Monday, December 15, 2008

Pulau Jerejak raped by PBA

Pulau Jerejak today

Pulau Jerejak was one of the Penang State Park since May 2007. Although not officially declared like Bukit Panchor State Park, it is still a state park. But look at the sorrow state now. If you use Penang Bridge, you can see this ugly hill development by PBA.....yes the same agency under Penang State Government. Although I should think that the project was by the previous Barisan Najis, I don't understand why our C-A-T government is closing both eyes. And for your information, PBA is building some kind of a reservior. Do you need one there?

Here are the reasons why a reservior is not necessary:

1. There is no villlage in Pulau Jerejak - just a resort and a shipyard. Do you need a reservior? Using public money to fund private companies?
2. Pulau Jerejak don't have high mountain/hills. Do you think there are enough water to fill the reservior?

3. There is already a reservoir in Pulau Jerejak (at the resort's hanging bridge). Why build another white elephant?

4. Water is now pumped from Penang Island to the Jerejak island and stored in a tank. Why the need to damage the island?

5. If you notice the hill cutting, it will cause mud flow and affect the island ecosystem. How can a state park has such massive hill cuttings development?

Will somebody explain what is the use of naming Pulau Jerejak a State Park? Stupid isn't it?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Elephants 'die earlier in zoos'

Elephants 'die earlier in zoos'

Zoo elephants have a very repetitive, boring lifestyle
A new study comparing wild, captive and working elephants has found that living in zoos can significantly shorten the animals' lives.

Writing in the journal Science, researchers say obesity is a major cause of death in adult zoo elephants.

They also cite stress as the key factor in the death of young captive animals when they are moved from zoo to zoo.

They say ideally zoos should not take on new elephants if they cannot provide suitable environments.

Still births

The study focused on the lives of female elephants, comparing more than 4,500 individuals. The researchers looked at wild elephants in Kenya's Ambosseli National Park, working elephants in the Burmese logging industry, and zoo elephant populations in Europe.

For African elephants, the average lifespan in captivity was only 19 years compared with 56 years in the wild.

Rates of mortality amongst zoo-born Asian elephants were two to three times higher than for those born in the logging camps.

Ros Clubb from Britain's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) says diet and lifestyle are the key factors influencing elephant lifespan in zoos.

"The vast majority are overweight in zoos, this could explain the high still-birth rates and why they're dying early. Bigger mothers have bigger calves and more of these are still-born," she said.

Early death was also more likely to occur in captive animals born in the wild or transferred between zoos. Dr Clubb says this is probably caused by the stress of being taken away from their herd, mothers or family group.

"In the wild they live in large stable groups, separation does cause stress; we know this from studies of other species," she said.

Working elephants

Khyune Mar, now at the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at Sheffield University, used to work for Myanma Timber Enterprise, the commercial arm of Burma's forest ministry.

The company uses elephants to haul logs from the forests. Analysis of the lives of these working Asian elephants was based on data Dr Mar collected in Burma.

She says their longer life expectancy - more than 40 years compared with less than 19 in zoo elephants - can be put down to their lifestyle; for half the time the Burmese working elephants are allowed to act naturally.

"We keep working elephants in the workforce for no more than six to eight hours a day. For the remaining hours we let them loose in the forest, they live like wild elephants, they can meet and mate with wild elephants, they have a full elephant life, good exercise and good food," she said.

Dr Mar says there are lessons from the treatment of these working elephants that could be taken on board by zoos.

"They have a very monotonous lifestyle, every day is the same for zoo elephants, they have to live in the same compound, with limited roaming, this makes them more stressed," she said.

"They need a huge home range, more systematic enrichment, bigger compounds, grooming areas, mud wallows, hills."

She says its important to allow them the freedom to behave naturally and has a straightforward message for zoos.

"If the zoo does not have space, its simple - don't take elephants."

The report's authors say transfers of elephants between zoos should be avoided, calves should be kept with their mothers for as long as possible to avoid stress-related death, and there should be regular screening for signs of obesity.

UK zoos

A separate study looking in detail at all the elephants in UK zoos has found significant health problems and evidence of widespread psychological distress.

Researchers from Bristol University studied 77 animals in 13 zoos and found that almost half of the elephants displayed abnormal behaviour.

This included repeatedly swaying the trunk, pacing backwards and forwards and retracing their steps over and over again.

"Some of the animals were born in the zoos and must have developed it there," said Chris Sherwin, from Bristol University's Department of Veterinary Science.

"It's possibly their way of coping with stress, but almost certainly indicates they're in an environment which is inappropriate for their needs. This is not behaviour you see in the wild."

The report says unless the animals' health and psychological suffering can be addressed, the ethics of keeping elephants in zoos must be questioned.

"In my opinion, given the correct housing and care it would be ethically acceptable to keep a few elephants in a few zoos, but certainly not the numbers we have in all the zoos we have now," Dr Sherwin added.

