Saturday, May 27, 2006

Charity Premier of "Fireflies: River of Light"

Recently got an email about SEC's charity premier screening of the movie "Fireflies: River of Light"

The event is organised by the SEC, Singapore Film Society and partners, to raise funds for the SEC's Green Volunteers Network. The screening will be held next Friday (2 Jun 06) from 6.00 pm to 8.30 pm, at GV Grand (Great World City). For details and enquiries, kindly refer to the attached e-flyer.

"Fireflies" was produced in 2003 and has been shown at Film Festivals like the Japanese Film Festival in Sydney in 2004. It is directed by Hiroshi Sugawara, and tells the tale of how an elementary schoolteacher, Hajime, captures the imagination of his students who passionately embark on a project to clean up the river and raise fireflies to fly over it once again, despite conflict with parents, the school administration and even the city itself.

Tickets are $10 each and will be issued on 2 June. Payment is to be made on 2 June by cash or cheque (made payable to ‘Singapore Environment Council’). For enquiries and booking of tickets, please email: fireflies at sec dot org dot sg by 31 May (Wed).
Sounds like a nice movie at an affordable price and it's for a good cause!

Read full article here

Thursday, May 25, 2006

BWV ReefTalk: Jocara Indian Ocean Quest

BWV ReefTalk
Date: 3rd June 2006 (Sat)
Time: 3 to 4pm
Venue: The Programme Zone, library@Orchard

Title: Jocara Indian Ocean Quest
Speakers: Caroline Durville
In 2004, the Potter family set off on a one year expedition sailing their boat 'Jocara' around the Indian Ocean, visiting places like Krakatoa, Cocos Keeling, Zanzibar, Seychelles, Chagos and more. Come join Caroline as she shares some of her experiences, with images from above and underwater. Read the online diary of the whole voyage at

ReefExhibits will be there with our info booth & poster display of our amazing local marine life so come by early to check out! Free seating and standing space available. More info on BWV at Enquiries are welcomed, drop me an email at reeftalk at bluewatervolunteers dot org

Got this little bit of news of an interesting talk in my email today and though I would not be able to go, show some love for BWV :) I'm sure a certain duck and cow would be interested :)

Read full article here

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

NOAH Dialogue

Recently I received an email from SEC regarding a dialogue session for the heavily debated Project NOAH.

Here's what the email says:

"Dear All,

Following on from our discussion on 12th April, at NSS, I mentioned that SEC will organize a follow up dialogue session to provide more clarity as to the NOAH project as well as to engage all concerned groups and steer the project forward in a constructive manner. Well I must apologize for the delay as Earth Day saw us committed with a whole bunch of projects and events, as usual. Anyway, we have finally arranged a session. Details are as follows:

Date: Thursday, 25th May
Time: 7pm
Venue: Hilton, Level 3, Vista 2 & 3


1) Introductions
2) Brief Recap of NOAH Project as presented 12th April
3) Q & A / Feedback Session
4) Open discussion
· Collaboration
· Working towards a Blue Water Plan

It's rather a pity that I would not be able to attend since I am in Thailand but gosh golly wow, they're having the meeting at the Hilton hotel! That's sure a big step up from the previous meeting at NSS' headquarters with grapes and bananas kindly provided by Vilma. I wonder how much the meeting room cost...

Really quite a pity I would be missing out on such a luxurious dialogue session afterall!

On the other hand, I wonder if this is an open dialogue session where anybody can attend. In case you are wondering why SEC is organizing the session, that's because SEC has declared themselves the secretariat for the project. The middleman, the go-between, the money bearer, and well that's essentially what SEC was originally set up to do anyways. Or at least that's what I heard. Please correct me (gently) if I'm wrong.

Read full article here

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Elephant in Bangkok

When I arrived in Bangkok, I read in a guide book that elephants are banned in the city of bangkok by Thaksin in recent years. Apparently it creates traffic congestion in the already congested country.

