Friday, April 18, 2008

*Facepalms*

Among my circle of friends and associates who are passionate about the environment, I am known for spending a fair amount on time on STOMP . I started out simply by virtue of there being so much misinformation and misguided views, that I was compelled to correct a lot of wrong assumptions, provide accurate factual information about wildlife spotted by contributors, and try to provide an intelligent and rational voice of reason, which is quite a tall order considering how so many of the comments made there appear to be left by individuals with a collective IQ lower than a coral polyp. The comic below describes my relationship with STOMP very well:



I post at STOMP under the nom de plume of varanus_salvator, and over the course of nearly a year, I guess I have done a fair bit in trying to raise awareness about Singapore's biodiversity, and trying to cultivate a sense of tolerance and coexistence with the various organisms that manage to live alongside us. I try my best to distance myself from the bulk of the posts, choosing to focus on topics related to wildlife, the environment, and animal welfare issues. It can be tough work, considering that I often find myself fighting an uphill battle against great ignorance or sometimes plain stupidity. But if I don't do it, no one will, and at the very least, I like to think that most of the people who read my comments will come away having learned just a bit more.

Today though, I came upon a post that seriously made me question the intelligence level of STOMPers. It's such a ludicrous idea, so ridiculous and so preposterous that it's simply mind-blowing. For the first minute or so after reading it, I could only gawk at the computer monitor, at a loss for words in the face of such sheer stupidity.

The post? If Disneyland came to S'pore...

Turns out that some ignorant fool named Samuel drove past Sungei Buloh, and thought that the open space would be an excellent place to build Disneyland, if it ever came to Singapore.

STOMPer Samuel was driving along the Sungei Buloh area and saw the vast land reserve there. He envisioned what Disneyland would look like if it were built there and sent pictures of what he came up with to STOMP.

In the email which he sent to STOMP yesterday (Apr 14), he wrote:

"I took two pictures of the vast space there and thought to myself that we could actually build a Disneyland there.

"How wonderful will that be!

"I edited one of the pictures with 'Disneyland' built over the area."


The post came complete with crappy Photoshop job:

Disneyland in Sungei Buloh?
Seriously, WTF?!

I have to say, it really is quite painful to wrap my mind around this whole idea that a fellow Singaporean actually thinks Sungei Buloh (of all places) is the perfect place to build Disneyland.

I admit, I am somewhat biased against theme parks, though I did enjoy myself at Ocean Park in Hong Kong on the two occasions I visited the place. But I am not against having Disneyland in Singapore, provided it does prove to be a worthwhile strategy in generating tourist dollars and income, and of course, provided the environmental costs are reasonable, and within tolerable limits.

My biggest problem with Samuel's crazy idea? It's the friggin' location, damn it.

Sungei Buloh is famous in the region, if not throughout the world, as being a vital place for migratory birds to stop and refuel on their long journeys between their breeding grounds in the north, and their wintering grounds in the southern hemisphere. Besides that, it is home to a wide variety of mangrove and wetland species, and I have a fondness for the place; after all, it's a great place to find and photograph Malayan water monitors.

Despite its significance on a global scale, sustaining the flocks of waders and shorebirds that would otherwise perish if not for the mudflats, and its value to many Singaporeans, our dear friend is apparently completely ignorant, unaware, and oblivious to Sungei Buloh's value in this regard.

The exchange of comments is really quite remarkable. Some are generally supportive of having Disneyland. Thankfully, there are many other comments made by people who share my view:

colugo111 said on 15 Apr, 2008
I don't want to see our ASEAN Heritage - Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve get destroyed by all these things

emergency999 said on 15 Apr, 2008
save sungei buloh ..why not built disneyland next to your hdb block better what? dream on bro...!!

shalalala said on 15 Apr, 2008
conserve nature and SB.
u go and bild your own disneyland in your dreams

tosplant said on 15 Apr, 2008
WTH, u better leave Sungei Buloh alone.


Here's what I had to say about this silly idea:

varanus_salvator said on 15 Apr, 2008
Oh, God forbid we create yet another contrived theme park. What's up with our fixation with artificial human constructs? First it was the obsession with golf courses, now it's theme parks and resorts.

Aren't the upcoming IRs enough already? Besides, Sungei Buloh is already globally recognised as an essential stopover for migratory birds. I think that beats the fame of having a Disneyland.


