Saturday, May 31, 2008

Is biofuels‏ the answer to sustainable environment?

I received an alert from Greenpeace. Biofuels might be the answer for our future. But are we ready when food is running scarce?

Dear Friends,

There's a poll today on the European Commission website you might like to participate in right now: " Should the EU stick to its target to reach 10% biofuels by 2020?"

Greenpeace and the environmental movement's answer is clearly "No".
Emerging research shows that it is most probably not possible to produce 10% of the EU's transport fuel from crops in an ecologically sound way. There's a high risk that such a target (10% by 2020) will lead to enormous pressure on increasingly scarce land, and detrimental environmental and social effects, such as massive deforestation, a sharp increase in the use of GMO's and the shift from food production for the poor to car fuel production for the rich.

Furthermore, the Commission's proposal for biofuels sustainability criteria are -- put simply -- a joke. Let's send a clear "No" message now. Vote HERE. Vote for NO.

Industry would use a "yes" result in this e-poll to say there is public support for their goals, when clearly there is not. It's only an online poll, but we've got to win it. Please vote and pass the message on, by email, IM, facebook or whatever way you can.

Many thanks,

Everyone at Greenpeace

Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Wildlife Parks....destinated for doom!

In Bolehland, wildlife parks rarely last. Some examples include Pulau Singa sanctuary (Langkawi), Johore Safari, Rhinoceros Sanctuary, and the many failed small mini zoos scattered over Bolehland. When politicians and business men take wildlife as commodities - the result - more dead!

Read the lastest news below:

New attractions at Tasik Kenyir soon
NST Online
By : Rosli Zakaria

KUALA TERENGGANU: After nearly 30 years of uncertainty, Tasik Kenyir is set for comprehensive development.

Ten islands will be transformed into dedicated parks for exotic birds, snakes, deers and wild orchids as well as for interactive games and recreational areas.

Handicraft shops will also be set up at certain points on the new Tasik Kenyir-Aring-Gua Musang road.

The ambitious project is aimed at providing diversity to Tasik Kenyir's attractions. Currently, the area is known mostly as an angler's paradise.

"Tasik Kenyir is an asset but its potential has not been fully exploited for the tourism industry.

"It is only known as an angler's paradise and there is little else for others to see," said Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said.

The new attractions would be welcomed by the few boat operators for whom business had been on a steady decline since 1999.

Ahmad said the Central Terengganu Development Authority would supervise the new places of interest and a budget was being worked out.

He pointed out that a new attraction had been added to Tasik Kenyir recently - the elephant sanctuary at Sungai Ketiar.

Ahmad said the National Park and Wildlife Department would erect an electric fence around an area measuring 15,000ha.

The area will be divided into three compartments of 5,000ha each.

"We will have 150 elephants at the sanctuary. The area will become an observation and training centre for wild elephants. Once trained, the elephants can become yet another source of attraction for visitors," he said.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Deplorable Sungai Pinang

Have you taken a peep at our river lately? Well, never mind, I will show you then. I will start from Botanic Gardens until the river mouth of Sungai Pinang. Then you tell me whether we need to do something about it.....or just make don't know.
I will include google map to pinpoint the location of each picture (click on the link to see the map).
Sungai Air Terjun is one of the tributeries of Sungai Pinang. This photo-essay will only based on Sungai Air Terjun joining to Sungai Pinang until the estuary.

The first picture just outside the perimeter of Botanic Gardens taken at the Coronation camp (now a Bamboo garden).

In front of Moon Gate. Some rubbish appearing on the bank.

Background is Penang Natukottai Chettiar Waterfall Temple beside the exit of Youth Park. The river is a dumping ground.

As you enter from Jalan Utama into Youth Park, there is a well kept landscape on your left beside the Sungai Air Terjun. Yes, the small garden-cum-landscape is excellent. However, whatever rubbish, twigs and trimmings can be found beside the river bank. Who is the culprit?

Just when you think that rubbish are the product of squatters and the illiterate, I found that the rich also contribute to the problem. One of the house at Jesselton Road. Do you know that there are two pumps drawing water from the river into the race course? Is it legal?