However, I almost could not believe my eyes when I spotted this surreal sight of seeing an elephant in the redlight district of Bangkok just a few roads down from my hotel! It was unbelievable. For a moment, this city monkey thought it could have been a giant model of a monkey or perhaps even a mechanical elephant.

When I tried to take photos, the keeper came over and tried to sell me sugarcanes. I gave the guy a 20B and then gave the sugarcane back to him. On hindsight, I wish I fed it to the elephant because who knows if the keepers were starving him or not. But being a money tree for the keepers, hopefully they do not starve him.

Unbelievably, on going to the next redlight street, we saw another elephant! This time it was a female with no tusk. They were all rather juvenile elephants, judging by their size.

Anyways, just unbelievable. And in the redlight district no less! Probably because these were the joints catered for tourists and with the large amount of people at night, it was the best time to bring out the illegal street performers.

Of course there are softhearted monkeys like me that would rather die than to see these animals suffer. Sigh. Felt so helpless.

Read full article here

Friday, May 19, 2006

Monkey rescued from captivity repatriated to India

By Asha Popatlal, Channel NewsAsia
19 May 2006

A young rhesus macaque of Indian origin, smuggled probably by animal traders to Singapore, finally went home on Friday.

The monkey, named Asha, was held as an exotic pet before she was rescued from captivity by animal activists in 2004.

Louis Ng, Executive Director of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said: "When we first found Asha, she was chained up just outside the warehouse area. So it was in pretty horrible condition. There wasn't much shelter from the sun or the rain and also she was really fat, which means lack of exercise because they chained her up with quite a short leash."

Zoo officials estimate Asha to be about 15 years old, which would make her middle-aged.

Asha has been living in the zoo for the past 20 months while letters and appeals flew back and forth to find her a permanent home.

She finally headed to the Wildlife SOS Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in New Delhi on Friday.

Mr Ng said: "Wildlife SOS will be doing the reintegration. They will introduce her to another rhesus macaque and see if she recognises and, maybe, they start to touch each other.....but it's a very long process because in the past few years she has never seen another monkey and it will take some time for her to recognise that this is actually her own kind." - CNA/ir

Rest assured, the thai government has yet to attempt to repatriate this monkey back to singapore. Nonetheless, this is good PR on ACRES side but repatriating a middle-aged monkey may not be the most effective. Most of the time, these repatriated immigrants do not adapt to the wild and continue to live in "captivity". Sort of like the prostitutes who get saved from the "evil crutches" of the human traffickers, only to return back to the trade willingly. Perhaps there are more consequences associated with repatriation than with captivity. We cannot only act on addressing the problems we see but pre-empting the problem before we can even SEE them! Definitely have to apply the precautionary principle here and do as the chinese say, "pull up the roots when removing grass". I am sure they are also doing their best as well to stop demand on this side of consumer-intensive singapore. All the best ACRES!

PS: Did you recognize Asha? The monkey is famous! She is the covergirl of ACRES on many publicity material that you can even see on the MRT trains!

Read full article here

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mixed Signals

Sustainable Thailand harbors Conspicuous Consumers!

Look past the police and you will see sharks fins hanging blatantly in the display window. (Click on image to Enlarge)

I do not know how to respond to such images when there are posters, publicity and propaganda touting a sustainable Thailand. I guess the practised reality is a clearer truth than a scripted one.

This was found on a bridge leading to the major shopping centres downtown.

Of course, contrastedly, the sharks fin shop was found at an area that was for wholesalers. Hide the ugly truth eh? Of course they are not going out of their way to hide it, it is just not in the main upclass shopping area but just beside. Not even very far away, only 10minutes walk through the busy international trading area. This Watergate Market area where Bangkok Sharks Fin is found is an area that is for international traders. People from all over the whole come here to purchase things wholesale to Europe, America, Asia and even Africa! There are shipping companies concentrated here, ready to ship out at minutes notice. So even if the Sharks Fin is not consumed there, this is the point where it becomes distributed worldwide, feeding into the consumption of Sharks Fin on a global level.

