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  Channel NewsAsia 10 Nov 06
Waterways Watch Society one of 3 winners of President's Award for Environment
By Farah Abdul Rahim

SINGAPORE: Two active 'green' citizens and a non-governmental organisation have won this year's inaugural President's Award for the Environment.

23-year-old nurse Xie Hui Ting finishes work and makes her way down under Nicoll Highway, to the Waterways Watch Society's humble home. There, she gets togged out in gloves and booties before heading out on the river for her patrol. She is one of the Society's 115 volunteers who help to clean up the waterways - fishing out litter from Kallang River, the Marina Bay area and the Singapore River.

And nothing escapes the sharp eyes of these volunteers - not even litter by the river bank. The Waterways Watch Society says, on Sunday alone, a record haul of 120 plastic bottles were collected, so it hopes to engage stakeholders by the river to play their part too.

These stakeholders include riverfront businesses at Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, the water sports associations and those living by the river.

Eugene Heng, Chairman of Waterways Watch Society, says: "Stakeholders can participate either by volunteering their services, understanding and appreciating what we do, contributing or in sponsoring in kind - we are open to all that.

"Water sports users, as they are always on the waters, can report if they spot litter, or better still, pick it up. If we do it together, we can have a great partnership."

The Society has also come up with a 5-year plan to engage the young through river and bicycle patrols on weekends. "We have also recently started a youth bike patrol. We feel that by engaging the youth who come down on attachment with us on three or four Saturdays, they will appreciate what we do and hopefully when they go out, they become extended ambassadors," Heng says.

And these efforts are being recognised with the inaugural President's Award for the Environment. The award will replace the Singapore Green Plan 2012 award given out over the past 2 years.

Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman of National Environment Agency, says: "They are a relatively new NGO, their issue is relatively new - connecting people to water, making people protect the water, enjoy the water. It shows that you don't need to have been here forever to achieve a lot and essentially as an NGO, they really allow people to contribute. They allow individuals to say 'I can't be Tommy Koh yet I can make a contribution for the environment'."

Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore's Ambassador-at-large, who helped to negotiate the landmark United Nations' Convention on the Law of the Sea, and Dr Geh Min, who has championed environment protection and nature conservation in Singapore, are the other winners.

The winners received specially hand-crafted ceramic trophies made by renowned local artist, Iskandar Jalil, at the Istana.

According to the judges, the winners have made a significant impact and contribution to the environment. The judges hope to see companies making their presence felt at the awards next year. - CNA/so

Today Online 11 Nov 06
Tommy Koh wins at President's Awards

AMBASSADOR-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh, former Nominated MP Dr Geh Min and the Waterways Watch Society (WWS) took home a new apex award for contributions to the environment on Friday night.

The three winners of the inaugural President's Award for the Environment were picked from a total of 39 nominations, ranging from companies and NGOs to schools and other individuals.

The President's Award which replaces the two-year-old Singapore Green Plan 2012 (SGP2012) Award given out by the Environment and Water Resources Ministry honours those with an excellent environmental track record, contributions to the environment and the adoption and promotion of good environmental practices both within and beyond themselves or their organisations.

This year's winners were selected by a five-person committee that includes National Environment Agency chairman Simon Tay, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and Environment Charles Chong, and Hyflux head honcho and Singapore Water Association president Olivia Lum. MICHAEL WEE

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