Monday, December 28, 2009

Owners of protected animals have six months to register

December 28, 2009

PETALING JAYA: Owners of endangered species will be required to apply for permits from the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) starting today.

The requirement — even for endangered species as pets — is the result of the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 coming into force.

Perhilitan legislation and enfor­cement director Saharudin Anan said all owners of such species have six months beginning today to obtain the necessary permits.

“They have six months’ grace to register before enforcement begins,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Besides pet owners, pet shop owners and any other individuals who could be in possession of such species of animals will also have to obtain the necessary permits.

Common household pets which are on the endangered species list include tortoises such as the star and radiated tortoises. Other exotic pets such as imported snakes and reptiles are also covered.

Saharudin said registration was required under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) and the endangered specie list under the Act mirrors the lists of species under Cites.

Malaysia acceded to Cites on Oct 20, 1977, and the convention entered into force in Malaysia on Jan 18,1978.

Saharudin said: “Under the Act, endangered animals found to be without permits will be confiscated and the owners fined.”

Under the Act, possession of such animals without a permit could attract the owner a fine of a maximum of RM100,000 for each one found up to a total of RM1mil, or be sentenced to a maximum of seven year’s jail.

Corporate bodies and zoos found in violation can be fined from RM200,000 up to a total of RM2mil. Similar fines and jail sentences are provided for those who sell, advertise for sale or display to the public such species without permits.

The public can refer to Perhilitan’s website for more information.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Environmentally Friendly

Chinese has been synonym with all the rites, wastages and pollution. Here, we can see what we called "sustainable dead". Lets died sustainably. Be simple and for a friendly environment. Can you?
24 Dec 09

Sin Chew Daily reported an “environmentally friendly” wake held for local Chinese writer Yim Yoo Loon.

There was no burning of incense papers, joss sticks and loud chanting. Yim, a retired teacher, preached simplicity throughout his life. The wake was a reflection of his preaching – do not waste and do not pollute.

There was also no paper utensils used during the wake.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong, who were there to pay their last respects, only bowed their heads in front of Yim’s portrait instead of using joss sticks.

Eldest daughter Yim Why Meng said the family tried their best to adhere to his request for simplicity but many people still sent wreaths to the house.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Turtle excluder devices may be made mandatory

The world should barred Malaysian prawn catchers' export. Only then these cruelty to turtle will end. Anybody listening?

Turtle hatchery at Pantai Kerachut, Penang National Park

December 19, 2009
Department: Turtle excluder devices may be made mandatory

GEORGE TOWN: The Fisheries Department is trying to find suitable nets with turtle excluder devices for local fishermen.

Fisheries Department’s Malaysia Marine Resources Management section head Ahmad Saktian Langgang said many countries were using the device which enable trapped turtles in prawn trawler nets to escape.

“We introduced the device years ago but feedback from local fishermen was not positive as they said it’s a burden for them when they haul their net.

“The department is not making the device compulsory among fishermen yet. But if situation gets critical, we will consider making it a requirement to renew their fishing licence,” he said after attending the Awareness and Education Programme on Endangered Fish Species at Taman Negara, Teluk Bahang on Thursday.

A turtle excluder device is less than RM1,000.

Malaysian prawn catchers were barred from exporting to the United States more than 10 years ago for not installing the device.

The department’s assistant fisheries officer Mohamad Zabawi Saat said there were 25 turtle sightings in Penang this year.

A total of 82 nests were also found.

“With the help of non-governmental organisations and the private sector to create awareness on saving the turtles, statistics showed that there were less eggs found in the market compared to five years ago,” he said.

There are currenly four types of turtles found in the country - penyu belimbing or Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), penyu agar or green turtles (Chelonia mydas), penyu lipas or olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and penyu karah or Hawksbill turtles (Eret-mochelys imbricata).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Free Birding Trip in Peru

Ecotourism needs the support of the local communities. And this is one project that I find quite an idea. No, I am not taking part to join the free trip. I just love this man's idea of promoting ecotourism for the conservation of nature.
Read more about it below:-


It is no joke! You can actually get a birding trip in Peru for FREE. The idea is to promote community birding tourism initiatives and by giving away some free trips (14 trips in total still available) it will hopefully bring the sufficient PR to the area so that both the sustainability of the give-away and the future as birding destination is secured.

The Manu itinerary is supporting the communities in the threatened (by oil exploit, mining and logging) Amarakaeri Communal reserve. The itinerary goes down the Alto Madre de Dios and Madre de Dios rivers to the Macaw lick and Giant Otter Cocha at Blanquillo, just like any other birding/nature tour circuit in the area. Four different community lodges are used instead of more well known lodges.

The other itinerary is located in th Central Peru combining two itineraries Carpish and Satipo road into one concentrating on the highlights of both areas. It is the idea that it sometime during 2010 will be possible to do the trip without camping, as the communities are investing in lodging oportunities for birders. We'd like to support these efforts by sending many groups immediately.

Giving a way free trips like this, to people able to spread the word of these areas, should benefit both hopefully very fast, so that the communities don't get bored with eco-tourism and conservation before we start.

It is all explained in my regular blog.

or this short link.

Just follow the instructions.

NGOs: Enact wildlife laws quickly

Dec 17, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: As the Year of the Tiger approaches, impassioned calls are being made to the government to sharpen its legal claws for greater protection of wildlife.

Already, three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have called for a stronger and more comprehensive wildlife law.

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), TRAFFIC Southeast Asia and WWFMalaysia want the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 to be amended at the next Parliament session.

In a joint statement yesterday they noted that the legislation, meant to protect wildlife against domestic threats like poaching, had failed to be a deterrent.

Instead, the legislation continued to allow wildlife criminals to escape justice, it said.

Nevertheless, the statement acknowledged that the government had addressed part of the problem, with the coming into force of the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 in a week’s time.

“However, Malaysia also needs a strong legislation to combat wildlife crimes that occur inside the country.

“Amending the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 must be made a priority if our wildlife is to stand a chance,” said MNS executive director Dr Loh Chi Leong in the statement.

Meanwhile, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia acting director Chris R. Shepherd said only powerful tools such as strong legislation could enable the authorities to combat wildlife crimes effectively.

The three organisations urged the government not to delay the tabling of the law any further and hoped that all parties would give it the support it sorely needed. — Bernama


Calls for tougher wildlife law
Alyaa Alhadjri

PETALING JAYA (Dec 16, 2009): Wildlife organisations have called for the amendments to the Protection of Wild Life Act 1972 to be passed at the next meeting of Parliament to ensure tougher measures to combat wildlife crimes in the country.

The campaign, led by Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia and WWF-Malaysia, has received the support of 56,062 people from 161 countries.

Current legislation is considered inadequate for defending wildlife against domestic threats like poaching, and wildlife criminals continue to escape justice.

Part of the problem is being addressed with the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 which will come into force in a week’s time.

"This new law, which governs the import and export of wildlife, is timely. However, Malaysia also needs a strong legislation to combat wildlife crime that occurs inside the country," MNS executive director Dr Loh Chi Leong said.

"Therefore, amending the Protection of Wild Life Act 1972 (Act 76) must be made a priority if our wildlife is to stand a chance," said Loh.

TRAFFIC Southeast Asia acting director Chris R, Shepherd said only with strong legislation will authorities be able to effectively combat wildlife crimes.

Cops seize 62 pangolins after fortnight stakeout

December 17, 2009

MUAR: After keeping watch on the activities of a group for two weeks, marine police here swooped in on them and seized 62 pangolins valued at over RM100,000.

Some 31 live pangolins were found in two cars near a house in Taman Tasik Ria in Tangkak and in the living room of a house while another 31 frozen pangolins were found in a freezer in the kitchen.

Muar marine police officer Insp Mohd Naser Marzuke said the team also seized the two cars used to transport the animals in the 9pm raid on Tuesday.

“Our team was monitoring the movements of suspects believed to be involved with pangolin smuggling and spotted their cars in Tangkak.

“However, when the team followed the cars to a house, the men abandoned the cars and fled,” he told reporters at the Muar marine police jetty yesterday.

Insp Mohd Naser said there were three men in each car but they managed to run to the back of the house and disappeared into the dark.

The team then checked the house and found 13 sacks with live pangolins in the living room and 31 frozen ones in a freezer.

All the pangolins were taken to the Muar marine police jetty before being surrendered to the Wildlife Department.