So what is sustainability? Is it from green buildings, better living environment, high standards of living, clean rivers, clean air or high rates of recycling?

Even if people do not consume sharks fin but are part of the global supply chain of feeding the consumption of sharks fin, they are still just as guilty even if their immediate environment is sustainable. Of course there are more examples of this than just mere sharks fins.

Thailand is trying to clean up its rivers which is so polluted I'm afriad I would have ingested parasites just by having its waters splash on my face during a boat trip. It reeks and its colour impossibly dirty. But most of the people in Thailand live in slums along these klongs. A colleague told me today that if he was the city planner of Bangkok, he would clear the whole place and build over. Of course that is not possible but then he is just trying to say how much of a mess the place is.

I'm sure it's not all bad, even if our onboard climatologist informed us that the air pollution in Bangkok is worse than Los Angeles and just a step behind Mexico City.

So they have horrendous water pollution and as we stand by the river we spotted blatant water leakages from the pipes spanning the river. Of course air quality and urban heat island phenomenon is outrageous. There are abandoned buildings all over Thailand. The traffic is ridiculous. Consumption of sharks fins, and possibly other illegal wildlife trade is not uncommon. Of course there are mostly Thai Chinese in Bangkok so nothing curious about the sharks fin bit. Restaurants in Bangkok sell Sharks Fins and Bird Nest ast there prime culinary items. So what is sustainable in Thailand?

I think I feel consoled that there are many NGOs very active in Thailand. On board with us is a Thai lady (well she's my age so that makes this monkey a lady too hah!) who works with the university in Chiangrai with the hill people. She told me she has many friends who were university classmates in Chiangrai who now work with NGOs in bangkok. Over dinner, I also met a girl who just graduated from the top law school here in Bangkok and has applied to go up north to work with the NGO in getting citizenships for displaced hill people. Of course there was robert, an american that gave us a talk in Singapore who works in the NGO here in Bangkok. So NGO is aplenty here as compared to in Singapore. People ARE working hard to improve the environment and quality of life in Bangkok.

This morning, there will be a talk from one such person who works with an NGO here helping sex workers to reduce AIDS in Thailand. Maybe then I will have more insights on how the battle here is faring.

See more photos from Day 3.

Read full article here

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bangkok Day 2

More photos to be seen at my Flickr

Read full article here

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Blogging from Bangkok

The congregation awaiting despatch at our lil guest house in Bangkok

I have been in Bangkok for almost 7 hours and am absolutely lucky to have access to free wifi in my room at the guesthouse which we are staying at!

I am not planning on blogging excess details on MMM so if you are looking for the grits and gripes, please remember to check Ramblings of a Leaf Monkey every day.

Indeed, I believe I would have much time on my hand this 10 days in Bangkok. Already we have been to the chatuchak market and tomorrow we will begin our intensive tour of Bangkok.

For photo updates, remember to check out my Flickr Account.

Read full article here

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My kitty problem continues

Last night when I came home from a meeting, I encountered the source of the smell in the void deck. It was positioned strategically right outside the lift too. If anybody who was not careful step out of the lift, they'd definitely end up in the kitty trap.

Today I spot only 2 kittens with the mother who look almost just as big as the kitten herself. It was such a sad thought that the mother is so scrawny and probably very young too. The rest of the kittens and adult cats cannot be found anywhere in the vicinity. I hope the cat population has somehow decreased.

Thank you all for the advise on seeking help with cat welfare society. I would most probably take up the advice once I come back from Thailand.

I will be away for 6 weeks and during this time I will probably be blogging from the land of smiles.

Happy Vesak Weekend!

Read full article here

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Operation No Release

If you truly care for the animals with great compassion and wish them freedom, love, peace and joy, please do not purchase anything from any stores or merchants just to release them in the wild.

First of all, your demand would encourage suppliers to go out of their way to catch these animals just to satisfy your needs. These animals may never have to suffer had you not want to release them from what you imagined is suffering. If these animals are captive-bred, releasing them may be more torture. It would be like sending a rich man who has never had to find food for himself onto the streets with no money and no ability to find food. He might not even be able to find his way around or walk because he's been so used to being served. Of course he would ended up dead within the day or if he survive, ends up causing other innocents to die.