The Zoos Forum, the UK government's independent advisers on zoos, will consider the new findings and report to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) within six months.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ban Hillside Development - Talk Only of Bolehland

History repeats. Very true. But how many would want to learn from history? None. Not if the Barisan Najis is still the government. We must change the present government to a responsible one - that walk the talk!

Lessons from Highland Towers lie buried in Bukit Antarabangsa rubble
6 December 2008
By Baradan Kuppusamy
Source: The Malaysian Insider

DEC 6 — One of the first actions the government took when Highland Towers collapsed in 1993, killing 48 people, was to announce a ban on hillside development.

Today the government announced another ban on hillside development following the tragedy in Bukit Antarabangsa where at least four people are dead, many injured and nearly 5,000 evacuated and a large upscale housing area declared a disaster zone.

This latest tragedy happened about a kilometre from the Highland Towers disaster that struck 15 years ago almost to the day.

In between the intervening years hillside development has been taking place and at an alarming rate despite the tragedies. Every November/December when heavy rains start, landslides happen and policymakers usually passed off the tragedies as an "act of God".

The forgotten lessons of the the Highland Towers tragedy, if complied with, would have saved many lives.

The official inquiry that followed and the drawn-out court case over the Highland Tower tragedy highlighted the failure of the local authorities to control indiscriminate hillside development.

It also fingered hillside development laws that were rudimentary at best and worst, the Federal Court held in 2006 that local councils were not liable for damage caused by landslides and collapses — virtually giving local councils total immunity against negligence suits.

The court found that the specific causes of the collapse were damage done by water that was diverted by another development project up the hill and which flowed behind the Highland Tower blocks.

The same reasons can be expected for the Jalan Damansara landslide yesterday and today's tragedy at Bukit Antarabangsa — damage done by uncontrolled, unmanaged water flow and rudimentary retaining walls unable to bear the sudden increase in load — mud, boulders, debris — that were loosen by water.

The Federal Court in the Highland Towers tragedy noted the same cause and effect, saying "an extensive area of land was denuded of trees and water flowed over this area carrying eroded soil, silt. These caused or contributed to the collapse of Block 1 of the Highland Towers."

But the lessons are not learnt and the tragedy is repeated, said lawyers involved with the Highland Towers case.

"People, policymakers, local authorities and developers did not learn the lessons," said a retired lawyer who was briefly involved in the case. "The reason is the huge profit that is to be made."

"The profit in upscale hillside development is enormous all round and everybody — officials, developers and lawyers — are willing to close an eye," he said.

"The structures look strong and they are strong but unless you manage the surrounding area of a hill and control all the development activities, damage would be done over time leading to a tragedy," the lawyer said.

"A hill is a holistic structure… you cannot develop one side and ignore the other sides. Geologically, everything is inter-connected on a hill," he said.

The shocking part of the Highland Towers tragedy is that local councils were absolved for their failures and held not liable for losses suffered by anyone should a building collapse.

Coming as it does from the Federal Court, the matter is decided unless it is reviewed by the same court. As such the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council then and now is absolved and not liable because the decision still stands.

In the Highland Towers case the council was held not liable for losses suffered by the 73 residents of Block 2 and 3 and in the deaths of the 48 when Block 1 collapsed.

The 2-1 ruling held that local authorities like MPAJ were given full immunity under Section 95 (2) of the Street, Drainage & Building Act 1974 (Act 133) from claims for the pre-collapse period.

The majority decision delivered by Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad said that if the local councils were made liable, it would open the floodgates to further claims for economic loss, and this would deplete the council's resources meant for the provision of basic services and infrastructure.

He held that it was unfair for rate payers' funds to be used to pay negligent suits.

"In my view, the provision of basic necessities for the general public has priority over compensation for pure economic loss of some individuals, who are clearly better off than the majority of the residents in the local council area," he said.


December 6, 2008
Be prepared for more landslides, warns environmentalist

KUALA LUMPUR: The authorities should be on alert to take remedial measures as more landslides are expected during this rainy season, an environmentalist cautioned.

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development chairman Gurmit Singh told Bernama that landslides were common occurrences in Malaysia and most of them could easily be avoided if professionals, developers and civil servants were responsible enough to carry out their duties with care and diligence.

He was commenting on the massive landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa which had claimed three lives as of 3pm Saturday.

He said following the collapse of the Highlands Towers in the vicinity in 1993, which took 48 lives, the authorities had decided not to approve anymore hill slope development projects.

He said that unless all those involved in the development, including the authorities, engineers, architects, surveyors and developers, took their responsibilities seriously, such incidents would continue to occur.

Meanwhile, president of the Bukit Bandaraya Houseowners Association Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman said the Damansara area was also prone to landslides.

The latest incident was on Thursday when the retaining wall behind the CIMB Commerce Square and the CIMB Amanah building building in Damansara collapsed following a landslide which buried 11 vehicles at the parking lot.

