Mar 19, 2007

The Hungry Island

In early February, the Singapore government announced its plans to eventually support and sustain 6.5 million people on our little island. Right now we're already the 2nd most crowded country in the world.

Blogger Alex Au (aka Yawning Bread) was
not too concerned about this. In his analysis, he considered three broad areas - housing, transport and leisure. Alex gave examples of how it could or would be possible to create adequate space in Singapore for 6.5 million people. For example, build taller flats; build more train lines; build more linkways between buildings; build taller shopping centres and cineplexes.

All his suggestions share one common element - build. Perhaps that's what has recently terrified Indonesia. Construction requires concrete, and concrete requires sand, and Singapore has little of its own. So we must get what we need from our neighbours.

According to the Times article below, in 1965 Singapore was 581 sq km (224 sq miles); but by 2007, it had grown to 650 sq km and also plans to acquire another 100 sq km in the next 30 years. Furthermore it is not merely that our surface area is expanding; we are also building underground (eg more and more MRT lines) and upwards (taller and taller buildings) and all these activities require natural resources.

When we see things in this light, we may begin to realise that Indonesia may have genuine environmental concerns about Singapore grabbing its sand. Sometimes we may be overly inclined to think of Singapore as the poor whipping boy of its big, nasty neighbours. We might also see the recent sand ban as Singapore's latest whipping. But if you were Indonesia, wouldn't it be legitimate for you to be
a little concerned about your vanishing islands?

TIMES March 17, 2007
Singapore accused of land grab as islands disappear by boatload
Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor

With more than 17,000 islands — from the jungly expanses of Borneo and Sumatra to unnamed rocks jutting out of the sea — you may think that Indonesia would not mind if a few of them went missing. But the huge South-East Asian nation has become caught up in a furious dispute with Singapore, its tiny neighbour, which is accused of literally making off with its territory.

Indonesia has banned the export of sand and imposed strict controls on shipments of gravel, after fears that its islands were being loaded on to ships and carried away to Singapore. In its thirst for building materials and landfill to reclaim new territory from the sea, Indonesians allege, Singapore has been stealing the land beneath their feet.

The dispute reached a climax this week after 24 tugs and barges, carrying granite chips, were intercepted by the Indonesian authorities as they sailed home to Singapore. Jakarta announced that future exports would be allowed only if the granite could be certified as environmentally friendly.

Since Indonesia announced its ban on sand in February, the price of a cubic metre of it has increased more than seven times, from S$6.5 (£2.18) to S$50. The Indonesian Navy has mobilised 18 ships to intercept gravel pirates and sand bandits.

“Some of these islands are reduced to islets, and could even disappear below the surface,” Hendropriyono, Indonesia’s former intelligence chief, has said. “This could theoretically lead to a cartographic zero-sum game in which Singapore’s gain could be at Indonesia’s territorial loss.”

Relations between Singapore and its neighbours have been tense since the city state became independent from Malaysia in 1965, and disagreements often arise over natural resources. The Singaporean achievement was to create an affluent, highly educated society in a swampy, jungly, malarial island with a population of 4.5 million people at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula.

Singapore’s reliance on its neighbours gives them powerful leverage over it — in the past Malaysia, with whom relations are particularly prickly, has threatened to cut off water supplies across the Straits of Johor. But the sand sanctions are equally threatening.

After years of stagnation, Singapore is undergoing a construction boom, with an increased demand for sand for the manufacture of concrete. The island also has long-term plans to ease its overcrowding by reclaiming land from the sea.

At independence, Singapore was 581 sq km (224 sq miles); now it is 650 sq km and plans to acquire another 100 sq km in the next 30 years. It gets through 1.5 billion cubic metres (2 billion cubic yards) of dredged silica a year — 333 cubic metres for each man, woman and child. The Government has been forced to draw on its strategic sand reserve, which Singapore hoards as other nations keep stocks of oil and food.

There may be more to Indonesia’s position than a sudden rush of environmental conscientiousness. If Indonesia really does lose islands, it also risks losing the rights to the ocean surrounding them. “The Convention on the Law of the Sea dictates that national territory is traced according to the coastal base line, and if islands near Singapore disappear, then the base line is pulled closer to the mainland,” says Mr Hendropriyono. “As it now stands, Singapore is only 20 kilometres from Nipah island, which has been especially eroded by the loss of sand.”


le radical galoisien said...