So here are some ideas if you really want to practice the release of animals for vesak day:

1) Become vegetarian for the day so you spare animals from being killed for the day.

2) Become vegetarian so that you will never be responsible for the death of an animal to become food on your table ever again.

3) Adopt an abandoned animal from a shelter and commit yourself to their care for the rest of its life. They cannot go back into the wild and if there are nobody to adopt them, they might be put to sleep. You can save and alter the fate of a vulnerable life by adopting these abandoned domesticated animals. This is much more preferable than to buy a wild animal for a pet or to go out of your way to import a pedigree animal only to find they cannot suit the environment here. You have to make a commitment to care for it for life because most animals who are abandoned because their owners lost interest in them or they got too big.

4) Donate money to an organization who is saving animals in the wild. I personally have donated 25 pounds to the World Land Trust to save an acre of rainforest in ecuador. They also have other projects like saving the mangroves in India or certain other wildlife in other countries. You can also help specific causes like the Orang Utans in Malaysia or the Asian Elephants. To really "release" an animal, you can donate money to a rehabilitation program that helps to release captive, injured or homeless animals back into the wild.

5) Be a nature volunteer or help spread the word! I've even given brochures to my mom to distribute at her shop in the heartlands but it is such a sensitive issue that people pretend not to see it. Alas, as she said, it's lucky nobody came and threaten violence as it is. But it's heartening that there has since been a reduction in the number of release in Nature Reserves. However, they may instead go to reservoirs and parks! This is why, on Vesak Day, the monkey will be helping to patrol Jurong Lake (beside Lakeside MRT) to make sure nobody tries to release any animals into the lake.

Although according to the article below, it is also suggested that people can "release fishes already caught in the kelong, and release back into the deep sea. For freshwater fishes, there are fishes kept in the tanks at seafood restaurants. You can buy them and release them into the ponds. They are ponds in certain areas that allow people to release fishes there". However, I have seen the ponds in Bright Hill Temple (Guang Ming Shan) where people release turtles and fish. The ponds are so overpopulated and overcrowded that there is no space for the animals to swim or move. Although they are alive, they are living in poor conditions. The best would be to not release at all because all you need to do is to remember that you are responsible for the life of this animal forever. Releasing it into such bad conditions would make you responsible for its suffering. Remember, it can be free instead of 'released'.


Fewer people releasing animals into the wild during Vesak period
By May Wong, Channel NewsAsia
11 May 2006

SINGAPORE : The National Parks Board (NParks) says fewer people are releasing animals into the wild during the Vesak period.
It is hoping this downward trend will continue ahead of Vesak Day celebrations on May 12.
During Vesak Day celebrations, some buddhists would release animals such as fish into the reservoirs.
The act symbolises compassion and respect for life.
But such actions do more harm than good to the animals.
"The animals are not able to fend for themselves. Imagine this, you're kept in a homely environment where you're given food everyday, then all of a sudden, you go into the wild. But where's the food? So in the end, they die of starvation," said Sharon Chan from the National Parks Board.
Last year, NParks saw only seven cases where people released animals into the wild, a significant drop from 44 in 2004.
To keep the cases low, some 100 park rangers and volunteers will comb the reservoirs and nature reserves over the Vesak Day holiday.
Animals released into the wild such as the reservoir die within a day and their decomposed bodies affect the quality of the water.
Things are made much worse if the animals are sick with diseases.
Some of the common animals released are fish and frogs.
The Singapore Buddhist Federation is also educating its devotees to do the right thing.
"The best way is to release fishes already caught in the kelong, and release back into the deep sea. For freshwater fishes, there are fishes kept in the tanks at seafood restaurants. You can buy them and release them into the ponds. They are ponds in certain areas that allow people to release fishes there," said Sik Kwang Sheng, secretary-general of Singapore Buddhist Federation.
Those caught releasing animals into the wild can be fined up to $50,000.