Abdul Aziz, a practising lawyer and former managing director of national carrier MAS, said his association had alerted the City Hall on the water seepage in the area but no immediate action was taken. - Bernama


A price paid with death
07 December 2008
Source: The Malaysian Insider

DEC 7 - Pricey plots of land for priceless views equals profits for the developers.

If that is not a good reason enough to develop hill sides, denude the land and damage the delicate balance of nature, what else could it be?

The Bukit Antarabangsa landslide is the third such incident in a week in the Klang Valley, where death and destruction is followed by a deluge and dirge of headlines and comments to prevent the future wrath of Mother Nature.

Four deaths in Bukit Antarabangsa. Two in Ulu Yam Perdana. Forty-eight in Highland Towers. That is the price paid for digging at the hillsides of the Klang Valley over the years.

We heard it 15 years ago. We heard it through the years. We hear it now. We will hear more in the future.

In the past 24 hours, many have repeated what they said over the years.

Among them, environmentalist Gurmit Singh saying landslides were common occurrences in Malaysia and most of them could easily be avoided if engineers, architects, surveyors, developers and civil servants carried out their duties with care and responsibility.

He said following the Highlands Towers collapse, which took 48 lives in 1993, authorities had decided to bar hill slope development.

Meanwhile, local government expert and lawyer Derek Fernandez predicted many more landslides in the Klang Valley.

"Overdevelopment and the inability of the infrastructure to cater for environmental changes and gross neglect in providing proper drainage systems for the area are probable causes of the landslide," he said.

Predictably, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ordered a stop to all hillside housing projects in the Bukit Antarabangsa area.

And Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has called on developers not to lobby or pressure the Government for any building permits for hillside development.

"Clearly, the lessons of the Highland Towers tragedy 15 years ago have not been learnt by anyone, least of all the various government agencies, whether at the federal, state or local government level," said DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang, who also predictably called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the latest landslide.

Everyone will wring their hands and lament the tragedy as the victims try to rebuild their lives from the rubble and mud of Bukit Antarabangsa while the others bury their dead extricated from the premature tomb of their once-standing hillside houses.

There will be soul-searching by all and sundry. There will be investigations and recommendations.

And promises of a safer future, better laws and definitely no more hillside developments.

And once all is said and done, the excavators and tractors now clearing the tonnes of earth, mud, rubble of brick and stone will finish their job in Bukit Antarabangsa.

Only to move on to another site and dig up new plots of hillside homes for those hankering for prized views of the Kuala Lumpur metropolis.

Despite all the deaths and destruction over the years, developers are still willing to profit from those willing to pay a price for priceless views in these exlcusive homes.

For them, death is just a possible cost. Tell that to the four who lost their lives, and their families who lost loved ones.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pulau Payar Marine Park in Bolehland

In Bolehland, marine parks are places where marine biodiversity should be protected. True. Others like the forest, the jungle, the land flora and fauna are out of the objectives and need not be protected. True?

Please read the objectives spelled out on a poster at Pulau Payar Marine Park, Langkawi, Kedah.

To conserve and protect the biological diversity of the marine community and its habitats.
To upgrade and conserve the natural habitats of the endangered aquatics species.
To establish management zones for the conservation of aquatic flora and fauna.
To establish zones of recreational use consistent with its carrying capacity.
To manage and develop capacity building in public awareness programmes.

So, only aquatic flora and fauna to be protected. Trees can be chopped. Right?

Don’t they know that trees are part of the ecosystem? (And their vision is “To be recognised as the lead agency in the management of natural resources and the marine environment at par with those of the world”. World class agency? A joke indeed. )

Trees contributed leaves, dead wood, insects and other fauna which contributed to the sustainability of the marine life. It is part of the bigger ecosystem. Let me give an example (just on the dead leaves). Dead leaves fallen into the sea will be eaten up by minute planktons. Planktons are food for fish fry. Smaller fish eaten by bigger fish. And fish are food to survival of human race. Do you know why there were bumper harvest of fish and prawns after the tsunami? That was because trees and wood (from houses) were swept into the sea. Planktons flourished. And the bountiful harvest resulted.

So, why chopped trees in Marine Park?

In the name of building a huge billboard to show to the world that we are world class? Unfortunately, trees was blocking the huge billboard. So we must axe the trees (Photo above).

Trash-burning at shoreline. Will this affect the delicate coral reefs? Call this Marine Park? (Photo above)

And so when there were not enough food for the fish, fish have to go-begging. Or is this what we called "ecotourism"? (Photo above)

Environment scientists keep saying that you should not feed wildlife in the wild. I guess this only apply to those animals in the forest and jungle. Not for fish (in Pulau Payar Marine Park). Not for eagles (like the Langkawi eagle feeding tours). This is ecotourism from a faraway country called Bolehland (aka Bodohland).

Note: Pulau Payar Marine Park is between Langkawi Geopark and Penang lsland.