Does anyone know whether PAP is doing anything about long term food security in Singapore?
June 25, 2012
For me, climate change is not only about the abstraction of the carbon footprint and some mythical hole somewhere in the Artic, it is not even about the haze or whether our storm drains in Orchard road will be able to cope with the next coming of the seasonal rains.
It is all about something much more basic and down to earth – FOOD. If you really want to know why food security is so important – just cast your mind back to the pengshan days of soaring food prices in 2008 – when a global food supply crunch led to price hikes all across Singapore island. You would have thought such a nasty run in with food hikes would have prompted the PAP to shift gears from it’s business as usual lackadaisical attitude of: Why grow our own when we can air-freight food in from all over the world?
Have we become too dependent on food imports that we no longer see the long term dangers? Should the government be doing more NOW to try to secure the long term food supply, so that most citizens and residents can continue to have access to affordable food?
What surprises me is how little has been done by the Singapore government to insulate the average Singaporean from unexpected price hikes of food – when one considers how so many countries such as China, India and even Malaysia have been vigorously expanding overseas into South America and Africa to secure long term food supplies for their citizens – the PAP seems to be taking the cinchai attitude – we are not price setters, we are just price takers. I guess what they are trying to say in not so many words is this is really not the PAP’s problem – after Singapore only has a land area of only 710 square kilometers (284 square miles), since the vast majority of people live in high-rise apartments and industries are clustered together that leaves only a sliver of space for commercial farming.
My feel is having a space constraint even one as acute as Singapore’s should not absolve the government from doing more to secure cheap food for citizens and residents overseas. This is after all what most countries are already doing in earnest – everyone in Singapore has an elemental right to affordable food. If the government is going to hold on to their laissez faire attitude of passing the buck of food hikes to the average Singaporean in the way they manage oil, electricity and public transportation. Then what will probably happen is most Singaporeans will have no choice but to content themselves with eating cheap and unhealthy food. And we all know cheap food ultimately leads to poor health – further down the road, our children will suffer. They suffer as cheap food can often trigger anti social behavior, poor grades, attention deficit disorders etc – when consuming cheap food people also seem to be more susceptible to allergies that exacerbate their health problems. Worst of all they all suffer from the economic anxieties associated with the failure of the PAP to prioritize food security as it does conventional defense – they suffer not only physically, but mentally as well - as when the price of food turns solely on the vagaries of market forces, that simply means, eating well is no longer assured and living can no longer, be cheap. As for happiness in Singapore, that might as well be another story in a faraway distant land called, “four square meals.”
“Understand this! We can all live without cheap clothes, cheap Ferraris, cheap iPads and all that -as these things are fun to have, but they aren’t necessaries. But we all cannot live without reasonably priced food. Even today in Singapore it is already very expensive to eat healthily. As for the PAP they don’t seem to be taking food security seriously. I haven’t even seen a single minister talk about this subject, it seems to be off their radar – haven’t even seen a single AVA land rover in Africa or South America. Looked high and low.Nothing! Every day we are hoping to see someone from Singapore come down the road – as it would be nice to bum off a few boxes of Maggi mee and Bak Kuah from someone who comes from home – but this I can share with all of you – we have all seen plenty of four wheel drives, helicopters and surveying aircrafts and plenty rugged individuals from China, Indian, Russia and even Maldives who are all frantically looking to grab land in every conceivable corner of the world to ensure that their citizens can eat well into the middle of the 21st century and beyond. But as far as Singapore is concerned, a big nothing. One reason for this may reside in the fossilized attitudes and worldview of the current political hegemony that runs Singapore; they don’t see themselves running a country as much as operators of a five star hotel. To them if they don’t have enough rice or onions, they can always pick up the phone and within the hour a truck will just pull up to the service entrance to make up for whatever is lacking in the kitchen. As for the price hikes this can always be reliably pass on to the hotel guest – that kind of Inn keepers supply chain management may have worked in the past, but these days it is coming under considerable stress. I don’t think that sort of attitude necessarily adds any value to mitigating the soaring price of food in the future. If anything that sort of cinchai attitude will simply translate into missed opportunities that will affect many Singaporeans and residents negatively – a day will come in Singapore; when its conceivable, we will even see the emergence of a new underclass who are defined by what they regularly have to eat instead of should eat – the poor will simply not be able to afford to eat well. When that day comes, what is the PAP going to say to all of us?Are they going to stand up on a soap box and tell us all, “we don’t have a choice, we are too small, we have no land, we are price takers not price setters.”
If anyone in PAP is dumb enough to say that publicly some where down the future, then from this corner, where I am standing right now, you will certainly hear plenty of serious men shouting more than fuck you sir! Come on think! When was having a constraint ever an excuse for sitting on your big backside and doing nothing? Singapore may not have enough real estate to effectively train pilots and tank commanders. But this can be augmented by having joint agreements with countries such as Australia, Brunei, Taiwan and France that don’t face an acute shortage of land. My point is this problem is surmountable – its winnable. If I had the backing, I would seize land like Rommel through out the Ivory Coast right up to the East in Mogadishu and move upwards to Chad and Libya. It is a fallacy to believe, we are price takers – I do not accept that logic Gentlemen, that is defeatist – the only quarter of the population this serves is the PAP. They seem to relish in the bad habit of telling everyone – we are price takers, not setters. This I don’t deny may prove true for oil, but I don’t believe it applies right across the board to include food – as this is really something that is foreseeable and can be interdicted – it’s winnable and doable IMHO, providing this people can get out from their air-conditioned caves. In 3 to 5 years, the door will be shut for good – by then, its cut and dried. So don’t be surprised, if you hear some of these serious men saying:
“We have (or had one, at least) a choice! We may not have land, but there is plenty of land in Africa and South America, we need not ever be price takers, we can set the price. We can take control of our destiny.”