Read full article here

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Feedback needed

Several new nature/environment-related websites have been launched recently and seek feedback from youths... and the young at heart of course *grin*

1) Vilma of NSS writes:

"We're coming up with a new webpage for Nature Society and would value your input. Do you like what you see attached? We'd like young people like you who value nature to give us some feedback. This is a mock up with respect to the text... But these are the suggested features.


You can view the mockup design at:
Email your comments to: vdroza at nie dot edu dot sg

2) Patrick of MEWR writes:

"Youth Habitat goes live! Give us your feedback!

Youth Habitat is a first-stop environmental portal for 13 to 25 year-olds. From this portal, you can:

* Find out more about our environment
* Check out the environmental activities you can join in
* Be inspired by what other youths are doing for our environment
* Hook up with environmental or youth groups for possible collaboration
* Or see how you else you can make a difference to our environment

Check out the portal now at:

Please share with us your feedback on how we can make this portal even better. If you have any events, stories, tips or other information you would like to share on this portal, do let us know. Or better still, if you want to volunteer to be part of our team of writers, you are most welcome!

Email your comments to: Patrick underscore Chu at mewr dot gov dot sg

Thanks a lot!"

Read full article here

Monday, May 08, 2006

My feline problem

This sweet pie is not so sweet when the stench of pee and poo accumulates in my previously clean void deck. Sorry if this sound elitist but the area usually smells clean and fresh. This is due to the design of my flat, the void deck, being not void but like a condominium that has units on the ground floor, and thus individual home owners keep the area very nice and clean. But because of the 8 cats running around outside this one flat on the ground floor, the place is exceedingly smelly.

Let me explain.

There used to be 3 grown cats and they were adorable. Then they had a litter of kitten with 4-5 new kitties. These babies are cute but the increased in population has led to the floor being dirty, stained and reeks of an overwhelming stench of amonia. What is worse is recently I heard the calls of a kittie in heat and I can almost expect another litter to appear around my flat. I do not understand why the kitties do not poop in the grass right in front of their unit but they don't. The increase in population has overtaken the environment's natural ability to neutralize the wastes. The family also does nothing to create toilet facilities for the felines. There are no litter boxes. Food is served on plates but at the same place where the cats pee and poop. I know they try to clean up at night as I see them mopping the floor outside their homes sometimes but I still smell the stench increasing everyday. Technically that area is public corridor and it's right beside our letter box.

I really love these kitties but the neighborliness-irresponsibility is overwhelming. Unfortunately due to certain religious or ethnic sensitivity, I am afriad to approach the family and suggest neutering the cats. I thought of writing a note and slipping it into their letter box but that would be quite irresponsible. I honestly have never spoken to this family and it kind of intimidates me. How do I make sure they know I really do love cats and have all our interests at heart? How do I get the guts to do something about this? Or maybe there is nothing I can do because it's none of my business? Should I respect their choices? It is worth respecting? Do I have a right to do say something? What happens when there are MORE cats?! These cats are not feral but they get to run about the neighborhood and do not ever enter the house it seems. I cannot suggest adopting them and I do not want to disrespect the owners by sneaking them off to neuter, god forbids! Besides what if the owners do not want to give them up and enjoy the multitudes of cats?

What should I do?

Read full article here

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Heritage Fun on Foot!

Click to enlarge

"Find treasures in the heartlands with Fun on Foot"

Fun on Foot in the Heartlands will be held on 22 July 2006 from 9-3pm. It's like an amazing race with the flag off point at Jalan Besar Stadium in conjunction with Heritage Fest 2006. Come in a team of 3. The prizes are really attractive. In the open category, first prize is $1000!

You will soon be able to register online at:
[not updated yet, please be patient]

Unfortunately, Monkey and Azure are not eligible to participate as disclaimed in a typical miniscule footnote at the bottom of the registeration form that says staff family and of whatever association cannot enter. Oh well, we wouldn't want to ruin the fun for you guys either *grin*

Do check it out!

