board were clearly supportive of the NSS and the public’s views. The other government agency involved was the PUB.

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) The PUB represented the government’s position in its proposal to build the golf course. In 1992, the PUB, first established in 1963 (Foo 1992, p. 116), was the water, electricity and gas services board. Consistent with the reason given by the Board to propose the construction of a golf course in the Lower Peirce Catchment, the PUB discharged its community services responsibility by maintaining and upgrading its five reservoir parks of MacRitchie, Upper Peirce, Lower Peirce, Upper Seletar, and Kranji for public use. For example, in 1992, the PUB also undertook the building of a nine-hole public golf course and driving range at Upper Seletar Reservoir Park (PUB Annual Report 1992, p. 13). No mention is made in that year’s annual report of the proposal to build a course at Lower Peirce. A reconstituted PUB is today Singapore’s water supply authority, a statutory board established under the Ministry of the Environment (ENV) after the repeal of the Public Utilities Act (Cap. 261) and the re-enactment of the Public Utilities Act 2001 on 1 April 2001. The PUB’s other previous 233

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functions as regulator of the electricity and gas industries were corporatized in 1995 (Jones 1999) and are now placed under a new statutory board, the Energy Market Authority of Singapore within the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). With this, responsibility for the reconstituted PUB (water supply) is transferred to the ENV from the MTI. In its new capacity, the PUB absorbs the Drainage and Sewerage Department currently within the ENV. With the addition of these departments, plus the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System Department, the PUB has been enlarged to comprise ten departments (Appendix VII: PUB Organizational Chart). The PUB’s vision is “to be a living, learning and caring organisation” (Public Utilities Board 1992). Its mission is “to supply an adequate supply of water at affordable cost by maximizing and diversifying water supply, appropriate treatment and disposal of water” (Public Utilities Board 1992). In relation to reservoir parks management, the MacRitchie and Peirce Reservoir Parks, Upper and Lower, are managed by the PUB, while the NParks manages Bedok Reservoir Park and Lower Seletar Reservoir Park.

NGO: The Nature Society Singapore (NSS) The role of the Nature Society in this case can be clearly elicited from its proposal. Its capacity in 1992 had only been further enhanced by its success in the Sungei Buloh case and its putting together a Master Plan for Conservation of Nature in 1990. As it is also instructive from subsequent debates discussed hereafter, the Society remained scientifically savvy and politically committed to the nature conservation cause, albeit not always successfully.

CONTINUOUS DEBATE The victory in protecting Lower Peirce has neither stopped the government from approving the building of more golf courses, nor from, every now and then, attempting to approve “developments” in nature areas. In 1993, another golf course was proposed, this time next to the Lower Seletar Reservoir, also located in the Central Catchment Area. The nine-hole thirteen-hectare course to be developed by the Executive Golf Course on land owned by the PUB appeared to be the alternative to its failed proposal at Lower Peirce. The PUB, interestingly, claimed that the project was necessary as part of its commitment to provide recreational facilities for the public. It also affirmed that this time, stringent measures were taken to make it as environmentally sound as possible. 234

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Among other things, the PUB promised to use biodegradable chemicals to treat the turf and to keep as many trees as was practicable (Straits Times, 7 May 1993). The course was constructed and it is labelled in golf course guides as an “environmentally conscious course” (Golf Asia 2004). In 1995, as the proposal to construct an eighteen-hole golf course to be developed by the Singapore Turf Club near the Upper Peirce Reservoir was announced in the media, another round of debates emerged. The area proposed for development was eighty hectares of land owned by the URA, outside the PUB owned and managed Central Water Catchment. Sixty-five hectares were to be dedicated to golf course facilities while the remaining fifteen hectares would be sold for residential development. The whole project was expected to be completed by March 1999. Besides the debate between the conservationist and conventional development approaches that emerged after the announcement, this case also highlighted another aspect of land allocation; that is, the issue of land swaps. The proposal meant swapping land from the existing location of the Singapore Turf Club at its 140-hectare site in Dunearn Road — a site that had acquired higher housing value — to an area of sixtyfive hectares outside Upper Peirce in the fringes of the Central Water Catchment Nature Reserve — a site not wholly suitable for housing development, but suitable for golf course development, according to the URA criterion. The swap also included the URA’s offering 81.5 hectares of a site in Kranji where the Club’s 60-year-old race course was to be relocated (Straits Times, 5 July 1995). The announcement was followed by opinion letters questioning the development. These soon received an interesting reply from Tay Cheng Khoon of the Sports section of the Straits Times. He argued that in strictly economic terms, Singapore needed many more courses as demand exceeded supply. He then went on to argue that there were misconceptions about golf courses, relating, first, to land rental prices. These, Tay argued, have changed from the nominal fees paid in the past to market prices paid today; winning bids are now used as benchmarks for subsequent golf properties. The second misconception was that each proposal increases the number of golf courses. In this case, he argued, the government was taking back the Turf Club site and exchanging it for a new site, not developing an additional site. The third misconception was the issue of golf being expensive and only for the élite; a good reason, in Tay’s view, to build more courses and, thus, lower costs. Finally, there was the misconception that golf courses made no economic sense, which Tay addressed by saying that golf courses ensured a steady flow of tourists, attracted much needed “foreign talent”, and increased the value of nearby properties (Straits Times, 25 July 1995). 235

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In response to the proposal, an imaginative suggestion was made by Ravi Veloo in his Straits Times Thursday column. His purpose was to offer ideas for non-confrontational ways of addressing environmental concerns. Looking at the issue from a free-market point of view, he suggested that people who opposed the building of the golf course could offer the Club S$100 not to do so. If 10,000 people made the offer, the Club would have S$1 million. Donors then should attach a wish to it. His wish was to “see the land turn(ed) into a nature reserve, open to the public without restrictions, and if there is any money left over, to have some trees planted”. Of course, he argued S$1 million was a pittance in comparison with the S$50 million the Club was to spend on the development; nevertheless, he added, “it will be seen as part and parcel of a package that includes goodwill from the public and higher prestige for the club”. He further argued that the usual “appeal, protest or give up” course of action would not work in this case. Appeal would not work and protest was out of the question in Singapore, so he queried whether they should give up. He ended by saying that he hoped others would make further alternative suggestions (Straits Times, 27 July 1995). Ten days later, in a letter contributed by the URA, the Authority defended its land allocation policy by arguing that golf course sites are not suitable for intensive use and that the ENV and the PUB are regulating chemicals used to treat the turf. Koh, of the URA, argued that “the safeguarding of land for golf courses is just part of the plan to provide a wide range of leisure activities”. Golf courses would make up 1,450 hectares or 18 per cent of the total area of parks, green, and recreation areas, she affirmed (Straits Times, 9 August 1995). The debate moved on into the months of July and August with replies from NSS members and two more letters from the public (Straits Times, 12 July 1995). Sharp and Lim of the NSS argued that with scarce land that is unable to satisfy military, housing, transport and commercial needs, it is difficult to justify allotment to golf (Straits Times, 10 August 1995). Besides the obvious loss of flora and fauna that results from the construction of a golf course, environmentalists reiterated their concern about regulations on the use of chemicals and fertilizers in areas within water catchments from which drinking water is abstracted. There were also concerns about the possible chemical run off in underground water; the chemical hazards caused by germicides, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and colouring agents; the sprayed chemicals in the trees and plants landscaping the courses; and the water wasted in irrigation of lawns, around 3,000 to 5,000 tonnes a day. They finally argued that without mandatory EIA studies, it was hard to get hold of 236

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hard data about specific projects, but that they were still concerned about various issues. First, the government was allowing 19 golf courses and eventually 25, or 2 per cent of available land, when public housing for more than 87 per cent of the population occupied 6 per cent of the land. Second, with water shortages being a problem confronting Singapore, golf courses seemed to be an unlikely answer to the shortages, especially in the absence of water recycling systems. Third, the increased demand for golf now may not be able to compensate for a decreased demand later, when it will be too late to reverse matters as permanent changes may have been made to the natural environment (Straits Times, 10 August 1995). Debates on golf courses versus nature conservation moved on into the new millennium, with the same question being asked over and over again: Why is so much land needed for golf? In an URA convened discussion on the latest Concept Plan 2001 attended by 400 people, there was an explosion of rousing applause when someone asked the question of why more courses were needed (Straits Times, 14 December 2000). Yet, it was the opinion of one reporter that the debate was unnecessary. He was optimistic that to meet the additional 4,000 hectares13 needed for a projected population of 5.5 million people by 2040, the government would continue reclaiming land from the sea, increasing building plot ratios, facilitating access to golf courses on offshore islands like Batam and Bintan and so on. But he seemed to imply that some existing uses like nature areas may not need to be given away to development. Nevertheless, if conservationists and the public insisted on green areas, he argued, the solution could be to build small golf courses and parks next to major HDB estates to ensure all tastes were catered for and the general public had access to golf (Straits Times, 14 December 2000). In November 2000, the Straits Times had reported on the recommendations of the government-appointed focus group on land conservation, which was part of the consultation exercise for Concept Plan 2001. The focus group had suggested that twenty-two golf courses were enough and that no new ones should be constructed. Echoing these recommendations, Parliament had debated whether a cap ought to be put on constructing private golf courses. In April 2001, the issue was taken back into the public forum when it emerged that the Singapore Armed Forces Reservists Association (SAFRA) was proposing a second golf course as the existing one in Changi Coast Walk was overloaded. The new course was also to be developed by the National Service Resort and Country Club (NSRCC). The site proposed for the new course was the marshes along the Kranji Reservoir, a designated nature area in the Singapore Green Plan 1993. The proposal had found support from both the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Ministry of National 237

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Development (MND). The Minister for National Development argued that “since there is a National Service Man (NSman) in virtually every Singaporean household and since golf is a sport that is growing in popularity among NSmen, I believe this is a recommendation which deserves our support” (Straits Times, 6 April 2001). The site was just undergoing clearance for radiation from a nearby BBC transmission station, the report stated, but immediate plans to conduct an EIA were not on the agenda. The reporter insightfully questions the URA’s long-term belief that golf courses are not major developments and, thus, can be constructed on land bordering reservoirs. He argues that activity surrounding golf courses, from people moving around in buggies and using club house facilities, to treatment given to the turf, is as intensive as that occurring, for example, in low-rise housing developments. He also questions whether it was the wish of all 300,000 servicemen to have a new golf course, or only that of the existing 8,000 members playing at the Changi course. He suggests that instead of building another golf course, the NSRCC could liaise with private courses for places, or find alternative sites to the designated nature area, such as unused industrial sites or old landfills (Straits Times, 6 April 2001). In March 2002, the press reported that there was evidence that the debate on the Kranji golf course proposal was still going on. The NSS was willing to offer expert opinion on the impact the golf course could have on the Kranji site. After a few exchanges, the NSS did not manage to get either the design plans or the EIA report SAFRA had commissioned to two NUS biologists. Thus, the NSS decided to go public after conducting its own survey on the flora and fauna of the area from December 2001 to January 2002. The NSS wanted the developer and planning authorities to consider moving the course 200 metres inland from the reservoir to protect the marshes. The NSS was pleased that SAFRA had agreed to return seventytwo hectares of land to the government to create a buffer zone between the course and the marshes, but considered the moving of the whole course inland also a must. Talks reached a standstill with the NSS hoping that such a breakdown would not be a major setback to the overall dialogue on green issues (Straits Times, 16 and 23 March 2002; Today, 27 and 29 March 2002; Streats, 5 April 2002). In April, reports indicated that the NSRCC would be meeting URA and NParks officials to discuss the NSS concerns about the project. On the occasion, the NSS reiterated its proposal to push the course 200 metres inland and to integrate two rich habitats located in the surrounding area in the course design so that existing vegetation need not be cleared and ponds need not be filled (Straits Times, 28 April 2002). Finally, on 30 April, the 238

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papers reported that a compromise between the NSS and SAFRA had been reached the previous day. The course would be pushed sixty metres inland, a move NSS President Dr Geh Min welcomed. In addition, the NSRCC consultants’ mitigating recommendations were taken into account in the final course design plans. These included building a protective bund for the marshland at the reservoir’s edge, keeping plants in certain areas, reforesting the area with native flora to create connectors for the fauna, building new ponds and marshes to replace those filled in, and creating a nature trail connecting Kranji with Sungei Buloh (Straits Times, 30 April 2002). On 5 May, the papers reported that the URA had convened a press briefing to which the NSS, the NParks, and the NSRCC were invited. Although the press report is not explicit about it, it implies that the briefing was intended to disclose and reach consensus on the EIA reported by the two consultants. The NSS accepted the findings in principle, but, interestingly enough, added that the Society did not rule out leasing land from the government for ecological projects. The Society’s intention seems not to have materialized to date. The consultants’ findings established that the site’s existing vegetation was mainly secondary forest, the flora was of lower quality than that found in nature reserves, the 141 species of birds found on the site were common all over Singapore, none of the 28 species of reptiles were endangered, and the native fauna found — the house rat and the plaintail squirrel — were also common. In summary, it was the consultants’ opinion that the golf course was not built at the expense of nature (Straits Times, 5 May 2002). A year afterwards, the debate re-emerged when the NSS claimed that the Club was not keeping its side of the deal. The NSS allegations arose from four issues. First was the evidence that plans of reclaiming Sungei Jelutong that were not previously discussed were now underway. The golf course developer argued that it needed to push out the coastline by twenty-five to thirty metres to accommodate one full hole and part of three others essential to the overall design. The papers also reported that the Jelutong Bay was part of the land leased to the Club and reclamation had already been approved by the URA and the PUB. The NSS second allegation against the Club was that the onemetre green corridor left along the upper boundary of the course was insufficient. The NSS spokesperson, Ho Hua Chew, requested a wider corridor be allowed to ensure golfers would not interfere with wildlife. Thirdly, the NSS was concerned with the Club’s plans to plant new trees and build new ponds rather than keep existing vegetation and marshes. Finally, an acacia tree serving as a nesting ground for Baya Weavers was chopped down. To these allegations, the Club responded by saying they had done all they could to 239

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accommodate nature. With regard to the chopping down of the acacia tree, the Club argued that the nests had been abandoned way before this happened (Straits Times, 3 July 2003). Five days later, the forum pages of the Straits Times carried the NRSCC’s reply to the NSS allegations, stating that the Club had not only kept its side of the agreement, but had also gone beyond it by incorporating other mitigating measures. The Club claimed that the “issues raised by NSS were not part of the 29 April 2002 agreement” and that “NSS had, subsequent to the agreement, submitted additional requests on May 21” (Straits Times, 8 July 2003). These included a sixty-metre buffer zone adjoining Jelutong Bay and a marsh channel linking the marshland to Jelutong Bay. The Club declared its willingness to accommodate these additional requests as long as they did not interfere with the overall course design. The Club also recalled that on 10 September 2002, in a meeting with the NSS in the presence of URA and NParks representatives, it had already explained “why these two requests could not be fully accommodated” (Straits Times, 8 July 2003). The eighteen-hole golf course, completed in 2004, is Singapore’s 23rd golf course. Its architect, golf course designer Gary Player, affirmed that it was his responsibility “to design golf courses that not only bring pleasure to golfers but (are) also a gift to nature” (National Service Resort and Country Club 2004). With a name like the Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course to emphasize conservation and re-creation of natural habitats, the project was constructed following a different approach from what has been done to date. This is clearly not a sweeping victory for conservationists, yet the different approach indicates that even golf courses can no longer escape the social responsibility of being conceived in harmony with nature. Besides, and fortunately for the NSRCC, its other golf course in Changi received the Environmental Stewardship Award from 1999 to 2001 for its conservation efforts (National Service Resort and Country Club 2004).

OUTCOMES AND LESSONS The NSS protested about the secrecy surrounding the proposal on an issue they considered of great public interest. The Society had obtained information about the proposal by chance despite the fact that the NSS was well-known to the government for its interest in nature conservation and its willingness to work in collaboration with the government. Government agencies, on the other hand, were upset that their “initial thinking” had been brought out into the open, arguing that “this is not the stage at which we want to invite 240

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stakeholders” (Koh and Ho, no date). Was the government willing to let “external stakeholders contribute to the process after the URA approved the project, if it ever did? If so, what policy adjustment would have been made?” (Koh and Ho, no date). These questions were posed by the researcher of this study to the then Minister for National Development who affirmed that decisions should not be made before consultation. “For Lower Peirce there was no decision but an internal proposal that was unfortunately leaked out.” But, he added, “if a decision had been taken, no adjustments would have been made even if public agitation was there” (I (7) 12 January 2004, Appendix XII). His views are corroborated by those of the Chief Operating Officer of the National Parks Board who very explicitly added that “if a decision was made to build a golf course in a gazetted area, the area will be degazetted to accommodate the new land use” (I (13) 26 January 2004, Appendix XII). Government agencies must admit that “a consultative process of seeking the views and feedback of stakeholders outside the government control for initiatives that would affect the public at large would be most appropriate under most circumstances” (Koh and Ho, no date). What is clear is that in this case, there was no “formal process of inviting views from the external stakeholders” (Koh and Ho, no date). As a consequence, trust was seriously damaged when government agencies seemed to want to carry out their plans proceed even before an argument was made. As clearly stated in SGP 2012, three principles guide the selection of nature areas: they must be rich in biodiversity, mature, and not transient but sustainable sites. On the other hand, sites chosen for golf courses are those that cannot be subject to intense development. These sites’ characteristics seem to coincide with those of nature areas. Thus, the dilemma of nature conservation versus land use constantly emerges also because of the reality of land scarcity and the mindset of having unrestrained growth. Yet, Lower Peirce appears to be a good case against development as it appears to fulfil the nature areas’ criteria, which, in this case, prevailed. In cases like Senoko, mentioned in Chapter Four, despite all the opposition environmentalists showed, “these criteria were cited and applied as policy parameters that excluded any possibility for conservation” (Koh and Ho, no date). The value of wildlife that might “squat” in, for example, a cleared or reclaimed area is disregarded. Conservationists and the public have continued debating golf course development in subsequent years as other proposals have emerged. From a “governance” perspective, it is interesting to continue monitoring how decisions are being made in these other cases. 241

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A DISCIPLINED GOVERNANCE APPROACH: THE POWER OF PROTESTATION What does this case have that further illustrates the type of governance order already envisioned when analysing the country study? What does this case have that illustrates a particular form of government-NGO relations? What are the institutional arrangements created to facilitate future governmentNGO relations? What effect do these arrangements have on Singapore’s nature conservation versus golf course development? From a governance perspective, this case is another good example of the fact that how people make decisions is more important than the decisions they actually make. The case reflects one of the dimensions of the “disciplined governance” model. Although the proposal to construct a golf course in a nature reserve was made without consultation, once in the public realm, the government proved to be receptive to opposition; that is, to the power of protestation. The way subsequent decisions to build golf courses were made — that is, the consultation process, the choice of sites, mitigation measures applied and designs drawn up — have dramatically changed by Singapore standards. An example is the way the decision to construct the Kranji golf course was made and its actual design, as previously discussed. The case also reflects tensions between integration and autonomy, mostly on the part of statutory boards. On this occasion, the NParks seems to have traded off its autonomy in protecting a gazetted nature reserve, with integration with its parent ministry, the MND, who, under pressure from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the PUB, considered the proposal to build the golf course. The NParks must have clearly felt that its commitment of integration with its ministry, which exists to advise the executive on policy formulation in tune with the government’s ideology, was being challenged by a desire for autonomy further out from the MND and towards the NSS, with which it shared higher levels of social capital accumulated through mutual trust, cohesion, and a shared professional outlook. The lack of commitment to mandatory environmental impact studies also indicates a “disciplined governance” approach to governing, an attempt to make the process of development only partially inclusive of citizens’ views. EIAs, together with other new environmental policy instruments (NEPIs), constitute a shift in the administration of the relationship between society, the market, and the environment, from regulation to voluntary, integrative approaches to manage that relationship. If we see governance as the attempt by governments to share their steering capacity with other actors, NEPIs are a form of governance (Jordan, Wurzel and Zito 2003). Studying how a 242

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decision was made in this case offers an interesting test of how governance has begun to replace government in the environmental policy domain in Singapore and what type of governance we are taking about. The question about how green golf is has given rise to debates all over the world. Courses not only take up a huge amount of land, around 200 acres, but also utilize a large amount of water, between 3,000 and 5,000 cubic meters, for maintenance, and replenishment of water hazards. There is also concern about the chemicals used to keep turf free of pests and weeds, and about the destruction of flora and fauna during construction. Golf tourism is being promoted all over the world, with Singapore often given as an example of a golf country with twenty-three courses in just 660 square kilometres! Although the construction of courses has improved in terms of their environmental friendliness, the argument that “the game was originally shaped by the landscape and not the landscape by the game” is still a strong one. The “way game” originated in the undulating hills of Scotland and courses were designed to follow the natural contours, with hazards provided by the natural vegetation. Today, Audubon International recognizes courses thus constructed and in Singapore, the award was given to SAFRA’s Changi course (The Tribune, 6 June 1999; Golf Asia 2004). As in Chapter Four, the explicit theoretical links between the findings from this case and the analysis of governance progression in Singapore (Chapter Three) and that of the general literature on governance (Chapter Two) are that the process to stop the degazetting of Lower Peirce not only strongly supports the “disciplined governance” conceptualization to governing but, by doing so, also contributes to the existing literature by adding another model to the four governing models identified by Peters (1996) in liberal democracies. In fact, the “disciplined governance” model may be considered a variation on Peters’ “participatory state” model that better explains the process of liberalizing and governing in regimes that are democratic, yet illiberal.

Notes 1

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Named after Robert Peirce, the municipal engineer of Singapore 1901–16 (National Parks Board 2005). This is an area from which rainfall is collected and flows into a rivers, reservoirs, etc. (Thompson 1995, p. 206). The first Nature Reserves Ordinance was passed in 1951. In 1990, it was repealed as the National Parks Act. Until 1990, the Central Water Catchment Area was administered by the Nature Reserves Board and managed by the PUB 243

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as owner of the land. Since then, the ownership has remained under the PUB while its administration as a nature reserve is undertaken by the National Parks Board (Wee et al. 1992; I (13) 26 January 2004, Appendix XII). At the time of this debate, the PUB was under the portfolio of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Deputy Minister BG Lee was, at the time, Minister for Trade and Industry. The exact date cannot be ascertained by the said NSS member. The date is deduced from the time the NSS begins correspondence with golf course developers on the impact of development of the course in the flora and fauna of the site. See Chapter Four. The author was given access to copies of the signature sheets that carry the signatories’ names, ID numbers and contact details. The originals are kept in the office vault of one of the NSS members (I (15) 27 January 2004, Appendix XII). “Trusted brokers”, also referred to in the literature as “honest brokers”, are people who belong to policy communities made up of individuals from governmental and non-governmental organizations. They have a good understanding of the interests of both sides, and help negotiate and interpret views, bridging gaps in the dialogue and building consensus. It is understood that Tan Wee Kiat saw the NSS EIA unofficially. Currently, the Ministry for Information, Communications and the Arts. Lee Hsien Loong was also Minister for Trade and Industry, under whose portfolio the PUB was at this time. The NEC was later reconstituted as an NGO, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC). By 2000, the government had already managed to add 12,000 hectares to the 16,000 hectares needed.

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Reproduced from Governance, Politics and the Environment: A Singapore Study by Maria Francesch-Huidobro (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher onThe condition is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without Powerthat of copyright Circumvention 245 the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

6 THE POWER OF CIRCUMVENTION: FIGHTING THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN FOREST FIRES AND HAZE

INTRODUCTION This chapter addresses the issue of how Singapore civil society actors, notably NGOs, came to be involved in the Indonesian Forest Fires and Haze crisis of 1997–98 and how they have subsequently been part of a regional effort to ameliorate trans-boundary haze pollution through trans-boundary cooperation. Unlike the Sungei Buloh and Lower Peirce conservation cases, fighting the haze originating from burning fires in Indonesia, palliating its effects, and stopping the burning altogether was not something Singapore NGOs initiated through proactive persuasion or reactive protest. NGOs found themselves involved, albeit willingly, by default; that is, they became involved when the issue was entrusted to them by the Singapore Government, mainly due to a non-conventional modus operandi that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had resorted to since adopting, in 1994, the Strategic Plan of Action on the Environment1 (Cotton 1999, p. 342). The complexity of networking across countries and governance domains, the variety of organizations involved in the networking, the resulting interactions from the engagement, and the type of governance order explaining these interactions make this episode another powerful case through which to better understand the dynamics of government-NGO relations in Singapore. The case also 245

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strongly supports the “disciplined governance” approach to governing analysed in this study.