This picture taken near the Race Course, not far from Georgetown Public Library (near Kompleks Penyayang). Bungalows (Skipton Pavilion) were built very near the river. Is it legal? Some plastic bags seen floating on the river curteousy of the foreign construction workers.

Behind the Georgetown Public Library. Ok this section was quite clean. But....see the next picture.....

A rubbish trap just before the river enters Governor's Residence. Rubbish! So I can assume that rubbish has been thrown from houses from Waterfall Road till Jesselton Road to this rubbish trap.

Clean water with no rubbish as it exit the Governor's Residence. The spotted whites in the picture were leaves. A contractor (to water street plants) was seen pumping water to his mini lorry at this vicinity.

Between Jalan Ross and Jalan York, a guy was seen catching fish. A bungalow being built right to the edge of the river. Is there no law on building bungalow on river banks?

Rubbish all over the river - near the Naduthurai Sri Devi Karumariamman Temple (off Air Itam Road / York Road). Just upstream, a local was seen washing clothes.

So far you have seen the Sungai Air Terjun with clear water. But rubbish continued to be thrown into the river from the squatters (who have been living there for years) around. I don't see any rubbish dump and that could be the reason why they disposed into the river.

The confluence of Sungai Pinang and Sungai Air Terjun at the famous location called dobi. Sungai Air Terjun disappears into dark polluted water. Bottom right is Sungai Air Terjun.

Somewhere between Jalan Langkawi and Jalan Gopeng off Jalan Air Itam.

Squatters discharging rubbish near city stadium.

Lorong Kulit.

Jalan Perak opposite Masjid Rawana. Kitchen waste flows into Sungai Pinang.

Squatter along the river at Kampung Sungai Pinang. On the day of my survey, a new squatter hut was being built and yet nothing to stop it.

Behind Japanese School. Probably caretaker for the school. Shame isn't it with the amount of rubbish?

Kampung Rawa - where rubbish is the decorative?

Rubbish trap at Kampung Rawa. We are actually not solving the problem by trapping rubbish at down stream. We should nip them at the source!!!

Another view of the rubbish trap at Kampung Rawa. The money to hire contractors to collect rubbish from the traps should be instead be used to collect rubbish from rubbish bins (by providing rubbish bins to all household/squatters) Nip the problem at the SOURCE!

The heavily polluted drain beside Sungai Pinang Tamil School that flows into Sungai Pinang.

Rubbish trap at the polluted drain.

Rubbish below the bridge of Jelutong expressway. Look at the water - as black as charcoal. No fish can survive here.

It was high tide at the estuary. The sea brought in clear sea water. Rubbish can be seen. If you observe the google map, the esplanade has not been built yet.

What we should do to save our river:-
1. No squatter and building along river reserves - action by JPS.
2. Fine the squatter and building owners that has rubbish near their houses - action by JPS and MPPP.
3. All kitchen wastes should be treated before discharging into the river - action MPPP.
4. Demolish all newly built squatters and houses along river reserves - action JPS.
5. Appoint River Rangers (community leader from the locality) to monitor and upkeep the river banks and cleanliness - action JPS/MPPP.
and YOU to help

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wildlife populations 'plummeting'

Between a quarter and a third of the world's wildlife has been lost since 1970, according to data compiled by the Zoological Society of London.

Populations of land-based species fell by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater by 29%, it says.

Humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the "great extinction episodes" in the Earth's history is under way, it says.

Pollution, farming and urban expansion, over-fishing and hunting are blamed.

Surely we are heading for hari khiamat (Armageddon): More

Friday, May 16, 2008

RoadKills - It really KILLS ok

How often do you travel on the road in Malaysia?
In Malaysia, the rate of roadkills is alarming. Twenty years ago, roadkills were not many. But today, on a trip from Penang to Kelantan, one cannot help to see the pitiful roadkills. They range from rare animals to common one.
So much anger and publicity were generated when about 20 youths died in the National Service.
A week journey from Penang to Kelantan and back already claimed 10 animals - but nobody care a hood about them.
Our animals are migrating! Migrating because ....
Forests and jungles are being logged.
Roads being built in the middle of their homes.
Food are diminshing because human are destroying their habitats.
Proachers are separating their mates.
Global warming caused by human hasten the migration.
Are we not aware? Are we not care?
We have the power to do something but we choose to ignore.
We can build passages under the highway.
We can put more signs on the road.
Our roads can bypass pristine jungles but we are greedy because there are timbers.
Just because animals are animals and they are not their children, the lawmakers couldn't careless. They are creation of God and shouldn't we care for them too?