I wish the Times wouldn't capitalise "government". The Straits Times does it regularly (in a sort of reverence for the Great Leaders) but it doesn't mean the ang mo papers should do it too!

I think Indonesia is making a bit of an excuse. How many islands (probably uninhabited) can we destroy? We're an island in itself. Indonesia has forest fires that destroy millions and millions of acres and suddenly it worries about a few islands.

I think Indonesia is more concerned about us expanding and increasing our power than it is about losing their territorial integrity.

And I think most people should concur with Alex Au anyway - the only real reason why we're so crowded is that naturally not too many countries are city-states.

Anonymous said...

I totally don't buy the argument that Singapore's purchase of sand will erode Indonesia territorial rights. If there is a concern, the sand can be from inland sources, and hence there will be no change to coastlines.

Furthermore I think construction sand is river sand, and not the sand we get on the beach.

If there is a concern on environment, then why are the Indons not spending the same effort they use in the sand ban to control illegal burning of forests? When did Indon govt become tree huggers?

This is a clear case of bully politics.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

In singapore blogosphere now only like this mah. Brotherhood press or nothing lah. So we all have to wait for them to write lah. It is really quite sad brotherhood press or brotherhood press.

In between nothing lah, kosong so we have to wait lah, I am sure they will explain, they always do lah

Ned Stark said...

Hmmmm...with regards to the sand issue and the haze...

Assuming that Indonesia does not suffer from the effects of the forest fires as much as her neighbours, then perhaps on Indonesia's part the sand mining, for lack of a better word, will cause more harm to the environment than haze. I mean if the wind blows the haze to other countries than its the other countries who bear the brunt; while the mining of sand will cause soil erosion and all give rise to all those environmental problems. So the question is, does the haze have a severe effect on indonesia?

Anonymous said...

When has ever the Indonesian leaders been so patriotic and concerned for their country & the environment. If they really love their country so much, they should really refrain from any form of corruption if they realise that they are causing so much harm and poverty to their fellow indonesians.

From what that's reported in the media, I agree with Alex's blog that it is just an issue of internal politics that the various leaders or factions are trying to outdo each other in order to gain polical mileage all in the name of seeking to protect their own interests.

For those in the construction industry, it is common knowledge that sea sand cannot be used for mixing concrete because its high salt content would corrode the steel bars that are used to strengthen the reinforced concrete.

So if the Indonesian govt is clever enough, they should investigate & find out whether their sand from their shorelines are being mined & exported. If this is their case, then the ban is justified. But OTOH, if this is not the case, then there would be no issue of their shrinking shorelines and the export of sand would merely boils down to a matter of supply & sale of a commodity. This would effectively mean their reasons given are mere excuses as there is no need to ban the export of sand as it brings in the much needed revenue ("or bribes") for their country ("and their leaders").

Ultimately, I still believe GREED is the main reason for the ban and it is a very sad thing for their country and their countrymen.

Anonymous said...

Our neighbours are learning how to use leverage.

Makes you wonder who leads in this leveraging game.....

Anonymous said...

UNCLOS legislation dictates that ownership of surrounding waters is determined by a perimeter that's a certain distance from the coastline.

Anonymous said...

Surely their internal market for sand in construction far exceeds the external market?

Is there a ban on sand excavation from the islands in Indonesia, in addition to the ban on export?

Anonymous said...

Actually, the sand ban made me ask a few questions:

Why is it 'bully politics'? Because Singapore *needs* the sand. There are many countries that are not Indonesia have sand, so why are the sanctions so threatening? Because we have to pay more (MUCH, much more) to import from them. Why is sand so expensive from say, Australia? Because sand-mining is much more strictly controlled there. Why is it controlled? Because of environmental concerns, even if the sand is from inland sources(ask Google). Is Indonesia's concern the environment? They did say it was one of their concerns. Is it their main concern? Only they themselves will know.