BACKGROUND From August 1997 to March 1998, the Indonesian provinces of South Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, and West South and Central Kalimantan were enveloped in smoke and haze originating from palm and rubber plantations, forests and scrubland burning out of control (International Forest Fires News (IFFN) 01-1998, pp. 46–48; Figure 6.1). The man-made fires were worsened by the El Nino phenomenon2 and the resulting drought. Farmers and corporations took advantage of the severely FIGURE 6.1 Satellite Image of Haze over Southeast Asia 1998

Source: Meteorological Service Singapore 1998. Reproduced with kind permission of National Environment Agency. 246

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dry conditions to clear land cheaply. The dry conditions made it more likely for fires to burn out of control. Between 800,000 and 4.5 million hectares of forest and bush were lost in Sumatra and Kalimantan alone (Tay 1998, p. 1). The smoke from the fires combined with pollution from the cities produced “haze”.3 Friends of the Earth estimated that up to seventy million people were affected by haze pollution with health experts warning that up to 20 per cent of all deaths in the region could have been related to haze (Friends of the Earth 2004). Regional health, tourism, and airline losses were estimated at US$1.3 billion (Tay 1998, p. 2). Press reports at the time estimated that the economy of Sarawak, Malaysia was under threat from hazardous haze levels with losses estimated at MYR 30 million daily (Straits Times, 20 September 1997). Singapore alone lost S$104 million in 19974 (Straits Times, 16 March 1998). Air pollution indexes5 had reached 650 points, well over the hazardous level of 300–400 points. Peninsular Malaysia was recording 200 points (Straits Times, 20 September 1997). China Daily reported concerns in the tourism industry as cancellations of Christmas Season trips were made (China Daily, 27 September 1997). Although the 1997–98 fires episodes were more serious, the phenomenon had also occurred in 1982, 1983, 1991 and 1994, mostly during the months of May and June. Initially, it was believed that the fires were caused by farmers using the slash-and-burn method to clear the land, but satellite images6 showed that 80 per cent of forest fires in 1997 were caused by large timber and palm oil plantation owners using such methods (Tay 1998). Since the 1970s, it had been the policy of the Indonesian Government to augment the output of timber and palm oil with increasingly large stretches of land allocated to these industries. In 2000, 5.5 million hectares were planted (Dupont 1998, p. 11). With this, Indonesia — which earned $US1 billion in 1996 from these plantations — aimed to be the largest producer of palm oil by 2005 (Far Eastern Economic Review, 9 October 1999). Institutional and collaborative arrangements among various regional and international affected stakeholders had emerged and were already in place before the 1997–98 fires crisis struck. These not only acknowledged the seriousness and extent of the problem, but also manifested a “governance” approach to tackling it and finding sustainable solutions. Examples of these efforts were the 1992 and 1995 Regional Workshops on Trans-boundary Air Pollution held in Indonesia and Malaysia respectively. The Workshops were followed by the establishment of the Haze Technical Taskforce during the 6th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN) held in Bali, Indonesia, from 20–22 September 1995. The mandate of the Taskforce was to draw up an Action Plan, which was finalized on 20 December 1997. The culmination of the Action Plan was the signing of the ASEAN Agreement

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on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution in June 2002 and its ratification in November 2003. This was a long process in which Singapore NGOs and the government played a critical role. The big drawback is Indonesia’s not having ratified the Treaty to date (ASEAN Secretariat 2004; ASEAN Press Release 4 March 2003; New Straits Times, 4 October 2003; Environmental News Network, 25 November 2003; UN News Centre, 24 November 2003; Straits Times, 26 November 2003; Today, 24 November 2003). A chronology of events is presented in Table 6.1. Other collaborative arrangements have also been put in place. In 1992, the international conference, “Long-term Integrated Forest Fire Management”, held in Bandung, Indonesia, took place. Attended by Indonesian agencies, international development organizations, and donors, who discussed strategic approaches to forest management, it resulted in the establishment of an Indonesia-Germany bilateral project in 1994. The project, titled “The Integrated Forest Fire Management”, aimed at building up fire management capabilities in East Kalimantan. It included community-based fire management approaches and ran until 2000. Another arrangement was the setting up of the Consultative Group on Indonesian Forests (CGIF), also in 1994, by the

TABLE 6.1 Southeast Asian Forest Fires: Chronology of Events Chronology of Events • 1982, 1983, 1991, 1994, Fires and Haze significantly affected the region in May and June. 1991 the Germany-Singapore Environmental Trans-boundary Agency (GSETA) was established. The Indonesian Government called for international cooperation to support its national fire management capabilities. • 1992 Regional Workshop on Trans-boundary Pollution. International Conference on long-term Integrated Forest Fires Management held in Bandung (Indonesia) attended by national agencies, international development organizations, and donors. Action Plan followed as well as first international assisted programmes. • 1994 Bilateral Indonesian-German Project “Integrated Forest Fires Management” becomes operational. National Coordination Team on Forest, Land, and Fire Project set up to last till 2000. • 1995 ASEAN sets up Cooperation Plan on Trans-boundary Pollution. Haze Technical Taskforce established during the 6th Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment. Indonesia issues a decree banning the use of fire for land clearing purposes. continued on next page 248

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• 1996 ASEAN Institute of Forest Management convenes conference on Transboundary Pollution and its impact on the sustainability of tropical forests. • July 1997 Asian Economic Crisis strikes. Haze affects the region from August to November. Situation worsens, in terms of duration and reach, by El Nino condition. Issue gets international attention. ASEAN Taskforce on Haze finalizes the Regional Haze Action Plan. A fire review of Sumatra Island is undertaken using satellite remote sensing to gauge the cause, impact, and effects of fires. 15 September fires are declared a disaster. 18 September ASEAN Environmental Ministers issue the Jakarta Declaration on Environment and Development. Asian Development Bank (ADB) helps ASEAN to strengthen cooperation among affected ASEAN countries. November, the Jakarta Conference on Fires takes place. December, an International Workshop sets up Project of National Guidelines on Protection Against Fires. The 8th meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesian Forest Fires (CGIFF) is attended by national and international NGOs. Malaysia and Indonesia sign a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding. A decision is taken to set up a Taskforce on Forest and Land Fires under the responsibility of the Director General for Forest Protection in the Ministry of Forestry (Indonesia), NGOs are included. • 1998, Haze returns in the first half of the year. Using NOAA remote sensing imaging the growth of fire activity is ascertained. The European Commission signs two financing memoranda with the Government of Indonesia to fund three projects: Forest Inventory and Monitoring, Forest Fire Prevention and Control, and Integrated Forestry Radio Communication. April 30, UNEP and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) establish cooperation with the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination mission visiting Indonesia. The mission followed a meeting in Geneva 20–21 April. June, NGOs Policy Dialogue by SEC takes place. Simon Tay of SEC presents recommendations of Dialogue to ASEAN Senior Officials at their Regional Taskforce Meeting held in Singapore. • March 2001, WWF-Europe and Indonesia set up a campaign to address the issue through banks lending to palm oil industries. • June 2002, ASEAN sign the Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution: legally binding if ratified by six member states, roadmap for cooperation and coordination. • August 2002 Public Lecture on Indonesian Fires and Haze by SIIA. PFFSEA Report released. SGP 2012 published by ENV promising blue skies. • February 2003 SIIA’s Special Report “Preventing Indonesia’s Future Fires” is published. • 24 November 2003, ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution enters into force. Till now, Indonesia has not ratified it. • Early 2004, Cross-sectoral Dialogue on Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia: Forest Fires by SIIA, scheduled. Source: Compiled by author from IFFN 1998–2004.

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Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. The Group was established to strengthen communication, coordination, and cooperation among all parties, including governments, donors, NGOs, private companies, universities, and research institutions. The CGIF subsequently developed in line with the idea of partnership as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forest approved by the United Nations in 1997.7 In 1995, legal provisions were issued to establish the National Coordination Team on Forest, Land, and Fire Management under the Indonesian Ministry of the Environment. The Team aimed at coordinating fires and atmospheric pollution management. Also in 1995, the Indonesian Government issued a decree banning the use of fire in converting forests to industries (IFFN 01-1998, pp. 33–36). Another plan drawn up was the cooperation agreement between the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO),8 the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC),9 the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, and the Bogor University of Agricultural Sciences. The agreement, signed in 1996 and implemented in December 1997 — a time when the fires and haze crisis were well underway — aimed at developing the “Integrated Forest Fire Management in Indonesia Phase I: National Guidelines on the Protection of Forests Against Fires”. This was the first project to implement the ITTO’s suggestions about strengthening fire management of tropical forests (IFFN 01-1998, pp. 49–51). Also in 1997, with the results from an international conference over 8–9 December in Bogor, Indonesia, the “National Guidelines on Protection of Forests Against Fires” were developed. The project, sponsored by the ITTO with a budget of US$1 million, was also the result of the ITTO Guidelines on Fires Management of Tropical Forests. In January 1998, a report was issued by the Indonesian Environmental Impact Management Agency (BAPEDAL), assessing the land and forest fires, reviewing the control measures put in place, and evaluating the national coordination efforts. The key finding of the report was that all fires were man-made, thus preventable and manageable. The key recommendation was to activate fire control organizations at the national and provincial levels as well as executor units and fire brigades. The key limitation found was that the rapid loss of visibility during the early stages of a fire, when grasses and bushes burn, limits the ability to control a fire in the later stages, when it moves into peat land10 and forest where losses are highest (IFFN 01-1998, pp. 4–12). Despite these findings, Indonesia found it difficult to prove that certain companies were responsible for burning fires. ASEAN was approached for legal advice. Singapore had provided bilateral and regional assistance and was considering providing equipment (U.N. Office for the Coordination of 250

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Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 30 April 1998). The conclusions drawn by the various parties involved in projects were that fire is only a symptom. The problem cannot be resolved by establishing fire management capabilities alone. The root of why fire was used had to be found. This was found to be the people’s ignorance and Indonesia’s targeted policy of converting millions of hectares of forest into plantations, something that can only be achieved through the slash-and-burn method (IFFN 01-1998, pp. 37–39). Despite the drawing up of these plans and the establishment of all these projects before the 1997–98 crisis, and the agreements made when the crisis was well underway, their success in averting the crisis was obviously limited. Also limited was the 1995 decree banning the use of fire. Another decree had to be imposed in December 1997 that also banned the slashand-burn method.11 After the 1997–98 fires crisis, other projects were initiated. These mainly consisted of disaster response by donor countries and international organizations to assist Indonesia to overcome the effects of fire, smoke, drought, economic crisis, political unrest, and famine. For example, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) responded to the disaster by monitoring the U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination mission visiting Indonesia from the end of March to mid-April 1998. The mission was followed by two meetings convened in Geneva from 20–21 April, consisting of an Experts Workshop on Fire-fighting, a Meeting on the Medium-Long Term Programmes for Responding to Indonesian Fire Emergencies, and a Donors Meeting on Indonesian Fires. Relevant to the contextual factor of governance was the revelation from the Donors Meeting that the then prevailing economic crisis in Indonesia was significantly reducing local capabilities to maintain existing fire-fighting operations, and implement new ones (IFFN 09-1998, pp. 28–31). Science and technology projects to assess the effect of the fires on the global climate were also put in place after the crisis. Following these, the Indonesian Ministry for Research and Technology was established. New local and regional initiatives were also taken, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) project “Planning for Fire Prevention and Drought Management and Mitigation of Their Impacts” established at the end of 1997, the CGIF “Special Session on Land and Forest Fires” that convened on 12 December 1997, and the 12 December 1997, Malaysia-Indonesia bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (IFFN 01-1998, pp. 33–36). With smoke and haze interfering with civil aviation operations, maritime shipping, agricultural production, and the tourism industry, meteorological services also participated in the decision regarding how best to tackle the 251

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current crisis and prevent future ones. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) held a workshop in Singapore from 2–5 June 1998 on “Regional Trans-boundary Smoke and Haze in South East Asia”, focusing on operational aspects, assessment of monitoring and measurement systems, regional capabilities to provide meteorological support, the role of satellite remote sensing, improving exchange of information, and the recognition that weather, climate, smoke, and haze do not recognize national boundaries (IFFN 09-1998, pp. 28–31). The World Wide Fund for Nature (Netherlands, the United Kingdom, International, and Indonesia) was involved in funding and executive capabilities for geographical information systems (GIS) technical expertise in producing “hot spots” maps (IFFN 1998).12 The Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing of the National University of Singapore (CRISP-NUS) followed fire monitoring operations, using full-resolution SPOT images in collaboration with the ENV (CRISP-Forest Fires 2004). Much had been done — albeit without a great deal of success — both internationally and regionally, but from a Singapore governance perspective, what characterized the 1997–98 fires and haze episode were the Singapore NGOs’ initiatives and the Singapore Government’s “disciplined” approach towards Indonesia discussed hereafter. The latter was clearly manifested by strong government support for NGOs’ initiatives and even an outright request for Singapore NGOs to intervene.

NGO PROPOSALS, AND GOVERNMENT AND ASEAN RESPONSES Singapore Environment Council (SEC) Proposal With the haze situation being at its worst in late 1997 and early 1998, Singapore NGOs’ action climaxed when the SEC took the initiative to organize the International Policy Dialogue on the Southeast Asian Fires, 4–5 June 1998. The dialogue was hailed as an example of “track two” diplomacy bringing together representatives of international, regional and local NGOs, as well as of businesses and public agencies (Straits Times, 8 June 1998; Straits Times, 25 June 1998; Ruland 2002). The dialogue was attended by forty-five representatives of thirty-one international and regional NGOs, and private corporations. NGOs participating were the Nature Conservancy (USA-Indonesia), the Nature Society of Singapore (NSS), NGOs for Integrated Protection Areas (Philippines), the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), the World Wide 252

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Fund for Nature (WWF-Indonesia and WWF-Regional), and the World Resources Institute (Regional). Singapore and international non-governmental think-tanks and academic institutions, such as the Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL-Singapore), the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP-NUS, Singapore), the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS-Singapore), the Institute of Policy Studies (IPSSingapore), and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), which later played and to date continues to play an important role in assisting with consensus between NGOs and governments, were also present. The private sector was represented by the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, Shell-Brunei, Bombardier Aerospace and Golden Hope Plantations (Malaysia). International and Government organizations present were the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the ASEAN Secretariat, BAPEDAL (Ministry of the Environment-Indonesia), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the US State Department, the US-Asia Environment Programme and International World Conservation Union (IUCN) (IFFN 09-1998, p. 7; International Policy Dialogue Chairman’s Statement 6 June 1998). After two days of discussion, the participants resolved to call on Indonesia and the other countries in the region to mitigate the effects of burning fires and prevent similar episodes in the future. Important to a governance study was the appeal made by the Dialogue participants for greater coordination among NGOs working in Indonesia, in the region, and in the international arena. The participants also suggested regular meetings between NGOs and ASEAN. Also important to this study were how decisions to ameliorate the situation were eventually made and what measures followed this initial dialogue. One of the concerns noted by participants in the Dialogue was that fires in Indonesia have been present before and thus were recurrent and mostly man-made in origin. They had only worsened in the 1997–98 dry season due to the El Nino weather phenomenon. The participants also noted that the fires were mostly related to clearing land practices by big palm oil and rubber businesses. Fires, they argued, could have been foreseen with existing advances in weather forecasts and patterns of forest use. They had already caused great biodiversity and economic damage by burning 4.5 million hectares of Indonesian forest in 1997, as CRISP found, as well as a negative health impact due to trans-boundary haze in neighbouring countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei. All in all, the estimated cost was US$4.4 million. The Dialogue participants also noted that the global effects of the fires were the emission of greenhouse gases and consequential global warming,13 and the loss of the unique biodiversity found in Indonesia and East Malaysia. The participants further observed that ASEAN had promulgated the 1995 253

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Cooperation Plan on Trans-boundary Pollution and the 1997 Action Plan on Haze, and had undertaken regular reviews in 1998 despite the constraints imposed by the economic crisis affecting the region. In view of these concerns, the Dialogue participants called upon ASEAN and its member states to recognize that while maintaining a policy of nonintervention in the internal affairs of individual member states, ASEAN and each of its members had to effectively address the negative effects transboundary pollution was having on other states and on the global environment. Calls were also made to realize the cost of fires; to help raise funds to prevent and control fires; to strengthen the ASEAN Plans by linking them to international conventions and laws, and by institutionalizing review actions, especially those relating to trans-boundary pollution, biodiversity, and climate change; and to make satellite images available to NGOs and the public. The Dialogue participants also addressed the wider issue of sustainable development by calling on countries involved in regional and sub-regional economic cooperation, such as the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) and the SIJORI Growth Triangle (Singapore-Johor-Riau), to make the link between economic cooperation and environmental protection for sustainable development. Finally, the participants called for the strengthening of the capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat in matters of environmental protection and sustainable development. The participants were pleased that Indonesia had acknowledged moral responsibility for the effects of haze and fires by accepting international law, for example, Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration of 1992.14 Indonesia had also ratified the international conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity and passed laws banning the use of fires, increased fines, and disclosed the names of 180 suspected companies. Indonesia had further resolved to reform and eradicate nepotism, corruption, and cronyism despite the hardships it was facing economically and socially. In light of commitments made by Indonesia, the Dialogue participants called on the country to recognize its obligation to cooperate in dealing with the fires; to adhere to the principle of sustainable development; to enforce laws without fear or favour; to foster internal and external coordination with other governmental and non-governmental organizations offering scientific, technical, and financial assistance; to reform its land use policy so as to ensure sustainable use; and to offer tenure to users so as to empower them and recognize their interests. The participants also recognized the efforts made by international organizations and bilateral donors. More than eighteen had given assistance to Indonesia in 1997. The UNEP had provided assistance by coordinating firefighting and prevention efforts while the ADB provided technical assistance.

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), and the ADB were assisting the Indonesian Government with the economic crisis and necessary reforms. In recognition of these efforts, the Dialogue participants called on international organizations like the IMF and other assistance programmes not to raise the risk of fires by inappropriate policies, such as subsidies and other policies affecting the rational and sustainable use of land, but rather to provide additional assistance in response to fires and their consequences. It also called on organizations to support UNEP’s and ADB’s coordinating efforts as well as not to overemphasize firefighting by reliance on high-tech methods, but rather to stress short- and medium-term responses through forest management principles, education, control systems, and so forth. Finally, the participants called on international and bilateral donors to work with the Secretariats of the Climate Change Convention and the Biodiversity Convention to make the link between the prevention of Southeast Asian Forest Fires and these larger environmental protection concerns. With regard to NGOs, the participants noted the efforts of NGOs in Indonesia and the awareness of regional and international NGOs on the issue. They also noted the recognition ASEAN Ministers of the Environment (ASOEN) had given to NGOs’ contributions in 1998. Thus, the participants called on NGOs to ameliorate coordination and avoid duplication of efforts; to work with inter-governmental organizations to provide information, assist with monitoring, undertake programmes and advise on policies; to maintain the ASEAN-NGO dialogue; to raise public awareness of the fires and their effects; to collaborate with national and local communities for early detection and suppression; to increase their capacity to deal with fires and their causes; and to advocate the granting of environmental certifications to companies that follow best practices (Cotton 1999, p. 342). Finally, the participants noted that the private sector was both responsible for, and affected by, fires. Thus, they called on the private sector to first, comply with Indonesia’s laws; second, to use technology to reach a zeroburning situation and increase the efficiency of logging and timber processing; third, to review business practices, uphold best practices within the industry, expose bad practices, and seek certification of their products to ensure sustained economic benefits while sustaining the environment. After the Dialogue, the SEC began to implement the recommendations. The need for NGOs to exchange ideas with the ASEAN Senior Official for the Environment was recognized when Simon Tay, then Nominated Member of the Singapore Parliament, Director of the SEC and council member for SIIA, represented the Dialogue participants at a meeting with ASEAN Senior Officials for the Environment on 18 June 1998 (SEC Press Release, 19 June 255

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1998). The meeting was proposed by the then Singapore Minister for the Environment, Tay Gee Paw, to Indonesia, which chaired the assembly on that occasion. Tay suggested that such a meeting was “a good step forward to take up the ASEAN official’s call earlier that year to welcome NGOs”. He also suggested “it was a step forward towards the 2020 vision of ASEAN as a people’s organization” (E-mail communication from Simon Tay to ASEAN.or.id 16 June 1998). Tay mainly conveyed the message that ASEAN ought to review compliance of member states as laid down in the 1998 Haze Plan and explore how NGOs might supplement official efforts. He added that NGOs acknowledged the limitations large developing countries like Indonesia faced in dealing with environmental concerns and that they were aware of the compounding circumstances affecting the country at present, namely the economic downturn and political reform. It was in this context, Tay argued, that the Dialogue took place, but the participants were hopeful that ASEAN and Indonesia would show compliance by promulgating and implementing the 1995 Cooperation and Action Plan. This was the first time that NGOs had participated in an ASEAN meeting (SEC Press Release, 19 June 1998; Straits Times, 8 June 1998). Another participant in the Dialogue, Tommy Koh, a “trusted broker” between government and NGOs, followed up the discussions by calling on NGOs to expose firms involved in burning practices. “I have called upon NGOs in the region to launch a campaign to expose wrong doers. Let us publish the names of the companies, their owners, and senior management. If necessary we can request our friends in the West to boycott their exports” (Straits Times, 25 June 1998). After the Dialogue, the SEC was asked by the ADB and the ASEAN Secretariat to continue informing them on a regular basis on environmental initiatives relating to fires and haze undertaken by NGOs in the region (Letter from Simon Tay to Kay Kuok, SEC’s Chairman, and Philip Ng, SIIA’s Chairman, 26 June 1998). Tay also committed himself to raising the issue in Parliament by the end of June and to speaking to the BBC World Service. Tay brought the issue to Parliament by moving a motion on 30 June, that in view of the economic downturn and political transition in Indonesia, the government should do more to help control and prevent fires in Indonesia that impact Singapore with haze pollution and affect the environment, human health, and economic activity. In his speech, Tay urged the government to consider what else it could do to deal with the fires and haze situation in the same spirit that the Singapore Government acted to focus international attention and assistance to help neighbouring countries. He 256

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particularly addressed what Singapore could do with regard to ASEAN, bilateral agencies, and itself. With regard to ASEAN, Tay suggested that Singapore work from the existing plans towards a binding treaty that would accept the principle of state responsibility and create a system of dispute resolution, focus on the breach of international law, Principle 2, incurred by Indonesia and not overemphasize plane water bombing when ground efforts were insufficient. With regard to bilateral measures, he urged the Singapore authorities to take a harder stand with Indonesia as the culprit was big business while those suffering the consequences were ordinary people. He also suggested the setting up of a special court between countries to allow special access to courts in either country, something like the existing arrangements in the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He also added that Singapore should tie aid to Indonesia with the Indonesian environmental record and demand good results. Finally, Tay suggested engaging the Indonesian Government not only with its environment portfolio, but also with the Ministries of Forestry, Agriculture, Trade & Industry, and Finance. The self-help that Tay suggested was that of promoting certification of environmentally sound products like timber and palm oil, and advising Singaporean firms with business in Indonesia to observe Indonesian laws and make sure they comply with them, and to assist, when needed, in investigating Singaporean companies. Other resolutions from the Dialogue were to establish a regular dialogue with NGOs in the region, facilitated by the SEC and the SIIA, in order to allow for stronger criticism of the Indonesian regime by international NGOs without programmes in Indonesia. It was suggested that NGOs in Europe and the United States be contacted.15 Meetings with prominent Indonesian NGOs were also suggested. In a letter from Simon Tay to Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-large with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tay opined that direct bilateral talks on haze and fires may not always be possible, so he suggested that the SEC and other NGOs take on this task. He believed that Singapore NGOs had assets they could capitalize on, as well as the ability to access ASEAN officials on behalf of Indonesian NGOs, and sufficient funding and organization to serve as a forum for them (Letter from Simon Tay to Tommy Koh, 16 June 1998).

Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) Proposal After the SEC and the SIIA collaborated in the aftermath of the Policy Dialogue and the haze and fires abated in June 1998, the issue was taken over 257

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by the SIIA. Arguably, the issue had developed into a matter better dealt with through intellectual and “track two” policy exchanges rather than through purely environmental advocacy (I (4) 20 February 2003, Appendix XII). Thereafter, Simon Tay, then a Nominated Member of Parliament as well as a council member of the SIIA and eventually its Chairman, often put forward the SIIA’s and the NGOs’ community position to Parliament. The issue was continuously debated in Parliament from 1998 to 2000 (Singapore Parliament Reports System, 9, 1, 68, 2, 15 January 1998 Columns 158–59; 9, 1, 68, 3, 19 February 1998; 9, 1, 68, 10, 16 March 1998; 9, 1, 70, 12, 4 May 1999; 9, 2, 71, 17, 13 March 2000). In the past two years, the SIIA’s involvement in the issue has been through three initiatives: a visit to Indonesia in July 2002 followed by a public lecture in August 2002; a support role in the WWF initiative from 2001; and a visit to Indonesia in March 2004 (SIIA Press Release August 2002; Today, 17 and 18 August 2002; Straits Times, 17 August 2002; Straits Times, 12 August 2002; SIIA’s Press Briefing 16 August 2002; E-mail communication between SIIA’s researcher and PFFSEA January 2003). As of 2004, due to a lack of human and financial resources, the SIIA had been unable to achieve much with regard to the issue (Personal communication with SIIA’s Chairman, 23 March 2004). Unfortunately, fires and haze have recurred, with the latest episode occurring in May 2004. In July 2002, SIIA researchers made a field trip to Bogor and Jakarta, Indonesia, to assess the fire and haze situation. They discussed “Project Firefight Southeast Asia” (PFFSEA)16 findings with researchers and gauged their support for a proposed dialogue on sustainable development in Southeast Asia to be held sometime in June 2003. On 19 July 2002, the SIIA reported to the ENV on the fieldtrip. The SIIA’s message was that too little had been done too late. Five major plantation companies were currently being prosecuted by the Indonesian Government thanks to the work of NGOs, although the strength of some of these prosecutions was in doubt. The PFFSEA had reviewed and analysed the legal and regulatory framework affecting the issue, and work was underway to get this widely published. The PFFSEA had expressly requested the SIIA to help with the dissemination of information so as to raise the awareness of the different stakeholders. An agreement was made to host a public lecture in Singapore on 16 August 2002. The field trip report also highlighted the impact various actors and agencies were having on environmental protection in Indonesia. The SIIA’s researchers gathered that Indonesia’s President Sukarnoputri was not supportive of environmental issues and NGO participation in policy matters. The Ministry of the Environment, had recently been restructured, absorbing the 258

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former Environmental Monitoring Agency, BAPEDAL. According to Mr Sari of Pelangi, an Indonesian environmental NGO, “the decision was taken over one weekend when Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim approached the husband of President Sukarnoputri privately for discussion”. The SIIA’s researchers reported that: [The decision] has negative legal implications as it bypasses the usual channels and consultations, alienates environmental NGOs from government, and belittles BAPEDAL’s role, especially given the fact that major legal cases against plantation firms are currently underway. The environment has suffered as a result of the process of decentralisation by further complicating the communication process and stretching limited resources (Letter from SIIA to ENV, 19 July 2002).17

The 16 August 2002 Public Lecture was delivered by a panel of Indonesian-based environmental experts, Dr Peter Moore, Coordinator of Project Firefight Southeast Asia; Professor Daniel Murdiyarso, Department of Geophysics and Meteorology, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia; and Dr Agus P. Sari, Executive Director of the Indonesian-based environmental think-tank Pelangi. The lecture was on one of the SIIA’s major research topics: Sustainable Development and the Environment. The SIIA was, at that time, involved in two research projects on the subject: Fires and Haze, and Environmental Diplomacy and Policy. After the lecture, a report was released based on two years of the SIIA’s work in Indonesia on the fires and haze situation. The report was followed by the publication Preventing Indonesia’s Future Fires — Special Report in February 2003, comprising the work of the SIIA and experts associated with it, and the 16 August 2002 Public Lecture. The two documents outline several “governance” approaches recommended to governments by various lending agencies and donors when dealing with local communities that cause small-scale fires that have a limited impact even when they cannot be successfully contained, and with private companies which are the cause of large-scale fires that threaten the survival of the ecosystem. One recommended approach was community-based fire management. Only recently have governments and other actors recognized the advantages of this approach. It is argued that communities not only possess unlimited talent in the areas concerning their livelihood, but also that their collaboration is necessary since alternatives to land clearing are not readily available, thus, perpetuating old practices. Fires are not always detrimental; they can be beneficial by encouraging biodiversity and preventing greater fires, mostly spontaneous bush fires. However, when fires are used as 259