A 8-foot Python


Slow Loris

Monitor Lizard

Civet Cat

An unidentified snake

Wild boar

Masked Palm Civet

Another Masked Palm Civet


“Always be kind to dumb animals. Cruelty is one of the most hateful vices, and matured nations are trying to put an end to it. When people are cruel to animals they will be cruel to one another. As human nature ripens, there will be more kindness, sympathy and pity. Some horses and dogs are worthy of our respect as well as of our kindness. Some dogs are more sensitive and intelligent than some men. They have character, but they are handicapped by dumbness. If your dog could talk, you would be surprised at what he knows”.- Herbert N. Casson

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hybrid rice not the answer for M'sia
Sarojeni V Rengam
May 14, 08 1:07pm
It is laudable that the government has realised the importance of domestic self-sufficiency and security in rice and plans to boost domestic rice production. However, it is with much concern that it is intending to do so with hybrid rice.

Hybrid rice is the first generation (called the F1) crop grown from the cross of two distantly- related rice varieties. It is often touted as having higher productivity than natural local rice varieties, but its limitations are often undisclosed.

For one thing, hybrid rice performs only under very specific conditions and often requires high inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides as it is more susceptible to pests and disease especially in humid, tropical conditions, and even strong winds. If FI hybrid seeds are harvested and grown for successive seasons, the second generation plants will be non-uniform and unstable in character with the output being far below the F1 generation causing significant yield losses for the farmers.

This means that farmers (or the government in our case) will have to buy expensive new (F1) hybrid seeds every growing season. Hybrid rice also gives lower grain quality than premium inbred varieties.

Many small farmers in Asia who were either lured or forced into using hybrid rice by corporations and/or governments found that their input costs (namely, seeds, fertilisers, pesticides) rose to an unprofitable degree and very often, the hybrid varieties failed to produce the promised yields.

Our heritage

In fact comparative studies on hybrids have found that hybrid rice varieties failed to consistently out-perform local inbred varieties and even performed more poorly in some instances. Farmers in different parts of Asia have more often than not been reported as unimpressed and unhappy with the results and costs of using hybrid seeds. Thus, if our government is thinking of encouraging viable small-scale farming and achieving domestic food sovereignty, hybrid seeds are certainly not the answer. Furthermore, a study in Vietnam in 1999 warned that hybrid rice posed a great logistical challenge for seed supply systems to annually renew all seed supplies.

In fact, hybrid rice seeds have paved the way for intellectual property rights on seeds and set the stage for genetically engineered seeds; both promote the corporatisation of the rice seed. Asian governments should not forget that our local rice seeds are our heritage and they should not be owned by any private body or corporation nor should farmers be denied their right to save and use their seeds.

Reports state the hybrid rice variety Mardi proposes to grow is from China. Indeed, China is the birth place of hybrid rice, but its agronomic conditions are very different from Malaysia. High input and hybrid varieties have replaced thousands of its natural local rice varieties over the years. The country is also one of the biggest users and producers of pesticides in the world.

Local environmental groups are in fact advocating the return of ecological methods of farming and local rice varieties. Moreover, China has very little fertile arable land compared to its size, which is one of the main reasons it started resorting to technical solutions such as hybrid rice. But Malaysia has no such constraints.

'Poison package'

Secondly, it is with alarm that we learn that ‘the government would soon provide farmers with incentives such as fertilisers, seedlings and pesticides…’

Hasn’t our government learnt anything? Synthetic fertilisers deplete the soil and contribute to Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) while chemical pesticides are simply poisions. PAN has 25 years of experience and tonnes of evidence to show the dangerous effects of pesticides on humans and the environment. Pesticides have been closely linked to incidences of cancers, tumours, sterility, mal-development of fetuses and a host of diseases.

