A case for conservation of Tengah forest in Singapore

Why we need the forest 🌳🌳🌳🌳

A couple of days ago, I took time off after my morning shift for hiking.

It is part of my voluntary project for nature conservation and environmental awareness.

The photos and videos of the hike serve to preserve the memory of Tengah forest for posterity.

I am also inspired to make a special video that combines video clips from my previous hike to make a case for conservation.


Because climate change affects all of us, including plants, animals and humans.

According to an article:

“New research has found strong evidence that climate change is spurring conflict, which is driving people to abandon their homelands and seek safety elsewhere.”

In Singapore, it is already happening in some ways.

Birds and animals have been displaced from their homes ever since urban development started some 200 years ago.

With the ongoing clearance of Tengah forest, the baya weavers, otters and other animals are in danger of losing their homes.

It probably wouldn’t be long before more and more of us humans will also become environmental refugees due to climate change affecting the liveability of our environment.

To where will we seek asylum?

To where can we really migrate since the effects of climate change are ubiquitous?

What happens in one country will affect other countries, as seen in the case of the Sumatran haze and many other examples.

The future is in our hands.

Nature is free and abundant

(Picture sources: Google)

Nature is free and abundant.

When it rains, Nature provides an umbrella in the form of a banana leaf free of charge.

All of us have equal access to the benefits of Nature.

Nature does not discriminate anyone.

You don’t need to pay anything.

You only need to take care of the environment, and Nature will take care of you.

Conserve the forest, and the forest will preserve you and your posterity.

We and Nature are one and interconnected.

Stubby squids and other mysteries

A National Geographic article shared by a colleague invites readers to watch a video of a googly-eyed sea creature that cracked up scientists. The purple stubby squid is intriguing indeed. I googled about it and found another video of this “muppet” swimming on the ocean floor.


 The cartoon-like eyes of the squid make me wonder… who came up with the idea that big round eyes make for cute, cartoon-like creatures? Before the discovery of this squid with cartoon eyes, one would probably have thought that big round eyes are the invention of human cartoonists and muppeteers, which are often featured in cartoons ranging from Mickey Mouse to Dragonball to Sesame Street. But Mother Nature surprised us through this discovery, as if to proclaim that such big-eyed cartoon characters have always existed all along since time immemorial in real life – in the form of stubby squids and the like, way way WAY before such cartoons came on the scene through the invention of media like televisions and comic books in the modern world.
Perhaps another mystery is… how did human beings conceive of big round eyes of a stubby squid when they first drew cute cartoon characters, long before they had ever seen such creatures in real life? Are we human beings an extension of the Universe such that we are all interconnected with all other living beings, and by some telepathy or mysterious soul imprints and mystical connections, we intuitively create works of art resembling some other creatures without knowing of their existence or seeing them before?
Maybe there is something deeply profound in the imaginations of human beings, which may be a key to unravel the ancient mysteries such as pyramids, crop circles, UFOs, and so on…
Meanwhile, life goes on… in a world where students are often told by the education system to not daydream and study hard so that they can work in a rank-and-file capitalistic system and live a nondescript life, while the mysteries of life continue to stay hidden in the deep recesses of human consciousness, unexplored and unexplained.

What kids teach me

DSC_0058 kids in village 2

By taking a detour from the main road in Batam centre, I was hoping to find a short cut back to the hotel. Instead, I stumbled upon a poor neighbourhood district where kids played on polluted streets amid wooden huts. One would wonder why the authorities have chosen to spend the nation’s budget on building lavish shopping malls instead of improving the basic infrastructure of the residents. Nevertheless, one lesson I took away from this experience is the inverse relationship between happiness and material attachments.

The closer we are to Nature, instead of being cooped up in concrete buildings or hemmed in by motor traffic, the happier and healthier we are. The more we allow ourselves to be carefree and not rush hither and thither, the freer and lighter we feel. And the more simply we live our lives instead of making our lives complicated, the more joyful we become.