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a tool against inequitable tenure agreements, they are devastating. Thus, seeking the collaboration of local communities by giving them a sense of ownership over land is a crucial factor. Ownership elicits protection. Its absence forces governments to have to pay local communities to fighting the fires, which becomes an incentive for the communities to perpetuate the situation so as to continue receiving income. Incentives like monetary rewards for communities that go through a season without fires have also been employed. The question is whether these are sustainable over time. The other more cost-effective and sustainable approach was to recognize and support native knowledge and practices. This approach may be more complex in the short term — as it requires culturally sensitive political, economic, and institutional arrangements to support it — but beneficial in the long run. A number of Indonesian communities have managed to handle fires effectively. The developers of these initiatives have taken approaches that have helped empower communities to deal with this local challenge. Among these approaches is one that says incentives for fire fighting ought to be related to a particular community’s needs. Fair access to the resources communities protect is a necessary incentive for fighting fires. The government must be seen to strongly support fire prevention and control. Institutional structure at the community level with government backing ought to be in place and legal sanctions are to be clearly defined with community-based functions being more effective than government legislation. The second initiative was support for the WWF-Switzerland initiative campaign to address the Indonesian fires and haze through the oil industry from March 2001. In 2001, WWF-Europe and WWF-Indonesia decided to start a campaign to address the fires and haze crisis by focusing on existing practices in the palm oil industry. The aim of the campaign was to target European and other countries’ financial institutions that support palm oil companies and persuade them to lend only to companies that do not use fire as a land-clearance method. The WWF requested the SIIA to play a supporting role by keeping Singapore’s media aware of the campaign and by lobbying Singapore-based loan institutions that lend to palm oil companies to look into their clients’ practices. The SIIA argued that researchers have found that forty to eighty per cent of forest fires take place in palm oil plantations’ territory. Moreover, current technology utilizes methods that do not make use of fire, and through this campaign, experts were trying to promote these methods rather than ban the use of fire by the industry. Putting WWFIndonesia at the centre of the campaign was a way of ensuring legitimacy and diffusing possible sensitivities. The SIIA’s role was meant to be supportive rather than prominent. Its collaboration was expected to involve keeping up 260

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to date with new information and developments, liaising with WWF-Europe and WWF-Indonesia, preparing briefs for media and financial institutions’ lobbyists, and so on. The SIIA sought financial support of S$200,000 for two years to work on this project (Letter from the SIIA to SEC, 12 March 2001). The SEC eventually granted the SIIA S$100,000 on 22 March 2001 (Letter from SEC to SIIA, 22 March 2001). The third initiative was a Cross-sectoral Dialogue on Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia, jointly organized by the SIIA and the University of British Columbia (UBC). It was part of the SIIA’s efforts to draw regional and international attention to the fires and haze crisis (Letter from SIIA to ENV, 23 February 2003). This initiative emerged as part of the discussion that took place during the SIIA’s July 2002 field trip to Indonesia and August Public Lecture. The proposal from the Dialogue was “to provide new impetus for sustainable development in the region by bringing together leading environmentalists, key policy-makers, thinkers and representatives of the business sector” (Letter from SIIA to ENV, 12 February 2003). SIIA researchers have found that the stumbling blocks to addressing fires and haze effectively are, among others: The lack of co-ordination and cooperation across different ministries and agencies in Indonesia. While the Indonesian environmental authorities may support the ASEAN effort, they are relatively ineffective when compared to the ministries for agriculture, forestry, and economic policy generally. We therefore believe that it is important to complement the ongoing efforts between environmental authorities with a broader effort to reach other ministries and policy makers. The Dialogue will be a significant effort in this direction (Letter from SIIA to ENV, 24 February 2003).

The Dialogue was scheduled for June 2003, but due to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic at that time, it was postponed to early 2004 (Personal communication from SIIA’s researcher to author, 19 May 2003). The SIIA’s own research on fires and haze concluded that it is a complex problem involving multiple actors with conflicting agendas and interests. Problems range from corruption and collusion between government agencies and private enterprises, to marginalization of local communities and a piecemeal legislative and institutional framework. Scarce human and financial resources as well as insufficient scientific research compound the issue. The SIIA has tried to take an active role and foster the involvement of key stakeholders in order to resolve the problem. It believes that governments 261

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remain the central players and a revision of the existing legal and institutional framework is needed. As mentioned earlier, resource scarcity is the main limitation governments face, thus private sector, NGO sector, and local community involvement is essential to ameliorate the situation (I (4) 20 February 2003). The SIIA’s recommendations with regard to the case mainly address what the various stakeholders can do. First, ASEAN and member states should work towards the ratification of the Anti-haze Treaty. In particular, it is essential that Indonesia, the worst source of fires and haze, ratifies the Treaty. The stepping up of measures to identify polluting enterprises ought to be taken seriously. Second, the Indonesian Government ought to coordinate the issue through an umbrella agency, which would increase efficiency and accountability. Checking current legislation against actual fire management practices is a must. Education about legal aspects of fire management, enforcement regulations, and supervising mechanisms to check enforcement ought to be in place. Dealing with corruption and its causes and revising land use plans to take into account economic, social, and environmental considerations in order to solve existing conflicting policies should also be aimed for. Third, the private sector ought to undertake studies on the economic benefits of the use of fire for land-clearing purposes compared with alternatives, find channels to monitor legal compliance, and institute incentive schemes like performance-based tax reduction or extension of concession rights. Fourth, Indonesian local communities ought to have access to clear and secure land rights so that they will protect their land. Alternative income sources and appropriate financial and technical support to alleviate dependency on burningbased agricultural practices should be introduced, traditional fire management through institutional support should be actively promoted, and mechanisms for dispute settlement should be put in place (Tan and Tay 2003).

Singapore Government and ASEAN Responses The Singapore Government reacted to the fire and haze situation by enlisting the help of NGOs and by applying a variety of means to lessen the harmful effects of haze pollution on the population. The government tackled the issue on two fronts: introducing measures to lessen a negative health impact and introducing measures to collaborate with the Indonesian Government to control the fires. On the first front, the Singapore Government sought the help of a Taskforce, set up back in 1994, to create a Haze Plan of Action. The ENV chaired the Taskforce, which was composed of public officials from the

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Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Communication, Information and the Arts, and the Meteorological Services (Straits Times, 27 September 1997). The Action Plan provided the government with a tool to manage various haze scenarios. The government also responded to individual and NGO calls to provide information about pollution levels by frequently showing the Pollutants Standard Index (PSI)18 in various media. In addition, the government set up emergency medical centres in public housing estates (Straits Times, 21 September 1997). Controlling other sources of pollution, raising penalties on smoky vehicles and tightening the enforcement of daily vehicle checks were other government measures to lessen the effects of haze (Straits Times, 8 October 1997). With regard to measures aimed at putting pressure on the Indonesian Government to tackle the problem at source, the Singapore Government took a “polite” approach of helping rather than shaming. It is understood that it would have been politically incorrect for Singapore to antagonize Indonesia for reasons well-known; a discussion of this is beyond the scope of this study. The Defence Ministry dispatched a C-130 aircraft to assist in dispersing haze and helped with air lift operations (Straits Times, 8 October 1997). Moreover, Singapore helped by providing expertise in taking satellite pictures and deploying two teams of experts to Jakarta to assess the haze situation and to decide what type of training was required to fight the fires. Fires were located with the help of the Global Positioning Systems (GPS). The ENV also signed a Memorandum of Understanding and a S$473,000-contract with the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) of the NUS to improve the regional haze warning system (Straits Times, 18 February 1998). The system provided high-resolution satellite images allowing the government to inform the Indonesian side of precise locations of fires. The whole project cost the Singapore Government S$1.4 million (Straits Times, 16 August 1998). Regionally, ASEAN was involved when, earlier on in 1995, the Malaysian Government took the initiative to hold an ASEAN meeting to formulate a strategy to fight cross-border pollution, including haze (New Straits Times, 7 October 1997). In this forum, the Malaysian Government raised its concerns with the Indonesian Government, pushing the latter to apply measures to contain the fires (Straits Times, 8 October 1997). In 1998, the Regional Haze Action Plan was agreed among ASEAN Environment Ministers. Characteristic of ASEAN diplomacy, the plan was based on cooperative measures among member states to address the problem. Issues related to the ASEAN Plan and haze were often debated in the Singapore Parliament. In an Oral Answers to Questions session in January 1998, then NMP Simon Tay asked what the government was doing to ensure

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member states fulfil their obligations under the Action Plan and how much the government was planning to spend on local activities and on supporting regional activities to curb fires and the resulting haze. The then Minister for the Environment, Yeo Cheow Tong, replied that: The ASEAN regional haze Action Plan sets out cooperative measures needed, among ASEAN member countries, to address the problem of smoke haze. While it may not be binding, the plan specifies the national and regional efforts in each member country to prevent the recurrence of smoke haze due to land and forest fires. There are no mechanisms under the plan for any member country to ensure that other countries fulfil their obligations. Singapore’s role is to spearhead efforts to strengthen the region’s early warning and monitoring capabilities. The government will provide the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) based in Singapore with the necessary manpower and technical expertise for it to fulfil its role and functions under the plan. We will also be hosting a regional workshop in Singapore next month when the meteorological experts in ASEAN can discuss weather forecasts for this year and compare forecasting techniques with international experts (Singapore Parliament Reports System, 9, 1, 68, 2, 15 January 1998).

Tay followed up by asking “whether the Singapore Government’s representatives could seek further details at each meeting and update the Singapore public” (Singapore Parliament Reports System, 9, 1, 68, 2, 15 January 1998). The suggestion was acknowledged. The issue of the involvement of Singapore companies in activities causing or contributing to forest fires in Indonesia was also debated the same day. Tay asked whether “there were active investigations by the authorities of Singapore companies involved in such activities”. Yeo Cheow Tong’s answer was that “the investigation of such activities must necessarily be done by the Indonesian authorities under Indonesian law”. Tay followed this up by suggesting that since haze enters Singapore airspace, as with an oil spill in national jurisdictional waters, polluters should be prosecuted under Singapore law. Yeo replied that fires took place in Indonesian territory and “we have no resources and capabilities to go into Indonesia to investigate, firstly, who started the fires; and, secondly, the ownership of those companies that were involved in those fires. I think it is best to leave it to the Indonesian government” (Singapore Parliament Reports System, 9, 1, 68, 2, 15 January 1998). In the Ministry of the Environment Budget Debate that year, the link between the economy and the environment in relation to haze pollution was made by Tay, who said: 264

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Focusing on the haze pollution, a recent study suggested that the region as a whole has suffered some $1.4 billion worth of damage. Singapore, in the study, was estimated to have suffered some $90 million in damages. If, and when international cooperation for the haze comes, Singapore should be among the first to fulfil our obligation under the principle of common but differentiated responsibility (Singapore Parliament Reports System, 9, 1, 68, 10, 16 March 1998).

MP Chiam See Tong also addressed the linkage by saying that: The haze problem has been with us for six years since 1992. The Straits Times [reported] today that the haze [cost] Singapore $104 million last year. This amount comprised loss by the tourism industry, $81.8 million, health cost incurred was $12.5 million and the airline industry’s loss of business was estimated at $9.7 million. These monetary losses do not take into account the long term effects from cancer and other diseases. The price is too high…. I shall say that [if ] the Minister of the Environment insists in (sic) being polite to the Indonesians, then he should consider telling them politely that we shall take them to the International Court if the haze problem is still unresolved (Singapore Parliament Reports System, 9, 1, 68, 10, 16 March 1998).

The Minister for the Environment replied that: “their [Indonesia’s] ability to tackle the haze at source is a lot more … which is why at the Ministerial meeting in February, the Indonesians were very willing to straightaway join us in issuing a call for international assistance. UN itself would be very interested in getting involved in resolving this problem” (Singapore Parliament Reports System, 9, 1, 68, 10, 16 March 1998). Debates continued through 1998, 1999 and 2000 with the landmark ASEAN agreement among the ten Southeast Asian nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) on preventing forest fires coming into force on 24 November 2003. The Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution, which was acclaimed by the United Nations as a possible global model (Environmental New Network, 25 November 2003; U.N. News Centre, 26 November 2003; Straits Times, 26 November 2003), allows for better monitoring, better assessment of prevention, and superior technical and scientific research through heat-sensing satellites. The agreement is a clear victory for governments and NGOs engaging in the process of environmental protection policy (ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution 2002). The battle that still needs to be fought is to get Indonesia to ratify it. As mentioned earlier, at the time of 265

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writing this book, the SIIA’s researchers are meeting Indonesian NGOs to plan the next strategy.

GOVERNANCE IN ACTION: CONTEXT AND ORGANIZATIONS Context and Policy Global governance trends at the end of the 1990s, discussed in Chapter Two, clearly continued influencing approaches to governing and relations between state and civil society actors impinging on various policy domains in Singapore. Consultative modes of governing, which began to characterize the late 1980s, influenced the way the Singapore Government continued to approach decisionmaking at the end of the latter part of the 1990s. This can be clearly seen by the positive effects that the various dialogues and projects initiated and carried out by NGOs and other organizations had in relation to this case study. But the positive effects a governance approach could have had on the protection of forest resources were greatly hampered by regional events. Regionally, an economic crisis had struck and its impact was compounded by a political crisis and ecological challenges in Indonesia, the source of the fires. In 1997, after achieving remarkable economic development over the previous three decades, Indonesia fell into recession. Indonesia’s economy had been rapidly growing with an average annual increase of 5 to 6 per cent of per capita GNP. But at the end of 1998, the economy had contracted by 5 per cent. The currency had declined by 80 per cent from 2,450 rupiahs to US$1 in July 1997, to 11,000 rupiahs to US$1 in May 1998 (Centre for International Forestry Research [CIFOR] 18 May 1998). Essential commodities’ prices had increased so significantly that the number of people living below the poverty line had rocketed. David Waters, correspondent of The Times in Jakarta, commented then that: “A hundred million Indonesians live below the poverty line, existing on 2,000 calories a day” (Gilbert 2000, p. 864). Unemployment had gone up to nine million in April 1998 and was expected to reach thirteen million by December 1998 (CIFOR 1998). The connection between the economic crisis and the forest fires episode is that Indonesia found that one way to overcome the economic downturn was to expand agricultural production, which required extensive and rapid land clearing. Using the slash-and-burn method was the preferred option. Agriculture has some characteristics that make it not only a feasible, but also an attractive option. First, it is independent of the dollar economy, and is thus not as badly hit as other sectors during a recession. Second, agriculture had traditionally absorbed those unemployed from sectors like manufacturing

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and industry; those unable to find work could always settle for work in rural areas, and they did. Third, planting and harvesting rice, soy and wheat in times of economic hardship reduce imports of these commodities while retaining staple food supplies. This Indonesia did, too. Fourth, the export of rice and other crops is lucrative in instances where the national currency has depreciated as it makes national commodities in the international markets cheap and competitive. Costs are in local currency while earnings are in U.S. dollars. As a consequence of increased production, Indonesia increased exports (CIFOR 1998). Another connection between the economic and the forest fires crises was the demand for policy reforms attached to the US$43 billion IMF rescue package offered to Indonesia. Of particular relevance to this paper are the increasing pressures within the commercial timber sector, the agricultural expansion at the expense of forests, and export policy changes. From January to March 1998, demand for Indonesian plywood from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan had stopped. The international price of plywood had dropped from US$500 to $300 per cubic metre in April 1998. Felled timber was left to rot in the forest. But developments in April 1998 showed that demand from China for Indonesian plywood was increasing as a new Chinese policy of reducing logging by 60 per cent had been put in place. The reduced supply had raised the prices of Chinese plywood and China had found the importation of Indonesian plywood to be the preferred option. This rescued the Indonesian timber sector. International prices remained at US$260 per cubic metre. The revival of the industry once more had a detrimental effect on forests. The increased demand led companies to fell more trees than their annual quota. The problem was compounded by an actual shortage of plywood due to previous over-harvesting and loss of timber to devastating fires (CIFOR 1998). Another policy reform required by the IMF rescue package was agricultural expansion. The IMF demanded eventual self-reliance. Palm oil, together with cocoa and coffee, appeared to be the preferred commodities to cultivate: 2.4 million hectares of palm oil were cultivated when the crisis struck and 1.5 million hectares were added. The agribusiness development meant that US$1.2 billion investment was expected to be made. With high international prices per tonne of palm oil and low production costs in Indonesia, profit margins were large. As the crisis loomed and the new agribusiness policy was put in place, exports of edible oil reached US$2.23 million, a 59 per cent increase (CIFOR 1998). Finally, export policy changes imposed by the IMF loan agreement also had an effect on Indonesian forests. Examples of these are removing restrictions on foreign investment in palm oil plantations; ending the ban on palm oil 267

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products exports and replacing it with an export tax of 40 per cent to be revised regularly; reducing land conversion targets to environmentally sustainable levels and implementing a system of performance bonds for forest concessions by 31 December 1998; and reducing export taxes on logs and rattan to a maximum of 30 per cent, which was implemented on 15 April 1998, and thereafter 20 per cent by December 1998, 15 per cent by December 1999, and 10 per cent by December 2000 (CIFOR 1998). The economic crisis was compounded by the political crisis that emerged from the fall of President Soeharto in May, after fifty years of almost continuous dictatorship. The new regime was struggling forward through new laws and more open governing approaches. On 14 November, twelve people were killed after seven hours of fighting against the police in Jakarta. In answer to the demonstrations, President Habibie ordered a military offensive against subversive elements (Gilbert 2000, p. 863). Global, regional and national environmental policies towards the end of the 1990s continued to be characterized by growing awareness alongside growing damage. Environmental historical records for 1997–98 highlight water shortages in eighty countries, and water pollution from dioxins and crude oil spillage in the Caspian Sea and in Siberian rivers, as well as deforestation due to mining in Brazil and the Southeast Asian Forest Fires (Gilbert 2000, p. 847). The 1997 ENV report also highlighted the fact that Singapore was severely affected by haze, with levels of respirable suspended particles exceeding acceptable levels. The PSI had reached the “unhealthy” level on twelve days, with the highest recorded index reaching 138 on 19 September 1997 (ENV Annual Report 1997, p. 17). Regional cooperation was reported in the 1998 report, indicating that the various agreements and meetings of ASEAN Environment Ministers and senior officials had produced a positive result — the implementation of the Regional Haze Action Plan adopted in December 1997 (ENV Annual Report 1998, p. 67).

Organizations The Ministry of the Environment (ENV) The involvement of the ENV in the fires and haze episode was due to the ministry’s responsibility for air quality. At the time of the episode, the ENV was both the agency setting strategic policy directions and carrying out operational duties, that is, it was directly involved in haze monitoring as the Meteorological Services Division (MSD) was under its purview (Straits Times, 21 March 1998). The MSD spent a short time in the Transport Ministry but 268

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with the creation of the National Environment Agency (NEA), it moved to this new statutory board, a clear recognition of the relation climate conditions and crises have to air quality (NEA Annual Report 2002–2003, p. 25; Meteorological Services Department 2004). Since 2002, the ENV has become leaner by retaining it policy-making role while devolving operations to the NEA statutory board (Straits Times, 16 March 2001, 27 March 2002, 25 May 2002). The ENV’s stated mission is to provide Singaporeans with a clean living environment and environmental public health protected against the spread of communicable disease. It accomplishes this mission by providing environmental infrastructure for solid and liquid waste disposal, and for storm water; by implementing pollution control measures; and by establishing public health standards through education, surveillance, and enforcement to ensure air and water quality meet international standards, food is safe, and sources and modes of transmission of tropical diseases are kept under control. Its vision statement includes a definition of SEC as “a dynamic and caring organisation [with the] commitment and pride to make [the] environment among the best in the world, and working in partnership with all Singaporeans” (Ministry of the Environment 2004: Vision). The ENV pledges to strive for excellence, take ownership of actions; commit to protect the environment; help resolve an area of environmental concern when it comes across it; take pride in explaining environmental issues to people it comes in contact with; seek feedback; try new ideas and learn from failures; anticipate change; be gracious in interacting with the public, partners, and colleagues; and foster responsibility and participation in caring for the environment (Ministry of the Environment 2004: About Us). The Ministry is headed by a Minister, a Minister of State, a Permanent Secretary, and a Deputy Secretary. It is divided into four divisions: Corporate Development, which looks after finance and corporate planning, human resource and organization development, and office administration and building management services; Corporate Communications and International Relations; Strategic Policy; and Information Technology (Ministry of the Environment 2004: Organization; Appendix VIII: Ministry of the Environment Organizational Chart).

The National Environment Agency (NEA) Although at the time of the 1997–98 forest fires and haze episode, the NEA did not exist, as the MSD has been in the NEA’s remit since 2002, the Agency has played a crucial role in the continuous monitoring of fires and resulting haze and is thus briefly discussed in this chapter. The NEA was formed on 269

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1 July 2002 as a statutory board under the ENV (Cap. 195) (Straits Times, 25 May 2002). Its purpose is to focus on the implementation of environmental policies. Three divisions were established to fulfil its role as policy implementer. The Environmental Policy and Management Division implements programmes to monitor, reduce, and prevent environmental pollution. The Division is responsible for the operation of the four refuse incineration plants and offshore landfills. It also implements programmes to minimize waste generation, and maximize recycling and energy conservation. The Environmental Public Health Division ensures high standards of public health through ground surveillance and preventive measures. It is also responsible for the overall cleanliness of Singapore and standards of hygiene in the food retail industry. It plays a role in enhancing the living environment through various programmes such as the Hawker Centre Upgrading Programme and the Clean Public Toilets Programme. Finally, the Meteorological Services Singapore, which became part of the NEA in 2002 and was renamed the Meteorological Services Division, provides weather information to support public health; socio-economic activities; and aviation, maritime and military activities, and to issue haze alerts. The NEA’s vision is for “Singapore to have a clean and healthy environment loved and cared by everyone” (National Environment Agency 2005). Its stated mission is to ensure the quality of the environment by working in partnership with the community through providing environmental and meteorological services, and promoting environment-related industry, training, and public education. Its core values are caring by exceeding customers’ expectations, integrity by earning and upholding the trust and confidence of others, teaming with partners to achieve common goals, professionalism by taking pride in what it does, and striving for excellence and innovation by proposing new ideas and creative solutions. The NEA is headed by a board of twelve directors drawn from the civil service (Ministry of Health, Home Affairs, etc.), private corporations, academia, and NGOs such as the SEC. Its operations are headed by a Chief Executive Officer and six Directors: Public Health, Environmental Protection, Meteorological Services, Singapore Environment Institute, Corporate Services, and Human Resources (NEA Annual Report 2002–2003: 11; Appendix IX: National Environment Agency Organizational Chart).

The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) The SEC was involved in this case study as the NGO that initiated the 1998 Policy Dialogue with national, regional, and international NGOs to tackle 270

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the forest fires crisis. Although the Council is no longer directly involved in this issue, it maintains its “umbrella” status under which other NGOs continue pursuing the abatement of fires and their consequences. Formerly known as the National Council of the Environment (NCE), established on 6 November 1990, this government-initiated NGO was reestablished in November 1995 as an autonomous organization (Straits Times, 7 November 1990; SEC Annual Report 2002–2003). The Council is a company limited by guarantee, and a non-governmental and non-profit organization with the status of institution of public character (IPC) (SEC Annual Report 2002–2003, Appendix A). In 1995, the SEC moved out of the ENV premises so as to indicate also physically its independence from the ENV. It is currently located in a two-storey former Chinese shophouse at the Duxton Heritage Conservation area in Tanjong Pagar. The Council’s stated mission is to nurture, facilitate, and coordinate environmental causes in Singapore (SEC Corporate Report no date, p. 3). The SEC thus acts both as a one-stop shop for citizens to channel their views on environmental policy and nature conservation, and as the umbrella organization for grassroots, HDB estates, and school green groups, aiming to strengthen the environmental movement. It claims to act as a catalyst for individual action and to be a “tree sheltering green groups” (SEC Corporate Report no date, p. 7). The SEC’s work and plans are based on research and consultation with experts and lay people. Its ultimate aim is to make Singapore a “sustainable society by maintaining its biodiversity, eliminating pollution, minimizing waste and ecological degradation” (SEC Corporate Report no date, p. 9). Its main objectives are green consumerism; waste minimization by means of fostering the practice of refusing, reducing, reusing, recycling, and transforming the irreducible into energy; conservation of the urban environment; nature conservation; and green volunteerism. The government agency with which it necessarily interacts is the ENV. The SEC can, in fact, be considered the “people’s” branch of the ENV. Meetings between the SEC and the ENV occur every time either side feels the need to discuss an environmental issue that it wants to bring to public attention (Interview with SEC’s Executive Director, 20 February 2003). The SEC is neither a nature conservation group nor an advocacy group, but rather, through a system of Committees, it performs various coordinating and educational functions, and plays a powerful role in the allocation of financial resources through its Central Environment Fund. It claims to play cooperative, collaborative, and complementary roles with those of the state. In relation to these roles, the SEC does not fulfil the tasks of policy formulator through advocacy or lobbying or by initiating and supporting research projects 271

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on environmental protection, or those of evaluator by assessing government policies and programmes, but rather it fulfils the tasks of implementer by managing and administering programmes approved by the ENV. The SEC’s clearing-house effect and educational role are also significant. The Council considers having raised the awareness of the young — thirtyyear-olds and below — to be its major achievement, but it feels it has failed to transform awareness into action. Recently, the SEC has decided to carry out small pilot projects like battery recycling and Mass Railway Transit (MRT) paper recycling, which, once proven feasible, will be passed on to the ENV for implementation. The SEC is managed by a Board of Directors that includes government officials. Day-to-day operations are managed by a small Secretariat directed by an Executive Director leading a team of eight Project Managers. All staff are paid from the funding received by the ENV, but at a rate established by the SEC. Staff turnover is low and morale is high in this small team of dedicated professionals coming from disciplines ranging from business management to environmental science, engineering and geography. The management style is that of participation at the brainstorming stage and “your own responsibility” at the implementation stage. Operations are also in the hands of four Standing Committees: Community Relations, Education, Industry, and Research and Publications. Under Community Relations, the Green Volunteers Network operates with a current membership of 700 citizens. The SEC presents an annual budget to the ENV that includes all the projects it wants to undertake and carries out the projects approved and funded by the ENV only. Projects that tend to be approved by the ENV are those related to the brief the ENV gave to the SEC when it was first established and others the ENV considers meaningful and — most importantly — feasible initiatives. Patrons, individual and corporate donors, programme sponsors and volunteers contribute to the SEC’s role too. The SEC has no funding problems at present. The Council does not charge fees for the activities it offers to its beneficiaries such as schools or grassroots green groups, but it welcomes donations when doing presentations to businesses and other organizations. From 1993 to 1995, the SEC was registered as a society and had members who contributed members’ fees. The decision to change its legal status was because the SEC’s leadership felt they were necessarily working towards objectives that suited its members, but that these were not essentially meaningful for the aim of educating the community about environmental awareness and action. After 1995, when its legal status changed to that of a 272

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company limited by guarantee, it stopped having members. The Council now publishes a yearly financial report. The SEC’s Executive Director maintains that the general public in Singapore is aware of the need to protect the environment from pollution and to conserve nature. Thus, the SEC’s current strategy is to transform that awareness into action by relating it to dollars. For example, educating the public about the use of energy conservation appliances, solar energy and organic produce, and demonstrating that these are not only affordable, but, in fact, reduce electricity bills, is one of its current thrusts. The SEC enjoys good media coverage in the city’s leading English papers, Straits Times and Today, and the Chinese papers. Dominic Nathan, the former Straits Times journalist for the environment, is a loyal ally. The SEC prefers to send information to the media rather than call press conferences. It publishes its own newsletter Elements on a monthly basis.

The Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) The SIIA’s involvement with this case study originated when it participated in the 1998 Policy Dialogue initiated by the SEC. Since then, the Institute has taken a leading role in bringing the various national, regional, and international stakeholders together to tackle the forest fires and haze recurring incidents. The SIIA was founded in 1961 and registered as a society on 17 October 1962 with the aim of educating Singaporeans on the events taking place in the world and their relevance to Singapore (Koh, no date). What distinguishes today’s SIIA from its parent is its “no-door” approach. Members and guests meet top business and political leaders in person and in open sessions. For issues that are too hot for public airing, the SIIA organizes closed-door sessions. It also holds dialogues with other thinktanks in the region, and most notably has worked with Indonesian, Malaysian, and European NGOs to find solutions to the smoke haze produced by Indonesian forest fires that have affected Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia regularly (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). According to Tay, the SIIA’s mission is to help make Singapore a more cosmopolitan and global society through research, policy work, and public education on international and ASEAN affairs. The SIIA is a member of the ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN-ISIS), an important “track-two” process of policy-related dialogue and research. The government agency with which it necessarily works is the ENV, where it is 273

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formally represented on environmental panels for the Singapore Green Plan 2012 (SGP2012) (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). The SIIA suggests that a cooperative role that involves contributing expertise is most welcomed by the government. For example, the NEA has initiated the 3P Partnership Programme (Public, Private, and People) to facilitate cooperation between government and environmental interest groups. The SIIA also networks actively with regional and international partners to facilitate information across borders (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). Regarding its roles, the Institute is not an owner, regulator, or producer of goods, but it claims to act as a facilitator of information and knowledge by promoting dialogue and increasing Singapore’s understanding of the region and the world, as well as contributing policy-driven ideas for regional cooperation. It also claims to play a role in promoting discussions on regional and international issues relevant to Singapore by acting as an information bridge between foreign NGOs, research institutes and local players (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). The substance of these discussions is synthesized in policy papers presented to the government and captured in Special Reports for the public. The SIIA also connects businesses by providing programmes and publications that give business-focused, timely, and in-depth analyses of international and ASEAN affairs. The Institute provides business access to key leaders in business, politics, and NGOs, which helps them evaluate the impact of regional and global events on their operations. Its role as facilitator is also expressed in its education dimension. Under its Public Education Programme, the SIIA holds regular talks by visiting foreign politicians and opinion-makers. To reach out to the next generation, the SIIA holds the Annual Student Seminar conducted by key opinion-makers and experts. In its role as producer of services, the SIIA generates ideas by focusing on four research areas: East Asian Regionalism, Peace and Security in ASEAN, Environment and Sustainable Development, and Asia-Europe Relations, thus producing intellectual capital through research and networking (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). Within these areas of focus, the primary concern is with foreign policy and national interests of Singapore and with the regional institution of ASEAN. It equally provides services by undertaking research for various international and national agencies. In the area of the environment, it provides research services for the SEC and the WWF. As a facilitator and producer of services, the Institute, in carrying out its task in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation, does not seek to 274

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change local policies directly, but facilitates informed decision-making and provides input for new initiatives. From this, we can assume the Institute does not consider itself a pressure group (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). The SIIA claims to have a complementary relationship with the government and to favour a governance style that emphasizes an anticipatory and proactive strategy that raises awareness of regional issues by being interactive and educational. It is accountable to its project funders, members, and Board (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). After more than forty years, the SIIA underwent a revamp. Its new Chairman, Simon Tay, a Nominated Member of Parliament from 1997– 2001 and Chairman of the National Environment Agency, is shaping the Institute into a “think-tank for thinking people” that will help Singapore position itself as a more global and cosmopolitan society. Tay took up the position in 1999 when the Institute was languishing with 1 office staff, 20 members and S$30,000 in debt. In July 2002, the SIIA had 200 members, 5 advisers, 5 full-time researchers and financial reserves of S$500,000 (Sunday Times, 21 July 2002). 7 months later, membership was up to 500 (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). Tay plans to increase membership further to 2,000 and beef up the SIIA’s research capabilities in the fields of politics, economic, and environmental issues (Sunday Times, 21 July 2002). The SIIA is led by a volunteer Council and its advisers, who include outstanding people from academia and the private sector. It comprises a mix of business people, professionals and students, all sharing an interest in and a desire to know about international affairs (ibid.). Because of the volunteer Council, voluntarism is significant to the organization. The ratio of paid to voluntary staff is 4:1 (Personal communication between SIIA’s researcher and author, March 2003). The SIIA is a non-profit and non-governmental organization funded by foundations, membership subscriptions, and corporate sponsors. Corporate membership, which is open to local and international corporations and institutions in the public and private sectors, costs S$1,000 per annum and individual membership S$150 or S$250 for Singaporeans and nonSingaporeans respectively (ordinary and associate). Student membership costs S$30 per annum. The Institute relies on organizations such as the Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board), which is the regulatory body for the Singapore Turf Club and the appointed agent for conducting horseracing (Singapore Totalisator Board 2004), and foundations in Singapore and Europe to fund its activities, 275

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although it receives ad hoc grants from the government for specific events. Funding has become more competitive; this relates not only to local funders but also to international funders such as the Ford Foundation. The international competition for funding is actually tighter than the local competition. The SIIA is trying to tackle funding problems by raising its profile and highlighting its strengths to funders (I (4) 20 February 2003, Appendix XII). Its patron is the Lee Foundation, and Benefactors are the Far East Organisation, Management Development Institute of Singapore, Singapore Shipping Corporation Ltd., and the Stamford Press Pte Ltd. The SIIA claims that its events are mostly for the corporate sector and international organizations, thus public awareness about the institute and its activities has been low. Penetration to the grassroots level is slow, but consistently improving through public outreach programmes — initiated in 2002 — and the media, with which the SIIA has established good relations through key reporters and commentators. Moreover, the SIIA is trying to improve public awareness among the younger generation through joint initiatives with local education institutions. Promoting the work of the institute is limited by manpower and funding (I (4) 20 February 2003, Appendix XII). Furthermore, the SIIA has a Public Education programme that aims to enable the Institute to share its expert knowledge and international contacts with the community and act as a catalyst to foster interest and understanding of contemporary world affairs (Press Release on Public Lecture August 2002).

The ASEAN-Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN-ISIS) ASEAN-ISIS was not involved with the 1997–98 fires and haze episode, but has subsequently facilitated discussion forums as the problem re-emerged. In late August and September 2002, it co-organized the second ASEAN People’s Assembly19 together with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS-Jakarta) in Bali (Jakarta Post, 31 August 2002). On the occasion, Rodolfo C. Severino, the ASEAN Secretary-General, urged civil society organizations in the region to continue urging governments to curb the impact of the haze obscuring the region (Jakarta Post, 31 August 2002). ASEAN-ISIS, a track-two forum for dialogue, is an association of NGOs registered with ASEAN. It was formed in 1988 with founding members from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) of Indonesia, the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) of Malaysia, the Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISDS) of the Philippines, the Singapore 276

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Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), and the Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) of Thailand. It aims at “encouraging co-operation and co-ordination of activities among policy-oriented ASEAN scholars and analysts, to promote policy-oriented studies and exchanges of information and viewpoints on various strategic and international issues affecting Southeast Asia’s and ASEAN’s peace, security and well-being” (The Global Forum of Japan 2004). ASEAN-ISIS now consists of nine members: CSIS Indonesia, ISIS Malaysia, ISDS Philippines, SIIA Singapore, ISIS Thailand, the Brunei Darussalam Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (BDIPSS), the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation & Peace (CICP), the Institute for International Relations (IIR) Vietnam and the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) Lao People’s Democratic Republic. ASEAN-ISIS also succeeded in obtaining recognition from the ASEAN member states as a valuable mechanism for policy-making by institutionalizing the meeting between the Heads of the ASEAN-ISIS and the ASEAN Senior Officials at the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Singapore in 1993. In addition to its recognition, ASEAN-ISIS has also contributed significantly to the emergence of an important regional and international political process — that of “track-two diplomacy”20 (The Global Forum of Japan 2004).

OUTCOME AND LESSONS Haze disappears during the North-East monsoon season of the winter months, but it reappears with winds becoming variable from April, when the intermonsoon period sets in, to September, when the South-West monsoon of the summer months occurs. If there are still fires and smoke haze in Kalimantan and Sumatra during this period, the smoke haze may be blown over to Singapore. Efforts by NGOs to curb the fires have continued since the 1997– 98 crises, especially by bringing the issue to the international level. The results have been mixed. The SEC was clearly instrumental in promoting dialogue and policy action on the control and prevention of the 1997–98 fires by joining in the efforts of international, regional, and local environmental NGOs to come up with an integrated and coordinated approach to deal with the fires and resulting haze (Kuok 2000). Given the ASEAN soft approach to tackling problems that originate in any of its member states but affect the whole region, the Singapore Government used a non-official voice to express its views on the forest fires originating from Indonesia. Thus, the ENV approached the SEC to ask it to reach the community. The SEC carried this 277

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out by raising people’s awareness of the health and economic consequences of the haze caused by fires (Interview with SEC’s Executive Director, 13 February 2003). The SEC played a pivotal role in coordinating initiatives among NGOs at the regional level to deal with the crisis. This serves as a good example of civil society-centred responses. Yet, Poh (2002) argues that the close relationship between governments and “track two” institutions restricts the autonomy of these groups and their ability to advance critical thinking. It is noteworthy that the Chairman of the SEC Dialogue in 1997–98 was actually an NMP. It could then be argued that because of the existing political sensitivities between Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, the governments of the two affected neighbouring countries actually feel more at ease discussing the haze issue with Indonesia at the “track-two” level. Hence, such a mobilization by an NGO can be said to be co-opted or has to be allowed for by the state. As such, even though non-state actors had responded to the haze pollution, their involvement in terms of autonomy had to be qualified. Since the SIIA took over the SEC’s work, the issue has been handled in a coordinated manner with the government, but not in a co-opted way. While keeping the ENV and, possibly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the loop, the SIIA has carried out its work independently, and with success until recently when it has been hampered by a lack of resources. The ratification of the Trans-boundary Haze Agreement is a clear institutional victory. In practice, however, unless Indonesia is willing to ratify it, it will only amount to winning a battle, but not the war.

A DISCIPLINED GOVERNANCE APPROACH: THE POWER OF CIRCUMVENTION What does this case have that further illustrates the particular model of governance envisioned in the country study? What does this case have that illustrates a particular form of government-NGO relations? What are the institutional arrangements created to facilitate future government-NGO relations? What effect do these arrangements have on global, regional, and local air quality? The case analysed here fits the collaborative towards the co-optative dimension of the “disciplined governance” approach. It is also a clear landmark in trans-boundary air pollution cooperation and “trans-boundary governance”, setting a precedent of devolution of power to ASEAN and Singapore NGOs 278

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by the Singapore Government. It is also an example of regional and national commitment to curb air pollution through collaborative arrangements. Despite the limited form of governance involved in the “disciplined governance” approach, the institutional arrangements that have emerged to facilitate cooperation for environmental protection — protection of air quality in this case — cannot be dismissed. The public dialogues, and collaborative programmes and projects were created to facilitate partnerships to protect the environment. These ultimately resulted in the ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution, which was hailed by the UNEP as a global model, if duly implemented. Although, as can be deduced from the two other case studies, the Singapore Government remains the agenda-setter, implementer, and regulator of environmental policy, a vision seems to be emerging that indicates a more strategic structure of cooperation with national and regional NGOs. This trend follows the general guidelines of the “governance approach”, which favours mutual dependence and NGOs’ inclusion in the delivery of policy. These arrangements can only favour the Singapore Government as it moves responsibility from government to a larger body of stakeholders. The new institutionalized process should continue to favour environmental protection if Singapore and regional NGOs are able to sustain their efforts to use the channels of participation effectively and maintain their advocacy work. So long as the government sustains its commitment to partnering NGOs, environmental protection should be ensured. The drawbacks here are those found in any governance approach to governing. With more stakeholders participating in decision-making, the process becomes complicated unless there is a clear vision, well-defined leadership, sufficient resources, and political will. This case has shown that talent and money are not wanting; rather, developing political will remains the challenge. It is difficult to quantify how much these collaborative arrangements have curbed trans-boundary air pollution originating from forest fires. To date, the problem persists. As in Chapters Two and Three, explicit theoretical links can be made between the findings from this case and the analysis of the literature on governance in Singapore (Chapter Three) and elsewhere (Chapter Two). This case is also a powerful illustration of the proposition made in this book that Singapore adopts many of the elements of the “participatory state” model most convincingly when managing the environmental policy sector. Yet, models from the existing literature (see Peters 1996) cannot adequately be applied to liberalizing illiberal democracies. Instead, a new model — the 279

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“disciplined governance” model — provides a solution to the realities confronting such polities.

Notes 1

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That is, the inclusion of NGOs. In the past, governments and non-governmentnominated specialists were the main actors. After the Plan of Action was adopted, the policy community was enlarged to include NGOs and indigenous peoples. However, a number of regimes within the group have not accepted such enlargement and political activity. A phenomenon resulting from the warming of the Pacific Ocean off South America, it carries heavy rainfall and floods, or extreme drought to different parts of the world. Obscuration of the atmosphere near the earth by fine particles of water, smoke, or dust (Thompson 1995, p. 624). Quah and Johnston’s study puts the figure at up to S$242.8–S$425.0 million (Quah and Johnston 2001, p. 157). Air Pollution Indexes (APIs) are a series of numbers expressing the relative levels of air pollution, taking into account various contaminants. They protect health by triggering control actions designed to curb air pollution episodes associated with these contaminants (Ministry of the Environment, Ontario 2004). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) system was used to monitor the growth of fire activity during August 1997. Photographs showed that fires were widespread in Borneo, but more intense in Indonesia (IFFN 01-1998, pp. 27–29). The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Forests was approved in 1997 by the Economic and Social UN Council upon the recommendation of the Council on Sustainable Development. It was mandated to pursue consensus and formulate options for future forest management (E/C.17/1997/12). The ITTO, based in Japan, was established in 1986 under the auspices of the UN. It is an intergovernmental organization fostering the conservation, management, use and trade of forest resources (International Tropical Timber Organisation 2004). The CFC is a partnership of 104 developed and developing countries working on practical solutions to problems of commodity production and food security. The Fund works closely with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) (Food and Agricultural Organisation 2004). Land consisting of vegetable matter partly decomposed in wet acid conditions to form a brown, deposit like soil. Used for fuel (Thompson 1995, p. 1006). A method of cultivation in which vegetation is cut down, allowed to dry, and then burned off before seeds are planted (Thompson 1995, p. 1304).

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No month and page. Greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to have exceeded the total emissions of Western Europe in a single year. Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration states that in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, individual states have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other states or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (Lex Mercatoria, University of Tromso, Norway 1993–2004). Simon Tay was travelling to Germany and Switzerland, and proposed to Tommy Koh to contact NGOs there. Project Firefight Southeast Asia (PFFSEA) is a global initiative of the WWF and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) funded by the European Union. It seeks to identify stakeholders, their fire use, and management practices, and ways these can work to ameliorate fire management. The Project is implemented through a targeted plan of communications and advocacy that brings together local communities, NGOs, and the private sector in policy dialogue. The projects aims at necessary policy reform (Global Mechanism of the UNCCD 2004). The author was given access to this documentation in February 2003. The Index is a system developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA-U.S.) to measure pollution levels for the major air pollutants regulated under Title I of the Clean Air Act. It is used to advise the public on the adverse health effects of pollution (Environmental Protection Agency 2004). A forum that brings together ASEAN and people’s organizations in the region. It emerged from ASEAN’s realization that it had to deal with non-traditional security issues such as human rights abuses, mass migration, transnational crime, environmental problems, and health epidemics (Jakarta Post, 31 August 2002). Diplomacy outside official channels.

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Reproduced from Governance, Politics and the Environment: A Singapore Study by Maria Francesch-Huidobro (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior 282 Governance, Politicsarticles and the permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual areEnvironment available at < http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

7 CONCLUSION AND THEORETICAL REFLECTIONS

FROM GOVERNING TO GOVERNANCE On 16 April 2004, the Straits Times reported that the government had accepted 60 of the 74 proposals the Remaking Singapore Committee had made just 9 months earlier in August 2003. Of the remaining 14, 2 were under consideration and 12 had been rejected. Balakrishnan, Minister of State for National Development and Committee’s Chairman, said on the occasion: If you look critically at the changes which had been put in place, there should be no doubt in your minds that there is more space than ever before for you to form your own associations, to engage in constructive dialogue with government, and to make things happen (Straits Times, 16 April 2004, 17 April 2004; Appendix X: Remaking Singapore Committee Recommendations and Government Responses, 15 April 2004).

The first accepted change relevant to this study is making registration procedures for associations easier by not requiring all societies to obtain prior approval, but registering through a system of “Automatic Registration”. Societies that constitute no threat to national security will be so registered while those that fall outside this category will be specified in a schedule. The spirit behind this change is that “it promotes self-regulation by civil societies [by] allowing societies, which fall outside the negative list, to be registered based on self-declaration” (Remaking Singapore Committee Recommendations 282

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and Government Responses 2004, n. 36, p. 16). This seems to manifest an increase of trust from government towards non-government actors. The second accepted proposal is the drawing up of a “Code of Consultation” through the issuing of a public document that would provide guidelines and minimum standards on when and how the public should be consulted. It is disappointing that rather than intending to empower civil society, the stated reason behind this initiative is “to provide greater flexibility for government agencies to identify issues amenable to public consultation” (Remaking Singapore Committee Recommendations, Government Responses 2004 n. 39, pp. 17–18). This is further elicited from the reference this response makes to the announcement made on the issue by the then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (now Prime Minister) in his speech to the Harvard Club on 6 January 2004. Spelling out the government’s spirit of consultation, DPM Lee affirmed: The government will uphold the spirit of consultation by, first, clarifying the objective, scope and process of each exercise; second, by providing sufficient time for the consultation exercise before finalising the policy; third, by providing timely and accessible information on policies under consultation; fourth, by facilitating diversity of views. And fifth, by closing the loop, that is, by making the government’s response and reasons for the final decision known to the public (Straits Times, 7 January 2004).

DPM Lee also spelled out the spirit the government hoped the public would maintain through the consultative process. “First, seek to understand the rationale and intent of the policy under consideration; second, be open to different views, third, show mutual respect for the legitimacy and point of view of all participants” (Straits Times, 7 January 2004). Although setting the ground rules for engagement is welcomed by civil society activists (I (10) 16 January 2004, I (12) 20 January 2004, Appendix XII), it is unfortunate that these were set by “a team of young civil servants” rather than by consulting civil society groups and the general public (Straits Times, 7 January 2004). From these top-down guidelines, one can infer that the public and interest groups were not consulted on their views about the spirit of public consultation. The ground rules for engagement are, thus, set up in a lopsided manner. This may only increase the cynicism about public consultations being a tool to justify the government’s already decided policies. Of the 12 issues rejected, 4 relate to social policy and welfare1 and 3 relate to education2 the government considers already sufficiently covered by existing programmes. It is argued that in these issues, there was a high degree of 283

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consensus between the government and the public. It is in the remaining, more political issues that lack of consensus emerged (Straits Times, 17 April 2004). Issues rejected range from proposals to set up a “green/red lane” to automatically license non-controversial arts performances,3 to designating venues for arts performance as “hands-off zones” not requiring public entertainment licences. The relevance of the former proposal to this study is that all public meetings, signature campaign drives, and so forth require licensing under the Public Entertainment and Meetings Act. These requirements remain. More important to the discussion undertaken in this book, the definition of “OB markers” was also rejected. In government thinking, as the then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also affirmed in his January speech, out-of-bounds markers are best left dynamic so that the “rules of engagement and limits evolve with time too”. The rationale, he added, is that: Had we predefined all the parameters for discussion, civil society would have lost the spark and autonomy that allows fresh areas to be explored, limits to be redefined, and both government and civic groups to develop a certain responsiveness to each other and move society forward by engaging each other (Straits Times, 7 January 2004; Remaking Singapore Committee, Government Responses 2004 n. 27, 28, 34; Straits Times, 17 April 2004).

Although the rationale seems to support fluidity and avoid restrictions, Singaporean civil society groups’ mindset is not prepared for such a “free approach” to potentially controversial issues. They have repeatedly asked the government to define OB markers (I (10) 16 January 2004, Appendix XII). There have been four proposals so far where no consensus has been reached and that has merited no response from the government. These are placed in the document as an annex under the heading “Proposals Without Consensus”. These four issues have often been raised by political observers as likely obstacles for Singapore’s democratic development. They include changes to defamation law, as its current status, some argue, tends to protect reputation rather than to allow free speech; further liberalization of the mass media, which, if accepted, the government fears may compromise “the nation’s need for political stability”; and changing the political playing field, which the government argues is catered for by the other measures put forth in the other recommendations of the document as they expand space for association and expression. What is interesting is that the government believes that over time, “the continuing evolution of our political culture could lead to changes in the 284

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level of political engagement” (Remaking Singapore Committee Proposals, Government Reponses 2004, Annex: Proposals without consensus). This belief supports the study that the shift from government to governance has been initiated, but its implementation remains rather “disciplined”. It also supports the proposition that liberalization and possible democratic development in the coming years will take place in civil society rather than through radical changes in electoral politics. Finally, a new civil society player emerges from the discussion. If “trusted brokers” played a catalytic role in bridging the gap between government and society in the 1990s, “community champions” are expected to be the major players taking up and implementing recommendations of the Remaking Singapore Committee in the years ahead. The “community champion” label, which was coined in an RSC session, is explained by the idea of Encouraging a ground up, spontaneous network of people — building on existing civil society efforts — to emerge to take up specific proposals put up by the Committee. These people come in and out as issues arise, are not restricted by formal civil society group membership and, thus, are part of a more organic less formal process that shifts the centre of gravity closer to people (Straits Times, 18 August 2003).

Will these champions also be co-opted by the more direct political structures? How will civil society groups react to these “lone rangers”? Whose interests will they represent? It is in this context that the Conclusion section of this book is written.