Meanwhile, Muar Wildlife and National Parks Department chief Mohd Faizal Moin said pangolins were protected animals and smugglers could be charged under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Licensing Issues Retarding Swiftlet Nest Industry

December 11, 2009
Licensing Issues Retarding Swiftlet Nest Industry

By Syed Azwan Syed Ali

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 (Bernama) -- The edible swiftlet nest industry in this country is a highly lucrative one with the annual turnover reaching RM1 billion.

But a critical issue pertaining to the licensing of the swiftlet farms within buildings located in towns may retard the industry if no solution is found.

Local authorities are against the idea of having swiftlet farms in towns as they can cause nuisance to the public and pollute the environment.

But places like Sarawak, though the swiftlet farms are forbidden in towns, still has to find a solution for more than 1,500 illegal swiftlet farms. But any attempt to eradicate the illegal swiftlet farms will bring negative impact to the industry.

So what is the best option in solving this problem to ensure that the effort to boost the industry is not derailed?


The licensing issue cropped up in October last year after the authorities conducted an exercise to clear up illegal swiftlet farms in Mukah town.

The move by the authorities has put many swiftlet farm owners in a quandary and raised many questions on the way the exercise was carried out.

During the exercise the swiftlet chicks protected under the Wildlife Act 1972 were left to die in the nests that were confiscated by the authorities. Those annoyed with the move even posted the video on the chicks' fate on youtube.

The action taken by the local authorities has certainly ruffled some feathers, especially the swiftlet farmers.

Thus the Swiftlet Merchant Association in Mukah requested Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud to help find a solution. The same request from the counterparts in Sibu and Sarikei followed suit.

The bottom line is that the farm owners wanted to continue operations in the existing premises with most of them being shoptlots.

But the local authorities are steadfast with their stand.


Despite the edible swiftlet nest's huge commercial potential, Sarawak's 1998 Wildlife Protection Ordinance prohibits the species from being bred in other than its natural habitat like the caves.

And this has made things difficult for the industry.

The director of Sarawak's Forestry Department who is also the Wildlife Controller for Sarawak Datuk Len Talif Salleh stressed that the state government wanted the industry to be developed in a controlled manner in accordance with the existing laws.

Len Talif pointed out about 100 licenses have been approved from the 600 to 700 applications received since May.

"Most of the licenses approved are for the "old-players" who conform to the prerequisites," said Len Talif when contacted by Bernama in Kuching.

"The rest were rejected as their proposed swiftlet farms are in towns," he said adding that enforcement measures will be taken against illegal swiftlet farms.

The licenses were issued for swiftlet farming in Mukah, Bintulu, Kuching, Kota Samarahan and Sarikei with all of the swiftlet farms in agricultural areas.


Nonetheless, the industry views the issuance of the licence as a positive development when looking at the situation prior to May this year where only two of the more than 1,500 swiftlet farms in the state were licensed.

Swiftlet farming also needs approval from agencies like the Land and Survey Department, the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) and the local authorities.

And the good news is that the state government is to build three swiftlet eco-parks in Mukah, Sarikei and Bintulu respectively with lots to be sold and rented out to those who are keen.

However, many are sceptical that the bird will nest at the eco-park and feared the bureaucratic hassle.


Thus this scepticism has prompted a big number of swiftlet farm owners to seek exemptions and continue with their activities in the existing premises in towns.

The swiftlet nest entrepreneurs also hope to adopt guidelines like the Good Animal Husbandry Practices (GAHP) for the swiftlets, so that they will be allowed to ply their trade within towns as done by their counterparts in Peninsula.

"We will follow this guideline," noted the protem chairman for the Sarikei Swiftlet Nest Merchants' Association Wong Hua Ting, which is in opposition to the state government's stand that the swiflet farming should only be carried out at agricultural areas or the proposed eco-park.

Swiftlet farming in populated areas could create pandemonium among the public especially when there are diseases involving this species of bird.

The Veterinary Services Department (VSD) has conducted more than 5,000 tests on the birds and have confirmed that the swiflet are free from bird flu and Newcastle disease.


The VSD is also preparing the guidelines on swiftlet farming and the draft proposals will be forwarded to the Steering Committee for the National Swiftlet Industry on Dec 14.

The guideline known as "1GP" makes it compulsory for swiftlet breeding premises to be registered with VSD.

However before the guideline could be adopted by the local authorities, it would be brought to the attention of the National Council on Local Government chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, which is expected to meet March next year.

"The guideline will set the standard for all local governments. It will help traders and swiftlet farm owners to venture into this field in a more organised manner," said the chairman of the Federation of Swiftlet Nest Merchants' Associations Datuk Beh Heng Seong.


Regarding the guideline, Len Talif noted that the Sarawak state government is ready to adopt the guideline as long as it does not contradict with the state ordinance which would be continuously enforced.

He also gave assurance that in future the nests would not be confiscated and instead a compound will be issued and only the equipment used will be confiscated.

This development is seen as a positive indication pertaining to enforcement but this does not mean it has opened the doors for all to start swiftlet farms without authorisation.

The government wants to see 100,000 swiftlet farms producing 500 tonnes of the bird's nest annually worth RM5 billion by 2020.

The swiftlet nest from this country is of high quality and is highly sought after in China and Arab with the prices fetching up to RM10,000 per kilogram.

Thus the solution for this licensing issue is highly pertinent and all parties involved should work hand in hand to ensure that the edible bird nest industry remains vibrant and the nation stands at par with Indonesia and Thailand, the leading producers.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tales of water

Opinion 2009-12-08 11:53
My Sinchew

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said that in order to reduce business costs, the government may reduce electricity and water tariffs next year to safeguard the welfare of the industrial sector and consumers.

It is weird that just a few days ago, the Johor state government announced that water tariffs in Johor will be increased by 12% next year.

Even weird, water tariffs in Johor have already been the highest in the country and it is now heading towards the opposition direction and becomes more expensive.

According to the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Johor, Sabah and Labuan are having the highest average domestic water tariff, which is 90 sen per cubic metre (m3). It is nearly two times as expensive as the average domestic water tariff (31 sen/m3) in Penang! As for the average industrial water tariff, Johor tops the list with RM2.93/m3, which is much more expensive than Selangor (RM1.91/m3) that ranked the second highest on the list. It is over two times as expensive as the average industrial water tariff in Sabah and Labuan (both 90 sen/m3)!

Don't forget that Johor also exports water. Its sells water to Singapore, as well as Malacca.

But in Malacca, both domestic and industrial water tariffs are (72 sen/m3 and RM1.40/m3 respectively) cheaper compared to Johor.

It is weird, isn't it?

x x x

Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew once said: “Other policies have to kneel down in front of water.”

Putting ourselves in his shoes, we can understand Lee's feeling.

Singapore has to rely on water supply from Johor over the years. If they no longer renew the contract, Johor will stop supplying water to Singapore.

In fact, Singapore has long been ready. It has been looking for new water supply sources and doing researches and developments in water technology over the past 30 years.

In 2005, Singapore opened its first desalination plant to produce about 30 million gallons of water per day.

A greater achievement was made in 2002 when Singapore unveiled its NEWater to meet 35% of its water needs.

Hyflux Group and its founder Olivia Lum should be mentioned here when we are talking about NEWater.

Olivia Lum, Singapore's Queen of Water, who helped Singapore to get rid of “water crisis” used to be a Malaysian orphan but she is now a Singapore citizen.

It is surprising, isn't it?

x x x

In fact, we should review and reflect.

Scientists said that due to the impact of global warming, the Himalayan glaciers are gradually melting, causing 1.3 billion of Asian people to face a water crisis.

Perhaps we are still far from the end of the world but it may be our future to suffer a water crisis.

Don't let our tears to be the last drop of water! (By LIM MUN FAH/ Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/ Sin Chew Daily)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Penan Declare 163,000 Hectare Area In Baram Their Peace Park

November 30, 2009

MIRI, Nov 30 (Bernama) -- A group of 200 Penan has declared 163,000 hectares of forest area in the Upper Baram as a Penan peace park, claimed a Swiss-based environmental movement, Bruno Manser Fund (BMF).

In an e-mail to Bernama here Monday, BMF claimed that a declaration ceremony took place at a remote village of Long Ajeng in Baram recently to endorse the creation of the park aimed at conserving the area, being the Penan's last remaining primeval forests, as a nature reserve.

