Nature Society: Kwek Leng Joo a benefactor, adviser and friend

Nature in Singapore has lost a true friend and ardent conservationist, and the Nature Society (Singapore) has lost a fellow nature enthusiast and a generous, longstanding supporter.

The executive committee, council and members of the society are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Mr Kwek Leng Joo. To us, he was a benefactor, adviser and, most importantly, a friend.

Mr Kwek's personal approach to nature has been widely portrayed as that of a photographer, as someone who approached nature through a lens.

Indeed, he produced superlative photographs, but he was also a strong and direct supporter of nature conservation in Singapore, as we at the society can attest.

His support for nature conservation was combined with a practical businessman's understanding of the need for organisational strength and capacity.

Mr Kwek understood the importance of maintaining the membership base and the secretariat. City Developments (CDL), of which Mr Kwek was, until very recently, managing director, has since 2005 been covering the costs of our quarterly Nature Watch magazine, one of the indispensable communication elements which hold together our diverse members.

To have this regular expense donated year after year has been of inestimable benefit to the society.

In 2008, Mr Kwek, through CDL, organised the Green Heart Gala Dinner. The proceeds were split between the Nature Society and Singapore Environment Council.

The contribution to Nature Society was one of the largest single donations that it has ever received.

This support has enabled us to engage in a wider range of projects and extend our outreach to take the joys, understanding and appreciation of biodiversity and Singapore's natural heritage to more residents of this nation.

Mr Kwek not only supported us from his office, but he also joined us in the field.

As we documented, in 2010 and 2011, our proposals for the Green Corridor on the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu railway line, he came out on various occasions to photograph the biodiversity and railway history to be found along its length.

This year, over the last months, he worked with members of our Bird Group on a photographic project on the migratory birds of Singapore.

We believe that with him, we shared the vision - to which he had contributed so much - that every Singaporean become, like him, a nature lover.

Shawn Kaihekulani Yamauchi Lum (Dr)


Nature Society (Singapore)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Nature Society: Kwek Leng Joo a benefactor, adviser and friend'. Print Edition | Subscribe