I wonder what if Indonesia said something like "Cheap sand is a privilege and not a right. A transaction should only take place if both parties benefit. You cannot expect us to sell you something if we do not benefit and in fact suffer from the continued sale. It is not our fault that Singapore has not considered the impact of increased prices in sand. Nyah nyah nyah." Would it have been more diplomatic than the current stance?

A side note: I don't think the sand used for Singapore's reclaimed land is river sand. I have seen and collected sea shells in reclaimed land-- so I wouldn't doubt the sand is of a coastal origin.

Unknown said...

You've got to be kidding me, Mr Wang. Indonesia is worried about us buying its sand??? Their reasoning is absolutely ridiculous. Gigantic Indonesia vs super extra tiny red dot Singapore...? What, they're worried that we are even going to approach 0.0000000001% of their land mass??? LOL!!! That's like a T-Rex shrieking about a fly on its toenail.

C'mon man, the Indonesians just want more bribes. They don't give a rat's arse about the environment. Some Javanese bigshot just wants an extra "gift" and doesn't want it highlighted by just asking for a price increase in the straight forward way.

What next? The Indonesians are going to demand a special tribute from us for keeping the air clean??? Don't laugh, they might do it.

le radical galoisien said...

rse: an interesting affair ... I want to see your collection. :p

"UNCLOS legislation dictates that ownership of surrounding waters is determined by a perimeter that's a certain distance from the coastline."

This is the key. Indonesia doesn't want us to expand our domestic waters, potentially into their territory.

Anonymous said...

I saw on National Geographic about the effect on the tsunami. Some islands in Indon grew as a result of the massive earthquake, pushing seabed up to form new land. So why are they still worried?

Anonymous said...

"sand bandits" and "sand pirates"? oh PUL-LEAZE, the majority of the bandits and pirates in the malacca strait are the indonesian navy themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, this is gotta do with the national soil or 'Tanah Air' as we say in Indonesian. The government had been selling away our national soil to another country and that is ridiculous. It's time to protect our own soil. Other agendas hidden behind it, no one can assume.

Well, Singapore can always source for new sand supplier. Why so adamant in getting the sand from Indonesia?

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are really quite a bunch of whiners and spoilt brats.

If a seller refuses to sell for whatever reasons, he has every right to do so.

Just like any girl who refuses your date, she can tell you any kind of lame excuses she wants to.

In fact, she may be letting you off gently on that.

Grow up ... if Singapore is reportedly so darn rich and successful, it should not exploit its neighbours for cheap resources. Opportunistic, as usual and crying like a baby when the game backfired.

Anonymous said...

It's really is a question of demand and supply isn't it? It's not as if Indonesia is reneging on a contract is it? If Singapore demands more sand, then it should be paying more.

Anonymous said...

Yea, what a bunch of whiny babies, singaporeans. Perhaps, instead of whining, you should go out on the streets and protest outside Indonesian Embassy, burn the effigy of that minister or something.

The higher the tone of the whining, the higher the value of its(sand) importance.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

1. I understand that Singapore has been making off Nipah Island, one of the outlying islands of Indonesia. This would have the effect of reducing Indonesia's territorial scope, according to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

2. People who think that "Oh Indonesia is so big, why should it be concerned about losing a little sand" should recognise that it's not a short-term little problem that Indonesia is facing, but a long-term bug problem. Singapore via URA has just announced its long-term construction plans, to support 6.5 million people, up from 4.5 million - that's going to be a lot of sand.

3. Note that Indonesia doesn't actually have any moral obligation to supply sand to Singapore anyway.

Anonymous said...

I think it was someboday is this blog who said that it was actually better for Singapore when there were authoritarian regimes in our neighbouring countries as our leaders have it easier when doing business with them.

Spot on comment. When Indonesia was under President Soeharto, our leaders really only needed to deal with him as everything Soeharto says goes even though his subordinates might not like it. Things were simpler then (for us that is).

Now things are more 'wayang kulit' (the traditional Javanese shadow puppet play) where the Indonesian players don't say what they mean, and also don't mean what they say. To be fair, I think Singapore is also guilty of this.

But the fact is the premise of any commercial transaction is that there must be a willing buyer and a willing seller. Now, we don't have a willing seller and all our remonstrations against Indonesia will not do any good.