"The Penan wish to develop tourism in their region and insist on the protection of their native customary rights," the statement added.

The statement quoted a Penan former penghulu, James Lalo Kesoh, as saying that his community still depended on the forests for their livelihood and they should needed to be preserved for future generations.

"Even though we have settled down and started life as farmers since the late 1950s, we still depend on the forests for our food supply, for raw materials such as rattan for handicrafts, for medicinal plants and for other jungle produce," he said.

Meanwhile, Long Ajeng headman Jawa Nyipa said they hoped the declaration would enable them to live peacefully with their neighbouring tribes and as "fully recognised Malaysian citizens."

"We call this park 'Peace Park' because peace is a very important concept in our culture," he added.

BMF said the proclamation of the new park marked the Penan's challenge to the Sarawak government which had earmarked the area for logging.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

‘No plastic’ for three days campaign in Penang

Nov 28, 2009
The Star

GEORGE TOWN: It is “No Plastic Day” on Tuesdays and Wednesdays too in Penang from Jan 1.

The state government has decided to extend its “No Plastic Monday” campaign against the use of plastic bags to three days in a week.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said all hypermarkets, supermarkets and mini-markets would be required to abide by the ruling for their licences to be renewed under the Local Government Act and Municipal Council of Penang Island (Food Establishments) by-laws.

“Consumers who insist on plastic bags will still pay 20sen per plastic bag, which will then be channelled to the state government’s ‘Partners Against Poverty’ fund to wipe out hardcore poverty,” he said.

Lim said even single stores at shopping malls would now be required to adhere to the ruling on Mondays.

He said according to data provided by 45 supermarkets, hypermarkets and other retailers, Penangites saved on the use of more than one million plastic bags since the campaign kicked off in July.

“To date, we have also collected RM21,403 for the fund for the poor,” he added.

“Due to tremendous public support, the state has decided to extend it to three days after discussion with all stakeholders, including non-governmental groups and plastic manufacturers.”

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dams, bio-fuel plantations cannot be classified "green energy": NGO

November 27, 2009
The Star

MIRI: Hydro-electric dam projects and biofuel-plantation projects that uproot tribal folks from their ancestral homes must be de-listed from their ''green energy'' tags and classified as ''people-destructive and eco-unfriendly'' projects, said the latest report from Survival International, a global organisation involved in protecting tribal people.

The organisation, with its headquarters in London, wants the international community and governments to stop classifying these energy-production projects as ''green projects'' if these projects ruined the lives of native communities.

Survival International Director, Stephen Corry, in an email to The Star Friday, furnished a copy of the latest report entitled ''The Most Inconvenient Truth of All'' in which the RM9bil-Bakun Dam and the RM3bil Murum Dam projects in central Sarawak were cited as among these global projects that had harmed the indigenous people and the environment.

The report also criticised similar projects in places in Africa and other continents.

It said that from South America to Borneo, the native people and the environment were suffering more intensely compared to before because of the so-called green projects being implemented by governments and rich corporations.

''Bio-fuel is being promoted all over the world as the alternative green energy to fossil fuels. However, in the pretext of going green, the reverse is actually happening.

''From South America to Borneo, we are seeing the destruction of massive areas of jungles and the ruin of ancestral homes belonging to tens of thousands of tribal people.

''Hiding behind these global push to supposedly prevent climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels, governments and giant companies are actually using them as excuses to grab land from the natives.

''Projects that victimise the people like this and that harm the environment cannot be promoted or marketed as green projects,'' said Corry.

The Survival International report also said that many of the so-called green fuel projects being implemented across the globe were merely excuses to make money at the expense of the tribal folks and the ecosystem.

Corry said that the world community must see through this hidden agenda.

''As usual, where money is concerned and vast profits are at stake, the indigenous people throughout the world are being swept aside,'' he charged.

The report called for a complete global relook of hydro-electric dam projects and biofuel projects because these projects were causing even more harm to the people and to the environment as compared to before.

The Bakun project in interior Belaga district is already 95percent completed. The flooding of the dam that measures the size of Singapore Island will start next year.

The Murum project, 70kms inland from Bakun, is just starting, with site-construction already in progress.

Food Wastage everywhere....

Photo above - a secondary school event on enviroment but ironically wastage is a common happening. Who cares when food is FREE!

Let me tell you about a very disheartening event. I was at an environment meeting with big shots such as chairman of wellknown green environment group. There was a buffet lunch. And these so-called "green" persons (suppose to lead by example) left their plates with uneaten food. They couldn't finish the food but they were overwhelmed with greed. Such are the wastage culture of Malaysians! Malaysia truly Boleh! Shame on these hypocrites!


November 27, 2009
CAP: Food wastage on the rise
The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Food wastage is on the rise in Malaysia and a concerted effort is needed to overcome this.

“It is morally wrong to waste food as there are people who are hungry or dying simply because they have no food,” said Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president Mohamed Idris.

Calling on the Government to hold a campaign against food wastage, he said it should encourage proper planning of meals, saving leftovers and sensible ordering when eating out.

“Restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets should give away food to the hungry and destitute.

“Legislations should also be introduced to penalise those who waste food including hotels, large eateries and factory canteens,” he told a press conference yesterday, adding that food wastage should be made a crime.

“Government agencies and companies should not go overboard on the amount of food served at official and corporate functions.”

Malaysians are expected to generate 30,000 tonnes of waste per day in 2020, with about 45% being food.
Website here

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Penang marts must observe ‘No Plastic Monday’ from Jan

November 21, 2009
The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Effective January next year, all hypermarkets, supermarkets and minimarkets will have to comply with the ‘No Plastic Monday’ if they want to get their licences renewed.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said those applying for new licences will also have to abide by the ruling.

He added, the state was aware that there were irresponsible supermarkets and minimarkets that had flouted the ‘No Plastic Monday’ ruling and had discreetly provided plastic bags to their customers.

He added, the state government was considering extending the four-months ‘No Plastic Monday’ introduced in July so that more people will get used to not using plastic bags.

“According to the data provided by 45 supermarkets, hypermarkets and other retailers, it is estimated that Penangites had saved over one million plastic bags in four months.

“Imagine if we had not embarked on this effort, one million plastic bags would now be contaminating our landfill, drainage and rivers,” he said at the prize-giving ceremony of the ‘Go Green Campaign” at Queensbay Mall Saturday.

Lim said there were 44 other “No Plastic” countries or cities like Penang, which was the first state in the country to cut down on plastic bag consumption through a voluntary programme.

“Even the Federal Government has announced that they will follow suit. All of us in the global community must realise the importance of preserving, protecting and promoting our environment not only for the investors, tourists but also for our future generation,” he added.

Lim said apart from this, other green projects by the state included the planting of 38,635 trees that accounted for 77% of state’s objective for this year.

Earlier, Lim presented a sofa set worth RM6,000 to lucky draw grand prize winner of the “Go Green Campaign” contest, Kam Gaik Mooi, 47 from Penang.

Queensbay Mall advertisement and promotions manager Wendy Wong said the mall was proud to initiate the ‘Go Green Campaign’ where customers who shop with an eco bag and spend a minimum of RM20 at the mall were entitled to participate.

She added that a total of 18,679 contest forms were received between July 6 and Sept 30.

Apart from Kam, six other shoppers received shopping vouchers worth RM100 each as consolation prizes.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Unimas calls for rescue mission of animals threatened by Murum Dam

November 4, 2009

MIRI: A Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) team had called for a wildlife rescue mission to save and relocate endangered animals at the construction site of the RM3bil Murum Hydro-Electric Dam in Belaga district in central Sarawak.

Some 19 species of mammals and 99 species of birds - many of them considered rare - will have their habitats destroyed when the flooding of the dam reservoir begins.

The team also noted that even before the construction of the dam started, logging and related human activities had already severely disturbed the flora and fauna.

Unimas had carried out a ground survey at the Murum Dam site, located some 183km from Bintulu, and had found that the region has a rich heritage of plant and animal-life.

The university’s Centre for Technology Transfer and Consultancy had deployed a team of researchers to the Murum area to study the impact that the dam will have on the ecosystem.

The team had compiled a report on their findings and had forwarded the report to the state authorities and to Sarawak Energy Bhd, the lead developer of the dam project.

The construction of the Murum Dam has begun in earnest, with site clearing, road clearing, hill blasting and transportation of raw materials and workers in full-swing.

