Biodiversity and cities

Dear Professor Tommy Koh,

I refer to the 25 Oct 2010 Straits Times report of the Third Linnaeus lecture on ‘Biodiversity and Cities’ you gave in Nagoya, Japan.

You said the secret to Singapore becoming so clean, green and nature loving despite being so densely populated is that we have one of the world’s first green political leaders, MM Lee. You went on to talk about his vision, his belief in the economic value of nature and the comparative advantage it gives us and his insistence that no investment proposal can be accepted without the support of the anti-pollution unit.

Having said all that, you forgot to mention that it was a report by Mr Graham Perry which galvanised MM Lee into action. Found within the travelling exhibition “10 Years that Shaped a Nation” put up by the National Archives is a little excerpt from Mr Lee Ek Tieng’s oral history interview, Accession number 002832, reel 2. Mr Le Ek Tieng, who was head of the Anti-Pollution Unit (APU) in 1960, explained how the APU was formed under the Prime Minister’s office. According to Mr Lee Ek Tieng, it was because of the report by Mr Graham Perry that MM Lee became concerned with industrialisation. In other words, like all the other initiatives that have been credited to the vision of MM Lee, Singapore’s clean and green movement is just another example of how the work and advice from foreign consultants rather than MM Lee’s vision helped shape Singapore’s policies.

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