So the question is how do we make the seller willing again. Do we extradite the Chinese Indonesian businessmen wanted by Indonesian authorities along with their billions safe-harboured in Singapore? Or perhaps we can say to Indonesia - you can have your men, we don't care, but we keep the billions.

Also how would this impact on the other billionaires from other parts of the world whose wealth we want to attract to Singapore to manage. So perhaps sand is not so critical after all, we're just have to pay more to buy from other sources and live with the consequences.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Frankly we have no moral high ground here, because we're not actually prosecuting any Indonesian businessmen in Singapore on corruption charges. We just let them stay here and do as they please. Meanwhile, the Indonesia government wants to sign an extradition treaty so that we will send these suspected Indonesians home - but we refuse?

le radical galoisien said...

"The government had been selling away our national soil to another country and that is ridiculous. "

How so? I disagree that it's a zero sum game.

"Singapore via URA has just announced its long-term construction plans, to support 6.5 million people, up from 4.5 million - that's going to be a lot of sand."

Not really. Reclaiming 100 sq. km is not really much, which is what I see as necessary for the accomodation of 2 million more people (the ratio of carrying capacity to the amount of territory is not a linear relationship).

"It's really is a question of demand and supply isn't it? It's not as if Indonesia is reneging on a contract is it? If Singapore demands more sand, then it should be paying more."

But the issue is still plenty of sand and perhaps some increased demand.

From the fact that there are "black market" transports shows that the private industry in Indonesia seems to be content with the prices for them to run the blockade anyhow.

It's the government who is implementing the protectionist measures on the commerce.

"it should not exploit its neighbours for cheap resources."

Exploit? Really? Not many other countries buy sand because they don't need it. Are any villages perishing because of the taking of sand?

Unknown said...

Peak Oil ( might pose some problems for Singapore...we'll have to rely more on our neighbours for all necessities than before.

Better foster better relations with them. We'll need them. Signs are begining to show that we either peaked in 2005, or will peak before 2010 (

Considering we import virtually all our food, and have no natural resources of our own, the effects of Peak Oil can be quite devastating. Financial system might unravel also. (

Considering most of us are blissfully unaware of this, let's work it into the equation here...


Anonymous said...

"Reclaiming 100 sq. km is not really much, which is what I see as necessary for the accomodation of 2 million more people (the ratio of carrying capacity to the amount of territory is not a linear relationship)."

1. Why is it Indonesia's duty to help you?

2. Apart from surface area expansion, what about upward expansion and underground expansion in Singapore?

3. Do you not think that projects like the Integrated Resorts; the new Marina Bay Business District; Changi Airport Terminal 3; the MRT Circle Line; the Downtown Line; and the 40-storey HDB flats add up to a lot of sand?

Scarcity of commodities is a problem for many countries, not just Singapore. For instance, China is also struggling to find enough steel for its construction. Peak Oil is going to be a problem for all non-oil-producing countries. Water is already a problem for many countries, not just Singapore.

Scarcity of natural commodities is a worldwide problem, don't be so quick to cry "Bully politics! Bully politics!"

Anonymous said...

I have encountered an interesting article from an Indonesian perspective (that doesn't involve territorial disputes), there are many facts and figures I have not encountered elsewhere. It is unfortunately written in Indonesian, but I'll try to summarise with my limited command of Indonesian.
TITLE: Periuk Nasi Daerah Terkuras
(District's Rice Bowl Threatened(?))

The ban of export on land sand (this is the first time I have seen the reference to the ban as land sand ban rather than just 'sand') is causing worries to producers and the government in Riau. The 10s of million rupiah industry of sand export is gone. Jobs threatened yada. yada. Numbers involving amount of money and sand in the export. One or two sentences to the effect of environmental damage outweighs whatever benefits.

That's not he interesting part. The article claims that there is a tendency for Singaporean importers to (organize/arrange/influence? word: diatur) the price of sand until the price is depressed. It also claims that Singaporean importers are providing capital for mining equipment, further depressing prices. Somewhere in the article it states only 10 percent of miners are entirely self-financed.