“A field survey of 15 sites in the forests affected by the Murum project found 99 species of birds and at least 19 species of mammals.

“Fifteen of these bird species are classified as rare. Sixteen species of these birds are protected and six species, mainly the Hornbills and Argus Pheasants, are protected under the Sarawak Wildlife Pro­tection Ordinance.

Other protected mammals included the Western Tarsier, Borneon Gibbon and Giant Squirrel.

“The Naked Bat, Red Langur and Borneon Gibbons are threatened species. Some 39 species of these birds are endemic to Borneo and 23 of these species are already threatened,” said the report.

Among the endangered bird species found in Murum are Lesser Fish Eagles, Indian Cuckoo, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Great Slaty Woodpecker and Black-thigh Falcon and many species of hornbills found only in Sarawak, said the report.

The clearing of the access road into Murum Dam site from the Bakun Hydro-Electric Dam some 70kms away, had already affected many of the animals and birds along the route, the report said.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Muru Dam: More than 100 wildlife species at risk

Nov 2, 2009

MIRI: Some 19 species of mammals and 99 species of birds, many of them considered rare and endangered, will have their habitats destroyed because of the construction of the RM3bil Murum Hydro-Electric Dam in Belaga district in central Sarawak.

These creatures, living in the Murum, Danum and Plieran valleys, will be forced away or drowned by the inundation of 24,000ha of land and rivers under 141m of water once the dam is completed by 2013.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) carried out a ground survey at the Murum Dam site, located some 183km from Bintulu, and found that the region has a rich heritage of plant and animal life.

The university’s Centre for Technology Transfer and Consultancy deployed a team of researchers to the Murum area to study the impact that the dam will have on the ecosystem.

The team had compiled a report on its findings and forwarded it report to the state authorities and Sarawak Energy Bhd, the lead developer of the dam project.

The Star obtained a copy of the report, in which the researchers had recommended urgent measures to be taken to rescue the affected animals before the flooding of the dam reservoir begins.

(The construction of the Murum Dam has already begun in ernest, with site clearing, road clearing, hill blasting and transportation of raw materials and workers in full-swing).

“A field survey of 15 sites in the forests affected by the Murum project found 99 species of birds and at least 19 species of mammals.

“Fifteen of these bird species are classified as rare. Sixteen species of these birds are protected and six species, mainly the Hornbill and Argus Pheasant, are totally protected under the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance.

“The totally protected mammals encountered during the survey included the Western Tarsier, Borneon Gibbon and Giant Squirrel.

“The Naked Bat, Red Langur and Borneon Gibbons are threatened species. Some 39 species of these birds are endemic to Borneo and 23 of these species are already threatened,” said the report.

Among the endangered bird species found in Murum are the Lesser Fish Eagle, Indian Cuckoo, Red-Bearded Bee-eater, Great Slaty Woodpecker and Black-thigh Falcon and many species of hornbill found only in Sarawak, said the report.

The report said that these birds and mammals are a very integral part of the Murum territory.

The clearing of the access road into Murum Dam site from the Bakun Hydro-Electric Dam some 70km away has already affected many of the animals and birds along the route, said the report, pointing out that the noise pollution, clearing of the timber and the loss of the plants and insect lives had resulted in the mass migration of some of the birds already.

The Unimas team proposed that a wildlife rescue mission be carried out soon to save and relocate these animals, especially the mammals that would not be able to migrate to higher grounds once the area was flooded.

The team also noted that even before the construction of the dam started, logging and related human activities had already severely disturbed the flora and fauna in the three valleys.

Murum and Bakun are adjacent to each other. There are at least four giant timber consortiums carrying out logging operations in the Bakun and its hinterland, as well as several huge oil-palm plantations that had converted post-logged regions into massive oil-palm estates.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Minor Among 22 Arrested In Wildlife Operation

October 30, 2009

KUANTAN, Oct 30 (Bernama) -- Twenty-two people, including a minor, were arrested by the Pahang Wildlife Protection and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) during a nine-day operation which ended yesterday.

Pahang Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Shariff said the department had solved 10 wildlife hunting cases with the arrests of the suspects, all males aged between 16 and 55.

"The teenager was arrested with six men for hunting mouse deer in the Kemasul jungle near Bentong last Saturday.

"They were nabbed when we stopped a four-wheel-drive vehicle at 5.20am near the jungle and saw them behaving in a suspicious manner," she told reporters here on Friday.

Following a search, she said, nine mouse deer and a skinned porcupine were found in the boot of their vehicle.

Khairiah said the department believed that the wildlife was to be sold to interested parties, besides for their own consumption.

A total of 18 mouse deer, four "burung wak-wak" (white-breasted waterhen), six loaded guns, four knives and 88 animal traps were seized in the nine-day operation mounted by 79 Perhilitan personnel, she said,

They were being investigated for attempting to smuggle fully protected species or hunting wildlife during the prohibited season, she added.


Court Grants Orang Asli Leave To Review Environment Department's Decision

October 30, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 (Bernama) -- Twenty-seven Orang Asli were granted leave by the High Court here on Friday to seek a judicial review of the Department of Environment (DOE) director-general's decision to approve the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the Kelau Dam project in Raub, Pahang.

Justice Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin made the order in chambers after dismissing a preliminary objection by senior federal counsel Azizah Nawawi, of the DOE, who contended that the application was filed out of time.

Pendor Anger and 26 others, from the Senoi and Temuan indigenous tribe, filed the application at the High Court registry on Oct 9, 2007, naming the director-general of DOE and the Pahang and Malaysian governments as respondents.

They claimed that the land involved in the project was passed down to them by their ancestors and that it was where they find livelihood for their families.

They also claimed that the EIA report did not meet the DOE's Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines dan Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines for Dams.

The applicants said the EIA report was doubtful as it failed to cover detailed and reasonable studies on the impact on wildlife as well as give data and enviromental assessment on the affected area.

They also said that they knew nothing about the EIA report which was approved by the government on April 24, 2001 until their counsel told them.

They want a declaration that the government, by approving the dam project, has breached its fiduciary duty to protect the Orang Asli, and costs and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

The applicants were represented by counsel Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More questions raised over Murum Dam project

When corrupt politicians stayed in power for too long....this will be the consequences. They couldn't care a hoot about nature and the natives.


Oct 27, 2009
More questions raised over Murum Dam project

MURUM (Sarawak): Environmental organisations are aghast to find that the construction of the RM3bil Murum Dam in central Sarawak has already proceeded despite the fact that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was only released less than two weeks ago.

Sarawak Conservation Action Network (Scane), a coalition of more than a dozen environmental and community rights groups, said the way the state government had carried out the project was a cause for deep concern.

Scane director Raymond Abin told The Star on Tuesday that the EIA for the Murum project was only made public on Oct 18 and the Social Impact Assessment report is not even ready yet, but site- and road-clearing at the Murum Valley in Belaga district have already gone full-steam ahead.

“The developer for the Murum project (a Malaysia-China consortium led by Sarawak Energy Bhd) had only just finished the EIA report. I have a copy with me. It was only completed recently (on Oct 18).

“The report has not been gazetted as yet or tabled for discussion at official levels. The Department of Environment (DOE) has not given its approval for the report nor has the public been given a chance to express their views on it. The Social Impact Assessment has not been completed yet.

“Despite all this, the construction of the Murum Dam is already in full progress,” he said.

“The natives affected by the project have not even agreed to the relocation plan proposed by the state government. Their native land has not been surveyed. They have not been offered any compensation and yet project construction has already started,” he added.

The Star paid a visit to the Murum Valley, located 70km inland from the Bakun Dam, and found that the access road into the site earmarked for the 80m high dam had already been paved.

Trucks, lorries and four-wheel drives were making their way into and out of the Murum Valley, transporting heavy equipment, workers and raw materials like steel, cement, gravel, fuel and the like.

The dam will flood about 30,000 hectares of the Murum Valley to create a reservoir that can feed water into a generation plant to produce about 900 MWs of electricity by 2013.

Some 2,800 people, including 1,800 Penans, will have to be uprooted from eight settlements in the Murum Valley.

Abin said the manner in which the Murum Dam had proceeded without prior EIA approval and without the resettlement issues being resolved showed that the state government had no intention of negotiating or considering the plight of the affected natives.

“There is no genuine concern for the people affected by the project. In fact, some of the affected Penans said the blasting in the Murum Valley (to create the access road on the hillslopes) had started even last year, long before the state government had announced its intention to start the project.