A DISCIPLINED GOVERNANCE APPROACH TO THE ENVIRONMENT: THE POWER OF PERSUASION, PROTESTATION AND CIRCUMVENTION Testing Governance This book has suggested that Singapore’s environmental governance is undergoing a process of “opening up” through greater inclusion of NGOs in policies related to environmental protection and nature conservation. The changing and often ambiguous status of NGOs in the policy process is crucial to understanding the direction of politics in Singapore. The institutional arrangements in the form of norms, practices, structures, and organizations put in place after each episode also indicate that the dynamics of steering and coordinating by experimenting with public consultation and citizen engagement in the policy deliberation process advocated by the governance 285

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approach are being institutionalized. The fact that reliance on networks and partnerships is emerging also indicates that the government is less dependent on its autonomy and authority. This is consistent with the overall shift in Singapore from governing in the traditional sense to governance identified in Chapter Three (see Table 3.2). It is also coherent with the recently accepted recommendations by the government of the proposals of the Remaking Singapore Committee just mentioned. This book first expands governance theory by suggesting that “disciplined governance” is a style of governing employed by “illiberal democracies” that are undergoing processes of liberalization and “opening up”. The study tests this hypothesis in the Singapore environmental policy domain. The intellectual roots relevant to the management of public organizations and their relations with civil society organizations in the process of governing are found in the concept of “illiberal and limited democracy” expanded in Chapter Three. The disciplined style of governing has implications not only for structure, processes, management, policy making, and the public interest, but also for the roles of the domains where it occurs (that is, the state, civil society, government, and NGOs), the relations between the two actors, and policies relating to environmental protection and nature conservation as discussed in the analysis of the country and case studies. Second, the case studies not only support the characterization of this style of governing, but also substantiate the position I take that the PAP, while deriving political legitimacy and conflict management from incorporating NGOs into the process, is also allowing the introduction of a less predictable, messier, and more fluid policy environment. This situation is captured by the variant governance concept adopted, “disciplined governance”, which reveals much about the conditional, subordinate, and yet increasingly incorporated role of NGOs in explaining the current Singapore environmental governance scenario. An added strength is that while much has been written about Singapore’s politics (such as the effects of colonization, the regional and global pressures challenging its authoritarian regime, etc.), its political institutions (such as the core executive, civil service, legislature, etc.) and substantive policy issues (such as transport, education, housing, women, human rights, etc.), there existed a gap in knowledge on the politics and processes outside the basic political structures and how these may be affecting Singapore’s overall governance progression. Subtle but important forces are at work that attempt to influence the context and direction of policy-making. The book argues that there is more beneath the surface political activity than the standard assessment of Singapore’s executive-led model. First, up to now, it was not 286

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clear what sort of institutions, channels, capacity, and strategies government organizations and NGOs have utilized to relate to each other and to contribute directly or indirectly to policy strategies and outcomes. Second, the significance and contributions these institutions make were not well understood either, although they can have a significant impact not only on policy-making, but also on the overall governance progression of the city-state. In essence, the book concludes that although the “governance approach” to governing is suitable for studying state adaptation to emerging societal demands, its explanatory power with regard to the environmental Singapore scenario is limited. The new approach to governing elicited by the empirical data sees some of the elements of the “governance approach” emerging; for example, a weakening dichotomy between state and society, the development of policy networks made up of public and private actors, and the recognition of their importance. The public is also beginning to be recognized as active citizens and not mere loyal subjects. Certain recognition is also apparent that although the state is the ultimate authority over policy because of its, theoretically, democratic legitimacy, other loci of power do exist (Peters 2002). Yet, the experience gathered and analysed in this book shows that the processes of engagement between government and environmental nongovernment actors are far from consultative and open. For example, in the case of the conservation of Sungei Buloh, it was persuasion by the NSS through well-researched data and policy advocacy strategies that made the government agree to its conservation. The government was ready to make this first major concession to nature conservation since the British ruled the island also because of other factors besides the NSS lobbying, but none of these factors related to proactive consultation or openness on the part of the government. Certainly, the protection of Sungei Buloh triggered the creation of a whole array of institutional mechanisms that have subsequently favoured nature conservation and environmental protection, although outcomes of successive campaigns have been mixed and not always favourable to the environmental cause. The water catchment surrounding Lower Peirce Reservoir was spared from becoming another manicured golf course through the power of contained, but effective protestation. The outcome of this debate, six years after the preservation of Sungei Buloh, indicated that NGOs’ capacity, notably that of the NSS, was greater and their opposition could no longer be taken for granted. But, again, subsequent proposals for constructing golf courses, though ameliorated in terms of negative environmental impact, have gone ahead. At the time the debate took place, it was surprising to NGOs that 287

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there was no previous consultation and open debate on a project that was certainly going to be opposed by environmentalists and the general public. But it was yet more surprising that strong public opposition, together with scientific evidence of negative impact presented by the NSS, were able to bring the project to a halt. Protestation was now possible. The menace of forest fires and consequential haze that confronted Singapore and the region in 1997–98 was managed by the power of circumvention. Coordination among various players was then, and is still today, being devolved to Singapore NGOs. These were not consulted as a matter of principle, but as a matter of political expediency since a bilateral approach to the issue between Indonesia and Singapore would have been, so the Singapore Government argued, politically undesirable. These findings lead to the first conclusion that governance as a concept and set of ideas is a valuable tool for analysing the process of opening up Singapore environmental politics due to its recognizing the role of NGOs in this scenario and the existence of collaborative arrangements among players. A governance approach to governing recognizes various types of relations between the players within different domains, resulting in various types of governance order, mostly, hierarchical governance, co-governance, and selfgovernance. Experience to date indicates that governance in the Singapore environmental policy arena is sometimes consultative, but strategically contained, such that the idea of “disciplined governance” is an appropriate way to characterize the emerging situation. At this point, the ultimate potential of the “disciplined governance” model cannot be fully realized either theoretically or empirically. It is an open question whether this non-democratic model — albeit a dynamic one — which is an alternative to a democratic polity model, is genuinely sustainable. Further research in other policy domains as well as studies that compare Singapore with regimes that have deferred or are deferring democracy while promoting “openness” will have to be undertaken. Yet, it is evident from this study that Singapore has been for a while at a junction of reform efforts that are reshaping relations between state and society and that contain the possibility, but by no means the guarantee, of further liberalization.

A Limitedly Democratic and Paternalistic Government Governance theory foresees changes in the nature and conceptualization of one of the domains where it occurs, namely, the state. These mainly entail either less state power through devolution of functions, or the same state power, but selection of new instruments and organizational arrangements 288

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(Pierre and Peters 2000, p. 93; Peters 2004). In any case, governance theory presupposes a state that is democratic and more than just “representatively democratic”; that is, a state where interest groups’ democracy and the consequential involvement of a larger number of actors in the policy process, both at formulation and implementation stages, are desirable (Peters 2002). Shifts in the governance scenario in Singapore have hardly affected the role of the state, as already discussed in Chapter Three. Findings from the case studies also confirm that although the state has become more inclusive in making decisions, it still dominates the process. Thus, governance theory does not seem to adequately explain the role of the state in the case of Singapore in general, or in the environmental domain in particular. In a “disciplined governance” scenario, the state and those institutions that are responsible for the collective organization of social life are limitedly democratic and overtly paternalistic. This is also consistent with the existing literature on illiberal democracy, limited democracy, and communitarian democracy presented in Chapter Three. Such findings are in the second conclusion arrived at by this study. The state is central to governance in theory and practice. In the governance approach, the nature of the state is democratic. The idea of “disciplined governance” is more appropriately equated with a state that is illiberally or limitedly democratic and overtly paternalistic. Organizations of the state representing the environment policy domain analysed in the case studies have these characteristics.

A Semi-autonomous Civil Society that Works and a Patronus-libertus Relationship between Government Organizations and NGOs What is interesting about the empirical findings is that, with regard to the roles of civil society, the other domain of governance, they contrast with one of the tenets of the governance approach. This presupposes a strong civil society or the existence of networks of actors who are willing and ready to partner the government. That is, the viability of the governance approach, governance theorists claim, depends on a developed civil society (Peters 2000). Yet, what has emerged from the analysis of the country and case studies is that, in the absence of a well-developed civil society, interest groups — environmental groups in this case — have been the driving force engaging the government and producing change. This is arguably leading to more profound governance changes affecting the overall political progression of Singapore, not only environmental governance. This is consistent with what 289

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was mentioned above, that the overall growth of democracy in Singapore is not being allowed in the mainstream political arena, but through the enlargement of space to non-government actors and through those occupying that space. For these reasons, the governance approach to governing is inadequate in explaining the nature of Singapore environmental civil society. This, though fairly independent, is not totally autonomous. It does not possess the characteristics of civil society envisioned in the governance approach to governing, that is, confrontational, active, and free. It is, rather, co-opted and subordinated by the state, though outside the more direct structures of political co-optation explained in Chapter Three. That is, it still retains the ability for semi-autonomous action. In relation to the nature of the relationships between the government and environmental NGOs, the governance approach envisions partnerships. The nature of these relations, as deduced from the country and case studies, is better explained as a patronus-libertus relationship; that is, one between a patron and his freed slave, elicited by a “disciplined” approach to governing. Although interactions between state and environmental civil society have developed trust and cohesion, and these, in turn, are building social capital that increases the density of civil society, civil society is in itself far from an equal partner. Carefully engineered public consultation exercises and meetings behind closed doors are used by the government to diffuse opposition and to claim that decisions were made after “consulting”. Thus, the three cases analysed are examples of arrangements that government agencies and NGOs have opted for to address nature conservation and environmental protection issues. The cases begin to resemble the usual conceptualization of government-NGO relationships as co-optation, coordination, cooperation and collaboration (or partnership). The common elements of the cases illustrate the emergence of a more comprehensive, adaptive, and corporatist approach to government-NGO relations. The institutional mechanisms created to approach or resolve environmental issues and those that have emerged after each debate resemble structures normally created to facilitate government-NGO relations. These arrangements represent an incipient form of co-governance, which includes planning and implementation features. Whereas the government is often the referee in environmental disputes, this form of co-governance changes the role of the government to that of framework setter and facilitator, representing a new form of public management, one that is adaptive to the external environment and that 290

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delivers new forms of coordination and collaboration to tackle new societal problems (Atkinson and Coleman 1989; Head 1997). This new form of public management manages policies through a strategic framework of cooperation rather than through a regulatory and legal mandate. This direction is broadly consistent with the growing literature on “governance” that emphasizes the role of trust and mutual adjustment in formulating policy and implementing it through networks that are largely managed by NGOs (Rhodes 1996). The role of government, though, remains critical. Institutional arrangements like creating the NEA, out of the ENV, to deal with implementation of environmental protection policies; establishing the NParks, under the MND, to deal with nature conservation issues; or setting up the SEC as the environmental NGO umbrella organization, provide an integrative mechanism by which government is able to co-opt NGOs in seeking to change the behaviour of citizens. Yet, all this devolution from core government agencies to marginal agencies and NGOs requires human and financial resources, information, and technical and research support that at times are considered expensive in the short term. Only a sustainable vision that favours the short and long term of environmental protection will maintain these changes. These findings lead this study to a third conclusion. Organizations of civil society, NGOs, are an increasingly prominent feature of governance. In the governance approach to governing, the nature of civil society is confrontational, active, and free, with the nature of the relations between government and NGOs being mostly that of a partnership. The idea of “disciplined governance” sees these organizations being co-opted and subordinated by the state, while also retaining a limited space for semi-autonomous action. Instead of partnership, the “disciplined governance” model elicits a patronus-libertus type of relationship. Although environmental NGOs are outside the more direct structures of political co-optation, they are still not totally autonomous.

An Environment that Wins Skirmishes but Still Loses the Battle A governance approach to managing the environment means that the efforts of various actors are brought together through formal and informal institutions at multiple levels. It appeals to people to engage in acts of collective action and cooperate for environmental protection and nature conservation. In fact, as has been frequently argued, “democratic governance is at the heart of environmental decision making because finding solutions may necessarily 291

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require continuing and broadening participation as the locus of knowledge is multiple” (Coenen et al. 1998, p. 1). In other words, dealing with environmental problems requires consulting because answers to environmental questions usually require solutions coming not only from a small group of technical experts, but from a wider pool of stakeholders’ participation (Coenen et al. 1998, p. 4). Only in this way does the environment come out as the winner. That is, its protection is actively sought. The case studies analysed here have revealed that in spite of landmark substantive victories and an increasingly improved attitude to environmental protection in normative terms, the Singapore system of government favours protection of private interests and continued growth. Under such conditions, environmental protection and nature conservation are not given priority when they conflict with capital accumulation. Thus, governance theory does not adequately explain outcomes for the environment in this scenario. The three case studies have demonstrated that many issues of environmental protection and nature conservation are being diffused, with the environment and its champions winning in some instances, but not winning the overall battle. A “disciplined”, regimented approach to governing explains the situation better. Thus, the fourth conclusion this study arrives at is that a governance approach to environmental protection makes the environment a winner. By contrast, the idea of “disciplined governance” sees many issues of environmental protection and nature conservation being diffused with the environment and its champions winning some skirmishes, but normally losing the overall battle. Based on the empirical findings presented and analysed in Chapters Three, Four, Five, and Six summarized in the previous section, the conceptual notions developed through the book are diagrammatically outlined in Table 7.1. These notions may well be utilized as building blocks to delineate an outline for a further expanded theory of governance, which ought to be based on comparative studies among diverse polities and policy arenas. For a start, it will be interesting to replicate the same conceptual framework for other East and Southeast Asian polities and policy domains to strengthen the notion of “disciplined governance”, which, on the face of it, seems to fit well with the political traditions of East and Southeast Asia. This expanded form of governance theory may yield other types of governance, some of which have already been identified in the literature, i.e., co-governance, selfgovernance, and so on (Kooiman 1993a). Comparisons across countries of the East and West also in various domains could follow so as to identify, through contrast, the various models that can better explain modern governance.

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TABLE 7.1 Governance and Disciplined Governance: Contrasting Conceptual Notions Governance Approach

Disciplined Governance Approach

Patterns of interaction between the state and civil society and the various processes of coordination between government and NGOs for policy-making as well as the participation of non-state holders in the policy process.

Limited patterns of interaction between the state and civil society. These are characterized by the limited institutionalization of established processes of coordination and collaboration between government and NGOs. That is, a consultative yet strategically contained process that is not fully participatory.

Democratic State

Paternalistic State

All those institutions that are responsible for the collective organization of social life differentiated from institutions of civil society but primus inter pares, first among equals.

Institutions responsible for the collective organization of social life include parapolitical institutions of civil society, thus, barely differentiated from it. Rather than being primus inter pares, the state is the paramount supreme authority.

Autonomous Civil Society

Co-opted Civil Society

The process of interaction between the state and the associational sphere, that is, the realm for citizen action in its political science dimension, that emphasizes aspects of social capital, trust, and cohesion, and professional control. Its ingredients: • Social capital: The spontaneous ability of people to work with one another or, in other words, the patterns of social interrelationships that allow people to coordinate action in order to achieve sought goals. • Trust: The firm belief in or the confident expectation of the reliability of government and fellow citizens contributing to the interaction between the state and the associational sphere. • Cohesion: The ability to stick together that plays an essential part in the interaction between state and non-state actors.

The process of interaction between the state and the associational sphere where individual and organized citizen action is co-opted and subordinated by the state while retaining some semi-autonomous action. Its ingredients: • Social capital: The spontaneous ability of people to work with one another to achieve common goals limited by the existence of exclusive networks among elites and engineered volunteered involvement. • Trust: Trust is defined as a limited confidence in the reliability of government due to ambiguity about acceptable boundaries (“OB markers”) and frequent “robust rebuttals”. • Cohesion: The limited ability to bond together resulting from a deficit in social capital and trust hampering statesociety interactions. continued on next page 293

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TABLE 7.1 — cont’d Autonomous Civil Society

Co-opted Civil Society

• Professional control: The power of professionals to direct voluntary organizations resulting from the mutual match in service ethos, autonomy from market values, and importance awarded to scientific and technical expertise.

• Professional control: The power of professionals to direct voluntary organizations resulting from the mutual match in service ethos, autonomy from market values, and importance awarded to scientific and technical expertise limited by a system that awards a greater role to professionals within the bureaucratic and political elites.

Independent Organizations

Co-opted Organizations

• Government organizations: The mediating institutions that mobilize human resources in the service of the affairs of the state in a given territory (Bekke, Perry and Toonen 1996, p. 2) turning inputs from the environment into outputs of policy, goods, and services (Burns and Bowornwathana 2001, p. 3). • NGOs: A formal structure, independent from government, nonprofit distribution of fiscal provisions, participatory, with strong reliance on volunteers, but also often employing professionals, and working in the areas of public interest such as health, culture, education, welfare, environment, the arts, etc. (Salamon and Anheier 1992 a & b).

• Government organizations: The mediating institutions that mobilize human resources in the service of the affairs of the state in a given territory (Bekke, Perry and Toonen 1996, p. 2) turning inputs from the environment into outputs of policy, goods and services (Burns and Bowornwathana 2001, p. 3) while further enhancing the capacity of the state to intervene in various social and economic activities. • NGOs: Registered, non-governmental, not-for-profit, voluntary, permanent and philanthropic organizations working in areas of public interest.

Winning Environment

Losing Environment?

A management system concerned with protecting or conserving nature for its intrinsic value and for the benefit of human kind.

A management system concerned with protecting or conserving nature for the sake of development and for the benefit of humankind.

Type of Interaction Structure

Type of Interaction Structure

Interference, interplay, intervention, partnership, etc.

Patronus-libertus

Source: Compiled by the author from the various definitions arrived at in Chapters Two and Three. 294

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THE WAY AHEAD: EXTRAPOLATIONS FOR SINGAPORE’S CIVIL SOCIETY, DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE PATH As repeatedly emphasized, this study has been an attempt to signal a tendency in the governance progression of Singapore through understanding various modes of interaction between the state and society. It has argued that environmental NGOs in Singapore have in recent years become more active in lobbying activities while the government has become more willing to engage civil society actors as part of its wider strategy of “opening up”. The country and case studies have given empirical grounding to this research by highlighting environmental governance progression and instances of engagement between state and non-state actors in which the latter played a crucial role. Contrasting public interests are beginning to be effectively represented in environmental politics and will continue to be so only if an array of institutional arrangements is put in place to carry on providing channels for interests groups and citizens to access the policy deliberation process. These, in turn, will motivate bureaucrats and politicians to address the people’s environmental concerns. But what are the implications of these developments for the overall governance progression of Singapore? Will civil society continue to seize the space given to it and increase its strength in driving its own agenda? Is the Singapore regime, which is classified as illiberally democratic, being challenged in the realm of civil society rather than in electoral politics? Will it be here that democratic changes take place? Others have asked these questions (Tan 2001; Low 2002; Tay 2002), but what advances have civil society and democracy made since they made their claims?

The Progression of Civil Society In 2001, Tan, extrapolating from outcomes to the Lower Peirce Reservoir episode, argued that the case epitomizes development partnerships between state and society, and issues of social capital in relation to natural capital. That is, he claimed, stronger norms and networks of consultation and inclusion, plus clearer structures of representation are being put in place. These have, Tan suggested, an unmistakable impact in protecting the pool of natural resources as these cannot be protected without collective action. He further claimed that since the Singapore Government had advocated in its Singapore 21 campaign active citizenship — that is, that every Singaporean matters — citizens, the media and NGOs have felt empowered to make requests through MPs and to test to what extent they could push the OB markers. In the case of the Lower Peirce Reservoir, Tan affirmed, the PUB chose to look for its 295

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own consultants, endorsed and approved by the NParks, rather than to tap the NSS expertise which was offered to them for free at any time. The government claimed that from the beginning, it was unconvinced of the merits of the project and never thought of going ahead so they never considered the NSS intervention critical to halt the project. These affirmations seem to recognize what also has been argued in this study, that building civil society in Singapore is an ongoing project. Institutionally, the mobilization of people and resources in a stable organizational way and the building of networks are just starting. In theory, the ingredients of civil society — social capital, trust and cohesion, or making credible commitments and engaging in cooperative endeavours and reciprocal obligations (Putnam, 1993a, p . 171), and professional control — are necessary to produce and sustain governmental performance, economic dynamism and social cohesion, the sustenance of civil society and democracy (Putnam 1994, 1995). All these factors are useful for promoting involvement and participation in civic groups and local governance structures. In practice, in Singapore, Tan (2001) maintained, the ingredients of civil society can be said to be in this state. First, in terms of social capital, there is a lack of practical norms for consultation and participation between the state and society. Ad hoc arrangements by MPs and government agencies to seek people’s input and feedback in policy and decision-making are in place. Seventy-nine per cent of the people surveyed in a study carried out by the IPS and the NUS agreed with the statement “government should take more time to listen to citizens”. Bureaucrats are too sensitive to criticism as they are used to working well only in a stable and predictable environment and to following rules and regulations. Moreover, there is a limited network of contact between leaders, the élite and the people. Networks and contacts happen through social and professional ties between state agencies and business, but do not go down to circles outside these élites. There is a lack of personal contact between government agencies and environmentalists (as they are mostly not of the same social and professional circles). This excludes the latter from policy decisions that affect their (environmentalists’) interests. Nevertheless, “trusted brokers” exist on both sides. The situation seems to have changed little since Tan made these affirmations, though social capital is expected to be strengthened when the norms for consultation and participation get defined in the official Code of Consultation. Second, in terms of trust, civic leaders may lack credibility and credentials to engage civil servants on substantive policy issues. Bureaucrats, on the other hand, may lack the skills to engage civic leaders (intellectuals) with very intense interests in specific policy issues. The analysis undertaken here corroborates Tan’s observations.

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When looking at future prospects for civil society growth, Tan (2001, p. 32) proposes three strategies: first, institutionalize participatory norms and routines through public consultation by exchanging information, by putting in place conflict management and consensus-building mechanisms, and also by expanding networks of exchange between government agencies and civil society activists outside the “mainstream para-political organizations” of the People’s Association and so forth. Relations to date have been characterized by contestation (in the environmental policy), domination (in urban planning) and co-optation (in social welfare, religion, women’s rights, etc.). But although S21 envisions cooperation, this is still to be worked out. It is necessary to clarify the boundaries of what is an acceptable political sphere for civic groups to operate in. The data gathered in this study show that, three years after these strategies were proposed, public consultation — though not satisfactorily institutionalized — has been put in place. At least the rules of engagement have been defined. Moreover, the Civil Service College and the Public Relations Academy have felt the need to start courses to train civil servants in how to conduct effective public consultation (RSC 2004 n. 39, p. 18). In the environmental sector, networks between government agencies and NGOs have always existed outside the para-political structures and are being reinforced through mutual trust and cohesion. Equal partnership is the ultimate goal. Second, Tan also contended in 2001 that local and international NGOs based in Singapore have to compete with a dominant state that, to top it all, is successful in meeting the needs of the population (both social and economic). Moreover, these NGOs are often confronted with OB markers. As it is well known, OB markers are those issues that are not subject to public discussion like race or religion. They are institutionalized besides existing in laws. OB markers, Tan proposed then, have to be defined as there is an unclear boundary regarding what an acceptable political sphere is. A conscious devolution of policies and programmes from the state to civil society makes such competition possible. Yet, the spirit behind such devolution is recognized by some as the state unburdening itself of issues rather than letting civil society take them up. The lack of preparation of civil society to take on issues that have traditionally been looked after by the state is also a concern (I (8) 15 January 2004, Appendix XII). The findings in this study lead to the conclusion that the lack of a definition of OB markers remains an issue of concern. The third strategy proposed by Tan is to reform authoritative relationships between the state and society so that they will represent more inclusive approaches to public action. Too much affinity or too much apathy creates barriers for collaboration, Tan argued. Singapore’s governance style, although it has worked well in the past, has increasingly been seen as top-down, 297

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authoritarian, and antithetical to participatory approaches, he concluded. This is no longer the case, although the change has just begun. The government today engages groups on its own terms to gather support for the implementation of policies and agenda setting, with a situation of mutual accountability between the state and civil society starting to emerge. For example, as discussed earlier, the NSS is prepared to engage the government behind the scenes, but also to criticize the state openly through the media and signature campaigns on cases it disagrees with. The destiny of natural resources and of environmental policy depends on what kind of social capital is being generated and manifested. In 2002, Simon Tay also attempted to evaluate the state of civil society and map out a future scenario by first looking at how the debate emerged in Asia. The recent interest in the civil society discourse in the local scenario, he argued, had its origins in the various discourses taking place elsewhere: from the discourse on civil society against an “omnipotent” state discourse appearing in Eastern Europe, to the discourse on the difference between East and West, to that defending the welfare state against neo-conservative anti-statism, to the rights-oriented liberalism against communitarianism, and the élite versus participatory democracy debate. The Singapore discourse adds two more dimensions to the existing ones, he contended, by discussing civil society as “trimming down the state” and taking roles that the state has abandoned, and by viewing civil society as a means to foster democracy (following de Tocqueville’s thinking). This implies preventing the domination of any one group over others, and bringing individual rights-holders together for a common cause. It does not seek to cut back the state, but to make the state more democratically accountable to the citizenry and not dominated by a middle class but by a pluralist, participatory body that is representative. That is, a civil society that is open to the state, assists a minimal state, and is pluralistic. He further argued that, in the wider Asian context, civil society is a received and borrowed concept as it is debated today, but that the concept existed long ago as societies in Asia preceded the state. Tay argued that the current Asian discourse is due to intellectual fashion rather than initiated by the state-society relations debate. As already mentioned in reviewing the work of other scholars, there was a call in the 1980s for a minimal state as civil society and NGOs were viewed as playing a complementary role in promoting development. The process of privatization also enabled the minimal state. By the start of the 1990s, civil society was viewed more as being opposed to the state, as an autonomous power calling Asian governments to account for a wide range of issues such as the environment, poverty and women’s rights. In 298

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this period, there were new forms of political organization and cross-cutting alliances. Then, at the turn of the millennium, came the reaction of governments to moderate the growing pressures from civil society and incorporate them as instruments of the state. Mechanisms like legal controls on NGOs, co-optation and demobilization of political policy advocacy groups were put in place. In 1997, there were dramatic changes in the polities of Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia that led to greater democracy, but while Thailand joined the Philippines and South Korea as consolidating democracies, Indonesia, and Malaysia saw failures in governance and lacked strong leadership. Against this scenario, the Singapore debate emerged with its own characteristics. In 1997, Goh Chok Tong delivered his landmark speech introducing the Singapore 21 campaign. The intention of the speech appeared to be that of stamping emigration by encouraging people to be emotionally attached to the country. The government needed to foster their commitment to stay, first, because people were leaving and there was a need to encourage their participation in community issues and foster their bond to the country; second, because the government hoped it could be relieved of addressing local issues through the effective devolution of tasks to Town Councils and Community Development Committees; and third, because once more, the PAP had rejected the institution of welfare states and renewed its policy of a minimal safety net or “many helping hands” policy. If one revisits the three types of civil society, namely, opposed to the state, supplementing the state, and pluralistic, scholars seem to agree that Singapore conforms to the second type, that of supplementing a minimal state. As Chapter Three discussed at length, Tay also argued that in the preindependence period, Singapore had several indigenous, self-help organizations as citizens had no help from the colonial government. One can say that civil society was strong then. From 1950 to 1959, trade unions and student groups flourished as the colony moved towards independence. In fact, these groups acted as catalysts for the independence movement. The 1970s and 1980s were the years of PAP dominance with the reduction of self-help groups and voluntary associations as the PAP — social democrats by definition — started providing welfare, although the city state was never a full-fledged welfare state. The politics of economic survival and progress with lots of cooptation and legal dismissals were the order of the day then. During this period, the space for civil society shrunk with no open politics. Today’s debate was initiated by the “politics of consultation” begun in the late 1980s that encouraged a participatory style of governance aimed at expanding the intellectual and creative space. Institutions for participation 299

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were set up. In his 1991 speech, the then Minister for Information and the Arts, George Yeo, dealt with the position of civil society between the state and the family. He suggested that the role of the PAP had to be trimmed to allow for political space. Simultaneously, activities by civil society groups increased. The case studies analysed here are examples of this. What these examples seem to show is the growing ability of civil society to influence the political arena, coupled with continuous government efforts to exert control over civil society and set limits to socio-political engagement. Paradoxically, the space for civil society under the “politics of consultation” seemed to have shrunk. For example, the PAP restricted political participation after the 1991 elections saw more votes being given to four opposition candidates. Another setback in the development of civil society was the Catherine Lim controversy.4 By the 1997 General Election, the discourse had already shifted. The emphasis in the PAP candidates’ agenda was not on political space, but on housing. The government’s call to allow space for voluntary groups came at a time when it was further controlling civil society because of certain incidents, some of which were mentioned earlier. Therefore, this call was not received with enthusiasm by the public. The government project of civil society appears to be a managed project of civil society. In May 1998, under the auspices of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), the first civil society conference took place with the participation of among others, the then Minister for Information and the Arts, George Yeo, and the Minister for Education, Teo Chee Hean. Yeo commented that in the web world, the state and civil society existed in parallel and that Singapore should become less hierarchical. Teo, on the other hand, proposed setting up a committee to study the process of decision-making and participation and their relation to state power and efficiency. The continuum that had to be looked into was consultation and consensus on the one hand, versus decisiveness and quick action on the other. The expected output was to develop a “people sector”. In 1998, Tarmugi, Minister for Community Development, advocated the setting up of a centre for volunteerism as a clearing house for ideas and as a centre for skills training in the management of Non-Profit-Organizations (NPOs). All these government initiatives met with a good response, with an increase in advocacy in areas like environmental issues (i.e., forest fires in Indonesia, infrastructural development intruding with nature reserves, urban development affecting habitats, etc.). In addition, the Singapore Environmental Council (SEC), the umbrella organization for green groups, was set up and held a conference from 4–5 June 1998 where free action on previously sensitive issues such as environmental protection was fostered. The Working Committee on Civil Society (TWC) was also set 300

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up as a coalition of civil society groups excluding those initiated by government. The group constituted a cross-sectoral alliance in civil society. The Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) scheme was also put in place as a means to get representative private citizens who are not co-opted, but able to oppose the government. But what do civil society groups think about the undertaking of civil society by the state? How about the fact that the state does not accept a civil society that is opposed to the state or enriches democracy? It seems that civil society groups consider that the civil society programme is just an adjustment within the existing political system to a more demanding citizenry, but with the idea of making the PAP more popular and perpetuating. It is not a project to which citizens can contribute ideas and policy proposals. Some think that if it were, there would be no reason for NMPs to exist. NGOs hope that the discourse on civil society would rather help to develop a democratic culture of greater participation, consultation, and legitimacy in the process of governance. They argue that what the government seems to be doing is giving a new name to a second stage of the “nation building” discourse. The government remains at the centre while requiring citizens to provide some welfare services (I (3) 11 January 2003, I (4) 20 February 2003, I (6) 29 November 2003, I (10) 16 January 2004, I (17) 29 January 2004, all Appendix XII). Finally, Tay posed a question he identified as a fatalistic/deterministic vision where the future is the government’s creation. If the civil society has a part in that future, it is government policy that will allow it. Another question is whether policy and legal reforms will follow statements of political intent for an increasing role in civil society, or whether all will depend on what the people are willing to do.

