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He is on a mission to cut carbon footprint on the high seas
By Lin Jiasheng
MPA scholar Luqman Hakim is looking forward to using his knowledge and research to help Singapore propel green shipping initiatives. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA/FRENCHESCAR LIM

This MPA Mid-Term Scholarship recipient who wants to protect the earth for future generations

Armed with a diploma in aeronautical engineering, Mr Luqman Hakim, 25, had not expected to graduate with a social science degree. 

Several factors nudged him towards a degree in Public Policy and Global Affairs, including a scholarship with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) that has brought him closer to his dream of contributing to the nation’s maritime sector. 

During his National Service where he served as a Rota Commander at Yishun Fire Station, Mr Luqman says he was motivated by “colleagues within the public sector and seeing how different ministries cooperate to deliver quality public services”. 

His family also influenced his decision to pursue his interests in public service as well as the marine sector. Growing up, his paternal grandfather would share with him stories as a deckhand repairing and maintaining ships berthed at the Sembawang Wharves. His maternal grandfather also spoke to him about his police work in the 1960s at the height of the Konfrontasi. 

These stories sparked Mr Luqman’s passion to study how government policies play a role in local and global contexts. He is particularly interested in how governments solve complex and transnational challenges like climate change. 

“Given that the maritime industry contributes to three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, I believe my generation plays a crucial role in locking in the right values and direction for collective decarbonisation efforts. We owe this to our future generations,” he says. 

Even as the climate crisis gains urgency, Mr Luqman is optimistic about the future. 

“Singapore is a small country but has an outsized influence as a regional maritime hub. What we do for the environment plays a huge role in pioneering these technologies for South-east Asia and beyond. The standards and technology we use for decarbonisation can also be adopted in other sectors to accelerate decarbonisation.”

International perspectives for a cosmopolitan port city

The convergence of Mr Luqman’s interests in public service and the blue economy led him to apply for and eventually be awarded the MPA Mid-Term scholarship during his third year at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). 

“My degree programme is quite closely connected with what MPA does,” he says. “In my Global Affairs classes, I learnt how countries are connected to each other, which offers insights into MPA’s strategy to position Singapore as a maritime hub. 

“In my Public Policy classes, I analyse short- and long-term effects of government policies and how governments cooperate to solve problems in trade and climate. For instance, Singapore’s participation in the International Maritime Organization ensures that our interests as a maritime trading nation are articulated and safeguarded.”

Mr Luqman’s studies also led him to an exchange programme in the University of Oslo in Norway, where he broadened his knowledge about European immigration policy and Scandinavian public leadership. 

Racing against time

Mr Luqman was impressed by how quickly Norway has moved towards electrification – from driving to shipping – to reduce the carbon intensity of their activities. He had previously interned at the Singapore branch of Yara International ASA, a Norwegian fertiliser company which designed the first electric autonomous commercial ship in the world to transport fertiliser between ports.

His own research into climate action has found that state policies play a strong role in funding, incentivising and developing environmental initiatives such as cleaner fuels and more efficient shipping. 

“Businesses will always consider the cost factor when implementing green policy,” he says. “Sometimes they need a little push, either with the stick or the carrot. In Singapore, we employ both to accelerate the process.” 

Academic research forms the third branch of the tripartite to generate new ideas for low-to-no-carbon shipping. These initiatives will boost Singapore’s efforts to attain net zero carbon emissions by 2050 while allowing the country to share technology and knowledge to support decarbonisation globally.

“In the last few years, we have been investing in more green initiatives like the smart energy grid and electric vehicles. We are moving in the right direction. But we don’t have a lot of time and there is a lot to do,” says Mr Luqman, who graduated in November 2022 and is eager to launch an exciting career with MPA. 

“With its well-connected network of industry and government partners, MPA can provide the platform and guidance for me to contribute to the industry in the green technology space. I look forward to developing skill sets such as data analytics and negotiation to understand and shape industry trends,” he says. 

“Decarbonisation is a new and developing space in the maritime industry. With my training and research, MPA is where I can make the most impact to help Singapore cut down carbon emissions in shipping. I would be proud if I could say my work contributed to a better Singapore and a better world.” 

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