Tuesday, November 20, 2007

There Is No Border

From LI Yifang Forest campaigner Greenpeace China:

I started to write my blog on a major Chinese website since my arrival at the Forest Defenders Camp. Now it has already got 260,000 hits. A guy left a message like this, “Indonesia people used to treat our people badly. Why we help them to save their forest? ”

I consider this as a common query in Chinese people’s mind. All I want to answer is, “We are not just helping them; we are helping ourselves.” Even something unhappy happened in the past between us, we won’t be better off if the whole Indonesia becomes a desert. Deforestation makes Indonesia the third largest GHG emitter in the world. And the climate change impacts are not restricted in some certain countries. If we keep doing what we are doing now, 80% of Himalaya’s glacier will be melted; there will be more floods, more tsunamis, and more droughts. And no one is gonna escape from that.

Surely, we used to think in the logic of “my back yard”, “my community”, and “my country”…I am no exception. When I was in the Europe, western people criticized about China being the largest emitter of GHG, I replied as “then what did your country do in the past century?” But when talking about the solution of the world’s environmental crisis, there is no national border any more. We have to consider the planet as a whole.

Taking the forest destruction in Indonesia as an example:
Timber is certainly harvested in Indonesia, but then export to China. After that EU and the US import plywood and wood floor from China. So who should we blame in this chain, source of the timber, producers, dealer, retailers or the end consumer?
So let’s face it. We have no other choice but work together. Stop sitting there and blaming each other, we don’t have time for this. Take some real action now! At the end of the day, it is our common future; it is we sharing responsibility.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ban on climate calamity

Ban Ki-moon flew to Antarctica Friday (9 Nov 2007) on a climate change fact-finding mission, becoming the first UN leader to make an official visit to the frozen continent.

Some of the statements worth reflecting on:

"The Antarctica is 20 percent of the total surface of the world, but a small change here amplifies many times in the rest of the planet," Kevin Kihm Kim, head of the Sejong Research Centre, told AFP.

"You have seen the melting of glaciers," he continued. "The glaciers of King George Island have shrunken by 10 percent recently. If the international community does something now we will be able to prevent a further progress of the global warming."

“We all agree, Climate change is real, and we humans are its chief cause. Yet even now, few people fully understand the gravity of the threat, or its immediacy,” the UN chief wrote in a commentary in the International Herald Tribune.

“I am not scare-mongering. But I believe we are nearing a tipping point,” he wrote.

“I have always considered global warming to be a matter of utmost urgency. Now I believe we are on the verge of a catastrophe if we do not act.”

Friday, November 16, 2007

Belum Shocker & Shocker Broom

Strange isn't it? - completed in 2004 and still unoccupied till Nov 2007.
Something is very fishy. Could be the Toman fish, or maybe the expensive Kelah!

An interesting opinion from The Star, Friday November 16, 2007

A familiar chain of reactions

PARDON the pun but I was appalled when I read your headline shocker “Belum shocker” (The Star, Nov 15).

Again, it shows how short our memory is when it comes to safety. Skirt the issue and remain in denial if we want, but stupidity is the order of the day.

Do we need another tragedy ala Highland Towers to knock sense into the powers-that-be? What’s the use of remedial measures when the obvious signs of imminent danger appear and with tragedy rearing its ugly head?

The statements made by various quarters in the aftermath smack of our typical Malaysian way of handling a disaster – the ACA will be called in to probe, the contractor/s responsible will be hauled up, the services of a consultant will be secured to investigate the cause of the collapse, ad nauseam.

This chain of reactions is all too familiar to us. This vicious cycle clearly haunts us, and every now and then when a tragedy of such magnitude happens, we will hear the baying for blood.
The fatal bus crash in Perak not too long ago, and the more recent ferry disaster of Pulau Tioman certainly ring loud. The sure things emerging from investigations into such tragedies are the blatant disregard for enforcement and the failure to adhere to regulations and specifications.
Next thing we know, we spend more resources to set up a panel of inquiry.
How many more Belum shockers, Highland Towers collapses, bus crashes, ferry tragedies do we need before we really do something?

I dread to think of what it entails in terms of resources to find out the cause of this collapse. One pertinent question begs to be answered – was there adequate survey and research conducted to ascertain the suitability of the site?

While we are here tightening our purses with the recent rise in price of several essential goods and bracing for further fuel and toll increases, we see RM4.5mil being swept away (again, pun intended).

We are told to live within our means while we struggle to manage our purse-strings on our retarded salaries. But, the cries from the masses are often muffled by irresponsible authorities that do not realise that a stroke of their pen could mean the end of some lives.

We can count our blessings that we suffered no casualties in Belum.
But, really, we need to go back to the drawing board, examine our own conscience and wield the proverbial stick, if necessary, to ensure no corners are cut, no regulations flouted and, in one fell swoop, weed out the corrupted.

Kudos to Selangor Mentri Besar with his latest move to ensure that under-performers are appropriately “rewarded”.

There will be dissatisfaction by some due to the social connotation of shame and humiliation, but we need not fear if we live by our conscience and do not shortchange anyone in our dealings with them.