Before ban, sand was 15 dollars per tonne, After ban: sand price increased to 60 dollars per tonne. It states that the Singaporean government is currently subsidizing sand at 250 million SGD, thus the price of sand is 34 dollars per tonne. Despite this, importers refuse to adjust the prices upwards to 34, which is closer to the price of Chinese sand (27-30 dollars cost of freight/insurance?). The low price of Indonesian sand because of dependence of exporters Singapore.

My Indonesian is not good enough to understand the rest of the article, but I believe it says there are other (local) concerns than just haggling over price but concerns with regulation and usage of funds. There is some talk about possibility of negotiation involving shares and assets at the end.

Thus, the issue involves some dimension of 'exploitation' (or perception of) as well. So much for the moral high ground.

P.S Small sea shells could be found at Punggol in some undeveloped fields! You might find (harmless) snakes and huge lizards also. :p

Anonymous said...

Since people are fighting over numbers, here are some fun numbers (from article above, which they attribute to an anonymous importer):

Number of ships importing sand and granite (per day): 150 ships

Last year (ships per day): 50 ships

Sand/granite per ship: 2.500 metric tonnes - 3.000 metric tonnes.

Carry on. I also learned that Indonesian newspapers are much more fun to read than Malaysian of Singapore ones. I'll be reading them if anyone needs me.

Anonymous said...

Indonesia has no duty to help Singapore, but I don't think its bully politics. It's Realpolitik. What do you think the rest of the world is doing to each other?

The use of environmental cover is just part of our Asian tradition of avoiding bald statements about what you REALY want.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the amount of sand that we take per day has TRIPLED:

Number of ships importing sand and granite (per day): 150 ships

Last year (ships per day): 50 ships

between last year and this year.

Now if we had only been taking as much sand as we used to, this probably wouldn't have been a problem. But it seems now that we are taking sand as quickly as we are importing foreign talent.

Anonymous said...

Alex Au forgot one thing we need to build. We need a bigger shit-hole as well. A friendly neighbourhood, environmentally friendly big shit-hole.

I once e-mailed Lau Goh about how we even need to buy water (water also need to buy ah!). He was not happy.

Now what we need is a big shit-hole. Buy or build? Alex Au very expert on shit-holes.

Anonymous said...


I have read the article and your English translation of the article is quite good.

It's right that in the article it mentioned "...eksportir pasir darat selama ini cenderung diatur oleh importir dari Singapura sehingga harga pun ditekan..." which means that all this time, the sand exporters were more likely to be controlled by Singapore's importer.

And then it went on to say that the exporters' capital was only to arrange for the license and prepare for the area to be dig up. The capital for the equipment to dig the sand was supplied by the same importers that the exporters sold the sand to. That's why the selling price was brought down.

In another article found titled 'Jangan Jual Tanah Air!', the writer claimed that initially Singapore was only willing to offer SGD3/m3. The price was definitely not proportionate to the price of sand sold locally. When the earthquake rocked Yogyakarta, the people has to buy the sand at Rp 100000/m3, which was equivalent to SGD16/m3 to build their houses!

Anonymous said...

le radical galoisien,

You said that it's not a zero sum game. What about the environmental damage suffered and the high opportunity cost to develop the area? As the result of selling the sand in Nipah Island, Indonesian government has to spend RP 250 million (abt SGD 42 mil, compare this to the revenue from the sale of the sand, which is only ard SGD 3 mil pa) to reclaim the land to prevent it from sinking into sea. What about other cost for other sinking islands?

And you can't just assume that because there is plenty of sand in Indonesia and some increased demand in Singapore, the Indonesian has to give in to the demand. If we do not start controlling the sand export, one by one all the island will just disappear.

Yes, there is plenty of sand in the world, not just in Indonesia. China is offering cheaper price at the moment. :-)

"Exploit? Really?" Oh yes, really.

First, the importers pressed down the price. They know that the exporters has no means to get the equipment so they supplied the equipment in return for a low price. How nice.

Second, after digging up the land, they just go and enjoy without concerning about the sinking land and let the Indonesian government worry and clean up the mess.

Anonymous said...

