Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another Rhino Conservation Centre?

In 2003, the whole rhino conservation centre in Peninsular Malaysia was wiped out when all 5 rare Sumatran rhinos were found death. In Bolehland, animals are seen as toys to play. There are no diligent effort to preserve and protect our natural heritage. If there is, it is for tourism purposes or the available large funding.
Read another story about another coming conservation centre....and maybe in a few years, this rhino conservation centre could be wiped out as well. History strangely will continue to repeat itself...


NST Online
Male rhino 'in his prime' delight
By : Jaswinder Kaur

A rare sighting of a Sumatran rhinoceros in the wild.

WILDLIFE experts in Sabah were caught off guard on Aug 5 when a Sumatran rhinoceros ventured out of its forest habitat and made its way into an oil palm estate.

Sabah Wildlife Department veterinarians and rangers, with field officers from SOS Rhino Borneo and WWF-Malaysia in tow, rushed to the estate to see an adult male in his prime roaming one corner of the plantation. It seemed like an answer to their prayers.

The animal's sudden appearance comes at a time when conservationists are pooling resources to start a captive breeding programme to boost Sabah's dwindling rhino population, estimated at 30 in number.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Laurentius Ambu said the state Rhino Task Force, which was set up after the Fourth Sumatran Rhino Conservation Workshop a year ago, was the government's way of showing its commitment to saving the species.

He said the "rescue" and translocation of the adult male to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve was timely as the state government was working on the breeding programme.

"We must do everything we can to prevent the remaining Sumatran rhino population from becoming extinct. It is a huge undertaking financially but we must do this."

Sabah is raising the RM20 million needed to set up the fully-fenced 1,000 hectare Bornean Sumatran Rhino sanctuary at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, its last chance to save the sub-species.

This is in line with the 18-year Sabah Development Corridor blueprint, which stresses growth and development alongside conservation of the state's diverse flora and fauna.

But a semi-captive breeding programme is not the only solution. Rhinoceroses, like other endangered species, need large forest areas to survive in, and conservationists are pushing for an improved network of protected areas.

A study by WWF-Malaysia has shown that the handful of rhinos in the Danum Valley feed on more than 72 plant species, including ginger, ginseng and tongkat ali, which are not found in oil palm estates at its fringes.

The Sumatran rhinoceros may be the smallest of all the rhino species, but an adult rhino consumes up to 50kg of leaves, twigs, bark, fruit and vines, and is also fond of salt licks.

While 21.8 per cent of Sabah's land mass is protected based on World Conservation Union guidelines, more than double the 10 per cent recommendation of the international body, the focus in coming years is to reconnect pockets of forests at areas once harvested for timber and now taken over mainly by cash crops.

Past land use policies were guided by the need to generate economic growth through oil palm, the nation's golden crop, resulting in about 15 per cent of the state being planted with oil palm.

But, with input and, perhaps, some pressure from the scientific community, the government maintained protected areas and even gazetted 26,000ha of the Kinabatangan floodplain as a wildlife sanctuary three years ago.

A number of non-governmental organisations are convincing international donors to fund programmes to replant trees at degraded zones and at river banks. This is to ensure that wildlife are not trapped in tiny jungles that may not be able to sustain them in the long run because of lack of food and in-breeding.

The Sabah Wildlife Department and NGOs are also reaching out to villagers and plantation owners to educate them on the importance of protecting habitats that rhinos and other wildlife depend on.

Some communities are today conducting their own conservation programmes, which they have tied in with eco-tourism.

A small number of plantation companies have started doing their own reforestation work but to make a difference, a long term commitment and large amounts of money are essential ingredients.

Getting more young Malaysians interested in studying the rhinos and other wildlife is another aspect that has to be looked into, a concerned foreign researcher who has been working in Sabah for many years said at a recent conference.

Perhaps, this is something which should be addressed by Universiti Malaysia Sabah, which has an established Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation and a recently- opened institute for primate studies.

The state-led Sabah Environmental Action Network, which covers environmental education in schools is another avenue of nurturing a pool of local experts in wildlife matters.

It has been a long and difficult journey, but Sabah is taking the right path in protecting rhinos, orang utans and elephants which, in turn, is expected to lead to better conservation of its remaining rich tropical forests.