“The affected natives had protested to the Chief Minister (in September) but to no avail,” he said.

A check with the Belaga District Office showed that the Murum Dam EIA report can be viewed by interested parties at the office’s premise.

The Murum Dam is the first of 12 new dams that are to be constructed throughout Sarawak.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Anti-logging enforcement poor in Sarawak

October 26, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Enforcement activities to prevent illegal logging, unauthorised settlement and other offences are lax in Sarawak, revealed the Auditor-General’s Report 2008.

It found that between 2006 and last year, 668 offences were detected, of which 558 were illegal logging.

Between 2006 and 2008, the audit found 94,008sq metres of forest were illegally logged, yielding 272,588 timber logs costing RM2.3mil. In 2006, only 29,179 logs were taken.

“Audit analysis on illegal logging and other offences found that the numbers continued to increase year after year,” it said.

However, the report also found that the state forestry department faced manpower shortage.

It said that out of 88 rangers, only 48 were able to carry out enforcement work. “The rest have not been supplied with safety equipment such as firearms and training in enforcement and security,” it added. It also said the target to achieve at least six million hectares of permanent forest reserve and one million hectares of fully protected forest in Sarawak would not be met unless the state government gazetted forest areas that need to be replaced following logging activities.

Tiger saved from poachers dies of infection

October 26, 2009

MALACCA: The wounded male tiger that was rescued from a poachers snare in the Royal Belum National Park early this month died in the Malacca Zoo on Tuesday.

National Parks and Wildlife Departments deputy director-general Misleah Mohd Basir said the tiger died of infection and extreme stress after undergoing surgery to amputate its right foreleg.

“We tried our best to save it first by treating the injured foreleg followed by a subsequent amputation but infection had already spread and the tiger had suffered extreme stress,” she said after closing the World Wild Life Week event at the Malacca Zoo yesterday.

The 120kg tiger was rescued from the forest reserve on Oct 4 by Perak wildlife authorities after receiving information that the animal had been ensnared by an illegal trap.

It was given emergency treatment in Perak before being sent to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre at the Malacca Zoo the next day for surgery and follow-up treatment.

Misleah acknowledged the shortage of a veterinarian at the rescue centre but denied that it was a factor in the tiger’s death.

“The tiger was treated by veterinarians from Kuala Lumpur and was monitored by an assistant based at the centre here,” she added.

In 1987, an injured male tiger was rescued from a snare and treated at the centre here. Although it had only three limbs, the tiger, named Harimau Puchong, went on to become the best animal under the zoo’s breeding programme.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Zoo Negara: An Out-of-Date Facility

At a first glance, Zoo Negara—set in the Malaysian jungle—looks like a natural setting for the animals who live there, but a closer look at the outdated enclosures (many of which were originally built in the 1980s) reveals environments that can never compare to the lush jungles, forests, grasslands, rivers, and oceans these animals call home.

Three hippos spend their miserable lives in a tiny enclosure, no bigger than your average studio apartment. A group of Malaysian sun bears constantly pant and pace around a barren enclosure, the grass worn down from their endless circles. One brown bear, who in the wild would live in cool climates like those in Russia and Canada, throws himself repeatedly against the side of his enclosure—literally having been driven insane from his confinement and boredom—while his cagemate paces. These repetitive, abnormal, and often self-destructive behaviors are called "zoochosis."

Near the front of the zoo, two Malaysian elephants are confined to a barren dirt enclosure; their only enrichment is a log and an old tire. One of the elephants is frequently chained by two of his legs—he can only move a few inches in any direction and spends his time swaying his head from side to side. Wild elephant herds roam up to 80 kilometers a day—activity that is essential to their well-being—but the entire Zoo Negara measures only 0.5 square kilometers. In the wild, these elephants would graze, pluck fruit and leaves from trees, take mud baths, and spend hours a day swimming and playing in the water.

An Oxford University study based on four decades of observing animals in captivity and in the wild found that animals such as lions, tigers, and cheetahs "show the most evidence of stress and/or psychological dysfunction in captivity" and concluded that "the keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out." Zoo Negara houses several lions, tigers, and jaguars—all of whom live in enclosures that can never meet their natural needs to roam, hunt, and play.

Zoos claim that they educate people and preserve species, but they rarely succeed on either count. Zoos present visitors with a distorted view of wildlife. Even the biggest zoos cannot provide the space, exercise, privacy, or mental stimulation needed by the animals they imprison, much less fulfill their other complex needs.

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More sad story on zoo - Monkey business here

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Iban detained over anti-logging blockade

24 October 2009

KAPIT - Malaysian police said Saturday they had arrested a native leader who set up roadblocks in Borneo to stop a logging firm from encroaching on their ancestral land.

Ondie Jugah, 55, from the Iban indigenous group, was among a group of 10 people who have mounted a blockade since early this week in the interior of eastern Sarawak state, on Borneo island.

Police said Ondie was detained late Friday after he refused to remove the blockade, following complaints filed by the logging company.

"We directed him to open up the road but he refused, so we have to take him back to facilitate investigation," a senior police official from the local Kapit district, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

Police said Ondie was expected to be released later Saturday after questioning.

Ondie's son, Anthony, urged the police to release his father, saying they were merely protecting their home.

"They (the logging company) want to destroy our land and did not want to compensate us," the 29-year-old told AFP.

Nicholas Mujah, secretary general of indigenous rights group Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, condemned the arrest as a form of "harassment" of the vulnerable group and demanded the authorities respect native land rights.

The native Iban people are the largest indigenous group in Sarawak, making up almost half of the state's two million population. Other indigenous groups include Kenyah, Kayan and about 10,000 Penan people.

The Penan, some of whom are nomadic hunter-gatherers, have complained that their way of life is under threat from extensive logging of their traditional hunting grounds, as well as the spread of palm oil and timber plantations. - AFP


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Another Great Loss of Biodiversity (Not 1 but 2 DAMned!)

More excuses to build more dams.
When they built Kenyir, they said it will last many many years.
Then they built Bakun, they said it can be exported to Peninsular Malaysia.
Now they want to build more dams (damned it) ..... and the motive?
Of course ....BALAK (timber) kepala otak hang!
Oct 11, 2009
TNB plans to build two dams in Terengganu and Pahang

KUALA TERENGGANU: Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is planning to build two new hydroelectric dams, namely in Hulu Terengganu and Hulu Jelai in Pahang.

Its vice-president (Human Resources), Muhammad Razif Abdul Rahman, said the proposed dam in Hulu Terengganu would be built in Sungai Tembat and Sungai Puah with a 250megawatt (MW) capacity, while the one in Hulu Jelai would be built with a capacity of 372 MW.

While saying that it was too early to announce the estimated cost and width of the dams, Muhammad Razif, however, said that the projects would begin soon.

"Both dams will be built simultaneously and are expected to be ready by 2014," he told reporters at the Terengganulevel TNB Aidilfitri celebration, here Sunday.

He said, once completed, the dam in Hulu Terengganu would be the third in the state, after that of the Sultan Ismail Power Station in Paka and the Sultan Mahmud Power Station in Tasik Kenyir.

"The demand for power supply is not so high in Terengganu, probably just around 300 MW. We already have a power station in Paka, which has the capacity to generate 1,200 MW electricity, and another one in Tasik Kenyir with a capacity of 400 MW.

"We are connecting the two power stations to the national grid to ensure continuous supply of electricity nationwide," he said.

Muhammad Razif said the TNB had received the approval from the Terengganu Forestry Department to start the forest clearing work.

He also reiterated that the construction of the dams was vital to achieve the government's aspiration to diversify the sources of energy in the country. - Bernama

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Coming Soon - New Kedah State Park?

Oct 10, 2009
Nature society lauds Kedah’s move to gazette forest

The Kedah branch of Malaysian Nature Society welcomes the decision by the state government to gazette the Ulu Muda forest reserve area and set up a park there.

Its secretary Phang Fatt Khow said the association had always wanted the state to protect the area.

“We applaud the state government for making such a bold decision because we have asked the state many times to protect the Ulu Muda area,” he said.

Phang said this when commenting on Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak’s announcement that the state would set up three state parks, covering 64,995ha of land.

Azizan said the parks were in Ulu Muda (27,196ha), Bujang Valley (11,636ha) and Langkawi (26,163ha).

