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S’pore’s demand for sand hurting Cambodia’s environment

From Global Witness:

Singapore's demand for sand is fuelling a corrupt and environmentally disastrous sand-dredging industry in Cambodia, according to a new Global Witness report. The report calls for an immediate halt to the trade until proper environmental checks are carried out and revenues accounted for.

Global Witness' investigation tracked boats being loaded with sand in Cambodia to their destinations in Singapore. It also uncovered contracts linking Singaporean companies to Cambodia's sand industry. In June this year, Singapore will host the World Cities Summit, which promotes ‘sustainable and liveable cities'.

"Singapore says that the import of sand is a purely commercial activity but it also presents itself as a regional leader on environmental issues," said Boden. "The country's failure to mitigate the social and ecological cost of sand dredging represents hypocrisy on a grand scale. If Singapore wants its environmental stance to be taken seriously, monitoring where the sand is sourced and what is being done to obtain it would be an obvious place to start."

Full report here.

The Singapore government's response to Global Witness, as reported by the Today newspaper:

S'pore rebuts NGO report

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Government has rebutted a report by Global Witness' claiming that Singapore's demand for Cambodian sand has threatened the ecosystem and undermines good governance.

The report from the International Environmental non-government organisation (NGO) suggests the Singapore Government seeks to import sand without due regard to the laws or environmental impact of Cambodia.

A statement from the National Development Ministry (MND) said this is not true. The Ministry says it is committed to the protection of the global environment.

And it does not condone the illegal export or smuggling of sand, or any extraction of sand that is in breach of the source countries' laws and rules on environmental protection.

The Government also did not receive any official notice on the ban of sand exports from Cambodia.

The import of reclamation sand to Singapore is done on a commercial basis by Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

JTC requires all its sand suppliers to comply with local legal procedures to extract or transport sand from the sources without causing adverse impact to the environment. It has also put in place specific measures to ensure accountability from the sand suppliers.

Singapore Customs also has in place procedures to check and investigate the import of all goods, including sand, at the various checkpoints.

MND says the policing and enforcement of sand extraction licences is ultimately the responsibility of the source country.

However, Singapore will continue to play its part to ensure that sand is extracted in a legal and environmentally responsible manner.