If we were to extradite every Indonesian (or ex-Indonesian) who have ever engaged in corrupt practices in Indonesia during the Suharto era, our property market would probably collapse.

onekell said...

Since buildings are demolished so frequently (eg. en-bloc redevelopments), I wonder if we could recycle more of the materials required for construction, so that we could be more self-sufficient.

le radical galoisien said...

"If we were to extradite every Indonesian (or ex-Indonesian) who have ever engaged in corrupt practices in Indonesia during the Suharto era, our property market would probably collapse."

Property market for bungalows...

And who would suffer in the process? Singapore's rich. Let them suffer, anyway. It's them who are artificially elevating the private housing prices.

"And you can't just assume that because there is plenty of sand in Indonesia and some increased demand in Singapore, the Indonesian has to give in to the demand. If we do not start controlling the sand export, one by one all the island will just disappear."

No, Indonesia is not obligated to help us. But what I see for example is the Indonesian government placing a *government control* (e.g. not free market) on a private industry.

"And you can't just assume that because there is plenty of sand in Indonesia and some increased demand in Singapore, the Indonesian has to give in to the demand. If we do not start controlling the sand export, one by one all the island will just disappear."

We don't have to reclaim from islands; furthermore, I was unaware they intended to develop those islands.

To me, it's the fact that if those islands sink into the ocean (through a process of erosion, I assume), then domestic water territory is at stake.

I really doubt the Indonesian government is doing it for "environmental" reasons, given its slow reaction to the haze fires. It's only stepping in because it doesn't want Singapore's territory to expand and its water boundaries with it.

Anonymous said...

The Indonesian

Before you start flaying at the price, the key issue who supplied everything, in this case, hence, of course the pricing will depend on the actual cost of production,

Let me also remind that all mines must be owned in the majority by Indonesians.

Further, all sand dredgers need to be licensed by the govt of indonesia as well as with the local authorities as they operate in Indonesian waters. Further such shipping companies needs to be majority owned by Indonesian shareholders.

Further, under Indonesian law, all sand mines or or sand exporters pay an environmental tax of S$5 per MT, so the question should be refered back to, where is the funds being used for all the large quantities being exported/mined.

So please look to the officials first before referring to the environment.

Anonymous said...

Whatever Indonesia's intentions, it has its prerogatives.

Singapore is just getting its fair desserts....

I am Singaporean but I don't feel the partriotic need to defend ourselves blindly.

Either give what they want or look another way. I thought that's why we pay ministers millions to find solutions?

Perhaps, it is a blessing in disguise because the elites are starting to realise Singapore is really a tiny red dot without anything except loads of foreign trash.

Anonymous said...

"But if you were Indonesia, wouldn't it be legitimate for you to be a little concerned about your vanishing islands?"

I could possibly be convinced if they had showed more concern about their vanishing forests going up in foul, smoky haze almost ritually every year.

If anyone believes the sand ban is truly based on environmental concerns, there is a bridge in the Arizona Desert I wish to sell you.


Anonymous said...

Well, then. Answer these questions:

1. Do you think that the sand ban is environmentally beneficial to Indonesia?

2. If so, should Singaporeans feel angry that the Indonesian government is doing something environmentally beneficial for their country>

le radical galoisien said...

Indonesia should perhaps ban the sale of island sand, if that's causing such a huge problem.

But there's no reason to ban the sale of sand from other sources. Singapore levelled Redhill to reclaim land, as I recall.

And it's also the fact that it's a market control.

Anonymous said...

Well, then. Answer these questions:

1. Do you think that clean air is environmentally beneficial to Singapore and Malaysia?

2. If so, should Singaporeans and Malaysians not feel angry that the very environmentally concious Indonesian government is not doing much to stop forest fires that create very unhealthy hazes in neighbouring countries?

The bottomline is the Indonesian government is clearly doing the sand ban for political than environmental reasons. Hence arguments focusing on the environment are largely rthethorical in nature.

I feel that Indonesia most certainly have the right to withdraw the sale of sand, or granite even. But the ban coming at such a time will most certainly be accompanied by the intention to hurt Singapore - possibily to leverage on other issues like the extradition treaty.

