Monday, 14 November 2011

SCB backs Brunei's green agenda

(Top) Standard Chartered Bank Brunei (SCB) CEO Lai Pei-Si (R) prepares to board the 'tamuai' to Sg Ingei. Behind her is SCB's Head of Corporate Affairs and Marketing Jennifer Kang. (Above) Project Administrator of the Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey, Dr Ang Bee Biaw (L) briefs SCB CEO Lai Pei-Si (R). Both photos are taken on October 29 this year. Pictures: BT/Rasidah Bakar

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey

RECOGNISING Brunei's "green agenda" and its commitment to the Heart of Borneo (HoB) project, major banking institution Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) pledges to support this initiative by funding the Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey, which it is closely monitoring.

The bank's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in Brunei, Lai Pei-Si recently visited the project at its base camp on Sg Ingei, and told The Brunei Times that it "was very nice" to see where the money goes to, adding that the sponsorship "has brought many things together".

"In Brunei, we participate in the HoB project because it is extremely important to the Bruneian community," said Lai, who is also the SCB's Head of Consumer Banking.

SCB provided funding for the two-year Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey, from a US$500,000 ($700,000) prize donation from the Race for a Living Planet Environment Challenge, which Brunei won last year for its HoB initiative.

She said the sponsorship has brought together "a group of incredibly passionate scientists", the community and relevant agencies. "On our way here (to Sg Ingei), we met with the penghulu of Kg Melilas, Pehin Datu Pekerma Dewa Hj Muhd Ali Abdullah Itam. It is obvious that he is excited (about) the project and (we can see) how important the role of the local people is in the survey," she said.

The CEO together with several SCB senior personnel on October 28 went on a three-day two night trip to Sg Ingei base camp in Ulu Belait. They were accompanied by the survey research team, which comprised the survey leader, Dr Joseph Charles and Project Administrator of the Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey, Dr Ang Bee Biaw. The trip also saw participation of members of the media.

Lai said SCB's involvement in the project "is not only because it is green", but it is also important for Brunei "to be able to preserve what we have".

"It is important for Brunei's future generation and it is really apt under our slogan, 'Here for good'. It is something that we feel that we should do, and we did it," she said. The bank's CEO added that it wants to partner with Brunei in delivering aspirations that is important to the country.

The Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey is one of the bank's key Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project in the area of environmental conservation. SCB was also involved in the first HoB project: the rehabilitation of Borneo's degraded peatland forests. "We realised very earlier on, that HoB is strategic to Brunei," she added.

Touching on the progress of the survey, Lai said "they found a lot of biodiversity here, and it is our job to see how we can communicate this to the right stakeholders to ensure that it will be protected".

The findings of the survey are expected to be released next year, with the condition that wildlife enforcement is put in place. "My expectation on the presentation of the findings will confirm the researchers belief that Sg Ingei is diverse. It will give empirical data and proof on what is here, (then we need) to decide on what to do next," she added.

Personally, Lai said, "I have always known the wonders of forests, but never experienced it myself. It is one thing to read about the wonder of the forests and it is another story when you come here and see for yourself. This is one of the reasons why I feel proud to be in SCB today."

Lai jokingly said, "It takes a lot for someone like me who is absolutely cosmopolitan to take a bus ride for almost three hours and another potentially 11 hours boat ride (during low water level); we were lucky we only did four (hours)."

The faunal biodiversity survey, a Brunei project under HoB, is backed by the Ministry of Primary Resources and sponsored by SCB in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The arrival of the survey team members with SCB Brunei staff and the media at the base camp was welcomed by former Brunei Museum curator Samhan Nyawa, who is the survey's field coordinator and Angus, the survey's chief guide, as well as several Melilas locals who are also boatmen-cum-guides for the project. The SCB members left Sg Ingei on October 30, while the research team continues their survey until November 7.(.The Brunei Times

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