The next step is for Sabah to sustain efforts to ensure that its unique wildlife is not consigned to history, only to be read in books or watched on video compact discs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Scandalous Dam

The Sarawak dams: Multiple follies
Kua Kia Soong
Aug 26, 08

The recent announcement that the Sarawak government intends to build 12 more dams in Sarawak apart from the ill-fated Bakun dam is cause for concern.

It is a cause for grave concern. Malaysian tax payers, Malaysian forests and Malaysian indigenous people will again be the main victims of this misconceived plan.

The stop starting since the damned project was first proposed in the seventies, the proposal and abandonment of the aluminium smelter, the upsizing and downsizing of the dam, the inclusion or exclusion of the undersea cable project are all symptomatic of a wanton disregard for planning. Let me remind Malaysians of the ludicrous inconsistencies of official policy on this damned project.

In 1980, the Bakun dam was proposed with a power generating capacity of 2400MW even though the projected energy needs for the whole of Sarawak was only 200MW in 1990.

The project was thus coupled with the proposal to build the world’s longest (650km) undersea cable to transmit electricity to the peninsula. An aluminium smelter at Bintulu was also proposed to take up the surplus energy.

In 1986, the project was abandoned because of the economic recession although then Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced just before the UN Conference on Environment & Development in Rio that this was "proof of Malaysia’s commitment to the environment".

In 1993, with the upturn in the Malaysian economy, the government once again announced the revival of the Bakun hydro-electric plant project.

To cushion the expected protests, the then Energy Minister S Samy Vellu gave Parliament a poetic description of a "series of cascading dams" and not one large dam as had been originally proposed.

Before long, it was announced that the Bakun dam would be a massive 205-metre high concrete face rockfill dam, one of the highest dams of its kind in the world and it would flood an area the size of Singapore Island.

The undersea cable was again part of the project. There was also a plan for an aluminium plant, a pulp and paper plant, the world’s biggest steel plant and a high-tension and high-voltage wire industry.

Then in 1997, with the onset of the Asian financial crisis, the Bakun project was put on hold for the second time. But the scandal was, while the anthropologists in all Malaysian universities were sound asleep, the government proceeded to remove 10,000 indigenous people made up of fifteen different ethnic groups from their ancestral lands.

All this happened while the project was on hold and Malaysians shouted "Malaysia Boleh!"

In 1999, after the economy had recovered, the government again announced that the project would be resumed, albeit on a smaller scale of 500MW capacity.

Before long in 2001, the 2400MW scale was once again proposed although the submarine cable had been shelved. Today, we read reports about the government and companies still contemplating this hare-brained scheme which is now estimated to cost a whopping RM21 billion!

Not only that, we now hear that 12 more hydroelectric dams will be generating a total capacity of 7000MW by 2020 – an increase of 600 percent from its current capacity!

Who pays?

Ultimately it will be the Malaysian consumers who pay for this expensive figment of the chief minister’s wild imagination. Enough tax payers’ money has been wasted - Sarawak Hidro has already spent some RM1.5 billion on the project.

The human cost has been immeasurable - 10,000 indigenous people have been removed from their ancestral lands in 1998 even while the project had been shelved.

If the prime minister really wants to know the state of the Malaysian energy industry, he should ask for independent audits on every power station in the country. These should preferably be done by reputable international audit authorities from outside Malaysia.

We are told that TNB is now selling off property, power stations are not working at full capacity and that the electricity industry is hugely indebted.

Right now, the country is being fed conflicting reports about energy demand. There is supposed to be a 43 percent oversupply of electricity capacity in peninsula Malaysia.

Experienced Bakun dam watchers will tell you such conflicting and mutually contradictory assertions have been used by dam proponents to justify every flip flop of this misconceived project.

Apart from the economic cost and the wastage, how are investors supposed to plan for the long-term and medium term? What is the long-term plan for Bakun? Can Bakun compete with the rest of the world or for that matter, Indonesia?

Aluminium smelters to take up the bulk of Bakun electricity have been mentioned ever since the conception of the Bakun dam project because they are such voracious consumers of energy.

Even so, has there ever been any proper assessment of the market viability of such a project with the cheaper operating costs in China?