He was quoted as saying that the park in Ulu Muda would include the Pedu, Muda and Ahning Dams while the Bujang Valley park would include the Merbok River and Gunung Jerai.

He added that the park in Langkawi would encompass Pulau Tuba and part of the Langkawi main island.

Phang said the association had been fighting for the Ulu Muda area to be protected because it was the last remaining sanctuary for animals such as elephants, tapirs, Sumatran rhinoceros, sun bears and the seladang.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Thumb Up for Selangor

Logging activities to be stopped
Oct 9, 2009

THE Selangor state government will no longer issue permits for logging on government land starting Jan 1 next year.

The blanket ruling will cover all logging activities for the inland and the mangrove forests in the state.

A source had informed The Star that the state government, in its exco meeting on July 22, had decided to stop all logging for the inland forest with immediate effect, while the ruling on the mangrove forest would be enforced on Jan 1.

It means all inland forest logging activities has stopped about two months ago while logging concessionaires holding the licence to log mangrove forest along the state’s coastal area could only do so until the end of the year.

Their licences will not be renewed upon its expiration on Dec 31.

The rule, however, does not cover the clearing of privately-owned land.

Selangor Forestry Department director Dr Yunus Zakaria said the department had not issued any new licence for logging concession this year.

He said any logging being carried out were done using the licence issued since 2006. It allows them to log until the licence expires.

He added that those concessionaires who were given the licence to log (from the previous government) were still allowed to continue until their concession expires or until their logging in the area was completed.

Asked whether they could apply to renew the licence next year, Dr Yunus said they could submit their application to them and they would forward it to the state government for approval.

“We have informed them about the expiry date of their licences,” he said.

The National Forest Council had set a quota of 1970ha of forest that could be logged for timber in Selangor.

The figure is the maximum area that could be harvested for timber every year.

However, Dr Yunus said the actual logging allowed through the licence approval was less than that of the quota by the National Forest Council.

When asked about the logging this year, he said it was much less and not even a quarter of the quoted figure allowed for harvesting.

“There are seven logging concessions for mangrove forests in Selangor,” said Dr Yunus.

“But only five of them are carrying out logging activities and sharing an area of 800ha in Pulau Ketam,” he said.

Article 74(2) of the Federal Constitution provides that land and natural resources are matters under the jurisdiction of the state governments.

It states that the state is empowered to enact laws and policies on forestry independently and a State Forestry Director is appointed to manage the administration and regulation of forest harvesting; revenue collection which includes premiums, royalties, deposits, cess and other charges, the management and development of forest resources as well as planning and coordination of the development of forest-based industry.

The states, through their respective Forestry Department, constitute permanent reserved forests and classify them for timber production and protection such as water catchment areas, wildlife reserves and bird sanctuaries, virgin jungle reserves, state parks and amenity forests.

All forest produce from these permanent reserved forests or state land remain the property of the state and all exploitation of forest produce must be licensed and administered by the state.

The state forestry directors have the power to arrest, search, seize and investigate forest-related offences, and impose fines and prosecute offenders.

In accordance with the requirement of National Forestry Act 1984, the State Forestry Departments are expected to submit annual reports to both the state authority as well as the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysia’s forest policy has always emphasised the balance between protection and production. Regulations are in place with regard to forest management operations, which specify in detail harvesting guidelines, codes of best practices, forest inventory and construction of forest roads.

All harvesting and related operations are carried out by licensed contractors.

These licences stipulate intensity of extraction, harvesting sequence, tree size limitations, transport routes and standard of road.

Harvesting timber, for both inland and mangrove forest, is allowed in the country, with the logging licence issued by the relevant state Forestry Departments.

The licence for harvesting the trees is granted to the concessionaires under the selective management systems to ensure the sustainability of the forest.

It advocates the selection of a cutting regime based on diameter limits and species composition of the standing trees. It means the logging is permitted to zones that have met the maturity criteria of the trees.

Meanwhile, the chopping of mangrove trees in Selangor is only allowed on those that have reached a minimum of 30cm in diameter.

With the average growth of about 0.6 to 0.8cm per annum, it will need about 10 years for mangrove trees to reach the minimum diameter before they can be harvested.

According to the Malaysian Nature Society, only 1.8% of Malaysia’s land is covered in mangroves, with over 50% of these mangroves lost between 1950 and 1985.

Forestry Department statistics show that Peninsular Malaysia had 85,000ha of mangrove forest in 2003, down from 86,497ha in 2002.

The Selangor Forestry Department statistics show that in 2008, a total of 18,088ha of the coastal area in the state is covered with mangrove forest.

Those who are felling the trees that are smaller would be fined if they are caught.

Contractors who cut immature tree can be fined a maximum of RM50,000. At the same time, those who are carrying out illegal logging in the state have to pay a heavier fines.

Under Section 15 of the National Forestry Act, 1984 (Amendment 1993) those illegal loggers can be fined up to a maximum of RM500,000 and mandatory imprisonment of one year minimum and a maximum of 20 years.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

We are damned!

03 Oct 2009
By Hakim Joe

Why would someone harness the power of moving liquid and transform it into a clean and usable energy? The answer is of course for the electricity that is utilized to operate the multitude of electrical and electronic devices that we have. Simple answer.

Now comes the harder question. Why would someone want to generate electricity through a giant hydroelectric plant in an area that does not demand that massive supply? Answer me that question and you can stop reading. (Admin answer: CORRUPTION!)

The Bakun Hydroelectric Plant (BHP) is located on the wrong side of the divide. The requirement for more energy emanates from the power-hungry residents of West Malaysia where flashing neon lights and air-conditioned shopping centres swallow them up by the megawatts, and not the East Malaysians where everything is rather subdued. How much electricity does one require to light up a longhouse anyway? (That was meant to be a joke…continue to vote BN and they will make certain that you people remain in longhouses watching Charlie Chaplin reruns on black and white television sets without a remote control in a congested room full of houseflies.)

Seriously though, even the West Malaysians have more than sufficient electrical energy to run all their electrical components simultaneously without having to rely on those generated by the BHP. In fact, we are drowned in it up to our nostrils that Tenaga Nasional had to payoff the Independent Power Producers (IPP) to stop their respective plants generating more electricity into the national power grid. So, why the urgent need for a hydroelectric plant capable of generating another 500 megawatts of electricity (originally 2,400MW), a plant so massive that it is only eclipsed by China’s Three Gorges Dam in Asia?

Even the original plan of rerouting the excess electricity back west through undersea cables was flawed. Yes, hydroelectric generated power is far cheaper and cleaner than the coal-fired or diesel-fired plants but when has the Malaysian government ever cared about the pollution levels in the country? (Even Petronas sells their cleaner and more expensive petroleum overseas and imports the cheaper high sulphur petroleum for use locally and the introduction of the environmental less-unfriendly RON95 was only done this year.) About the only time when they start caring is when their drivers and bodyguards find it hard to look past the windshield of their limousines.

Okay, so the West Malaysians do not require this clean energy here but what about the East Malaysians? Do they not deserve clean fresh air with their electricity? Well, of course they do but someone’s got to pollute the environment there and all the smokers and recalcitrant backyard dry leaves and rubbish burners are just not up to it, hence the intervention of the government.

To make up for cleaning the air through the production of clean hydroelectric energy (instead of coal-fired), Putrajaya in partnership with the Sarawak State Government has plans on the pipeline to retain the environmental status quo by developing a humungous pollution and toxic fumes (hydrogen fluoride, sulphur dioxide, tetrafluoromethane, hexafluoroethane, nitrogen dioxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter PM-10 and PM-2.5) generating, electricity devouring aluminium smelter within its borders, a really gigantic one judging by its proposed production capacity of a maximum of 1.5 million tons a year.

Ha! Ha! You guys over there really thought that you are going to enjoy a breath of clean air, eh? Well, think again!

Oh, by the way, the largest existing aluminium smelter being built in the world is the Emirates Aluminium (Emal) plant in Abu Dhabi, capable of producing 1.4 million tons a year when it becomes operational after 2010. When the Malaysian plant becomes operational, it will be the largest in the world – Malaysia Boleh! (A Heads of Agreement has been signed between Rio Tinto and Cahaya Mata Sarawak Berhad in 2007.) More on CMS later.

Before we start with the serious stuff, let us look at the damned dam. If anyone reading this article thinks that a dam lasts almost forever, think again. Hydroelectric plants are not considered a renewable plant where constant maintenance will keep it going perpetually. (The engineers might think that their magical skills are all that is required to keep the dam going on indefinitely but this is a hypothetical scenario as the oldest serving dam is only 110 years old.)