Cameron Highlands notes (an exploration of Nature conservation theology)

Having spent a couple of days in the cool and green Cameron highlands in Malaysia, which happens to bear some ominous signs of increasing development and air pollution from the traffic and from the surrounding regions (specifically the temporary haze from the forest peat fires in Sumatra), and especially after taking part in a tour of a tea plantation and mossy forest that is soul expanding, thought provoking and spirit connecting, I felt a need to type a blog and try to make sense and articulate some of my thoughts while taking a long, sleepy bus ride back to Singapore on the third day.

No (as I would like to clarify to myself), this is not a diary or journal for the sake of romantising Nature or academic meandering (as much as there is sometimes an inclination for me to do so). This blog is neither for development nor against development in an absolute sense. It also isn’t really about modern civilization versus ancient civilization. If anything, it is about bridging the gap between these two (if that were possible at all). Ultimately, it is an attempt to put together seemingly raw unfiltered thoughts, like raw apple cider vinegar, hoping to find a coherent message or two from the mishmash of ideas.

The natives or the original inhabitants of Malaysia who have sought to modernize Cameron highlands, or Malaysia in general, appear to have lost sight of the natural beauty and heritage of their lands. Why? Because in their quest to develop the economy and build infrastructure, they are trying to generate more income at the expense of the environment, the wildlife and the remnants of the indigenous people (eg Orang Asli) who retain their ancient self-sustainable lifestyle and culture.

It takes the outsiders such as the westerners to bring the message of nature conservation to the Malays, to remind them to save their own land and culture. The strange thing is that these westerners do not speak their native language; rather the Malays were taught to speak the English language.

Through colonisation, the Malays became westernized and sought to be modernized and ended up destroying their own environment and culture. Now, westerners – many of whom used to colonise Southeast Asia – are telling the Malays (or more specifically, the government and large corporations) to conserve their own heritage of nature and culture.

Can anything be more paradoxical than that?
One question may arise at this point: why is it considered strange that the westerners do not speak the language of the local Malays? Wouldn’t that be expected of foreign colonialists?

Yes, but I believe there is a significance to this self-evident fact. For example, isn’t there a passage in the bible that says “you shall be ruled over by people whose language is foreign to you”? Doesn’t it sound like the experience of the indigenous people in Malaysia when they were colonised by westerners for a period of time?

Similarly, isn’t there a passage that says “because you have rejected the gospel, it shall be preached to the Gentiles and and those who did not seek me shall find me”? Wasn’t it the case whereby the inhabitants of Malaysia refused to listen to their own native prophets and continued to destroy the environment in the name of development, and the good news of nature conservation is preached to the foreigners, who in turn shall bring back the gospel to the inhabitants of Malaysia, not in their native tongue but in the foreign English language? By rejecting their own and risking doom and destruction to their land, the message of salvation comes from outside their land.

Once again, how paradoxical can it be?

Now, who is the messiah? Who are the prophets? What is the gospel in this context?

I venture to say in this context that the messiah is our true self that defies time and space, and any form of outward identification, such as nationality, gender, race, language or religion. The prophets are the voices of the ancient spirit that reminds people of who they really are and warns the people who are oppressing the less privileged and destroying the environment. The gospel is the good news of our true identity and the call for us to reconnect to Nature, thereby reconnecting to our own soul and humanity.

Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard? | Jon Jandai | TEDxDoiSuthep

I enjoy and resonate with Jon Jandai’s message very much as I also support the carefree, Nature-based way of life. I noted that in his farming village, people work only 2 hours a day, and 2 months a year during the planting season and harvesting season. I totally agree with him that when people have time to be with themselves, they can understand themselves and can see what they want in life, such as happiness, love and enjoyment of life, and they also see a lot of beauty in their life, which they can express in many ways, such as making handicrafts.

I am happy for him to have chosen to go back to the countryside and live life freely like when he was a kid, and it is awesome that his sustainable way of farming rice and more than 15 varieties of vegetables and growing fish in two fish ponds can produce more than enough food to feed his family and to sell, and it took him only 3 months of working 2 hours a day to build an earthly house.