Does it matter that the co-owner of one of the smelters is none other than Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS) Bhd Group that is controlled by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family business interest?

Scandalous flaws in planning

Clearly, Bakun energy and Sarawak’s tin pot governance do not inspire confidence in investors. First it was Alcoa, and then Rio Tinto also had second thoughts about investing in Sarawak.

Concerned NGOs have all along called for the abandonment of this monstrous Bakun dam project because it is economically ill-conceived, socially disruptive and environmentally disastrous.

The environmental destruction is evident many miles downstream since the whole Bakun area has been logged by those who have already been paid by Sarawak Hidro.

The social atrophy among the 10,000 displaced indigenous people at the Sungei Asap resettlement scheme remains the wicked testimony of the Mahathir-Taib era. The empty promises and damned lives of the displaced people as forewarned by the concerned NGOs in 1999 have now been played out.

The economic viability of the Bakun dam project has been in doubt from the beginning and the new scheme to build 12 more dams merely represents multiple follies and a scandalous flaw in planning.

DR KUA KIA SOONG is director of Suaram.

No sign of Malaysian man hiking in US park

Tuesday August 26, 2008

WEST GLACIER (Montana): Searchers have found no sign of a 27-year-old Malaysian man residing in the United States who was four days overdue from a lengthy backcountry hike in Glacier National Park.

Park officials say that Hwa Yi-Jien was last seen at the St Mary Visitors Centre on Aug 11, the first day of a hike that he planned to end a week later at Kintla Lake.

His car was found in the Logan Pass Visitors Centre parking lot. It is believed he was hiking alone.

Park spokesman Norma Sosa said improved weather last Friday allowed one helicopter to join the search.

The incident commander said the flight “gave them a better grasp of the areas” Hwa intended to hike, Sosa said.

Searchers check back with park officials every two hours and none had reported finding any sign of Hwa by mid-afternoon on Friday, Sosa said.

Hwa’s family notified park officials on Tuesday night that they had not heard from him since the first day of the hike, and he had not contacted them as agreed on the day he expected to end his hike.

Sosa said Hwa’s permit showed he planned to cover 154km on his hike, with an increase of over 4,500m in elevation and a similar descent over the course of the hike.

“It was quite an arduous trip,” Sosa said.

Hwa’s backcountry permit, like many given out by the park, advised him to watch for bears and mountain lions and warned him that hypothermia and giardia (a parasitic intestinal disease) were possible concerns. It also said that a solo hike was not recommended. – AP


Wednesday August 27, 2008
US park scales down search for Malaysian

KUALA LUMPUR: Search efforts to locate 27-year-old Malaysian Hwa Yi-Jien, who went missing in the Glacier National Park in Montana, have been reduced.

A spokesman from the park said searchers were still unable to find any clue or sign of his whereabouts.

“It is unfortunate to say that we have reduced efforts because there is no detail that can tell us of his possible location or condition,” said the spokesman when contacted yesterday.

The spokesman added that Hwa’s wife had arrived at the park but declined to provide further details.

Hwa, who resides in the United States, is a Masters student at a seminary.

Park officials said he was last seen at the St Mary Visitors Centre on Aug 11, the first day of a hike that he planned to end a week later at Kintla Lake.

It is believed that he was hiking alone.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Damn the dams!

Goh Leng Chua
Aug 23, 08 3:56pm

It is stated by an environmentalist: “In the conflict between nature and resource development, nature invariably loses”. The jungle rhetoric of the environmentalist is likely to be drowned by the economic benefits and the money spinning opportunities afforded by development to the nation.

If we take the two paths separately to the partial exclusion of the other, it is small wonder we end up with either damning the 12 dams or damning critics of the dams. Protectionist emotions and national pride should not be allowed to erode our approach for the mutual benefit of people and its environment. While it is the Sarawak government that dictates its own future, it is equally prudent to consider the views of third parties rather than damning them as outsider interference in our destiny. If it is the future generation’s interest that we all wish to preserve and protect, we must realise that every child and environmentalist too has his/her story to tell.


