A few days ago, Syu Ying Kwok again wrote to the Straits Times with another engineering proposal for Changi's shores. This time to propose a Changi 4th runway float on the sea (Straits Times Forum 12 May 08).
Putting aside the issues of whether floating platforms are feasible or applicable, is there really such a dire need for land for Changi Airport?
One of the writer's points is that "For Singapore to become the major aviation hub in Asia and South-east Asia, we need a massive amount of land to cater to the industry's growing needs. The Changi cargo and aircraft maintenance area is bursting at the seams."
Let's have a look at the availability of land near Changi airport...Hmm... I'm not sure what the writer sees, but to me it looks like there's quite a bit of unused land right next to the existing airport runways.
The writer doesn't exactly say where this "floating platform" will be placed, but let's have a look at the marine area near Changi Airport.On the google map, uses of our waters are not as obvious as terrestrial uses.
So let's look at a navigational map extract from an MPA notice about works at sea.Firstly, the channel between Changi and Tekong is a major shipping lane.
In fact, in PUB's reply (Straits Times Forum 22 Apr 08) to the writer's earlier proposal a Tekong-Ubin reservoir (Straits Times Forum 18 Apr 08), PUB stated that "The waterway between Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong and the mainland is a major shipping lane".
Where does this shipping lane lead to?
Sembawang Shipyards is one of locations accessed by this shipping lane. From the Sembawang Shipyard website: " Sembawang Shipyard is Singapore’s leading ship repair facility. We repair some 220 vessels from more than 35 countries annually. We are a recognised specialist in highly sophisticated markets of LNG carriers, passenger ships, chemical tankers, liquefied gas carriers, navy ships repairs, life extensions of VLCCs and damage repairs."
These are very large vessels.
Secondly, areas in Singapore's waters are designated for a wide range of uses that support Singapore's position as a world-class port (which is why MPA has to issue a notice when there is works in the area, to warn the MANY users of our waters).
It may surprise the writer to know that Singapore's shores and seas have economic value just as our land does.
And just as Changi Airport is the hub for air travel, Singapore's port is also a major hub for international movement of cargo.
From PSA's website "PSA Singapore Terminals handles about one-fifth of the world's total container transhipment throughput. In 2007, PSA Singapore Terminals handled 27.1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUS) of containers. PSA operates 4 container terminals and 2 multi-purpose terminals in Singapore, and links shippers to an excellent network of 200 shipping lines with connections to 600 ports in 123 countries.
I dare say the bulk of our cargo comes by sea rather than by air.
Here's a closer look at some of the designated uses of the marine area near Changi.
Not forgetting that this shore area is also the location of the Changi Naval Base.In commenting on why the Tekong-Ubin reservoir proposal is not practical (Straits Times Forum 22 Apr 08), Ivan Kwan Wei Ming noted, among others,
When reclamation at Pulau Tekong has already become the subject of territorial disputes with Malaysia, and when the issue of Pedra Branca has yet to be resolved, proposing to build such a reservoir so close to international boundaries will surely not sit easily with our neighbours.These issues remain relevant to any ideas of placing large offshore objects in the area. Surely the writer realises that?
The Malaysian authorities will be unhappy for another reason: Mr Syu failed to take into account the fact that the proposed reservoir would destroy an internationally important shipping lane. Ships travelling between Pasir Gudang, Sembawang Shipyard, and the rest of the world stand to lose an essential route if the area was dammed up. Are the economic and political risks worth it?
Among the comments left on the issue by readers were
"Mr. Syu also seems to advocating for the mass-destruction of coastal and island ecological systems of Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong and Changi."Indeed I wonder about the writer's seeming obsession with 'doing something' with the shores and water around Changi? These areas are NOT 'unused' or 'underutilised'. They are in fact used for critical elements of Singapore's national and economic needs.
"Forum writers really should do basic information-gathering before launching into such fantastical spiels. How the writer got the idea, I really don't know. But a logical think-through would quickly result in the idea being shot down."
The writer's continuing disregard for basic realities of the area is also rather puzzling. Particularly since these have been highlighted earlier.