In fact, this ‘poison package’ of seeds, synthetic fertilisers and chemical pesticides is the legacy of the so-called ‘Green Revolution’ largely introduced by the International Rice Research Institute in the 1960s and which has been responsible for the poisoning of millions of poor farmers and agricultural workers, as well as the soil, water and air. Even Irri has acknowledged the harm to the environment that the Green Revolution has caused.

With this ‘poison package’, the Green Revolution also introduced the concept of so-called ‘modern agriculture’ ie monocultures, irrigation, and mechanisation. Irri created what it termed ‘high yielding varieties’ and pushed these as the answer to productivity problems.

Yet these high yielding varieties required large inputs of fertilisers and water, as well as pesticides as they were more susceptible to pests and disease. Sad to say, these ‘high yielding varieties’ – better called ‘high input varieties’ – replaced thousands of traditional local rice varieties. In Malaysia, a few of these high input varieties of rice dominate the rice-growing areas and from a bio-diversity-based agricultural viewpoint, this is a disaster.

The Green Revolution has also impoverished and driven out of existence thousands of small rice farmers by pushing up input costs, which have served to benefit large agro-chemical companies selling seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. In fact, it is this corporate/Green Revolution model of agriculture that is in no small part responsible for the food crisis today in addition to neo-liberal globalisation spurred by the WTO and the Agreement of Agriculture among other things. And here we are, proposing to perpetuate the same doomed package of agriculture that got us into this mess in the first place.

Rather than exploring costly, limited, and counter-productive measures like hybrid rice, Mardi would do better to explore more sustainable solutions like enhancing inbred-based seeds systems where farmers save, breed, and exchange seeds and practice safer, ecological methods of agriculture. The last thing it should be doing is to be giving out synthetic fertilisers and poisonous chemical pesticides to poor unsuspecting farmers! By promoting the corporate package, we are merely helping make agrochemical and seed companies richer at the expense of our own farmers, people, land, and food and national sovereignty.

No use panicking

The government should take heed of the latest IAASTD (International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development) report released earlier this year that states that small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods provide the way forward to avert the current food crisis. We go further to state that small producers should be at the helm of food production in the country. What has happened to our small rice farmers? Why have they dwindled from 296,000 in 1999 to 155,961 in 2005, a decline of 47%? The government should do its utmost to encourage small-scale ecological rice farms and empower rural farmers by ensuring their participation in technological developments and plant breeding programmes.

There are many successful models in different parts of Asia that show the economic viability and sustainability of small ecological rice farms. An ecological rice farm is much higher in total productivity in terms of grain yield, rice straw, fodder, vegetables, fruit, fish, etc. which it sustains whereas a modern monoculture farm can produce nothing but a single crop. In fact, a small ecological farm can easily support the food needs of an entire family. The government should explore successful models such as that practised by ‘Masipag’ in the Philippines.

It is no use panicking and resorting to quick ‘techno-fix’ solutions that are simply going to throw the Malaysian consumer from the frying pan to the fire. It is high time our government realised that the western concepts of ‘science’, ‘technology’ and ‘development’ are seriously limited and ‘hi-tech’ does not automatically translate to ‘hi-good’. If Mardi or the Ministry of Agriculture wishes to have input on more sustainable solutions, we would be glad to dialogue with them. Our fact sheets on Hybrid Rice, Intellectual Property Rights and Rice, Golden Rice and Genetically Engineered Rice are currently available here.

In the meantime, we earnestly urge the government to abandon solutions relating to hybrid or worse, genetically-engineered rice varieties, and the fatal package of such seeds with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, and seek bio-diversity-based ecological solutions with small farmers as well as policy reforms to strengthen such alternatives, for the well-being of Malaysian farmers and consumers.

SAROJENI V RENGAM is executive director of the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN- AP).

Logging in Penang State Park?

In Penang, there is a national park called Penang National Park at Teluk Bahang.

Bukit Panchor State Penang is the first state park declared on 9 Aug 2007. Another state park at Pulau Jerejak is on the pipeline.