Why are environmentalists concerned? Every development undoubtedly have some significant impacts on the environment, some of which are unavoidable and irreversible. Many are nonetheless avoidable or could be mitigated when properly planned by proponents of the projects. Federal laws (Environment Quality Act 1974) require EIA reports on development impacts to be done and made public. These stricter federal requirements do not apply to Sarawak, exempting the 12 dams from EIA requirements. It was pointed out that such approval process under Sarawak’s Natural Resources and Environmental (Amendment) Ordinance 1993 leaves much to be desired in terms of transparency and accountability. State EIAs are not being scrutinized by the public, which is the main stakeholder of the environment.

It is also feared that the Sarawak government in order to support the consumption of extra electricity to be generated by the 12 dams, could offer lax environmental control to attract more industrial activities such as the proposed aluminium smelter plant in Similajau resulting in consequential environmental degradation.

Understandably, calls have been echoed to amend the state’s outdated environment laws to face the challenges of the 21st century in line with federal standards and beyond. After 45 years of independence, surely our leaders have transformed Sarawak into a knowledgeable society. The government would not be accused of such projects being covered with a veil of secrecy. What have Sarawakians got to loose if the changes make Sarawak greener?

Physical impacts

With the 12 dams being planned throughout Sarawak, the physical impacts are extensive and culturally invasive. Many of the reservoir sites are currently grounds for shifting cultivation, traditional hunting and fishing by the residents. Timber harvesting by licensed concession operators is probably the largest use within and outside the catchment areas. Site clearing and biomass removal will initiate unavoidable erosion and chronic sedimentation, with immediate impacts on the river hydrology, adversely affecting water quality and endangering aquatic life and public health in the region.

However, with modern environment technology and pools of expertise on hand the environmental impacts could be duly addressed. Mitigation measures include biomass removal plan, an Integrated Catchment Management plan on land use, reforestation in denuded areas, anti-poaching enforcement, and gazetting wider forest areas to be conserved as catchment zone protected for posterity.

It was pointed out by Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Haji Fadillah Yusof that the earthquake fault line is in the northern region of Sarawak and the potential for earthquake is in the range of 3.5 to 5.5 on the Richter scale, according to seismic study by the Malaysian Science Academy. It is therefore imperative that risk assessment on seismic hazard be duly conducted and precautionary measures be in place to respond to any eventuality. From information available, the Bakun dam would be able to withstand any seismic shocks up to 7.5 on the Richter scale. A comfortable risk margin is indeed a comforting assurance.

Overland and underwater transmission

Of concerns also are the overland transmission corridor and access roads to towers and the overhead transmission lines with their electric and magnetic fields (EMF), which tend to be ignored in many EIA reports. However, as the areas are sparsely populated, transmission line realignment avoiding human settlement would comply with the precautionary principle of the Rio Dedaration.

Exporting electricity efficiently and cheaply to Peninsula Malaysia through the planned four 500 HV DC submarine cables, each of 670 km from Sarawak’s shores depends on many equations. Marine quality of the underwater cables to withstand deterioration, storms, seabed movements, sabotage and acts of war. The government of Malaysia will have to be implicated in providing the protective shield since provision of electricity is a national matter. The 1999 and latest statewide blackouts are reminders of the complexities in the electricity supply grid.

Terrestrial and aquatic resources

Spiral effects to terrestrial resources, wildlife and endangered species are mostly unavoidable particularly along the riverine habitat. Mitigation measure involve monitoring, rescuing animals, establishment of conservation units and implementation of national parks and reserves nearby the sites.

Aquatic impacts in the inundation zone, upstream and downstream of the dam include direct displacement of habitat, alteration of water quality and impediments to fish migration. Such effects can be mitigated with reduction of logging in the catchment, erosion minimization measures, rehabilitation of aquatic lives and reservoir aquaculture.

Social impacts

Social impacts on the indigenous residents who depend on shifting cultivation, hunting and fishing are a very important aspect of the environmental impact of the dams. Traditional lifestyles and economies of the indigenous people would be changed. Such social-economical-cultural impacts will prove challenging to the Government’s ingenuity in its resettlement exercise. Uprooting cultures have never been a popular option. However, seen from a positive angle, Professor Hood Salleh maintains that “the importance of resettlement comes in as the primary rationale for a long term restructing of Sarawak society”. Eradication of poverty and the imbalance between urban rich and rural poor must be the survival instinct to adapt to the 21st century within the green odyssey. “We must bring them into the mainstream of development”, declared the Chief Minister. It may be different from the present lifestyle but it promises to be a better future. Only the staunchest of sceptics would imprison the natives to a past which cannot survive the future.