PS: The poster is amazing. How many places can you identify? It's very "Where's Wally"-ish! I love the details. *gush* All we need now is a Wally. Can you spot the 4 Mr Fun on Foot?

Read full article here

River, Bridge and Jelutong Tree

Monkey writes about the Jelutongs on Pulau Ubin and I mean the river, the bridge and the tree.

Read: "Jelutong Namesake" on Pulau Ubin Stories

Read full article here

Friday, May 05, 2006

If Geography was Greek... Part II

Well children, it would appear that Ms Monkey's Geography class yesterday stirred a few closet geographers amongst us and also earned me a few knowing nudges. Hopefully my "geog-challenged" state would not get to the ears of my professors in charge of the NUS Geography Challenge where I am in charge of quizzing the youths of Singapore about .. well Geography.

I am sure many of you are looking forward to the continuation of yesterday's class where we will now look at the geography of the Americas. I shan't go into too much detail because in total, the continents of North and South Americas contain more than 20 countries in total (39 to be exact, yes i counted)!

But let's be realistic, most americans do not know the Geography of the United States - just watch the first episode of the reality program Beauty and the Geek. Most can't even spell Mississippi and Massachusetts!

"The study found that less than six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, 33 percent could not point out Louisiana on a U.S. map."
While I know how Florida look like, and maybe even Mississippi too, but I sure as hell cannot remember how Louisiana looks like on the map! Gosh, wasn't Katrina in New Orleans? *Gasp* That's actually in Louisiana? Wow. Gee, they keep talking about the Mississippi river but it's actually not in the state of Mississippi? Somebody ought to have made that clearer. Damn semiotics.

So now you know, look for Texas - the largest state in USA, the triangular piece of loin cloth at the south of USA - and you'll find Louisiana, the boot, on the right of it. Look up, you'll find Arkansas, home of Bill Clinton and then right of Louisiana is the real Mississippi state.

Now the interesting bit is, while the Americans cannot identify their own states, they seem to think rather highly of their country and their world rather revolves around their surrounding geography.
"Inside the United States, "half or fewer of young men and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map [50 percent and 43 percent, respectively]," the study said."

"Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world."

"Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico."
Now ladies and gentlemen, monkeys and ducks, I'll leave you to decide for yourself, which of these borders are more heavily fortified. Besides, didn't they watch James Bonds' Die Another Day where it showed how tanks are constantly waiting to be mobilized at the drop of the hate? Maybe for once they realize that's just hollywood. Still, how far is that away from reality? Obviously North Korea did not take kindly to that portrayal.

N Korean-S Korea Border

Mexican-US Border

Of course, after laughing at other people's expense, how much do you really know about your own country's geography? Otterman posts a good quiz for all to try. Not only does it involve knowing your own country but also knowing the landmarks in Singapore!

Or perhaps you scored brilliantly on CNN's quiz that you feel ready to take on the National Geographic's Geography Literacy Quiz and see how well you do compared to these American youths. I haven't had the gut to try but after all these crash course in today's World Geography, Ms Monkey feels assured that her students would not perform too badly. At least you had a headstart and know that Sudan is not in Asia but in Africa! Oh of course I hope you do know that the tsunami in 2004 was really in Indonesia...
"Nine in ten couldn't find Afghanistan on a map of Asia.

And 54 percent were unaware that Sudan is a country in Africa.

Remember the December 2004 tsunami and the widespread images of devastation in Indonesia?

Three-quarters of respondents failed to find that country on a map. And three-quarters were unaware that a majority of Indonesia's population is Muslim, making it the largest Muslim country in the world."
- National Geographic's Report
Well if you're ready, do the 2006 National Geographic-Roper Survey of Geographic Literacy!

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

If Geography was Greek... Part I

I admit, I am not a good regional geographer in the classical sense of Geography. I cannot tell you names of countries on a blank map. I am bad at reading maps and have no sense of direction. Even though I finally figured out Korea is really a peninsular attached to China, I am not really sure which part of Malaysia Negri Sembilan is. Yes, I am very much ashame of myself. What happened to the days in secondary school when we quizzed each other on the names of major and minor tectonic plates and continents before the exams? There was a time when I could even correctly identify all the states on the map of USA.