As the Minister George Yeo mentioned, Singapore must never ever bow to external pressure, because doing so will most certainly invite even more pressure. By resorting to the sand ban the Indonesian government may possibly have doomed the extradition treaty.

Anonymous said...

We should totally sacrifice susu island or ubin for our sand shortage.

Oh... I forgot... if we do that.. it will affect our territorial scope.

Anonymous said...

Really? The country that allows blatant ritualistic destruction of its forests and whores its trees for paper, the country that causes SEA to be enveloped in a carcenogenic haze, is CONCERNED ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT???

We TAKE their sand? I'm pretty sure we pay for it.

You've belabored the point about being an investment banking lawyer, but your logic really fails me. Fault us for having lousy press freedom or welcoming too much foreign labor by all means, you'd have some valid points, but anyone who takes Indonesia's side on this issue is a fool.

Anonymous said...

Singapore also has some pretty lame excuses lah, like increasing GST to help the poor. LOL

I don't see potential tourists making a big hoo-hah over our GST increase.

Anonymous said...

"We TAKE their sand? I'm pretty sure we pay for it."

Sure we do. And if they refuse to sell, we have a right to be angry? Are you sure?

Anonymous said...

Don't waste time with the enviromental excuse. Don't waste your energy on it.

The real issue is simply politics and corruption - Spore refused to sign an extradiction treaty that would see the repatriation of millions and billion of $ and thier owners back to Indonesia for some obvious and not so obvious reasons.

Secondly, Spore has obviously refused to pay what must have been a massive bribe demanded in lieu of this from the Indons.

Environmental issues, border concern, etc are just very convenient reasons trotted out for the Indons to justify their actions.

Anonymous said...

Please, lah. Singapore is not coming very clean on this either.

Initially Singapore claimed that the reason why it couldn't sign the extradition treaty yet was because Indonesia is a civil law country and Singapore is a common law system and the differences in the legal systems make the treaty tricky to work.

What a lame excuse. Two-thirds of the countries in the world are civil law; one-third are common law; I don't see any other country in the way saying that they can't sign treaties because the other country has a different legal system.

Oh, but after that, Singapore suddenly changed reasons and said: "If you sign my defence treaty, I'll sign your extradition treaty."

Now, who started giving lame excuses first.

Anonymous said...

Of cos we have a right to be angry with a country whose bizmen poured in billions of ill-gotten gains into our economy in the 80s and 90s.

Unknown said...

I noticed that many Singaporeans tend to have the following traits in response to the current sand situation.

1) Because we have a shortfall, you have to be sympathetic and sell it to us.
- The same with the water issue and now the same with the sand issue. Our neighbors may be resource rich, but that does that mean they are obliged to sell their resource to us at our convenience/demand? Imagine your neighbor asking to share your car while paying only for the petrol he uses, just because you own a car and he does not.
2) Because we are more affluent and can afford to pay, you must sell it to us.
- No doubt the money we pay for importing these resources will go to aid the exporting nation. But just because we are willing to pay justifies the need for them to sell? Sadly, we think it is very normal to do so. Just look at the number of more affluent foreigners buying up the limited property area in up-market locations locally. I am quite alarmed as a Singaporean. Indonesia is lamenting about loss of territorial space, well at least they are complaining! Singaporeans may have to live in “affordable” public housing in the future while a huge majority of private exclusive freehold (or perceived better) housing belongs to the elite foreigners whom the ruling party is so desperately trying to court. Now, I call that loss of territory.
3) Decimation of your resource is ok, because you are less decimated.
- The developed nations have often used this excuse when approving for their industries to dump toxic wastes in developing countries, just because they are “less polluted”. To many, this is even commendable as it helps the developing country earns revenue it would otherwise not have received! Just because Indonesia is doing a hell of a lousy job controlling their forest fires, it makes it ok for us to decimated their islands? Whether or not their ban is politically driven, it makes me sick to think that we justify it this way. Maybe your neighbor shouldn’t flush after using your toilet, hell your floors aint that clean anyway!
4) We are the victims here.
- Actually there is nothing wrong with this statement. I just feel that the nation may be directing their anger at the wrong party. Assuming that the ban is politically driven as the ruling party & the media so expertly tries to make it appear; wouldn’t it be targeting at the policies set by the ruling party? I believe that the ruling party will protect the interest of our nation by not giving in to unfavorable demands but the speed and efficiency at which they work will directly affect the well-being of the citizens. The ban currently affects the building contractors’ profitability. As alternative sources of sand or other building materials are sought in the future, the prices of construction would increase correspondingly. The prices of housing and rental of commercial area would also increase, adding to the burden of the locals. Even if the government were to subsidize the cost, this will still comes from the taxpayers and in the form of higher taxes (GST?). Of course if wages were to rise at least proportionately to meet this higher cost of living, it would not be such a big problem but we all know its not gonna happen.