Economic benefits and sustainability

What dreams may come from the dams? There are numerous beneficial earnings from the infrastructure construction works, the dam construction, the logging operations, the paper-pulp milling, manufacturing of the cable for the electricity transmission, the production of cement, aluminium, steel and so forth. The spin-off industries will also create thousands of jobs and business opportunities for Malaysians. The local people will step forward to face socio-economic development in the new era. In SCORE, no one should be left scoreless.

However, the government is not unaware of the caution needed. Economists fear localized inflation for Sarawak as extensive and expansive projects push up prices of essential commodities, materials and services.

Further, the new activities and industries will bring with them the accompanying environmental woes, which need to be dealt with by yet another set of environmental protection programmes relating to the activities. Hence, the government would capitalize on these to bring about environment research in association with the universities and relevant government bodies.

With the participation of Malaysians in these projects, it will ensure the cultivation and development of local technology and expertise that would give the locals a better standing to compete in the global market. The strategic alliances with foreign partners would facilitate the transfer of technology and expertise to local companies. It will also strengthen Malaysia’s foreign exchange position, in addition to the carbon-credit trading with Sarawak could do with polluting nations and industrialists in our globalised world.

In most countries particularly the developing countries, economic growth is essential to finance the investment necessary to prevent pollution and improve the environment by better resource allocation. Here lies the paradox. It is therefore essential that economic and environmental well-beings are mutually reinforcing and it is for society to manage economic growth in such a way that it is sustainable. Although environmental degradation can threaten economic growth, it is also recognized that growth brings potential environmental benefits. It may bring improvements in technology which will lower the cost of preventing environmental damage.

Further, it has proven that higher income levels and better lifestyles go hand in hand with greater environmental concern and willingness if not expectation to see a rising share of the national wealth spent on environmental protection, which may improve on the absorptive capacity of our planet to heal itself. It is perhaps time that the many battles between environmentalists and business people should shift from the question of saving the environment to saving the business in order to save the environment.

The language of wealth creation through environmental preservation is more likely to be listened to by environmentalists and businessmen alike. Like man’s two legs, each must supplement each other in order for the body of development to push on. The world of business and the world of nature do not have to collide. One Earth: Our Common Future.

The environment is where we all live and development is for what we all need and the two are inseparable, maintains the United Nations Brundtland Commission. In terms of sustainable development scenario, the Commission favours a transition to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro-power.

This is in line with Malaysia’s four-fuel diversification strategy. Development of renewable green energy resources can and must go on, provided it is accompanied by sustainable management programmes. The idea of interdependence between economic growth and environmental protection found expression in the Brundtland phrase “Sustainable Development”.

Every environmentally aware politician is in favour of it. It is recognition by those in power of the finite planet’s limits which all development must respect. It reminds and makes people to consider the stock of natural resources that will be available to future generations. In the survival conflict between a costly depleting fossil resource and a cheaper renewable green energy, fossil fuel invariably loses.

Politicians as much as environmentalists are the same vehicle for knowledge and information on environmental matters to be disseminated. With the worldwide attention focused on the hydro-project and the concerns generated locally, Sarawak with its acquired knowledge and experience will be responsible for Malaysia’ birth from its gestation stage of environmental awareness to ecological conscientiousness. As environmental degradation begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that environmental degradation ends.

GOH LENG CHUA is a retired lawyer and a keen observer of environmental affairs. He lives in Kuching.

Cats and dogs, living together ... no longer

Sunday August 24, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Due to financial difficulties and deteriorating health, a woman in her 30s surrendered 40 cats and kittens to SPCA Selangor recently.

She had mortgaged her four-bedroom house and went off to Sabah to live with her parents and care for her own health.

After the death of her husband and having no children around, Siti (not her real name) resorted to taking in cats from the streets in Seremban where she lived to her home as companions to rid her of her loneliness.

"Siti rescued cats from the streets and at one time brought in three cats with their kittens that added up to 40. She spent up to RM1,500 per month to feed the cats which she had for about a year," said SPCA Selangor front office manager M. Chelvy.

