While Crisis Communications 101 may teach you that it’s important to reassure and keep a lid on the panic pot, in the case of environmental disasters – there is simply no point trying to pretend that things are not as bad as it seems.
Widespread oil patches? Check. Cancelled water activities? Check. Stench of oil that reached beyond the coastal areas? Check. Lots of dead animals? Check.
With such apparent empirical evidence, and coupled with the fact that whatever is left remaining of Singapore’s eco system had already been in such a fragile state before 2,500 tonnes of crude oil spilled into the waters, no one is going to believe the motherhood statement that “environmental impact is minimal“.
For all that spewed rhetoric about environmental sustainability, renewable resources, garden city and “greening”, this incident has just shown that nature-related issues are only in the agenda of the authorities if it helps to boost tourism and the economy. What’s really needed at this point: good ol’ honesty about just how dire things are. And the whole nuclear energy thing may need to be reconsidered too since toxic waste disposal is obviously not one of the country’s forte as yet.
Post-rant note: Fortunately, certain members of the public are taking the initiative to lend a helping hand. Check this Facebook page on “ground-level” updates on the situation, as well as upcoming clean-up activities.
Another case study of denial: Is Singapore the worst environmental offender? Yes says NUS study, No says the Government