Editor's note

Dear reader,

After years of activism, Section 377A of the penal code, a law banning sex between men, will be dropped in Singapore. Times have changed, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as he announced the repeal.

The archaic law, introduced under British colonial rule, had died a slow death. Parliament records show 185 convictions under the rule between 1997 and 2006. Authorities said in 2007 that the rule will not be actively enforced. The courts said in February 2022 that Section 377A cannot be used in prosecution.

LGBTQ+ groups sense a bittersweet win. Along with the repeal came a promise to protect heterosexual marriage through constitutional changes. This is more material for same-sex couples, with potential ramifications for them when getting public housing, adopting children and receiving family insurance benefits.

The other buzzword this month? Greenwashing. Businesses are getting into the sustainability game, but how and how much they sell their credentials before it gets rubbished is a slippery tightrope. DBS bank got flak for calling itself an "eco-warrior" for its pledge to phase out coal by 2039, which critics say is far too late. Journalists aren't happy about getting dubious pitches on green solutions.

Actually, who are firms selling the green message to? If it is anything to go by, one survey shows that consumers aren’t playing ball, with purchasing habits still very much business-as-usual.

Emphasising "purposeful consumption" might seem like a sure way for retailers to hook young buyers, but many in Singapore have signalled they will not fork out extra for purportedly green goods. Unless businesses address this cost concern and work towards removing the "green premium", this attitude is likely to stay. 

Liang Lei

Editor's choice

Singapore to drop anti-gay sex law; amend constitution to protect heterosexual marriage

Singapore to drop anti-gay sex law; amend constitution to protect heterosexual marriage

The twin moves are described by the nation's Prime Minister as limiting changes to what most residents would accept in a conservative society.

'Just the beginning': dawn of greenwash era for journalism in Asia?

'Just the beginning': dawn of greenwash era for journalism in Asia?

In a region where press freedom is low and authoritarian governments have been leaning on independent reporting, journalists are struggling to call out greenwash.

'Greenwashing hogwash': DBS Bank's 'eco-warrior' marketing brag draws flak in social media

'Greenwashing hogwash': DBS Bank's 'eco-warrior' marketing brag draws flak in social media

The Singapore bank's 'More like an eco-warrior, less like a bank' tagline did not sit well with critics, who said a social media post promoting the bank's decision to quit coal by 2039 was greenwashing.

How did Covid change sustainability events?

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Circular solutions struggle to make an impact in disposables-reliant Singapore

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The country's first ever container lending service Barepack Singapore will soon be shutting down local operations. Sustainability leaders say more regulation is needed before reusables can compete with single-use.

The elusive Singaporean green consumer in a post-pandemic world

The elusive Singaporean green consumer in a post-pandemic world

Consumers are citing cost as a key barrier to living a sustainable life in the island state, according to the latest OCBC Climate Index. But the same survey finds more Singaporeans purchasing brand new, non-essential items more frequently.

Singapore a major contributor to air and water pollution via marine fuel sales: study

Singapore a major contributor to air and water pollution via marine fuel sales: study

Singapore tops the world in marine fuel sales, but this comes at a heavy environmental and public health cost, says a new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Snapshot

Government to manage environmental surveys

The National Parks Board will take over the tender and management of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) from developers to boost standards and gather wildlife data. Over four hectares of forests in Kranji were found to be levelled early last year while a biodiversity study was ongoing, which had raised questions about the robustness of EIAs.

Spate of wild kills

Several young blacktip sharks were found dead off Pulau Hantu, a small southern island. Their mangled gills suggest they were caught in a net, said nature group Marine Stewards. Another was found stranded on Sentosa island with a cup over its snout. A Sambar deer was also killed on the Bukit Timah Expressway, which cuts across two forest reserves.

Upgrading city farms

The National University of Singapore has opened a new centre to study indoor farming, with about half of its S$21 million funding coming from the varsity. Research topics include gene-editing and optimising environmental conditions to improve harvests.

People moves