"Siti said she loved her cats and took care of them like they were her children. All her cats were clean and appeared to be in good health when turned in," said Chelvy, adding that all the cats were also neutered and toilet trained.

Chelvy said this case highlights the importance of neutering pets and community animals to control their population and not overcrowd animal shelters.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

DiGi to halve carbon emissions

Lets support a company that cares for Mother Earth.
Glad I am using 016 now.


Saturday August 23, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd will invest up to RM100mil in its Deep Green programme that, among others, targets to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by nearly half within four years.

Chief executive officer Johan Dennelind said yesterday the company released about 130,000 tonnes of CO2 yearly and it aimed to reduce the amount to 70,000 tonnes in three to four years.

“We are trying to create an awareness among our employees and the community on climate change.

“Though the initiative is still at an early stage, we hope it will get a good response and support from them,” he said after launching the Deep Green programme yesterday.

Dennelind said it was an aggressive ambition by any telco to reduce its CO2 output substantially in such a short time.

“We know we are setting ourselves a great challenge with an ambition of a 50% reduction but we want to make a real difference in this critical issue,” he said.

The company would start by creating higher awareness on climate change among its various stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, customers, business partners and the local communities.

DiGi will spend about RM50mil to RM100mil on this programme over the next three years, he said.

DiGi head of strategy and new business Albern Murty said the company was taking small steps to address the issue via e-billing its postpaid customers and re-evaluating its tenders with suppliers.

“We are in the process of integrating our suppliers into the Deep Green value chain by incorporating specific environmental requirements into our procurement policies and procedures,” he said.

Head of human resources development Adzhar Ibrahim said DiGi had also introduced a carpooling programme among employees and better energy management of its buildings.

As part of the Deep Green initiative, DiGi’s first project would be the Deep Green Now (Nurturing Our World) programme which would focus on making the local communities aware of climate change and local environmental issues.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Temengor Forest Reserve

I found the smallest bat in Malaysia on the pavement in the middle of Grik town. It was a rare find. It was injured. It was probably killed by some other raptor. This jungle dweller could be escaping from the rampant logging at Temengor Forest Reserve. Note the size of the bat vs the 20 sen coin.

The Royal Belum State Park is fortunate to be gazetted as a protected area. But why is Temengor Forest Reserve which has such rich biodivisity was not given the same royal treatment? The Plain pouched Hornbills are migrating rare birds. They travel everyday from the south to the north everyday during the month of June-September. If Temengor is not protected, Royal Belum’s health as a biological hot spot will also be affected (Dr Loh, MNS). Map below showed the Royal Belum State Park in green while her stepsister - Temengor Forest Reserve has to bare all for the greedy loggers.

Orang asli are being "pushed" to the limit. With no place to hunt and no forest to gather food. They have but to open up land for agriculture. See the picture below how forest have to be chopped. Who should we blame - the orang asli or the loggers or the authority?

Look at the logs. Waiting to be transported out from Temengor Forest Reserve.

Lorries after lorries were seen extracting out the logs.

And if the orang asli were not affected...then this little frog hiding in a small dent on a barren logging trail could best sumed up the state of the environment now. Do you want to wait until the frog "fly"(if it can) out to Grik town...and suffer the same fate as the little rare bat?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

SAM alarmed over forest plunder in Sarawak

Saturday August 16, 2008

MIRI: The plundering of Sarawak’s forest resources has become so widespread that even protected forests and forest reserves are not spared, said Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president S.M. Mohamed Idris.

This is in addition to land clearing in secondary forests or native customary rights land.

These protected forests and forests reserves are being blatantly encroached on and cleared of timber so oil palm plantations and pulpwood estates can be developed, he said.

Mohamed Idris said SAM recently discovered that the Sarawak Forests Department had licensed out some 2.8 million hectares of forested land to 40 plantation concessions.

This meant at least 23% of Sarawak’s land mass was now under department concessions for plantations, he said.

“This is larger than the size of the state of Perak,” he told The Star.

He added that information from environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports on the 40 concessions showed many of them were within protected forests and forest reserves.