An Atypical Democratic Development In this scenario, can the illiberal democratic approach hold out for much longer? What the future holds for this rare combination of carrot, stick, and keeping a tight rein form of governance is not clear. Some like Engberg (2001) argue that illiberal democracies are under increasing pressure to transform their political systems into liberal democracies, especially after the economic crisis put into question the Asian economic model. As Huntington insightfully wrote back in 1993, years before the Asian economic crisis struck: “In East Asia, a slackening of economic growth, such as may be occurring, could be the force generating transition from Asian-style dominant party democracy to Western-style competitive party democracy” (Engberg 2001, 301

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p. 77). This seems to be the new Asian miracle. Twenty years ago, there was barely a democracy in East Asia, while today, with the exception of China, North Korea, and a few communist strongholds in Indochina, democracies are well-established, albeit in some cases like Singapore, which is limitedly democratic (The Economist, 24/30 April 2004, p. 11). But perhaps illiberalism should not be taken too seriously. Engberg queries whether it is a distinct variety of democracy or just a process. He seems to support the process approach that is bound to end under global pressure, greater educated middle-class demands on the domestic front, and the rise of new role models. He further argues that the work of Inglehart (1997) supports this when he empirically demonstrates that democratic values, economic development, and cultural change go together in a coherent and predictable way. Yet, the attractiveness of illiberal democracy is that: It appears to facilitate effective governance in a historical situation where few other sources for such governance are to be found. Effective governance implies [an] absence of corruption, an emphasis on meritocracy and education, the rule of law and generally an ability to make rational decisions in response to challenges and to implement what has been decided (Engberg 2001, p. 79; see also Worthington 2003, pp. 11, 32, 35–36).

In transitional economies where governments stand on shaky ground, it is tempting to adopt a form of governance that fosters social stability and government efficiency. Illiberalism is the option as this scheme provides the appearance of political efficiency and stability where these attributes are hard to find. Against these arguments, the findings in this book give an indication that in Singapore a liberalization rather than a democratization process is under way, as indicated by the establishment of new governance approaches to governing, some of which are being institutionalized as part of the Remaking Singapore Committee accepted proposals. As Rodan (1996) affirmed earlier and Dalpino (2000) corroborates: … the literature as well as policy makers seem not to recognise or reinforce positive trends outside sweeping changes in authoritarian or “soft authoritarian” regimes, a term coined in the 1980s by Robert Scalapino to describe loosening systems in Asia on both ends of the political spectrum (Dalpino 2000, p. 109).

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The uncertain nature of the liberalization process discourages the notion of a brisk and seamless sequence with a political democracy as the immediate goal (Dalpino 2000, p. 4). If civil society groups in various policy domains remain committed to their causes, take greater initiative to maximize the space awarded to them and push the limits of influence further, they may see a transformation that affects the fundamental political structures of the system.

Future Governance Prospects On par with prospects for the development of civil society, liberalization and democratization, in 2002, Low looked at future governance prospects by suggesting a series of good, bad, and uncertain projections. The good prospects she then envisioned were advances in science and technology and good research and development. The bad prospects are brought about by three factors: first, a rather inflexible and oppressive political scenario where the PAP is the dominant ruling party, reactive to criticisms about its policies and the mechanisms which bring them about. The question that arises here is whether the PAP perceives the economy and society as too fragile to withstand dissent, or whether it feels it needs to pull forces together to create the right environment for sustained growth. Despite these uncertainties, the discourse on civil society has emerged, with the government wanting a civil society, or what it calls a creative and innovative society. The unresolved dilemma is that in order to sustain this discourse and for it to thrive, a certain amount of freedom to allow for the experimentation of ideas is needed. The second factor argued by Low is the government’s heavy hand in the economy, particularly through the growing numbers of Government Linked Companies (GLCs), that disallows a healthy private sector development. The third factor is a crisis of identity; that is, a hazy understanding of what being a Singapore Singaporean means and how Singapore is to chart its future. This was recently addressed by the government in response to proposals by the Remaking Singapore Committee, with the government supporting the concept of “inclusive diversity” as best depicting the national identity (Low 2002; Remaking Singapore Committee Recommendations, Government Reponses 2004 n. 1, p. 1). Coupled with good and bad prospects, Low also suggested the existence of uncertain prospects. The first one, directly relevant to this research, is whether Singapore can become an international headquarters of social and political institutions, in addition to being a business hub. Low argued that its

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status as a sovereign state seems to make its position easier than, for example, that of Hong Kong, a territory that has to cope with the dilemmas of “one country, two systems”. Second is the question of whether Singapore will be able to move faster down the path of political democratization and liberalization. Third, is whether it will twin, for example, with Hong Kong, as both cities seem anxious to sustain dynamism and growth. Fourth is the question on what the future of its regional and international diplomacy is in relation to its big neighbours. But just as this work was nearing completion, the Goh Chok Tong era, which was set as the time limit within which this research has focused, ended, with the “third generation” leadership taking over under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The 12 August 2004 swearing-in ceremony happened amidst much anticipation from the international, regional, and local communities about the governance path he would chart. Will Lee Hsien Loong return to the ferrous government style of Lee the Elder? Will he follow the more inclusive mode of governance of Goh, or will he guide the city-state as the robust technocrat he is known to be? Initially, nothing indicated that he was to depart from the PAP’s ideology, economic, and political agenda characterized by Rodan as “social conservatism, scepticism about laissez-faire economics and apprehension about political competition” (Far Eastern Economic Review, 19 August 2004). Yet, analysts ventured to speculate. In the weeks before the transfer of leadership, DPM Lee’s personal traits and achievements were scrutinized. The mood reflected in media reports and analyses ranged from utter cynicism to outright praise, compounded with the certain impossibility of drawing a profile of the “mystery man”. Jones found that “the new path Hsien Loong seeks to chart seems long on rhetoric but short on content. His desire to forge a vibrant civic society seems somewhat clichéd” (Jones in Young PAP News, 11 August 2004). The same cynicism was reflected by The Economist, which, quoting DPM Lee speaking earlier in January to fellow alumni from Harvard as saying “we are prepared to take the plunge”, argued: “Mr Lee hardly seems the plunging type. He is far too pragmatic to fix something that is not broken.” The report also found contradictions in Lee’s speech when he claimed “to want a more vigorous public debate” but promised “to demolish any critic who undermines the government’s standing” (The Economist, 24 July 2004). Outright praise came from acknowledging Lee’s academic, military, and political record, though there was a feeling that none of these had been “fully tested since the Singapore military was not fully challenged during his tenure and the Singapore government doesn’t face the same scrutiny from parliament, the press and pressure groups as a government would in a more competitive political system” (Far Eastern Economic Review, 19 August 2004).

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More realistic projections were forged ten days after he was sworn in when analysis emerged of his maiden speech of 22 August 2004 in which he addressed concrete, albeit perhaps iconic, policy changes. These seemed to indicate he was not only welcoming, but also encouraging debate and participation: “We also need, as a government, to encourage participation and debate” (Straits Times, 22 August 2004). But he added the caveat, “so even as the government re-looked long-held assumptions, so too must citizens change their mindset” (Straits Times, 23 August 2004). He specifically announced that his government was scrapping licensing for indoor talks unless these dealt with controversies over religion or race, and that the Speakers’ Corner was thrown open for “any speech you like and if you want to go there and have an exhibition, go ahead; I mean free expression as long as you don’t get into race and religion and you don’t start a riot” (Straits Times, 22 August 2004). Reactions to these announcements were not wanting among social activists and NGO leaders, who initially stood in disbelief, but soon acknowledged the announcements were sending a clear message that a large space for civil activism and political expression was open (Straits Times, 24 August 2004). Comments made by social leaders included: “by Singapore standards, this is a liberal move”; “Singaporeans now have less of an excuse for not wanting to speak up”; and “I hope this will lead to bigger things and the trust between the government and the volunteer groups will be strengthened” (Straits Times, 24 August 2004). This perhaps indicates that the strong propensity Singaporeans have had to inaction from fear of a “robust rebuttal” can eventually be overcome if they really set out to chart their own future, and if the government decides to allow true participation and not just stop at mere consultation.

LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH Given the wide range of interests, capabilities and perspectives of environmental NGOs and their relations with the state, any attempt to analyse them and “measure” the impact their work may have in environmental policy and governance and in the wider governance progression of a nation carries the risk of over-generalization. Furthermore, the selection of any set of case studies, be it countries, organizations, or environmental episodes, limits the empirical grounding and cannot be adequately representative. Nevertheless, this study is viewed, both theoretically and empirically, as a way to begin building the bases for understanding the status and role of not only environmental NGOs in environmental policy and governance, but also their impact in political development in Singapore and other illiberal polities. It is 305

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evident from this analysis that Singapore is at a junction of reform efforts. These are reshaping relations between the state and civil society, and contain the possibility, but by no means the guarantee, of further liberalization. This and other illiberal polities, while sustaining the critical process of national development, are also going through subtle processes of “opening up” civil society mostly, though not exclusively, initiated by their regimes. Yet, such events have been dismissed by Western critics, who easily content themselves with launching polemical criticisms of authoritarianism. The “disciplined governance” model proposed here seems to be a breakthrough in conceptualizing how the process of governing works in illiberal democracies. As far as this researcher is aware, currently, other Singapore scholars are seeking answers about governance modes in Singapore from empirical research in policy issues as diverse as the effects of internet politics (Gomes 2002), gay rights lobbying (Heng 2004), and opposition to the death penalty in the political system (Samydorai 2004). Research on how interactions between the state and NGOs are happening in different areas of policy is needed to complete the picture of the changing dynamics of governance in Singapore and elsewhere.

Notes 1

2

3

4

These are the proposals to establish a National Family Council, the suggestion to set up an authority to coordinate accessibility to public transport (mainly by disabled people), and the call for the setting up of a community museum. The proposals were to allow students to choose their second language, and to introduce multi-ethnic education and religious education in schools. The government affirms that the Ministry of Information, Telecommunications and the Arts, as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs, will continue to review the exemption list so as to exempt other public entertainment from the requirements of the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act. Lim had published an article in the Straits Times comparing Lee’s and Goh’s leadership styles. She was told that if she wanted to continue making public comments on the Establishment, she had to join an opposition party and formally enter the political arena.

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APPENDICES

APPENDIX I: MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IN SINGAPORE I.

Pollution Control and Environmental Health



Environmental (Public Health) Act, Chapter 95 (relating to public health in general) o Environmental Public Health (Markets) Regulations 1969 o Environmental Public Health (Hawkers) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Public Cleansing) Regulations 1970 o Environmental Public Health (Food Handlers) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Funeral Parlours) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Crematoria) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Food Establishment) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Manufacture and Sale of Ice Cream) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Swimming Pools) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Toxic Industrial Waste) Regulations 1988 o Environmental Public Health (General Waste Collection) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Notice to Attend Court) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Control of Noise from Construction Sites) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Corrective Work Order) Regulations o Environmental Public Health (Composition of Offences) Rules o Environmental Public Health (Boundary Noise Limits for Factory Premises) Regulations



Water Pollution Control and Drainage Act, Chapter 348 (water pollution, sewerage, drainage matters) o Sanitary Plumbing and Drainage Systems Regulations 1976 307

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o o o

Surface Water Drainage Regulations 1976 Trade Effluent Regulations 1976 Sewage Treatment Plants Regulations 1976



Clean Air Act, Chapter 45 (air quality) o Clean Air (Standards) Regulations 1972, as amended 1978 o Clean Air (Prohibition on the Use of Open Fires) Order 1973



Factories Act, Chapter 104 (regulation of factories and working conditions within) o Factories (Abrasive Blasting) Regulations o Factories (Asbestos) Regulations 1980 o Factories (Permissible Exposure Levels of Toxic Substances) Order 1996 o Factories (Medical Examinations) Regulations o Factories (Noise) Regulations



Hydrogen Cyanide (Fumigation) Act, Chapter 132 (handling of hydrogen cyanide) o Hydrogen Cyanide (Fumigation) Regulations



Petroleum Act, Chapter 229 (handling, transport and storage of petroleum) o Petroleum (Transport and Storage) Rules o Petroleum (Storage Licence Fees) Rules o Petroleum (Transport by Land — Fees) Rules



Road Traffic Act, Chapter 276 (vehicular pollution and traffic congestion) o Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Rules o Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles) (Construction and Use) Rules o Road Traffic (Restricted Zone and Area Licences) Rules o Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Quota System) Rules o Road Traffic (Composition of Offences) Rules



Sand and Granite Quarries Act, Chapter 284 o Sand and Granite Quarries Regulations



Control of Imports and Exports Act, Chapter 56 (import and export of controlled substances) o Control of Imports and Exports (Montreal Protocol) Order 1989 o Control of Imports and Exports (Chewing Gum) Order



Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) Act, Chapter 122A (implementation of the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes) o Hazardous Waste Regulations 1998

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Appendix I

309



Control of Plants Act, Chapter 57A



Destruction of Disease-Bearing Insects Act, Chapter 79 o Destruction of Disease-Bearing Insects (Prescribed Form) Regulations



Infectious Diseases Act, Chapter 137 (control of infectious diseases) o Infectious Diseases (Quarantine) Regulations o Infectious Diseases (International Certificates of Vaccination) Regulations o Infectious Diseases (Diphtheria and Measles Vaccination) Regulations o Infectious Diseases (Prescribed Form) Regulations



Poisons Act, Chapter 234 (handling of poisonous substances) o Poison Rules o Poison (Hazardous Substances) Rules 1986

• •

Smoking (Control of Advertisements and Sale of Tobacco) Act, Chapter 309 Smoking (Prohibition in Certain Places) Act, Chapter 310 (banning of smoking in public places)



Radiation Protection Act, Chapter 262 o Radiation Protection (Non-Ionizing Radiation) Regulations o Radiation Protection Regulations o Radiation Protection (Transportation of Radioactive Materials) Regulations 1974



Sale of Drugs Act, Chapter 282 o Drug Regulations o Sale of Drugs (Prohibited Substances) Regulations o Sale of Drugs (Prohibited Drugs) (Consolidation) Regulations

II. Laws Relating to Planning and Land Use Management • • • • •

Sale of Lands Act, Chapter 314 State Lands Encroachment Act, Chapter 315 Urban Redevelopment Authority Act, Chapter 340 Building Control Act, Chapter 29 Planning Act, Chapter 232

III. Laws Relating to Nature Conservation •

Fisheries Act, Chapter 111 (regulation of fishing activities) o Fisheries (Fishing Vessels) Rules o Fisheries (Piranha) Rules o Fisheries (Fishing Harbour) Rules

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o o o o

Fisheries (Fish Processing Establishment) Rules Fisheries (Fishing Gear) Rules Fisheries (Fish Culture Farms) Rules Fisheries (Riverine Fishing) Rules



Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, Chapter 92A (handling of endangered fauna and flora) o Endangered Species (Import and Export) (Fees) Rules o Endangered Species (Import and Export) (Amendment of Schedules) Notification o Endangered Species (Import and Export) (Prohibition of Sale) Notification



National Parks Act, Chapter 198A o National Parks Regulations 1990



Parks and Trees Act, Chapter 216 (parks not gazetted as national parks) o Parks and Trees Rules o Parks and Trees (Preservation of Trees) Order o Officers to Exercise Powers of Police Officers within Public Park Notification



Wild Animals and Birds Act, Chapter 351 o Wild Animals and Birds (Bird Sanctuaries) Order 1970 o Wild Animals (Licensing) Order 1975 o Wild Animals and Birds (Amendment of Schedule) Notification



Animals and Birds Act, Chapter 7 o Animals and Birds (Dog Licensing & Control) Rules o Animals and Birds Shop, Poultry Shop, Hatchery (Licensing & Control) Rules o Animals and Birds (Licensing of Farms) Rules o Animals and Birds (Pigeon) Rules o Animals and Birds (Infirmary Fees) Rules o Animals and Birds (Quarantine Rules) o Animals and Birds (Pullorum Disease Eradication) Rules o Animals and Birds (Veterinary Fees) Rules o Animals and Birds (Importation) Order o Animals and Birds (Prohibition on the Importation of Pigs) Order



Public Utilities Act, Chapter 261 (water catchment areas) o Public Utilities (Composition of Offences) Regulations o Public Utilities (Water Supply) Regulations o Public Utilities (Central Water Catchment Area and Catchment Area Parks) o Regulations

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Appendix I

311



Cattle Act, Chapter 34 (regulation of cattle) o Cattle Regulations o Cattle (Licence Fees) Regulations o Cattle (Restricted Areas) Notification 1986 o Cattle (Restricted Areas) Notification 1987



Preservation of Monuments Act, Chapter 239 o Preservation of Monuments (Consolidation) Order

IV. Laws Relating to Marine Pollution •

Prevention of Pollution of the Sea Act, Chapter 111 o Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Oil) Regulations S 59/199! o Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Noxious Liquid Substance in Bulk) Regulations o Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Reporting of Pollution Incidents) Regulations o Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Reception Facilities) Regulations o Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Detergent and Equipment) Regulations o Prevention of Pollution of the Sea (Composition of Offences) Regulations



Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act, Chapter 180 (civil liability arising out of oil pollution) o Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) (Compulsory Insurance Certificate) Regulations o Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) Regulations 1984



Port of Singapore Authority Act, Chapter 236 (regulation of port activities) o Port of Singapore Authority (Dangerous Goods, Petroleum and Explosives) o Regulations o Singapore Port Regulations 1977

Source: APCEL Report, Singapore.

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Source: Singapore Environment Council, 2004. Reproduced with the kind permission of Singapore Environment Council. Available at .

APPENDIX II: SINGAPORE GREEN MAP 312 Governance, Politics and the Environment

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Appendix III

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APPENDIX III: MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONAL CHART MINISTER

MINISTER OF STATE SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY PERMANENT SECRETARY

DEPUTY SECRETARY (VACANT)

HOUSING DIVISION

DEPUTY SECRETARY (SPECIAL DUTIES)

STRATEGIC PLANNING DIVISION

HOUSING & DEVELOPMENT BOARD

URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

STATUTORY BOARDS

STATUTORY BOARDS

DEPUTY SECRETARY

CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT DIVISION

INTERNAL AUDIT UNIT

INFRASTRUCTURE DIVISION

PLANNING & RESEARCH UNIT

COMPUTER INFORMATION SYSTEM DEPARTMENT AGRI FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION AUTHORITY

BOARD OF ARCHITECTS

PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS BOARD

NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

STATUTORY BOARDS

AGENCIES

Source: Ministry of National Development, 2004.

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APPENDIX IV: SUBJECT GROUPS’ RECOMMENDATIONS AND URA/NPARKS REPONSES TO MASTER PLAN LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS Diversity of Parks and Nature Areas 1. Categorise our parks into three categories, according to ease of access, elaborateness of facilities and degree of landscaping: a.

Category A — natural areas to keep pristine, with existing vegetation and trails left untouched and possibly discrete directional signs may be put up to mark the entrances

b.

Category B — wilderness areas with some basic facilities to facilitate access, such as toilets, shelters and formal tracks, e.g. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

c.

Category C — public parks, with landscaping and facilities, e.g. town parks

Making Nature Areas More Accessible Northern Wetlands — Sungei Buloh and the Kranji marshes 2. Support the new nature parks next to the Sungei Buloh mangroves and keep them as Category A to Category B open spaces. 3. Support camping at new nature parks next to Sungei Buloh if suitable sites are found, but consideration must be given to waste management and minimising interference with the mangrove and its wildlife. 4. Support new nature park at the Kranji marshes and keep it as a Category A to Category B open space. 5. Provide a buffer along the shorelines of the Kranji reserve where possible. 6. Support the proposed boardwalk connecting the Sungei Buloh mangroves to the Kranji marshes but allow public access only to the southern 500m of the 2km PUB bund, and do not extend the boardwalk/trail across the S. Jelutong estuary to protect this particularly sensitive area. 7. Allow inland trails perpendicular to the reservoir edge leading to the edge of the marsh.

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8. Study appropriate locations for hides to view birdlife along the mangrove coastline, as well as north of S. Jelutong. 9. Support non-motorised boating on Kranji Reservoir, organised by responsible operators. Boats should not go within 50m of the bund where access is restricted. 10. Support nature trails through Lim Chu Kang farmland for both recreational and educational value. The trails should be of Category B access. 11. Support the proposed trails, boardwalks, canopy walk, and observation tower as shown in the Parks & Waterbodies Plan. Care is to be taken to cause minimal disturbance to the flora and fauna. For different parts of the Central Catchment, ease of access and infrastructure should be varied according to the eco- sensitivity of the areas. 12. NParks to produce brochures and trail guides for the Central Catchment.

Interim Greens Around The Central Catchment 13. Support the interim greens at Dairy Farm, Windsor Area and Old Upper Thomson Road, but propose to keep the entire Chestnut Interim Green as a permanent green. 14. Support the Chestnut Green and keep it as a Category A Open Space for adventure lovers. 15. Drop the scenic drive and eco-lodge ideas. 16. Let there instead be a scenic walking and cycling trail of Category B access. 17. The existing mountain hiking course should also have Category B access and treatment. 18. Enhance the streetscape of the Bukit Timah Expressway to become the scenic road through this area. 19. Support the Dairy Farm Interim Green and keep it as a Category B Open Space. 20. Support adventure camps, corporate retreats, outdoor performances, rock climbing, boating, hiking and cycling trails of the Dairy Farm Interim Green, but there should be no building structure within the quarry, and near or close to the path leading into the quarry.

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21. NParks to be the managing agency for the entire Dairy Farm Interim Green. 22. Parks should produce trail guides showing how the trails are linked to that in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. 23. Support the Windsor Interim Green and keep it as a Category B open space. Provide basic facilities for the informal football pitch. 24. Develop tree bank at the Windsor Interim Green as an educational resource. 25. NParks to produce trail maps to show how trails here are linked to those in the Central Catchment. 26. Explore with Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) to allow reasonable public access along the fringe of the golf course and through its grounds.

Urban And Town Parks 27. Support the proposed waterfront parks at Coney Island, Lower Seletar Reservoir Park, Jurong Lake Park and Tampines Quarry Park. 28. Support the Lower Seletar Reservoir Park. Ensure good connectivity between the existing park and the new park extension along the Lower Seletar Reservoir waterfront. 29. Study the feasibility of providing an underpass connection between Yishun Stadium and the existing Lower Seletar Reservoir. 30. Allow public access along Sungei Seletar, where it does not compromise existing uses. 31. Support Tampines Quarry Park and keep it as a Category B open space. Provide a simple trail around the quarry, with some park benches and lookout points. 32. Not to fight for the preservation of the small marshland adjoining the Tampines quarry. 33. Support the proposed Sengkang Park, Woodlands Regional Park, Bidadari Park, Tampines Linear Park and Jurong West Park. 34. Support the proposed Sengkang Park which will incorporate existing mangroves and riverine vegetation along Sungei Punggol as part of the park.

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35. Look for ways to maximise access from the proposed sports stadium adjoining the proposed Sengkang Park to the waterfront. 36. Landscape the edges of Punggol River in order to soften the banks and make it look more natural. 37. Support the proposed Woodlands Regional Park which will incorporate existing mangroves as part of the park. 38. Tidy up land use along the coastal promenade of the proposed Woodlands Regional Park and bring in activities designed to attract people to use the area for recreation. 39. Support the proposed park expansions at Pasir Ris Park, East Coast Park, Labrador Park, Choa Chu Kang Town Park, Zhenghua Park and Bukit Batok Park.

Park Connectors 40. Support the proposed park connector network, and suggest an additional park connector from Woodlands Town to Mandai Road through Ulu Sembawang. 41. Plan park connectors upfront to ensure that land is set aside for them at the outset. 42. Explore innovative approaches to achieve seamless connections, e.g. gradeseparated or layered interchanges.