The water might still flow but the dam cannot be salvaged after its expected lifespan and require decommissioning. Similar to our Buatan Malaysia products, they tend to be problematic right past their expiry date. Concrete under constant pressure fails after a fixed period of time. Nothing lasts forever and even God does not build things to last forever.

The International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) predicts a lifespan of 100 years (under present engineering designs) for those that are not maintained at all and double that for those that are well-maintained. It goes without saying that these predictions are made with the clause that the dams exist in a perfect environment. The ICOLD tracks all large dams (over 100-meters tall) in the world and at least 300 have experienced accidents. These were not all catastrophic failures, but if you are an engineer in charge of building an enormous dam, you definitely want to give some thought to what can go wrong. Remember Murphy’s Law.

Even the World Bank is sceptical of such mega load-bearing structures that they had stopped financing it completely. Additionally, if you are a resident living downhill where the dam is situated, you must seriously want to consider the calibre of Mara graduates. (That was another joke! To all Mara graduates, “stay cool lah!”)

Maintaining a dam is not easy either. With such a massive structure and its corresponding parts, a lot of predetermined inspection periods must be conducted properly and diligently. The powerhouse equipment can and will suffer a breakdown, the spillways will erode, the steel pipes might crack, the valves will fail, the retaining concrete wall might also suffer a crack at the bottom, the water will silt up, the sluice gates might get jammed, and a hell of a lot of other things can happen like someone might do a 911 with a hijacked plane or Thor might have forgotten to wear his bifocals and accidentally strikes it repeatedly (with lightning). Additionally, did you know that the construction of a large dam can artificially cause earthquakes to happen in areas previously thought to be seismically inactive? (28 earthquakes were registered in Sabah and Sarawak in the period between 1965 and 1994, the highest being a 5.8 tremor in 1976.)

The most powerful artificially induced earthquake caused by the construction of a huge dam (over 100-meters in height) is thought to be the 6.5 tremor that had it epicentre directly under the 103-meter Koyna Dam reservoir in Maharashtra, Western India in 1967 which flattened the village of Koynanagar causing 180 deaths. There have been 24 dams which have induced earthquakes of magnitude 4.4 and above (in recorded history) and in 17 cases, the tremors occurred within three years of initial Impoundment of the water. The Bakun Dam is 205 meters high, over twice the 100-metre height regarded by dam experts as likely to trigger off seismic activities.

The two worst accidents happened in 1963 and 1975 in Italy and China respectively. A huge rock fall into the Vajont Dam reservoir in Italy sent an enormous splash of water over the top causing a tsunami more than 80 stories high, sweeping downstream and wiping out several villages causing the deaths of almost 2,000 people. Massive rainfalls (record 41.7 inch within 24 hours) caused the failure of the Banqiao Dam in China where millions were left homeless and a victim count exceeding 200,000. Altogether this 1-in-2,000 year chance flood caused 62 dams to fail in a domino effect where the accumulated water from one uphill dam crashes into the following dam and the accumulated water from both dams crashes into the third dam and so forth. Nothing to do with a lack of maintenance and the Banqiao Dam was designed to handle an additional 12 inch of rainfall a day (which was already an overkill) but the sedimentation caused by the rainfall choked the spillways. Overall, 15.738 billion tons of water was released triggering a 10km wide wave only 7 meters high rushing downhill at a speed of approximately 50km per hour and wiping out an area 55 kilometers long, 15 kilometers wide, and created temporary lakes as large as 12,000 square kilometers. BTW, the 1-in-2000 year deluge was caused by Super Typhoon Nina (T7503), the second deadliest tropical Pacific typhoon in history with winds up to 250km/h at its peak.

Okay, enough of the horror stories let us now look at the initial profits before construction starts. What? Oh yes, this is one of those rare construction projects that earns money from the onset. To facilitate the site being ready, the area surrounding the construction site must initially be cleared and that means timber. In fact, access roads leading to the site must be built and that means more timber as the BHP is located inside the virgin rainforest of Sarawak’s interior. Let us do a wee bit of math here – the shortest route between two points is a straight line but why settle for clearing only the trees that is in the way between these two points when one is able to maximise profits if the route takes us past the densest rainforest in the region? So, instead of clearing the forest between Point A and Point B, we can reroute it from Point A to Point C onwards to Point D and then to Point E before we make a sweeping curve back to Point B. The overall yield is estimated to be in the region of 12 million cubic meters of timber from the deforestation of 56,000 hectares of virgin rainforest. The harvest is estimated to be able to fetch RM1.2 billion in total (1995 estimates) of which a quarter was harvested.

Enough said. Let us look at the history of the BHP. Initially conceived in the early 60’s, it finally got the go-ahead in 1986 when TDM gave it the thumbs up (as opposed to the thumbs down given to Mohd Isa in the Bagan Pinang by-election) and preliminary studies were conducted to assess the feasibility of constructing a 205-meter high dam capable of producing 2,400MW of hydroelectric juice annually. This was at a time when Malaysia was slowly recovering from the 1985 recession and by 1990, the boasts of having the largest hydroelectric dam in Asia (China’s 3 Gorges Dam was not conceived yet) came back to haunt the Malaysian government as they were forced to shelf it due to the low demand for electricity and high cost of building it. Strike One.

As a stubborn man who can never accept no for an answer, TDM revived the US$5.2 billion “deal of the century” project again in September 1993 and awarded it to Ekran Berhad (without a public tender exercise) in 1994. (Ekran’s CEO’s wife is the now infamous “I don’t know what is projected cashflow” former PKA General Manager and PKFZ MD Datin O.C. Phang.) One of the major shareholders of Ekran is Rasip Harun. Who is he? Rasip is the business partner of Tun Daim Zainuddin (who happens to be the Finance Minister at that time). Coincidence? Rasip is also the partner of Robert Tan Hua Choon (another one of Daim’s business partners) who controlled Jasa Kita Sdn Bhd, a company involved in the Maika Telekoms share diversion. Remember Samy’s proxy company Clearway Sdn Bhd? Robert Tan’s driver (Baharuddin M. Arip) happened to be a director of that company. Rich driver indeed! (Probably comes to work in a Lamborghini.)

How did a Chinaman from Sarawak lay his hands on “the deal of the century”? TDM is after all no Cina Apek lover and his continuation of support for the NEP only serves to reinforce his ambition to see his cronies get enriched in government projects, and there are certainly more than enough of these people to serve his needs. Okay, one good deed deserves another and TDM is merely reciprocating a “debt of honour”.

The story goes like this. Ting Pek Khiing was a two-bit small time construction subcontractor picking up low-margin construction jobs in Sarawak but he had a reputation as the “Speed Demon” where no jobs are too complicated or too short a period to complete. His “never say die until you meet the God of Hades” attitude soon caught the eye of Emperor Abdul Taib Mahmud, and they soon found each others’ company “enriching”. Being a crafty Chinaman, he soon latched on to the Emperor’s two princes (Mahmud Abu Bekir and Sulaiman Abdul Rahman) and they formed a company seeking timber concessions from the Sarawak government. To Ting, it seemed like all his Christmas(es) have arrived together. On the other side of the horizon, TDM found himself in a pickle after sending out gilded invitations to the high and mighty of the international aerospace industry to kick off his inaugural international air show on Langkawi Island. No, there is nothing wrong with the air show except that the construction of the new convention resort is ambling along at such a pace that the invited guests might start fighting for the park benches after their arrival. The ever so helpful Taib knew of this and recommended Ting to TDM. Now, TDM does not suffer fools gladly and Ting’s “can do” motto was soon put to the test. Ting went on to slap together the remainder of the resort in a record breaking three months, saving TDM the embarrassment of ever having his invited guests sleep in the open, and earned himself the nickname of Ting Pek “Speed” Khiing. A star is born (no, not Barbara Streisand).

Ting, whose total knowledge about building a dam can probably fit on a single line on an A4 paper, hired Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) of Zurich and Companhia Brasileira de Projetos e Obras (CBPO) of Brazil as the contractors and formed a construction consortium consisting of Ekran Berhad, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), the government of Sarawak, Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation (Sesco), and Malaysia Mining Corporation Bhd (MMC) – Syed Mokhtar was bound to have some kind of involvement in TDM’s projects.