He urged the state government to be more transparent in its land development policies.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pigs are Racists in Bolehland

Interesting article of how pigs can also be racists in Bolehland. I am wondering about the wild pigs in the jungle - I saw during our forest explorings. Are they "Chinese" too?
Oh, btw, I like to eat roast pork. Wild or not wild also can lah!
No, this 'Babi' will Not 'Balik Cina'
Written by Farish A. Noor
Sunday, 10 August 2008

I have just read the reports on the internet about the goings-on that led to the disruption and early closure of the public forum organised by the Bar Council on Conversion in Malaysia over the weekend. Apart from the other rather offensive remarks that were featured in the various reports that I read, I also chanced upon a rather curious revelation: Apparently during the commotion caused when some of the so-called 'defenders of the faith' had entered the room where the forum was being held, there were calls for a certain 'Babi' to 'Balik Cina'.

Now I have checked and double-checked all the photos that are available on the internet and have seen no image that corresponds to the 'Babi' in question. Therefore for the sake of academic consistency and objectivity, I am compelled to ask the Bar Council this: Was there a pig in the auditorium where the forum was held? And if so, how could the Bar Cou! ncil invite a pig to attend a forum that was open primarily for Malaysian citizens (who are overwhelmingly human, as identity papers and passports have not been issued to pigs or any other non-human species as far as I know.)

Furthermore I need to ask how the demonstrators knew that the pig (if one was present) was of Chinese origin? Did it carry a Chinese passport, and if so, why was it in KL when the Olympic games were being held in Beijing and the world's attention was focused there?

(*ed. I can only assume that this was a rather anti-social pig from China who had come to Malaysia to avoid the throngs of tourists who have overtaken Beijing, which would be a sensible thing that I would have done myself, so I confess to having sympathy with this mysterious invisible pig.)

Lest there be any offence to pigs from China, I would like to remind the demonstrators who made that remark that there are enough pigs in southeast asia and that pigs are, in fact, a n! ative species in the region (including Malaysia). To ask this mysterio us pig to 'Balik Cina' was therefore offensive to say the least, as it overlooks the fact that it could have been a local Malaysian pig and therefore has every right to be in Malaysia. Though what it was doing at the bar council's forum is anyone's guess.

Here are some categories of local pigs (genus: Sus, subfamily species: suinea (Latin)) that have shared our very same bumi for centuries:

In Malaysia we have the babi hutan, babirusa (genus: Babyrousa) and wild boar (genus: Sus Scrofa) that have been long-time residents of the peninsula.

In Indonesia, there are also many types of local pigs such as the Sulawesi Babirusa, the Warty pig of Sulawesi (genus: Sus Celebensis), the Timorese Warty Pig (Genus: Sus Timorensis) and the Javanese Warty hog (Genus: sus Verrocosus).

In Vietnam there is of course the Sus Bucculentus, otherwise known as the Indo-Chinese warty pig, while in the Philippines there is the local Sus Cebifrons that hails from the Visa! yas Islands.

So how dare some people go around making wild allegations about the alleged foreign citizenship and/or origins of a pig that may or may not have been present at the Bar Council forum? To assume the foreign identity and origin of an individual merely on the basis of appearance and behaviour would reek of the highest form of prejudice, and points only to the ignorance of those who simply do not know: PIGS are not foreign to Malaysia or Southeast Asia. They are as localised and normalised as Durians and Corruption in this country.

Dr. Farish A. Noor finds some species of pigs more sympathetic to fascists and racists.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

DOE takes landowner to court for open burning

The Pakatan Government of Selangor has done Mother Earth a good deed. Never before seen such action during the previous State Government. Congratulations and we are with you!
Read story below:
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
Aug 8, 08 12:06pm

A downpour helped quash much of a fire that had been ranging in Dengkil, Selangor, since early this month. However, that will not save the owner of a 658-hectare piece of land from being charged in court for open burning.

Selangor executive councillor in charge of tourism, consumer affairs and environment Elizabeth Wong said the state government had ordered that the owner of the land, Pertubuhan Peladang Negeri Selangor (PPNS), be charged under Section 29(a) of the Environment Quality Act 1974.

If found guilty, PPNS directors face a fine of up to RM500,000 or five years jail, or both.

"We've given the green light to the state Department of Environment (DOE) for PPNS to be taken to court," she told reporters yesterday when met at the site where the fires have been raging since early this month. Despite the heavy rain, the surrounding trees and bush were still smoldering yesterday.