Thus, when I read this CNN report (CNN: Study: Geography Greek to young Americans, 2 May 2006) on a Geographic Literacy Study done by the National Geographic on 510 American youths aged 18-24 where "88 percent of those questioned could not find Afghanistan on a map", I realized, geez, I have no idea where Afghanistan is on the map either. It's amazing I could even spell its name without the aid of spellcheck!

How could I possibly graduate with a degree in Geography if I do not brush up on my Geography right? Therefore, it is with utmost urgency that I quickly inform myself as to the Geography of the Middle East and South Asia.

"The study, which surveyed 510 young Americans from December 17 to January 20, showed that 88 percent of those questioned could not find Afghanistan on a map of Asia despite widespread coverage of the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 and the political rebirth of the country."
Do you know where Afghanistan is?

Afghanistan is between Pakistan and Iran, and south of the previous Soviet Union that has since become independent states such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. As you can see, it even shares a slight border with China! Looking at Pakistan, you should be able to guess India is nearby what with all that talk about the Pakistan-India Kashmir border. In fact, not too long ago, the Pakistan earthquake was right at this contested border.
"Two-thirds [of the respondents] didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan."

"Forty-seven percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia."
Of course when I think about India I would think of Nepal and the below map would give a clear overview of South Asia or the Indian Subcontinent.

Click for enlarged image.

Really you know the "Middle East" isn't all that far off. If you continue west of Iran (refer to the first map; Iran is west of Afghanistan), Iraq is really just southwest of Iran!
"Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East."

This map (above) cannot be clearer as to the location of the war zone and how these countries were so easily embroiled in the same fight due to the proximity to one another. It is perhaps not that hard to imagine after looking at these maps that Saudi Arabia, the land of sheiks and all of the Arabian fantasies, is just south of iraq, land of mister saddam. Look, Kuwait and Iran is just round the corner. That really explained a lot.
"In the Middle East, 63 percent could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map, and 75 percent could not point out Iran or Israel. Forty-four percent couldn't find any one of those four countries."

It was especially interesting for me to look at this above map and find Yemen on the map. When we were kids, there were prepacked "exotic" stamps for collection and I always thought the Yemen stamps were a from an imaginary country, made to look exotic to cheat the money of us lil kids. Then I found out it was a real country what with my sister always travelling there. Indeed, it's actually just south of Saudi Arabia and not in Africa! Although, if you look carefully, Ethiopia is just across the Red Sea, below Sudan and Eygpt!

Did you know Eygpt is really in the North of the African continent and that Africa is really not a country, but a continent?
"Seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East."

OK, I admit that despite reading a paper on Palestinian Merchant Market and writing in my exam as if I actually know that Palestine is not an actual political state in today's world but really a part of Israel, I cannot say I actually know where Israel is! Did you?

So how many of those countries could you locate prior to this crash course in Middle East Geography?

Now that you've attended Monkey's crash course in Geography of the middle east, try this CNN Geography Quiz and I can assure you that you will be able to get all the questions in the beginner quiz, possibly half the answers in the intermediate quiz and none at all in the advanced quiz! I should know because that's essentially how well I scored. Ah well, I guess it's back to the atlas!

Stay tuned for Part II for a crash course in US geography and more demythifying answers to the Geography Literacy study. Psst... You might need Part II if you weren't able to answer some of the questions in the CNN Quiz!

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My First Rally

First time ralliers at East Coast on Labour Day.
Sorry for the bad rez, my cam is dying

Despite my exams, when Joe asked me if I wanted to go to a Workers Party Rally at middle of no where east coast yesterday evening at 7pm with her and mrs duck, I did not hesitate for too long.

Neither did I regret it afterwards.

See more photos from the Workers Party Rally for Joo Chiat on May 1 2006

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