State parks are governed by the state whereas the national parks are protected by the federal government. Development and logging are strictly disallowed in far as I know until now.

But right here at Bukit Panchor State Park you could see logs right at the park headquarter. Is there logging? You tell me.

Observe carefully, you could see blue marking lines to indicate the size of the log.
More logs.
The modus operandi of actual logging are those of arranged logs, diameter measurements and certain length for logs.
If there is indeed logging, I hope our present Penang State Government will benefit from the sale. Or is there any hanky panky? So, is there logging in the Penang State Park?
Hope someone from Forestry could answer this.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wildlife officers nab bird poacher

NST Online

A White-rumped Sharma or Murai Batu which was trapped by a rubber tapper in Grik.
IPOH: Greedy for some extra income, a rubber tapper took to trapping birds belonging to a protected species at a forest in Grik.

The 45-year-old poacher, who went to get more baskets to keep the birds, found himself ambushed and arrested by officers from the Perak Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan).

The officers, acting on a tip-off, arrested the suspect when he went a friend's house at Taman Rimba Gamelan in Bercham to get the baskets at 8pm on Thursday, said Perhilitan state director Shabrina Shariff yesterday.

She said they also seized 127 White-rumped Sharma or Murai Batu, which were to be sold to a middleman in Johor Baru for RM15 each. The birds would have fetched a few hundred ringgit in the market, she added

If charged under Section 68 of the Wildlife Act, the man is liable to a maximum fine of RM3,000 or three years' jail or both.

RM28,000 fine for releasing untreated effluents

Saturday May 10, 2008

A SENIOR manager of a company in Nilai, near Seremban, was fined RM28,000, or 16 months jail, by the Sessions Court in Seremban for releasing untreated effluents into a drain in Nilai more than two years ago.

Shahidan Ahmad, an employee of Dongwha Fibreboard Sdn Bhd located in the Nilai Industrial Park, had allegedly committed the offence on April 12, 2006.

Prosecuting officer Zulfadzli Zakaria, who is also state Department of Environment deputy director, said four samples were taken from the premises and later sent to the Chemistry
Department for analysis on the day of the incident.

The results showed that the effluents released by the company were not properly treated.
Shahidan, who was represented by Hanie Izawati Ahmad Kamil, was charged under section 25 (1) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

He paid the fine.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Shall We TENDER for the logging concessions?

I read with concern that a mere acre of logging concession in Kedah only costs RM500 to RM1000 (US$150-US$300)! Well, I don't understand how the previous state government thinking juice work! Imagine a mature tree can easily fetch RM10000 (US$3500) (if a log costs RM3000 as mentioned in the report below) A rational thinking person will know that there could be some stupid lawmakers who can't even understand simple arithmetic.
Is there corruption?

Ok, now, if the present state government is willing to tender out the logging concessions at RM25K (US$8100) per acre....then WE as citizen of EARTH could bit for the tender so that the forest and jungle could be spared the chop!
At 2400 acres per year, it will costs 2400xUS$8100 = US$19.5 mil.
Any citizen of the earth or any group or perhaps everyone of us chip in to bit for the tender! And SAVE OUR FOREST!!

Friday May 2, 2008
Kedah to have open tender for logging

ALOR STAR: Kedah is opting for open tenders for logging concessions as negotiated tenders had caused the state to lose an annual revenue amounting to more than RM50mil.

Mentri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak said the state could earn RM10,000 per acre (RM25,000 per hectare) but only got between RM500 and RM1,000 per acre (RM1,250 and RM2,500 per hectare) through negotiated tenders.

“How can the rate be so much lower for negotiated tenders? The loggers can sell one log for RM3,000 but the state is given a mere RM500 per acre.

“Don’t tell me we only have one tree per acre?” he asked.

Azizan said Kedah should earn RM60mil from the 2,400 ha of area allotted for logging annually if it got RM25,000 per hectare.

“That is why the state executive council has decided to implement open tender system for logging concessions from next year,” he said.

It was reported yesterday that Kedah had closed its door on negotiated tenders for logging concessions and was opting for open tenders instead.