"This will send a clear message that this sort of thing cannot be done to the detriment of the environment and public health," Wong added.

Workers for PPNS allegedly started the fires to facilitate clearance works to make way for a palm oil plantation project.

When contacted, Selangor DOE director Che Asmah Ibrahim said the suit was registered at the Klang Sessions Court yesterday.

"It will take about two weeks for the court to fix a date for mention," said Che Asmah.

Danger of fires spreading

Fire and Rescue Department spokesperson Zaki Omar, meanwhile, said fires have been detected on a total of 65.97 hectares of land in seven different parts of the area since early this month.

"Up until 12 noon today (yesterday), the fires in sectors 1, 4 and 5 have been put out," said Zaki, adding that theses areas amounted to 40.47 hectares.

Despite yesterday's downpour, there remains a danger of embers in the undergrowth causing more fires that could spread north along the peat belt to as far as Batang Berjuntai, about 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.

Wong, who had earlier been briefed by the management of the Paya Indah Wetlands, which is located next to the PPNS land, said there were also concerns of the fires affecting wildlife in the wetlands.

State Department of Wildlife and National Parks Superintendent Salman Saaban said there has already been a noticeable decline in birds in the wetlands recently.

Compounding matters further is the declining amount of water flowing into the wetlands from Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, added Salman.

Show the forests some love

The European Commission has delayed a vital vote on protecting forests from illegal logging till September. We want to make sure the commissioners don't forget about it during their summer holiday. We need you to help us make an extra impression before the September vote.

We all love the forests, and we would like to showcase all that love to the EU (and we know for a fact that the EU doesn’t have anything against some loving). The forests already have made an effort themselves!

Here is your mission:
Take pictures and/or videos of yourself and your friends spreading the love in a forest.
Submit your pictures in the flickr group or post your video as an answer to ours.
More story and to Sign the petition here

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Welcome To Mulu

More than 15 years ago, there was also about this same kind of project to recycle waste etc etc at Taman Negara, Kuala Tahan. Do you know what happen now? It was abandoned. (You can still see the remains of this project at Taman Negara Resort) So all this project is just hangat-hangat tahi ayam (hot-hot chicken shit). Just to spend money and publicity? There are no commitment to protect nature. This is ecotourism. Hell!
NST Online
Mulu visitors pile up a stinker
By : Desmond Davidson

KUCHING: Gunung Mulu national park, the crown jewel of Sarawak tourism, is developing a smelly problem.

The Unesco World Heritage site in northern Sarawak, renowned for its ancient limestone caves, is facing difficulty in disposing of solid waste left by human visitors, and this is causing concern.

The problem stems from the area's lack of a local council, which also means there are no waste collection and disposal services available.

This is compounded by the fact that the administrator of the park, the Sarawak Fores- try Corporation, and the operators of chalets and hotels in the area, are prohibited, by both environmental and national park laws, from disposing of their solid waste by burning, or creating a landfill or dump site.

"It's a serious problem. But we are looking for a solution," said Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB) assistant controller Peter Sawal yesterday.

The national park generates just under a tonne of solid waste a day, with the Royal Mulu Resort generating the bulk of it at 400kg.

Solid wastes were once shipped out by boat to Marudi, but as the shipping contractor charged between RM1,800 to RM2,800 a month, that disposal solution became too expensive.

The effort to save costs has led some to indiscriminately dump waste on open ground just behind the resort.

Sawal said a jointly-developed NREB and Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) solution is currently undergoing trials at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Siburan, a school on the outskirts of the city along the Kuching-Serian Road.

A professor from Japan's Meisei University, Shuji Yoshizawa, is fine-tuning his new composting technique, which he successfully developed from recycling food wastes and non-revenue generating wastes like cardboard boxes and animal waste.

"If successful, this composting technique will be implemented at Mulu," Sawal said.

The trial was meant to be sited in Mulu, but logistical problems forced it to be held nearer here.

The school, which has a student population of over 2,000, of which 429 are boarders, was picked as the trial site because it generates the same amount of solid waste as the Royal Mulu Resort.

The trial and Yoshizawa's working paper are expected to be completed in two months.