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Thu 11 Aug 2005
National Day Supplement: Peter Ng - "I pick my battles"
Category : news
The Straits Times, National Day Supplement: Inside Track, 9th August 2005.
"I pick my battles"
Associate Professor Peter Ng, 45, the director of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, is famous for his passionate views on conservation and has been highlighted in the world's top scientific publications for his work in the field. The top crab man here, he has also discovered and named numerous crabs which were new to science, some of which are found only in Singapore. He talks to CHANG AI-LIEN.
Excerpts - "I started work liking birds and mammals. But in my late teens, I used to go to the East Coast to watch fiddler crabs, and decided to do a project on their behaviour and ecology. That's how I started to like crustaceans."
"You have to try. I knew nothing when I started, and I wrote to a world-famous crustacean expert in Holland for advice. ... he wrote me a very encouraging letter - which I still have today - saying 'tell me what you need', and from there I was hooked. I still keep in touch with him, my old sifu."
"My first brush with conservation? Someone gave me a cream-coloured giant squirrel once when I was very young. It's found only in Singapore and was so common 40 years ago that it often ended up in cooking pots. There have been only four spotted in the central catchment area over the last 10 years. It's finished."
"The universe is not built around us as human beings. We're sharing it with so many living things. If we believe that we're the only important creatures on the planet, then we're truly screwed up."
"What we have now is a government which has learnt to react to a public that sees green issues as important."
"Chek Jawa was conserved because thousands went out of their way to see it one last time before it was to be cleared. The Government reacted to this by keeping Chek Jawa. I would never have imagined this 20 to 30 years ago."
"The most important battles aren't fought, they're negotiated. Direct confrontation with the powers-that-be is silly."
"Knowing what I do of human nature, I tend to be very cynical. I think conservation faces an uphill battle of enormous magnitude."
"The other side is: I may fail, but I'm not giving up without a fight."
Read the full article at The Straits Times. [pdf]
Habitatnews has the links to all the articles.