Indeed, such sustainable, nature-based lifestyle gives us a lot of freedom to do what we want in life and time to be with ourselves and connect with ourselves and one another. I like how he learn to spend time to go back to himself during times of sickness and learn to heal his own body the natural way too where possible, such as using water and earth to heal himself.

I agree with him that true civilisation is where food, house, clothes and medicine are easily available and accessible for everyone, as compared to the so-called modern society where these things are hard to get, and it is no surprise that he considers this era the “most uncivilised era on planet earth”. I also like how he chooses to focus on living easy and light, and not be concerned about what others think of him because he considers himself normal and those who follows the system are abnormal.

Interestingly, his video message is similar to a recent video message by Ralph Smart which I listened to yesterday morning, in which he said that creativity comes when we relax and do nothing.

Like Ralph Smart said, “sometimes, doing nothing is the most productive thing in the world.” Yes, I agree that meditation, for example, enables us to become more creative, and I noted that he also shared how simplicity has helped him become his greatest version because the more simple he becomes, the more creative he becomes.

Origins (2014) documentary

Origins (2014)” is a very important and meaningful documentary. I found it to be a useful reminder and summary on how looking back on the origins of our species some 20,000 years ago can enable us humans to understand the keys to the survival of ourselves and our planet. Yes, I have always believed that, however simplistic as it may sound, one way to resolve the problems in modern societies, whether chronic health issues or socioeconomic woes, is to go back to Nature, back to the original and ancient wisdom and ways of our ancestors who live and thrive in traditional, nature-based societies.

Indeed, our bodies and souls are designed to flow in synch with the timeless rhythm of Nature instead of the artificial clocks of the system, and it is like experiencing the deep reset in our circadian rhythms whenever we retreat and re-immerse ourselves in the bosom of the forest or the coolness of the river or the breeze of the sea. I like especially the part shown in the 48-minute segment of the video on how people can reconnect to their true selves and Nature by doing qigong and meditation in the peaceful nature sanctuary, such as by the river.

I also agree with the need for people to support traditional local farms and farmers’ markets that offer live, grass-fed, free-range, organic food – indeed each of us has the power to help ourselves and the environment through the choices we make, such as choosing where to get our food from.

Touching deeply the wonders of Nature brings healing, nourishment, joy and happiness


“It is clear that in this age of globalisation, what happens to one of us, happens to us all. We are all interconnected, and we are all co-responsible. But even with the greatest good will, if we are swept away by our daily concerns for material needs or emotional comforts, we will be too busy to realise our common aspiration.

“Contemplation must go together with action. Without a spiritual practice we will abandon our dream very soon.

Each of us, according to the teaching of our own tradition, should practice to touch deeply the wonders of Nature, the wonders of life in each of us, the Kingdom of God in each of us, the Pure Land, Nirvana in each of us, so we can get the healing and nourishment, the joy and happiness born from the insight that the Kingdom of God is already available in the here and now. The feeling of love and admiration for nature, that we all share, has the power to nourish us, unite us, and remove all separation and discrimination.

“By being in touch with everything that is refreshing and healing, we can free ourselves from our daily concerns for material comforts, and will have a lot more time and energy to realise our ideal of bringing freedom and compassion to all living beings. As it says in the Gospel, “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink or wear. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

(From “Thich Nhat Hanh’s Speech at the Vatican, December 2, 2014“)

Can We Think Outside Of MONEY

Video information

“How To Change The World” FREE eBook: https://www.facebook.com/HTCTW.book

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In this video, Elina St-Onge shares observations about Money, Scarcity, Ownership and Government. If you want to know more, check out her eBook: http://cdn2.collective-evolution.com/assets/uploads/2014/01/How-To-Change-The-World.pdf

Scarcity is a myth, as it is caused by mis-distribution of resources.

“Basically, economic growth means that you have to find something that people once got for free, or did for themselves, or for each other, and then take it away and sell it back to them somehow. By turning things into commodities, we get cut off from nature in the same way we get cut off from community.” Charles Eisenstein