Samuel finally spoke up, and under the nickname of samdisk23, tried to give a series of justifications for his idea:

samdisk23 said on 15 Apr, 2008
Read this article "Tokyo Disneyland eyes new facility in Asia" at this link http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/080415/1/4fu1e.html
"The operator of Tokyo Disneyland said Tuesday it was considering opening a new facility in Southeast Asia as fans flocked to the theme park on its 25th anniversary." We might well have a DisneyLand in Singapore!!!!!

samdisk23 said on 15 Apr, 2008
Vote for DisneyLand Singapore!!!!!

samdisk23 said on 16 Apr, 2008
Read this article "Tokyo Disneyland eyes new facility in Asia" at this link http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/080415/1/4fu1e.html
"The operator of Tokyo Disneyland said Tuesday it was considering opening a new facility in Southeast Asia as fans flocked to the theme park on its 25th anniversary." We might well have a DisneyLand in Singapore!!!!!

samdisk23 said on 16 Apr, 2008
Just imagine if M'sia win the bid for Disneyland in Johor, it will greatly affect the operation of IR & Genting in Singapore. If there's a bid, we must win at all cost. With best regard.

samdisk23 said on 16 Apr, 2008
I believe we turned down the offer by Disneyland in the 90s, if we turn down the offer again, we might never had the chance again....


Fair enough, but he seems to suffer from poor comprehension skills; he is so utterly clueless, that he doesn't realise that the problem all of us have with his idea is not Disneyland per se, but where he wants Disneyland to be built.

varanus_salvator said on 16 Apr, 2008
samdisk23: Point taken already, geez. You didn't have to repeat your post.

The main reason why Samuel's idea is so ludicrous is not that he suggested having Disneyland in Singapore (by all means, stick one in Singapore if it's feasible), but because of his ridiculous choice of location.


His reply almost made me contemplate murder. I swear, if there was some way I could cause great physical pain, I would have given him a hard whack on the back of his head.

samdisk23 said on 16 Apr, 2008
to varanus: sungei buloh is the best location because do you not know that there will be fireworks show by DisneyLand? try that in the city area and i think you will get a lot of complaint....


...

...

...

...

SERIOUSLY??! IS THAT THE BEST EXCUSE HE CAN GIVE??!

I hope you can understand why I really felt this urge to cause grave bodily harm. I mean, I've encountered way too many stupid people, but this was so breathtaking in its stupidity and inanity that my despair turned into genuine rage.

samdisk23 said on 16 Apr, 2008
when people think of IR & Genting, naturally people think of gambling, and we don't want to give an impression to other countries that Singapore is a gambling country, so we need themepark such as DisneyLand to balance off the equation... with best regard.


Of course, Samuel STILL fails to understand the whole problem with his idea. It's not Disneyland, but where he wants it to be built. He completely fails to comprehend the ecological and recreational value of Sungei Buloh, and he fails to take into account the surrounding land uses. The area around Sungei Buloh is a mixture of low-rise industrial complexes and workshops, empty scrubland, farms, and military training areas where access is restricted. I can just see this place being perfect for a Disneyland. RIGHT.

Samuel also apparently never paused to think about the uproar it would create among nature lovers, not just in Singapore, but possibly worldwide. After all, I am sure that Sungei Buloh does attract a number of tourists who visit and indulge in some birdwatching, or to simply experience the natural beauty of our tropical wetlands. Bulldozing Sungei Buloh to make way for yet another theme park... yeah... that would totally go down well with nature lovers everywhere... But then again, it appears he doesn't even care about all the vital habitat that would be destroyed in the first place.

I was relieved to see a renewed flurry of rebuttals in favour of protecting Sungei Buloh. And not only did this particular comment by colugo111 make a strong case against touching Sungei Buloh, it proved to be quite incisive in discerning what might just be Samuel's true agenda in his selection of site:

colugo111 said on 16 Apr, 2008
samdisk23, I guess u must be Stomper Samuel who contributed to this article. I agree Disneyland in Singapore is a good idea. But it is ridiculous to put a theme park at Sungei Buloh. Sungei Buloh is already a world-renowned site as a stopover for migratory birds, as well as an ASEAN Heritage Site. It's pathetic of you to keep saying it's the best site for the theme park.

Maybe I know why... It's opposite Danga Bay in Johor Bahru. And the Johor Sultan's palace is also located across the Straits. So you want to make a show-off to the Malaysians I suppose.


If colugo111's hypothesis is correct, that Samuel simply wants to be able to thumb his nose at the Malaysians and sneer at them from across the Straits of Johor, it then makes him even more childish and even more pathetic.

littlehammie said on 17 Apr, 2008
Leave my beloved Sungei Buloh alone! Grr... Spare a thot for the poor critters who call Sungei Buloh home.


I could have come up with a long reply that would rip his idea to shreds, but I had better things to do. So, all I said was this:

varanus_salvator said on 18 Apr, 2008
4 words to you, Samuel:

LEAVE SUNGEI BULOH ALONE.


I'm really hoping that this will be the final word in this debacle, and that this topic will just die and fade away, just like it should have right at the very beginning.

I'm getting quite worried, if this is the way people these days think. A lack of basic research and fact-finding, a lack of consideration of all the other external factors, the costs, and the stakeholders involved. And of course, a complete lack of comprehension skills. Sure, have Disneyland, but I can think of way better places to build it than in Sungei Buloh, without all the ecological destruction.

Two words to summarise this absolutely dumb idea, and the contributor's weak attempts to argue his case:

EPIC FAIL.

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