Streetscape Greenery 43. Support the proposal to design integrated environment and apply different streetscape greenery treatments according to the context of the streets. 44. Support the proposal to link up Heritage Roads to provide a continuous experience of lush streetscape greenery.

Skyrise Greenery 45. Support the proposal to encourage skyrise greenery through facade greenery, landscaped roof terraces, sky terraces and balconies, sky bridges and lobbies. 46. Explore further Gross Floor Area exemption incentives to encourage skyrise greenery. 317

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Identity And Educational Opportunities In Parks 47. Develop identity in parks through retaining geographical, cultural and historical features, and part of the original land uses of the place. Plan parks around such places. 48. In clearing land for development and when building infrastructure, such as roads and drains, minimise impact on the existing landscape and avoid destroying unique features of identity in the area. 49. Use parks as educational opportunities and let parks become places for visits apart from being merely spaces for local residents to use.

Canalisation of Natural Rivers 50. Keep natural banks of rivers natural and avoid canalising these rivers. Where river widening or deepening is needed, have natural treatment.

Heritage Roads 51. Extend width of green buffer for Category A Heritage Road from the existing 10m to 20m. 52. Keep the first 10m of Category A Heritage Road open to public access. 53. Consider giving Heritage Road status to the green part of Mandai Road. 54. Include for consideration as Category A Heritage Roads, beautiful tree-lined streets, e.g. Mount Rosie, even if they are adjoining private properties. These may be subject to a different buffer requirement in order not to compromise development potential. 55. Provide pedestrian access on Heritage Roads.

MlNDEF Training Areas 56. MINDEF to explore opening up selected training land, on selected days of the year, for public access.

RUSTIC COAST Punggol Point and Coney Island 57. Support turning Punggol Point into a paradise for sea sports and recreation. 318

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58. Phase the development of the area to better address potential traffic and car parking problems that may arise from the increased number of visitors to the area. 59. Support the development of a seafood village and waterfront restaurants as an interim use at Punggol North. 60. Phase the development of the area to better address potential traffic and car parking problems that may arise from the increased number of visitors to the area. 61. Support the proposal for the sea sports centre at Punggol North. 62. Support having “play and stay” facilities at Punggol North. Study how costs for such facilities could be kept low and developments kept rustic. 63. Support the interim beach park at Punggol Point. 64. Soften the vertical retaining walls through landscaping where necessary. 65. Support activities for the more adventurous in Punggol North but suggest to replace the motorcross idea with mountain bike trails. 66. Support the proposal to convert the existing Punggol Road to a linear park linking the new town centre and the coast. 67. Support the “wilderness theme” for Coney Island. Basic amenities (e.g. water, sanitation) can be provided and located near the jetty. Pleasure boats should be allowed to dock at the jetty. 68. Free up the waterway for recreational uses by having only one bridge link to Coney Island.

Pasir Ris 69. Support the proposal for a seaside pier. LIRA to study the location of the pier. Ensure that the parking situation is addressed before introducing the pier.

Changi Village 70. Set up information kiosks and storyboards to showcase the rich cultural, historical and natural heritage of the Changi area.

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71. Support the proposal to add new, small parcel commercial developments, but spruce up existing shops first, and take an incremental approach to adding new commercial developments to allow time to review impact on existing shops. 72. Design the proposed new commercial developments carefully so as to avoid too great a contrast between them and the existing older buildings. 73. The design of the new pedestrian mall should be linear and not dog-legged, in order to provide an unobstructed view of the waterfront. 74. Improve the connectivity between the beachfront and Changi Village. In particular, provide a connection for cyclists, e.g. by widening the bridge at Telok Paku Road. 75. Abandon the proposal for a road extension of Lorong Bekukong, but create a lively and vibrant pedestrian waterfront. 76. Support the proposal to relocate the People’s Association (PA) Sea Sports Club, and to convert the vacated PA buildings to budget hostels. 77. Retain the launching ramp of the PA Sea Sports Club for public use. 78. Support the proposal for the children’s playground. 79. Support the proposal to increase residents in the area. 80. Preserve historical places when new uses are found for them.

Pulau Ubin 81. Appoint a single agency to spearhead the management of the island. NParks could be the agency since the general intention for Ubin is more in line with a rustic park and NParks is already managing a large portion of Pulau Ubin. 82. The appointed agency to form an advisory panel to advise and provide feedback on the plans and proposals for Pulau Ubin. 83. Support the proposed adaptive restoration of House No. 1 into an interpretative centre. 84. Restrict the number of motorised vehicles on the island. If needed, environmentally friendly forms of transport such as trishaws could be used.

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85. The eastern coastline including Chek Jawa should be Category B access only. 86. Keep Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) rates for Pulau Ubin low, to support the opening up of farms. 87. Attract people to run small-scale commercial enterprises and farms on Pulau Ubin. 88. Highlight the historical value of various places on Pulau Ubin and perhaps use this as a basis for educational guided tours and walks. 89. Support the proposal to use existing state-owned properties for Bed & Breakfast (B&B) and farm stay. 90. Relax the TOL requirement by SLA to allow the owners to rent out rooms to the public or for the adaptive reuse of the existing buildings on Pulau Ubin as B&B establishments. 91. If possible, complete the acquisition of partially acquired property if the owners do not wish to return to pursue any livelihood or residence on the island, so as to free them up for B&B uses.

Water Taxi Service 92. Support the idea of a water taxi service to connect the various nodes in the Rustic Coast cluster. 93. The transportation means should not be high-speed boats but should remain the traditional bumboats currently in use. Source: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 2004.

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• The proposal will be incorporated into the Master Plan (MP) 2003 and implemented by NParks in the near future. The Kranji Nature Trail will be kept largely in its natural state and some basic facilities provided. • NParks will take into consideration the suitability of the sites before implementing any campsites.

• We agree with the SG’s recommendation as it allows for public access while ensuring minimal impact on the existing flora and fauna. • NParks will study appropriate locations for the construction of hides along the reservoir edge.

• Support new nature park at Kranji Marshes and • The proposal will be incorporated into the MP keep it as a Category A to Category B open space. 2003. The new nature park will be kept largely in its • Provide a buffer along the shorelines of the Kranji natural state and some basic facilities e.g. nature trails. Reservoir where possible. • Where it does not infringe on existing developments or compromise their operational requirements, a buffer along the shoreline of Kranji Reservoir can be considered by URA.

Provide a 5km boardwalk linking • Support the proposed boardwalk but allow public the Kranji marshes and Sungei access only to the southern 500m of the 2km Buloh mangroves. PUB bund, and do not extend the boardwalk/ trail across the Sungei Jelutong estuary to protect this particularly sensitive area.

Provide new nature park at Kranji Marshes.

URA & NParks’ Responses

Making Nature Areas More Accessible — Northern Wetlands

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

7.1.1.1.1.1.1 Provide new • Support the new nature parks next to Sungei nature parks Buloh mangroves and keep them as Category A next to Sungei to Category B open spaces.1 Buloh mangroves. • Support camping at new nature parks if suitable sites are found, consideration must be given to Allow camping near the waste management and minimising interference mangroves. with the mangrove and its wildlife.

URA & NParks’ Proposals

RESPONSES TO SUBJECT GROUP (SG) ON PARKS & WATERBODIES PLAN

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Introduce more hiking trails and boardwalks; canopy walk and an observation tower; new lookout points on the waterfront; and continuous boardwalk linking Upper Peirce Reservoir to MacRitchie Reservoir.

• Support non-motorised boating on Kranji Reservoir, organised by responsible operators. Boats should not go within 50m of the bund where access is restricted.

Allow boating on Kranji Reservoir.

• URA will work with relevant agencies to identify responsible operators to facilitate the implementation of the non-motorised boating activities.

• URA will work out the details of this proposal with other agencies.

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• Support the proposed trails, boardwalks, canopy • The proposed trails boardwalks, canopy walk, and walk, and observation tower as shown in Parks and observation tower will be completed by 2004. Waterbodies Plan. Care is to be taken to minimise NParks will take care to minimise disturbance to disturbance to the flora and fauna. For different the flora and fauna and take into consideration the parts of the catchment, ease of access and varying eco-sensitivity of different areas. infrastructure should be varied according to the • There are already existing trail maps and NParks eco-sensitivity of the areas. will continue to update and provide these for new • NParks to produce brochures and trail guides for trails. the Central Catchment.

Making Nature Areas More Accessible — Central Catchment

• Support nature trails through Lim Chu Kang farmland for both recreational and educational value. The trails should be of Category B access.

Provide nature trails through Lim Chu Kang farmland.

• Allow inland trails perpendicular to the mangrove coastline leading to the edge of the marsh. • Study appropriate locations for hides to view birdlife along the reservoir edge.

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URA & NParks’ Responses

• We support the recommendation to keep Chestnut Green natural. It will be taken into consideration in the detailed design of the trails. • We agree not to pursue the scenic drive proposal. Instead, we can consider improving the existing track to the Chestnut Interim Green to facilitate better pedestrian access. Signals can be put up to guide hikers and mountain bikers using the trails. • There are parts within the Chestnut Interim Green that are less wooded and can be considered for complementary recreational activities. Eco-lodging can be considered in areas, which are less wooded where there will be minimal impact on the existing environment.

Introduce scenic road, eco-lodges, • Support the Chestnut Green and keep it as a mountain biking course, hiking Category A Open Space for adventure lovers. and cycling trails at the • The scenic drive and eco-lodge ideas are not Chestnut Area Interim Green. supported. • Instead, introduce a scenic walking and cycling trail of Category B access. • The existing mountain biking course should also have Category B access and treatment. • Enhance the streetscape of Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) to become the scenic road through this area.

Interim Greens around the Central Catchment

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

• NParks will include interim greens as part of its plans. The Chestnut Interim Green will be retained in its natural state for as long as possible. But the SG’s recommendation to keep it as a permanent green cannot be fully supported as the area may be needed for development in the long term. In the event that the area is needed for development, we will retain a 50m wide permanent green along the boundary of the Catchment to act as a green buffer to the Nature Reserve.

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Interim Greens at Chestnut, • Support the interim greens at Dairy Farm, Dairy Farm, Windsor Area and Windsor Area, and Old Upper Thomson Road, Old Upper Thomson Road Area. but propose to keep the entire Chestnut Interim Green as a permanent green.

URA & NParks’ Proposals

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• Support the Windsor Interim Green and keep it • We support the recommendations to develop the as a Category B open space. existing tree bank as an educational resource. This • Develop the existing tree bank as an educational will be implemented by NParks. resource. • URA will work with NParks to explore various • NParks to produce trail maps to show how trails possible access points to the Central Catchment here are linked to those in the Central Catchment. from the Windsor Interim Green. • Explore with Singapore Island Country Club to allow reasonable public access along the fringe of the golf course or other alternative ways to access the Central Catchment.

Introduce adventure camps, • Support the Dairy Farm Interim Green and keep • URA will work with NParks and other agencies to corporate retreats, rock climbing, it as a Category B Open Space. facilitate the implementation of the proposal. boating, hiking and cycling trails • Support adventure camps, corporate retreats, rock • We support the recommendation to have minimal in the Dairy Farm Interim Green. climbing, boating, hiking, and cycling trails in the infrastructure and no building structures within the Dairy Farm Interim Green, but there should be quarry area or close to the path leading to it, as it is no building structure within the quarry area or in line with the intention to allow for recreational close to the path leading to it. activities while keeping away from the sensitive • NParks to be the managing agency for the entire areas. For example, an adventure camp can be Dairy Farm interim green. planned outside the quarry area and nearer to • NParks to produce trail guides showing how the existing developments. trails are linked to those in the Central Catchment • NParks will work with the relevant agencies on the Nature Reserve and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. management of the area. • There are existing trail maps that indicate the linkages between trails in the Catchment and Bt Timah Nature Reserve.

• Under the Streetscape Greenery Master Plan, the forest treatment will apply to the BKE. Appendix IV 325

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For Tampines Quarry Park: • Support Tampines Quarry Park and keep it as a Category B open space. Provide a simple trail around the quarry and some park benches and lookout points.

• The proposal will be incorporated in the MP2003. For a start, Coney Island will be turned into a wilderness park. • The proposal will be incorporated in the MP2003. • NParks and URA will study with LTA and HDB how to provide a suitable pedestrian connection to facilitate better access between Yishun Stadium and the park. • URA and NParks will study the possibility of connecting Lower and Upper Seletar Reservoir Parks without compromising the existing uses. • The proposal will be incorporated in the MP2003.

7.1.2 7.1.3 Urban and Town Parks — Waterfront Parks

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

7.1.3.1.1.1.1 Open up four new • Support the proposed waterfront parks at Coney waterfront parks: Island, Lower Seletar Reservoir Park, Jurong Lake • Coney Island Park, and Tampines Quarry Park. • Lower Seletar Reservoir Park • Jurong Lake Park and For Lower Seletar Reservoir Park: • Tampines Quarry Park • Support the Lower Seletar Reservoir Park. Ensure good connectivity between the existing park and the new park extension along the lower Seletar Reservoir waterfront. • Study feasibility of providing a pedestrian connection between Yishun Stadium and the existing Lower Seletar Reservoir. • Allow public access along Sungei Seletar, where it does not compromise existing uses.

URA & NParks’ Proposals

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Enlarge selected parks: • Pasir Ris Park • East Coast Park • Labrador Park • Choa Chu Kang Town Park • Zhenghua Park • Bukit Batok Park

Develop five new parks: • Sengkang Park • Woodlands Regional Park • Bidadari Park • Tampines Linear Park • Jurong West Park

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• The proposals will be incorporated in the MP2003. In both the Woodlands Regional Park and Sengkang Park, the riverine vegetation will be retained and enhanced as part of the identity of the parks. • NParks will work with Singapore Sports Council to maximise access from the sports stadium to the waterfront. • In designing Sengkang Park, NParks will take into consideration the landscaping of the riverbanks. • We support the recommendation to tidy up the uses along the coastline. URA will look into how to implement this.

• Support the proposed park extensions at Pasir Ris Park, East Coast Park, Labrador Park, Chao Chu Kang Town Park, Zhenghua Park, and Bukit Batok Park.

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• The proposals will be incorporated in the MP2003.

7.1.3.4 7.1.3.5 Urban and Town Parks — Enlarging Selected Parks

For Woodlands Regional Park: • Tidy up land use along the coastal promenade and bring in activities designed to attract people to use the area for recreation.

For Sengkang Park: • Look for ways to maximise access from the proposed sports stadium to the waterfront. • Landscape the edges of Punggol River in order to soften the banks and make it look more natural.

• Support the proposed Sengkang Park, Woodlands Regional Park, Bidadari Park, Tampines Linear Park, and Jurong West Park.

7.1.3.2 7.1.3.3 Urban and Town Parks — New Parks Appendix IV 327

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7.1.6 7.1.7 Streetscape Greenery

• Support the proposed Park Connector Network, and suggest an additional park connector from Woodlands Town to Mandai Road through Ulu Sembawang. • Plan park connectors upfront to ensure that land is set aside for them at the outset. • Explore innovative approach to achieve seamless connections, e.g. grade separated or layered interchanges. • Make our city and towns pedestrian friendly and give equal emphasis to pedestrians and vehicles.

Design an integrated • Support the proposal to design an integrated environment, and apply different environment, and apply different treatments streetscape treatments according according to the context of the streets. to the context of the streets. Link • Support the proposal to link up Heritage Roads up Heritage Roads to provide a to provide a continuous experience of lush continuous experience of lush streetscape greenery. streetscape greenery.

Join our parks through a comprehensive green network. The challenge is to extend our park connectors from 40km today by another 120km by 2015. The comprehensive green network will join parks, and can be extended to link our park connectors with town centres, sports complexes and homes.

7.1.4 7.1.5 Park Connectors

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

• URA and NParks will work with the relevant agencies to realise the proposals.

• The park connectors will be incorporated in the MP2003 and will be developed progressively over the next fifteen years. We will study the feasibility of the park connector though Ulu Sembawang proposed by the SG. • Park connectors are planned upfront. The Parks & Waterbodies Plan is an example where the park connector network up to 2015 has been planned and will be incorporated in the MP2003 to facilitate their implementation. • URA & NParks will work with HDB, LTA and other relevant agencies in the planning and implementing of park connectors to provide better connectivity and will continue to review innovative ideas such as grade separated or layered interchanges.

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Diversity of parks and nature areas • Categorise our parks into three categories, • We support the recommendation to have a diversity according to ease of access, type of facilities and of open spaces and a variety of park experiences. degree of landscaping: In implementing the new open spaces and parks, i Category A — natural areas to be kept pristine, consideration will be given to the level of access with existing trails left untouched. Discreet and types of facilities to ensure a diversity and directional signs may be put up to mark the variety of park experiences. entrance to the trails; ii Category B — wilderness areas with some basic facilities to facilitate access and usage, such as toilets, shelters and formal tracks e.g. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve; and iii Category C — green spaces such as public parks, with landscaping and facilities for routine family use, e.g. town parks.

Other SG’s Suggestions for the Parks & Waterbodies Plan

7.1.8.1.1.1 Encourage skyrise • Support the proposal to encourage skyrise greenery. • URA has recently announced the exemption of greenery through • Explore further Gross Floor Area (GFA) GFA for covered communal areas and shadow areas facade greenery, exemption incentives to encourage skyrise for all developments which will encourage a more landscaped roof greenery. generous provision of covered landscaped terraces, sky terraces communal areas and greenery. This would also and balconies, sky provide more flexibility to facilitate interesting bridges and lobbies. building designs and enhance pedestrian linkages.

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• We support the SG’s recommendations. In the planning of future new towns, we will try to incorporate unique natural and historical features and nodes of identity. This is in line with the identity plan where identity nodes that are identified will be retained. One way of retaining them is by integrating them in the planning and design of new town parks. • NParks has been developing educational programmes for its parks, and will continue to do so in the design of future parks.

Identity and educational opportunities in parks • Develop identity in parks through retaining geographical, cultural, historical features, and taking into account the original land uses of the place. Plan parks around such places. • In clearing land for development and when building infrastructure, such as roads and drains, minimise impact on the existing landscape and avoid destroying unique features of identity in the area. • Use parks as educational opportunities and let parks become places for visits apart from being merely spaces for local residents to use.

Heritage Roads • Extend width of green buffer for Category A Heritage Road from the existing 10m to 20m. • Keep the first 10m width of Category A Heritage Road as State Land and open to public access. • Consider giving the green part of Mandai Road Heritage Road status.

• The recommendation for additional buffer land beyond the existing 10m green buffer will have to be studied further. SG’s proposal to keep the first 10m as State land is possible where it forms part of a linear park e.g. Punggol Road.

Canalisation of natural rivers • Keep natural banks of rivers as natural, and where • URA and NParks will study with PUB to see if the possible, avoid canalising these rivers, or apply existing natural rivers could be left un-canalised for aesthetic treatment. as long as possible, or aesthetically treat them if they need to be upgraded.

URA & NParks’ Responses

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

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• NParks will evaluate Mandai Road’s merit as a Heritage Road. • URA will study with NParks whether roads adjoining private properties can be considered for evaluation as Category A Heritage Roads. This is provided the buffer to be imposed does not severely compromise the development potential of the site. • Pedestrian access can be provided where possible.

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Turn Punggol Point into a paradise for sea sports and recreation.

URA’s Proposals

• Support turning Punggol Point into a paradise for sea sports and recreation. • Phase the development of the area to better address potential traffic and car parking problems that may arise from the increased number of visitors to the area.

7.1.8.2 Punggol Point and Coney Island

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

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• We support the phased approach. It can be implemented by releasing smaller plots of land for interim use progressively. URA will work with the relevant agencies to tender out these sites to interested operators on an interim basis.

URA’s Responses

RESPONSES TO SUBJECT GROUP (SG) ON THE RUSTIC COAST CLUSTER OF THE IDENTITY PLAN

MINDEF training areas • MINDEF to explore opening up selected training • URA and NParks will study with MINDEF land, on selected days of the year, for the public whether the proposal is feasible without to enjoy the natural open spaces. compromising MINDEF’s operational needs.

• Include for consideration as Heritage Roads, beautiful tree-lined streets, e.g. Mount Rosie, even if they are adjoining private properties. These may be subject to different buffer requirement in order not to compromise development potential. • Provide pedestrian access on Heritage Roads. Appendix IV 331

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• Support having play and stay facilities. • Study how costs for such facilities could be kept low and developments kept rustic. • Support the interim beach park at Punggol Point. • Soften the vertical retaining walls through landscaping where necessary.

Introduce play and stay accommodation.

Create an interim beach park on the reclaimed land at Punggol Point, where there is a small stretch of sandy beach.

• Support the proposal for the sea sports centre.

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• URA will study the feasibility of softening the vertical retaining walls and will work with NParks on the implementation of the interim park and landscaping of the waterfront.

• URA will study the feasibility of tendering out these sites on shorter leases to keep costs low and designs rustic.

• URA will work with relevant agencies to release suitable sites to interested operators on an interim basis.

• Interim surface car parks can be provided where possible to cater to these developments. URA will continue to work with LTA to address any traffic issues.

URA’s Responses

Develop and lease out parcels of land along the coastline for interim water and beach sports. A sea sports centre for wakeboarding and other waterfront sports can be introduced.

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

• URA will work with relevant agencies to tender out these sites to interested operators on an interim basis. • Interim surface carparks can be provided where possible to cater to these developments. URA will work with LTA to address traffic issues.

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Re-introduce seafront dining in • Support the development of a seafood village and the form of a seafood village and waterfront restaurants as an interim use at waterfront restaurants as an Punggol North. interim use until such time • Phase the development of the area to better Punggol North is developed. address potential traffic and car parking problems that may arise from the increased number of visitors to the area.

URA’s Proposals

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• Support activities for the more adventurous in Punggol North but suggest to replace motorcross with bicycle trails.

333

• The proposal will be incorporated into the MP2003.

• We support the SG’s suggestion to replace motorcross with bicycle trails.

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continued on next page

Introduce a seaside pier which • Support the proposal for a seaside pier. URA to • URA will study the location of the pier in relation can be developed as a recreational study the proposal to shift the location of the pier. to existing developments and amenities along and commercial destination, • Ensure that the parking situation is addressed Pasir Ris Park and work with LTA to address the providing entertainment, F&B before introducing the pier. parking situation. and retail over the water.

Pasir Ris

Adopt a “wilderness” theme for • Support the “wilderness theme” for Coney Island. • We support the SG’s suggestion to provide basic Coney island. Sites for camping, Basic amenities (water, sanitation) can be provided facilities on Coney Island. NParks will consider small rental huts and basic and located near the jetty. Pleasure boats should be how amenities could be added on over time. amenities can be developed along allowed to dock at the jetty. • We will assess whether the proposal for one bridge this theme. • Free up the waterway for recreational uses by is feasible taking into consideration the proposed having only one bridge link to Coney Island. road networks and future developments on Coney Island.

Retain the existing Punggol Road • Support the proposal to convert the existing and convert it to a linear park in Punggol Road to a linear park linking the new the future, with a cycling, jogging town centre and the coast. and walking track linking the future Punggol Stadium and the town centre to the coast.

Introduce a mountain bike and motorcross trail on a short-term basis to cater to the more adventurous. Appendix IV 333

333

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• Set up information kiosks and storyboards to showcase the rich cultural, historical, and natural heritage of the Changi area.

7.1.8.2.1.1.1.1 Changi Village

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

• We support the SG’s recommendation. Information kiosks and storyboards can be set up at the new ferry terminal and other appropriate locations.

URA’s Responses

Improve pedestrian connectivity through a pedestrian mall and promenade along the creek.

• The design of the new pedestrian mall should be • URA will consider the SG’s recommendation on linear and not dog-legged, in order to provide an the alignment and also take into account the view unobstructed view of the waterfront. of the waterfront in the design of the new • Improve the connectivity between the beachfront pedestrian mall. and Changi Village. In particular, provide a • URA will study how the pedestrian and cycling connection for cyclist, e.g. by widening the bridge connection from Changi Village to Changi Beach at Telok Paku Road. can be improved.

Introduce new small parcel • Support the proposal to add new, small parcel • URA will consider adopting an incremental shophouses to build critical mass commercial developments, but spruce up existing approach when adding new commercial space. for the area. shops first, and take an incremental approach to • URA will consider the context of existing buildings add new commercial space to allow time to review when proposing guidelines for the new impact on existing shops. developments. • Design the proposed new commercial developments carefully so as to avoid too great a contrast between them and the existing older buildings.

URA’s Proposals

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• Abandon the proposal for a road extension of Lorong Bekukong, but create a lively and vibrant pedestrian waterfront. • URA will drop the proposed road extension of Lorong Bekukong along the creek and study how to further improve pedestrian linkage between Changi Village and Changi Beach.

335

• URA will work with the relevant agencies to tender out sites for Residential use. • URA agrees that there are buildings and places of historical interest in Changi Point and will study how they can be retained.

Increase the residential quantum • Support proposal to increase residents in the area. in the area. URA proposes to sell • Preserve historical places when new uses are the parcels to the west of the found for them. village for Residential use as part of the Government Land Sales programme. The parcels will be sub-divided into smaller plots to relate to the character of the immediate areas and allow smaller developers to participate.

continued on next page

• NParks will develop the new children’s playground.

Build a new children’s playground. • Support proposal for the children’s playground.

Relocate the People’s Association • Support the proposal to relocate the PA Sea Sports • URA supports the SG’s suggestion. We will look (PA) Adventure Club to bring the Club, and to convert the vacated PA buildings to into retaining the launching ramp for public use club closer to the sea and convert budget hostels. when the Sea Sports Club is relocated. the vacated PA buildings to • Retain the launching ramp of the PA Sea Sports budget hostels. Club for public use.

Improve vehicular connectivity in the form of an extension of Lorong Bekukong along the creek to Telok Paku Road. Appendix IV 335

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• Appoint a single agency to spearhead the management of the island. NParks could be the agency since the general intention for Ubin is more in line with a rustic park and NParks is already managing a large portion of Pulau Ubin. • The appointed agency to form an advisory panel to advise and provide feedback on the plans and proposals for Pulau Ubin.

Pulau Ubin

SG’s Comments and Recommendations

• URA and NParks will work with relevant agencies to study these ideas further.