How much of this is imbedded in us as a Singaporean culture and how much is triggered by the biased reporting of the local media? What has happened had happened, so lets get on with it. We pay the ruling party millions of dollars a year and we should demand that they provide what they are paid for – solutions for the people. Stop making you look like the victim here, engage the affected parties and solve the problem.

Unknown said...

"What has happened had happened, so lets get on with it..."

We are. Our Govt is trying to encourage construction using steel and glass- and other products.

Meanwhile don't you find it appallingly ridiculous that Indonesia, yes the same nation that burns enough trees to cause a regional haze pollution, is banning the sale of sand to Singapore for "environmental regions"? Indonesia, that nation which is about a billion times larger than Singapore, is actually complaining about the sale of sand???? And the elephant said to the ant, "Please get off my back, you're too heavy!!!!"

Haahahahaha... ROFL!!!!

Ned Stark said...

Well u could say that, but if the haze does not affect indon as much as the sand mining then its no wonder that they are banning sand.

Another thought, what if the environmental cost of sand mining outweighs the benefits of sand trade?

Anonymous said...

The forest burnings were not for fun or to irritate others> They were done for economic reasons

Anonymous said...

It's damn satisfying to see Singapore get beaten at its own game, to get a wrench thrown into its grandiose machinery of plans.

6.5 million - those materials will be needed to make space for accomodation, either more land reclamation, or taller buildings and smaller residential spaces (you're seeing them now).

Tough shit Singapore. Those are Indonesia's raw materials; it can decide whether to sell or not. Sucks being a small country run like a family business eh?

And patriotic SG crybabies "Singapore can do no wrong!" crying foul, accusing envy/ingratitude and screaming revenge - come on now... tit-for-tat is fairly common in diplomatic dealings. No extradition treaty, no construction materials. Add bargaining power, up the ante. If you can. Simple as that.

Anyhow, wasn't Singapore the one that claimed striving for self-sufficiency as a worthy goal? That's why Newater was born. Lessens reliance on others. Okay, how about Newsand or Newstone? Because SHIT HAPPENS sometimes and the construction industry unwittingly gets raped in the process.

Go, little red dot, go! Show them what you got. \o/ ;;|;;

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous friend who posted the last comment on Mar 24:

Yes, we may be a small nation run like a family business with largely ourselves to blame for the latter. Yes, we may be full of crybabies who wail when we don't get what we want. Add to that any number of our obnoxious traits.

But these don't come close to explaining the level of hate behind your vitriol and what I assume to be choice symbolism with which you closed your comment

Somehow, we're burning you up with hate and without much effort on our part - why, without even noticing it. Compare this: I don't hate you and that's not because I'm such a great humanist. It's really because me and the next million Singaporeans ( patriots or traitors ) don't give a shit-hole about whether you even exist, let alone your hate.

In this trade-off, you are welcome to stack all the vitriol you can manage but it's clear you're THE LOSER !

Anonymous said...

LOL. This is the first time that I've seen an ant irritate an elephant. Why don't Indonesians get off their lazy arses and stop relying on corruption and handouts and do an honest days work. Indonesia has plenty of natural resources. You'd think that they would be a world power with that much natural wealth. Obviously it goes to show that they're pretty damn dumb.

Anonymous said...

Is Indonesia really the only source o f sand? What about China or other sources?

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Anonymous said...

hey guys want to share this story i saw in stomp. indians terrorising hdb residents until they wanting to move out. what a story. thought i remember seeing in forum as well