Kuala Lumpur.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Orang Asli - The Simpliest People

Orang Asli - the indigenous people of Malaysia.
Simple, little need, stay put through good time or bad time.
Can we match them?
Read this article from the The Star, Monday November 5, 2007
Young teacher gives stirring speech of how orang asli persevere
KUALA LUMPUR: At first glance, Tijah Yok Chopli strikes one as a petite and demure orang asli.

Tijah: Believes that the
Federal Constitution
has fallen short of fulfilling
its purpose

But when she speaks, you are caught in a powerhouse of energy, honesty and passion.
The young teacher from Bidor was just one of more than 100 panellists at the recent 14th Malaysian Law Conference, but this non-lawyer brought home powerfully the importance of the Federal Constitution and of constitutionalism for marginalised peoples.

“I think the colonials thought of this place as Tanah Melayu because they went to the estuaries or the edges of the jungles where they met Malays only,” she said.

Speaking in Bahasa Malaysia on “Orang Asli and our Constitution – Protecting Indigenous' Customs and Cultural Rights”, Tijah showed that the Constitution had fallen short in fulfilling its purpose.

Tijah, who is a Senoi, confessed that when she was given the topic to talk on, she had no idea what the Constitution was apart from a vague memory of the reference in the Rukunegara to its supremacy.

However, she set herself the task of reading it and was surprised by what it contained.
Tijah said the orang asli may not know about the Constitution but they lived by their own constitution and laws.

“We have our own groups and districts and zones and make decisions by consensus. We build on the policy of sharing and living in harmony with each other and with nature.

“Our lives are stress-free, unlike urban life which is wreaked with rape here and there, kidnapping here and there, and house break-ins here and there.

“I can pull my collar up with pride,” she said, and did just that.
Unlike many who left Malaysia during the 1997 economic crisis, Tijah said the orang asli stayed put: “Whether the economy is good or bad, we are poor.”

“We are not anti-development. I too want money, to be rich, to have a car, to have development but not to the extent that we lose our customs and values,” she said.

Fellow panellist Centre for Orang Asli Concerns coordinator Dr Colin Nicholas said the orang asli were not just attached to a plot of land but a particular geographical space.

“It is the basis of their spirituality and the source of their identity. They want their land on their terms,” he said, adding that the orang asli had been clearly left out when the Constitution was drafted.

Universiti Malaya Faculty of Law deputy dean (research and development) Dr Ramy Bulan said the preservation of indigenous peoples languages was important.

“Without language, dances and ceremonies are debased to mere entertainment,” she said.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Filthy Penang

Crows shooting in Penang. Read the story below. Click to enlarge.

Birds are the natural indicator of our environment. When you have more crows than other birds, then I can correctly predict that there is lots of rubbish around.

Crows feed on throwaway, discarded food, leftovers and even carcasses - yunno like the dead dog on the road. Who would want to clean up the dead dog - the council trash contractors? No, it was the crows. In fact the crows are the nature, unpaid, God-sent-servants, to clean the messes.

So why shoot them?

Well, everywhere in the world - even in country with snow, you can see crows. In some countries, the population of the crows is less while for some, a culling need to be done. In Penang, apparently the population has exploded.

Is there an alternative?

Yes. Clean environment. Proper management of rubbish. Waste less. And you could control the population.

Yes. God also sent another natural control for crows. The Koels. They are the cuckoos which will raid crows’ nests and deposit their own eggs. The crows will naturally feed the young hatchings not knowing they were Koels’. In this way, the population of crows will be under control.

See, nature always has a way to control. Human always come and spoilt it.

I am wondering how the 15 marksmen will be able to differential the Koels from the Crows! Both are black. Both having the same size. Except the Koels have RED eyes. For RM2.2o per bird, they could be shooting whatever that’s black!

"When people are cruel to animals they will be cruel to one another"- Herbert N. Casson

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Wood Museum (Xylarium)

Click the cutting to enlarge

Sometime in August 2006, they said a wood museum will be built by mid 2007 at Crag Hotel, Penang.

Now, it was announced that the wood museum will be incorporated at the Penang Forestry Museum. This should have be the obvious choice from the beginning. Anyway, it was a wise decision to incorporate it at the Penang Forestry Museum.

I would wonder about the wastage on our taxpayers’ money spent on cleanup and beautification of Crag Hotel for the 2.5m project.

Forestry Department should be the custodian for forests – plants, trees, herbs and conservation. It makes more sense that Wildlife Department should be the custodian for wildlife.
But in Bolehland, Reptile Farm will be found in Forestry Museum. Forestry’s staffs will have little time for forest management. Pity them. Beside the high cost of maintaining the reptiles, the focus on forestry will be lacking. Reptiles will die. Pity them.

When I was there in August 2007, the herbs garden at the Forestry Museum was in a deplorable state. Go there and look for yourself.

The mini bird park at the Forestry Museum is another example. The cage was beyond repair. No birds were seen. Perhaps already cooked in curry. Pity them.

Pity them (staffs, reptiles & birds).
But who cares - Beasts Are Beasts.
BTW, pity us (taxpayers) too, our money wasted by incompetent elected representatives.