URA’s Responses

Open local plantations such as durian and rubber, as well as vegetable and prawn farms to the public for recreational and educational purposes.

• Keep Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) rates • URA will consider and study these ideas further for Pulau Ubin low, to support the opening up with the relevant agencies. of farms. • NParks has taken into account the historical value of • Attract people to run small-scale commercial various places when conducting educational tours enterprises and farms on Pulau Ubin. and walks, and will continue to expand on such programmes.

Develop an Interpretative Centre • Support the proposed adaptive restoration of • NParks will include the adaptive restoration No. 1 at No 1 Pulau Ubin, which can House No. 1 into an Interpretative Centre. Pulau Ubin into an Interpretative Centre into its serve as a base for nature trails • Restrict the number of motorised vehicles on the plan for the island. and tours to be conducted to island. If needed, environmentally friendly forms • URA will study the need to restrict vehicular the various habitats. of transport such as trishaws could be used. traffic with LTA. • The eastern coastline including Chek Jawa should • Currently, Chek Jawa is managed by NParks and the be Category B access only. visitorship is controlled. Most parts of the remaining eastern coastline are under NParks management and only basic facilities are provided.

URA’s Proposals

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1

• Support the idea of a water taxi service to connect • URA will explore with the existing bum boat the various nodes in the Rustic Coast cluster. operators to provide the water taxi service. • The transportation means should not be high speed boats but should remain as the traditional bum boats currently in use.

Water Taxi Service

• Support the proposal to use existing state-owned • URA will work with SLA to consider allowing the properties for B&Bs and farm stay. existing buildings on Pulau Ubin to be converted • Relax the TOL conditions to allow existing owners to B&Bs for public use. to rent out rooms to the public or for the adaptive reuse of the existing buildings on Pulau Ubin as B&B establishments. • If possible, complete the acquisition of partially acquired property if the owners do not wish to return to pursue any livelihood or residence on the island, so as to free them up for B&B uses.

One of the new ideas is to categorize parks according to ease of access, type of facilities and degree of landscaping (see Section 8 of this table, pp. 323–38). Category A parks would be kept pristine, Category B parks would be kept as wilderness areas with basic facilities, while Category C parks would have landscaping and facilities for family use.

Note

Retain the existing jetties, introduce new ones and improve the connectivity through a water taxi service between them.

Refurbish existing state-owned buildings on the island and rent them out as Bed & Breakfast (B&B) establishments or farm stays to provide for a rustic experience. Existing residents can also be allowed to open up their houses for B&B.

• Highlight the historical value of various places on Pulau Ubin and use this as a basis for educational guided tours and walks.

Appendix IV 337

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Director Ng Lye Hock

Dy Director Randy Lim

Director Foo Chee See

Dy Director Han Yong Hoe

Dy Director Richard Hoo

Dy Director Peter Tan

338

6/23/08, 1:07 PM Dy Director Seow Kah Ping

Physical Planning & Policy

Land Administration, Sales & Research

Director Choy Chan Pong

Land Administration Division

Dy Director Tan See Nin

Physical Planning, Development

Director Lim Eng Hwee

Physical Planning, Policy

Dy Director Hwang Yu-Ning

Physical Planning, Systems

Dy Director Teh Lai Yip

Director Ler Seng Ann

Internal Audit Section Section Head Lawrence Fong

Dy Director Fun Siew Leng

Director Michael Koh

Urban Planning & Design

Conservation & Urban Design Division

Conservation & Development Services

Physical Planning and Conservation & Urban Design Chief Planner & Dy CEO Mrs Koh Wen Gin

Reporting to Chairman. Administratively responsible to CEO

Land Administration & Car Parks

Dy Director Lim Eng Chong

Director Lee Kwong Weng

Corporate Development Division

Source: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 2004.

Managing for Excellence Office

Development Control Division

Development Control & Corporate Development Dy CEO Tan Siong Leng

Chief Executive Officer Mrs Cheong Koon Hean

Chairman Bobby Chin

Urban Redevelopment Authority

APPENDIX V: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE

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Ass t Director Ms Ong Chui Leng

Research

Ass t Director Feli x Loh

Knowledge Management & IT Ass t Director Mrs Tan-Yan Oi Chee

Ass t Director Oi Keng Hunt

Strategic Poli cy

Org Development

Dy Director Sim Cheng Hai

Administration Ass t Director Joseph Chua

Ass t Director Ms Tan Swee Swee

Mil ton Goh

Ass t Director Legal

Ms Betty Pau

Financial Controll er

Director Mrs Ng Siew Yin

Resource Management

Human Resource

Ass t Director Vacant

Business Strategies

Ass t Director Ms Lee Pin Pin

Communications

Director Chia Seng Jiang

Director Ms Peggy Chong

Phys ical Planning

Corporate Development

Poli cy & Planning

Dy Chief Executive Officer Mrs Lee Wai Chin

Planning & Resource Department

Dr Tan Wee Kiat

Management & Development Dy Director Ms Wong Wei Har

Ass t Director Dr Tan Puay Yok

Orchid Breeding & Micropropagation Ass t Director Dr Lim-Ho Chee Len

Visitor Management & Education Ass t Director Mrs Camille Foo-Sim

Ass t Director Dr Ian Mark Turner

Living Coll ections

Director Dr Chin See Chung

Training & Certification Deputy Director Dr Foong Thai Wu

Continued on next page

Chief Operating Officer Dr Leong Chee Chew

Operations Department

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Urban Greenery

Botanical Research, Herbarium & Library Ass t Director Dr Ruth Kiew

Chief Executive Officer & Commiss ioner of Parks & Recreation

APPENDIX VI: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE

Appendix VI 339

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340

6/23/08, 1:07 PM Asst Director Ms Ng Sock Ling

Source: National Parks Board, 2004.

Sungei Buloh

Facilities

Asst Director Yeong Yee Shyong

Nursery & Horticulture Centre Asst Director Mrs Kartini Omar-Hor

Curator Istana Koh Soon Kiong

Asst Director Dr Lena Chan

Biodiversity Centre

Parks Management (East) Dy Director George Tay

Parks Management (South) Dy Director Kong Yit San

Arboriculture (South/West) Asst Director Tee Swee Ping

Parks Management (West) Dy Director Ng Cheow Kheng

Parks Management (North) Dy Director Phua Kin Keng

Director Simon Longman

Director Teva Raj

Arboriculture (Projects) Asst Director Oh Cheow Sheng

Arboriculture

Parks Management

Arboriculture (North/East) Asst Director SK Ganesan

(Continued from previous page)

Director Wong Tuan Wah

Conservation

Asst Director Robert Teo

Pulau Ubin

Central Nature Reserve Asst Director Ms Sharon Chan

Parks Business Development Asst Director Ms Michelle Lee

Parks Business Management Asst Director Lee Yan Tuck

Director Teva Raj

Parks Business

Dr Leong Chee Chiew

Operations Department Chief Operating Officer

Development Management Asst Director Ms Gan Kim Choo

Asst Director Ms Loh Wan Wan

Design

Director Yeo Meng Tong

Parks Development

NATIONAL PARKS BOARD ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE (Cont’d…)

Recreation Management Asst Director Gilbert Tan

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341 Director Yap Kheng Guan

Director Lim Chiow Giap

Sr Deptuty Director Ms Tay Heem Eng

DRAINAGE

WATER RECLAMATION

Director Peter Tan Nam Song

SEWERAGE

Source: Public Utilities Board, 2004.

Sr Deputy Director Lim Chiow Giap

Director Chan Yoon Kum

WATER

Director Chiang Kok Meng

DEEP TUNNEL SEWERAGE SYSTEM

Director Mrs Loh-Koh Kok Loo

FINANCE

Chief Executive Khoo Teng Chye

Chairman Tan Gee Paw

THE BOARD

Director Lim Chong Hin

Director Koh Yoke Houng

Director Miss Sandra Joy Vaz

Sr Deputy Director Lawrence Tan

HUMAN RESOURCES

CORPORATE MANAGEMENT

INFORMATION SYSTEMS

Director Peter Tan Nam Song

HEALTH, SAFETY & SECURITY OFFICE

Reports to Board's Audit's Committee

APPENDIX VII: PUBLIC UTILITIES BOARD ORGANIZATIONAL CHART

Director Soh Boon Eng

INTERNAL AUDIT

Appendix VII 341

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Governance, Politics and the Environment

APPENDIX VIII: MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT ORGANIZATIONAL CHART

Minister Mr Lim Swee Say

Senior Parliamentary Secretary Mr Mohamad Maidin bin Packaer

Permanent Secretary Mr Tan Yong Soon

Deputy Secretary Mr Low Puk Yeong

Water Studies

Strategic Policy

Water

Air

Corporatisation

Land

Design, Build, Own and Operate

Public Health and Environmental Protection

International Relations

3P Network

International Cooperation

Corporate Communications

Regional Cooperation

Organisation Excellence Industry

Emergency Planning

Infocomm Technology

Corporate Development

Application Services

Finance

Technical Services

Human Resource Administration

Project Control & Contract Management

Facilities & Operations Management

Source: Ministry of the Environment, 2004.

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Appendix IX

343

APPENDIX IX: NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY ORGANIZATIONAL CHART Board of Directors Prof Simon Tay Seong Chee (Chairman) Dr Leslie Buckley BG (NS) Lam Joon Khoi Mrs Ow Foong Pheng Mr Othman bin Haron Eusofe Mr Heng Chiang Meng Mr Ooi Chwee Kim

Mr Er Kwong Wah Ms Loh Wai Kiew Dr Tan Wee Kiat Prof K Satkunantham Mr Tan Hup Foi

Chief Executive Officer BG (NS) Lam Joon Khoi Head Internal Audit Chia Kee Koon

DirectorGeneral Public Health Khoo Seow Poh

Deputy CEO / Director-General Environmental Protection Loh Ah Tuan

Director Singapore Environment Institute Ong Eng Kian

DirectorGeneral Meteorological Service Woo Shih Lai

Head Environmental Health Chiam Yeow Khong

Head Hawkers Goh Chin Tong

Ag Head Environmental Health Institute Dr Andrew Giger

Head Waste Management Low Fong Hon

Head Pollution Control Foong Chee Leong

Head Operational Services Lim Tian Kuay

Head Business & Technical Services Lim Kew Leong

Director Corporate Services Wang Mong Lin

Head Education & Partnership Ng Meng Hiong

Head HR Management Cindy Chou

Head Legal Manimegalai Vellasamy

Head HR Development Goh Kah Bee

Financial Controller Finance Loh Wai Ching

Head Resource Conservation Ong Seng Eng

Head Planning And Development Joseph Hui Kim Sung

Director Human Resource Sophia Koh

Head Training & Development Eng Tiang Sing

Head Academic & Support Services (Vacant)

Deputy Director Corporate Planning And Organization Devt Michelle Lee

Deputy Director Corporate Communications Lim Phay Ling

Source: National Environment Agency, 2004.

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APPENDIX X: REMAKING SINGAPORE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS AND GOVERNMENT RESPONSES Remaking Singapore Committee Recommendations Overview of Government Response (15 April 2004) No.

Recommendation

Status

Chapter 2: A Home for All Singaporeans 1 Renew vision of a Singaporean Singapore

2 3 4

5

6

7

8

Accepted. The concept is and should be supported, both by government and community efforts. However, there is no need to formalise this into a statement. Encourage greater identification with, Accepted and implemented and use of, National Symbols Renewed emphasis on values and Accepted. To be implemented as part of ideals for which Singapore stands ongoing enhancements to NE Enhance National Education in programme. schools and Institute of Higher Learning Set up Self-Help Co-ordination Accepted. CEOs of the Self-Help Groups Council are working out the implementation details. Introduce multi-ethnic religious Not accepted. MOE has highlighted education in schools likely implementation problems, drawing from its experience with religious knowledge in the 1980s. Language Competencies a. Not accepted. However, MOE has a. flexibility for second language announced several strategies to b. option of local language as 3rd sustain and maintain interest in the language mother tongue. c. 3rd language at conversational level, b. Accepted. The eligibility criterion has non examinable been relaxed with effect from the 2003 PSLE cohort. c. Accepted, but should be optional. Public education on religion a. Accepted. Implemented through a. Undertake proactive programmes ongoing PA and IRCC initiatives. to promote better understanding b. Not accepted. The Declaration on of people of different religions. Religious Harmony is intended as a b. Declaration on Religious statement of principles and norms to Harmony to consolidate current foster better understanding and practices and consensus, not as a consensus, not as a way to define way to define OB markers. OB markers.

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Recommendation

9 Socialisation in SAP schools. Create awareness that SAP schools can also accept non-Chinese students who meet their entry criteria. 10 Religious schools to have integrative elements. 11 Role of media in enhancing racial and religious harmony

12 Up-stream integration for foreign students and skilled working adults a. Widen the reach of the buddy programme b. Encourage foreign clubs to take on joint community projects 13 Address Singaporeans’ concerns. Integration efforts should have ground-level involvement and ownership. 14 Help Singaporeans acquire “global skills” by setting up a committee to globalise Singaporeans.

15 Re-think representation and franchise by creating NMPs for overseas Singaporeans, and “overseas constituencies”. 16 Re-integrate returning Singaporeans 17 Replicate the Singapore education experience for overseas Singaporeans by setting up Singapore schools.

Status Accepted. The entry criteria for all national schools, including SAP schools, are transparent and do not discriminate against a student’s race. MUIS supports this recommendation as it is in line with the direction for the madrasahs. Accepted. Implemented through existing channels of MITA/MDA and the programmes/publications advisory committee. a. Accepted. Schools with foreign students have in place a variety of programmes to integrate them into our system, and MCDS and MOM will study other ways to improve integration. b. Accepted and being implemented. Accepted and being implemented.

Accepted. Instead of a Committee mechanism, this will be undertaken by the Workforce Development Agency. WDA will identify such skills and incorporate them into new skills training programmes. Not accepted for now. The government would prefer to move gradually, starting with overseas voting. There is a set of existing programmes and policies. Accepted. MOE is prepared to set up Singapore international schools overseas where there is a critical mass of Singaporeans, subject to the constraints of cost and availability of resources e.g. teachers. continued on next page 345

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No.

Governance, Politics and the Environment

Recommendation

Status

18 Allows schools and universities greater Accepted. MOE announced during flexibility to admit students March 2004 Budget Debate that it had introduced more flexible criteria for schools and JCs in admitting students. Universities will also be given greater autonomy in admissions. 19 Broadening the definition of successentry in IHLs in Singapore 20 Enhance diversity of the school The elective modules as recommended curriculum through elective modules by the RSC, are already incorporated into our existing total curriculum framework, albeit mainly as nonexaminable subjects and CCA. 21 Start a National School for the Arts Accepted. MITA announced setting up and Music at secondary level of a pre-tertiary Independent Arts School in Parliament on 13 March 2004. 22 Improve access to quality early Accepted. Implemented via ongoing childhood education initiatives and programmes. 23 Introduce O-level PE subject Not accepted for now, as specialized independent schools are in a better position to cater to specialized areas, and the sports school is now just in start-up phase. But can be considered at appropriate time. 24 CCA recognition for outside school Accepted. Students’ participation in activities CCA outside the school is recognized, and CCA points are awarded for such involvement. 25 Provide access to coaching/counselling Accepted. Implemented via ongoing for students initiatives and programmes. 26 Modification of the school ranking Accepted MOE announced during the system March 2004 Budget Debate that it would broaden and augment the school ranking system. Chapter 3 — A Home Owned 27 Adopt a green/red lane approach for Not accepted. But MITA and MHA public entertainment licensing will continue to review the exemption list with a view to exempting other public entertainments from the requirements of the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act. 346

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Recommendation

28 Designate performance venues for relaxing rules 29 Review treatment of Performance and Forum Act 30 Set up PEMA appeals advisory committee 31 Cease prior vetting of play scripts 32 Relax rules of busking 33 Extend rating system to more forms of media 34 Define “political” OB markers 35 Encourage academic research on public policy

36 Easier registration of groups/ associations

37 One-stop registration

38 Set up a National Youth Forum

39 Draw up a government Code of Consultation 40 Set up Management Committees to the manage HDB estates

Chapter 4 — A Home For All Seasons 41 To rationalize and consolidate the different assistance schemes into an “Economic Relief Scheme” (ERS) to provide holistic assistance for the structurally unemployed.

Status Not accepted. It is not practical to create such venues. Accepted and implemented Accepted and being implemented Accepted. Exemption guidelines being worked out Accepted and implemented Accepted Not accepted. DPM Lee addressed this point in a speech on 6 January 2004. Accepted. Academics in NUS are strongly encouraged to conduct rigorous and relevant research in various fields, including public policy. Accepted. The Societies Act will be amended to implement an “Automatic Registration” regime for societies. The Societies (Amendment) Bill will be tabled in Parliament shortly. Accepted. Information and links available on NVPC and NCSS websites. Accepted. A six-member Steering Committee was formed in November 2003. Accepted. DPM Lee announced a set of guidelines on 6 January 2004. Accepted in principle. However, various issues have to be studied further and resolved before the idea is extended from HUDC estates to other HDB residents at an appropriate time. Accepted and being implemented

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No.

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Recommendation

42 Allow the use of CPF in a prolonged recession, on a very limited and exceptional basis, so that Singaporeans can support themselves through spells of unemployment. 43 Allow re-mortgage of HDB flats to meet urgent cash requirements. Explore other means of helping financially-strapped Singaporeans. 44 Expand the role of health insurance in healthcare financing. Initiatives to provide better coverage. 45 Extend the Primary Care Partnership Scheme to the disabled and chronically ill so that they can obtain subsidised treatment.

46 Eligibility criteria of assistance schemes. Adopt a graduated scale of eligibility, as opposed to sharp cut-off points. 47 MOE to play a more active role in special education e.g. research and planning, identify more primary schools where facilities are available for the disabled to study in. 48 Set up a National Council on Accessibility to coordinate efforts at improving accessibility and to champion the physical accessibility needs of the less mobile. 49 Appoint an authority to coordinate transportation planning for the less mobile, such as the elderly and the disabled, to ensure integrated access for all. 50 Facilitate employment for the disabled

Status Accepted, but only for prolonged and severe economic downturns. The better approach is to help the unemployed be more employable and find a job. Not accepted. The government has other measures to help lessees in financial difficulties. Accepted. MOH is studying how this can be implemented. Accepted. MOH is working out implementation details for the disabled. For the chronically ill, a pilot project has started in two polyclinics and MOH will extend it to more polyclinics before considering inclusion of GPs. Accepted in principle and being implemented where feasible.

MOE works with NCSS and VWOs under the ‘Many Helping Hands” approach in the area of special education. Supported. If such an NGO is set up, the government is prepared to work with it.

Not accepted. The issues require the close collaboration of various authorities.

Accepted. The relevant agencies are now studying the issues.

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Recommendation

51 Incorporate service learning into our mainstream educational curricula

52 Introduce Philanthropy Awards to encourage corporate philanthropy

Chapter 5 — A Home to Cherish 53 Remove female quota for medical faculty in NUS

54 Harmonise the medical benefits of female and male civil servants 55 Harmonise citizenship privileges. Grant citizenship by descent to overseas-born babies of Singaporean women marrying foreigners, and overseas-stationed Singaporean fathers who are citizens by descent. 56 Form a National Family Council to take a holistic and cohesive approach to analysing family issues and policies, and drive research and training on family-related policies/trends/issues. 57 Incorporate family life education into the formal school curriculum, to help ensure that Singaporeans continue to value, develop and maintain strong family relations. 58 Increase public involvement in heritage matters to foster greater appreciation of our heritage, generate income and encourage the development of the local heritage industry.

Status Accepted. Schools are encouraged to do so, and tertiary institutions have the flexibility to offer and design service learning opportunities. Accepted. The National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre will be revising the National Volunteerism Awards to incorporate philanthropy from this year.

Accepted. This was conveyed to government prior to the report’s finalisation, and was accepted in December 2002. Under review by Minister Lim Hng Kiang’s Committee on population challenges. Accepted. The Constitution (Amendment) Bill has been tabled in Parliament on 17 March 2004.

Not accepted. MCDS does not consider it necessary to form a Council that would duplicate its role. But MCDS agrees that more can be done in research and regional/international links, and is doing so. Accepted. Already implemented.

Accepted. NHB and PMB already involve the people and private sectors in their work. Nonetheless, they could explore how to include more participation in their work. continued on next page 349

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No.

Recommendation

Status

59 Preserve memories of Singapore life through a Community Museum & Radio and Museum of Everyday Life.

60

61

62

63

64

65

66

67

Not accepted. Community history and life are already being incorporated into existing museums, exhibitions and community efforts. Community radio can also be delivered through existing radio channels. Create the Temasek Heritage Accepted in principle. If the people and Foundation to act as an independent corporate sectors are able to find the and unbiased advocate for heritage support and resources for this, they are matters in Singapore. welcome to proceed with such a Foundation. Free up more time for Singaporeans; Under review by Minister Lim Hng implement five-day week in Civil Kiang’s Committee on population Service challenges. Expand the sea and water sports scene Accepted. The various agencies are here to re-make Singapore into a actively pursuing strategies to achieve tropical sea sports paradise. this. Raise profile of Singapore Youth Accepted. The public is now able to Festival; position and market SYF access some SYF events but more can more effectively as a national-level be done to raise the profile. MOE and event to the masses, possibly with NAC are working on doing so. events in the heartlands. Singapore can be an Asian events Accepted. STB is actively promoting hub, playing host to a world-famous Singapore as an Asian Events Hub and international events. attracting major international events to come here. Set up an Audience Development Accepted. NAC already has an audience Fund to seed the development of an development arm, and also organises arts-going culture. outreach activities. Streamline the process of bringing in Accepted. Improvements can be made events by setting up a one-stop to the Arts & Heritage Town of the agency for arts and entertainment eCitizen portal, to further facilitate the groups to contact when organising process of organising arts and events. entertainment events. Make waterbodies, school fields and Accepted. The relevant agencies are vacant state land more accessible to actively exploring and introducing public for community and recreation measures to increase accessibility to the use. public.

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Recommendation

68 HDB could consider relaxing its rules on the use of void decks. Void decks are ideal for community activities that encourage residents to get out of their homes to interact with their neighbours. 69 Enable richness of life at the ‘street level’. Encourage “Sungei Road”-type flea/antique markets, or entrepreneurship through ‘car boot sales’ on empty land, with or without payment of a licence fee. 70 Accelerate the development of our rail network

Status Accepted. MND/HDB will work with Town Councils (which regulates the use of void decks) to relax rules where possible.

Accepted. To encourage these activities and to offer more flexibility to the market, MinLaw/SLA is prepared to consider time-based levy for the use of State land. Accepted in principle. MOT/LTA’s vision is to develop the rail network as the backbone of our public transport system. But the rate of development would still depend on their viability as well as the financial position of the Government.

Source: Remaking Singapore Committee, 2004.

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APPENDIX XI: LIST OF MAJOR STATUTORY BOARDS IN SINGAPORE

Statutory Board*

Year of Formation

Predecessor

Central Provident Fund (CPF)

1955

Nil

Housing and Development Board (HDB)

1960

Singapore Improvement Trust (formed in 1972)

Economic Development Board (EDB)

1961

Singapore Industrial Promotion Board (Formed 1957)

Singapore Tourism Promotion Board (STPB)

1964

Nil

Port of Singapore Authority (PSA)

1964

Singapore Harbour Board (formed in 1913)

Board of Commissioners of Currency (BCCS)

1967

Currency Board for Malaya, British North Borneo & Brunei

Jurong Town Corporation (JTC)

1968

Spin-off from EDB

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)

1971

Functions previously under various departments in Ministry of Finance

Post Office Savings Bank (POSB)

1972

Formerly a department within the Ministry of Communications

National Productivity Board (NPB)

1972

Spin-off from EDB

Sentosa Development Corporation (SBC)

1972

Nil

Singapore Institute for Standards & Industrial Research (SISIR)

1973

Spin-off from EDB

Telecommunications Authority of Singapore

1974

Amalgamation with Singapore Telephone Board in 1974 and with Postal Services Department in 1982

Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)

1974

Urban Redevelopment Department of Ministry of National Development

Vocational & Industrial Training Board (VITB)

1979

Merger between Industrial Training Board and Education Board

352

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Appendix XI

353

Statutory Board*

Year of Formation

Predecessor

Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC)

1980

Radio and Television Singapore

Trade Development Board (TDB)

1982

Formerly Department of Trade under Ministry of Finance

Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT) @

1982

Nil

Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB)

1984

Nil

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS)

1984

Formerly Department of Civil Aviation under Ministry of Communications

National Parks Board (NParks)

1990/91 Parks and Trees Unit (formed (reconstituted in 1967) under the Public 1996) Works Department

National Science and Technology Board

1991

Science Council

Public Utilities Board (PUB)

2001

Public Utilities Board (formed in 1963)

National Environment Agency (NEA)

2002

Nil

* Only those of major economic or social significance are listed. @ Privatized.

Source: Low 1991, p. 52, NEA, NParks 2004.

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APPENDIX XII: LIST OF INTERVIEWS Code

Date

Position

I (1)

5 Feb 2003

Director Technology and Education, NOVO Technology Services

I (2)

11 Feb 2003

Chairman of Conservation Committee, Nature Society Singapore

I (3)

18 Feb 2003

Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies

I (4)

20 Feb 2003

Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

I (5)

20 Feb 2003

Head, Resource Conservation, National Environment Agency

I (6)

29 Nov 2003

Member, Think Centre Singapore

I (7)

12 Jan 2004

Former Minister, National Development

I (8)

15 Jan 2004

Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies

I (9)

15 Jan 2004

Walton Morais, Cherian George, Teo Ho Pin *

I (10)

16 Jan 2004

President, Think Centre Singapore

I (11)

19 Jan 2004

Senior PR Officer, Urban Redevelopment Authority

I (12)

20 Jan 2004

Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute

I (13)

26 Jan 2004

Chief Operation Officer and Assistant Director Biodiversity Centre, National Parks Board

I (14)

27 Jan 2004

Executive Director and Project Manager Singapore Environment Council

I (15)

27 Jan 2004

Member, Nature Society Singapore

I (16)

28 Jan 2004

Former President, Nature Society Singapore

I (17)

29 Jan 2004

President, Nature Society Singapore

I (18)

Various dates#

Member and biographer, Nature Society Singapore

* Taped Interview from Channel News Asia. # E-mail interviews

354

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References

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