So, how does one go about building a dam? Well, first you need to clear the land, and I mean “clear the bloody land” and that includes any indigenous people living there. Wildlife? Get rid of them all. Foliage and vegetation? Clear them out. Man-made structures? Flatten them. Timber? Keep and sell them.

Negotiations soon started between the indigenous people and state government. The almost 9,000 natives will be relocated to Sungai Asap under the Asap Resettlement Scheme (Operation Exodus) and each family be given 3 hectares of land gratis. This is of course pending on the outcome of the EIA report. (The natives eventually received 3 acres each, not 3 hectares as promised – suckers!)

Financing of this massive project was shady, to say the least. Investment capital was announced as a matter of fact stating only that the Sarawak government together with Ekran will provide 51% of the financing and the remaining 49% will be harvested from money-growing-trees. Okay, fair enough but how will abang-adik provide for the 51% which amounted to RM7.65 billion? Initially, Ekran launched a rights issue to finance the building of the dam, but it was pitifully undersubscribed (Ting had to eventually payout RM500 million). Well, EPF allegedly chipped in RM3 billion, the Pension Trust Fund for Bakun contributed RM400 million, and Hicom and TNB made up the rest. More of it later on.

Let us look at the two main contractors. First, ABB. Not a very good sign already. This is the same company under the same management that sold seven gas turbines valued at $500 million for $1 billion each to TNB. (Wonder where the excess money went to.) Then there is CBFO, the company that built both the Itaipu and Xingu dams in Brazil. Both went over budget by 488% and 100% respectively. Great, eh? And then there is the preliminary work performed by South Korea's Dong-Ah Construction and Industrial Co, the same company that built the Songsu Bridge over the Han River in central Seoul which collapsed killing 32 people in 1994. Getting better, right? Fortunately the 1997 Asian economic crisis brought things to a screeching halt after construction started in 1996. Strike Two.

Due payments were then made to Dong-Ah (RM400 million) for completing the river diversion tunnels, Global Upline (RM60 million) for completing the auxiliary coffer dams and an undisclosed sum (rumoured to be in the region of RM1.8 billion) to Ekran as compensation for kicking them out. The government had also turned over a sum of RM1 billion to the Bakun Dam Consortium for the purchase of 8 hydropower turbines (the contract eventually went to IMPSA of Argentina and Alstom of France). BTW, Global Upline belongs to Ting as well.

IMPSA managing director Juan Aguero later revealed that they had secured the contract to design, manufacture, assemble and commission 4 of the 8 turbines at the Bakun project for RM300 million. The math doesn’t work out correctly, agree? If 4 turbines cost a total of RM300 million, 8 turbines should cost twice that amount, i.e. RM300 million times 2 equals RM600 million. So, where is the other RM400 million? Maybe the dog ate it or is this a case of what we call “escalating inflation”?

In 2000, plans were renewed to revive the project. Sarawak Hidro, a 100% government-owned company was established to take control of the construction of the Bakun Dam. The initial plans to transmit the additional electricity back to West Malaysia was now abandoned as the cabling project cost more than the remaining construction of the dam.

In 2002, the new main contractor was named. The Malaysia-China Hydro JV (MCH), a 70:30 consortium led by Sime Engineering Berhad of Malaysia (a subsidiary of Sime Darby) and Sino-Hydro Corporation of China. Other members of the consortium are WCT Berhad, MTD Capital, Ahmad Zaki Resources, Syarikat Ismail and Edward & Sons. Dato' Mohamad Shukri Baharom is the Chairman of this company and also the executive VP of Sime Darby Group's Energy & Utilities Division. The new completion date was summarily revised to February 2008.

Two years later, the engineering consulting firm JR Knowles of the UK (no relation to the sexy “PAS kata haram” BeyoncĂ© Knowles) was hired to study the delays in the construction of the dam. The spanking newly revised and freshly amended completion date is now sometime in 2010 (probably February the 30th.) Also in 2004, Global Upline (owned by Ting) was allegedly awarded the contract to clear the biomass in the flood basin. One company (under the name of Pacific Chemicals and also owned by Ting) had already “cleared” a quarter of it (in 1995) and another was “just coming back to finish off the job” in an alternative form.

Let us leave the construction side of things and access the feasibility of using the excess energy being churned by the 8 turbines. Here is where the aluminium smelter comes in. Forget about the non-income generating toxic gases for awhile and concentrate on the electrical usage. This mega smelter requires 50% of the total electricity produced by the Bakun Dam and that means a huge and constant income for Sesco (1,200MW at a selling price of RM0.286 per unit equals RM343.2 million a year. The current IPP selling price to TNB is RM0.017 per unit. The total margin would be RM322.8 million a year.). Additionally, it will provide an extra 4,700 jobs. Wow! We can even construct huge fans in arrays and blow it in the direction of Indonesia if they do not control their annual forest fires! Double Wow!

As mentioned above, the two suspects in this joint venture are Rio Tinto (largest aluminium manufacturer in the world) and CMS. Never heard of Cahaya Mata Sarawak Berhad before? Well, it was called Cement Manufacturers Sarawak Berhad when it started business in 1974 producing Portland cement as a state-owned firm. It was in the 90’s that it was privatised from a state-owned public-listed company into a private sector public-listed conglomerate. Why would someone takeover such a dull company? Let’s look at what CMS owned before they were privatised - PPES Quarry, Steel Industries Sarawak and PCMS, all profitable companies. After the takeover, CMS continued consolidating their company by purchasing Syrakusa Sdn Bhd and Concordance Sdn Bhd, via cash and share swaps. In a reverse takeover, the owners of these two companies acquired CMS and began injecting their other assets into it including Bank Utama, Sarawak Securities and Archipelago Shipping. CMS is now a diversified conglomerate involved in stock brokering, road construction, water filtration and treatment, quarry operations, civil and structural engineering, steel bar manufacturing, trading of construction materials, cement production, technology, education, financial services and investment holdings. No prizes for guessing who owns CMS – the Mahmud family. Oh, by the way, Taib Mahmud’s spouse Laila and his children are the majority shareholders of Sitehost Plc, Australia, which owns the 380-room Adelaide Hilton Hotel. Company records dated December 2000 show them holding 95 percent of the company or 9.5 million (Aussie dollars) fully paid up shares. One question: How much does a hotel cost anyway? Another family member (Taib’s brother Onn Mahmud) along with his daughter and son in law owns SAKTO Corporation, a major real estate operator of non-residential buildings in Ottawa, owning and managing more than half a million square feet of prime office space with affiliate offices in the US, UK, Asia and Australia. They also own SAKTO Development Corporation, a multi-million dollar development and construction company in Ottawa.

Back to the construction site. In 2007, the government once again revived the cabling project. The new estimates (from TNB) are approximately RM9 billion. Others put it as high as RM20 billion, depending on the number of cables involved. These include the Bakun to Bintulu HVAC double circuit overhead lines for a distance of 160 km, Bakun to Tanjung Parih HVDC overhead line for a distance of 670 km, Tanjung Parih to Tanjung Tenggara submarine cable for a distance of 670 km and the Tanjung Tenggara to Kuantan landline to connect to the national grid. The government in fact invited Sumitomo Corp of Japan to do a feasibility study report and assist in the laying of the submarine cable. The longest existing submarine cable is the 580km NorNed undersea connection linking Norway and the Netherlands.

The once revised 500MW capacity is once again back to the original figure of 2,4000MW with 1,600MW being rerouted back west and the completion date has been pushed further back by another year. This is done with the assumption that Rio Tinto would back out of the aluminium smelter deal. However plans are being drawn to construct yet another dam (the 1,000MW Murum Dam in the Upper Rejang Basin of central Sarawak) and concept studies are being prepared for the construction of an enormous 20,000MW hydroelectric dam along the Rejang River rivalling China’s 22,500MW Three Gorges Dam.

In 2008, Sime Darby announced that the company will not be taking up the offer of an equity stake in the Bakun project. This prompted the government to search for another shareholder and at the beginning of this year, TNB and Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) were granted permission by the federal government to form a special purpose vehicle to jointly takeover the entire project from Sarawak Hidro through a leasing agreement. Additionally, the Xinhua News Agency published a report on its website revealing that four Chinese state-owned enterprises, including China Sinohydro Corp, had been "downgraded" because of "safety or environmental pollution accidents". Sinohydro is one of seven firms in the Malaysia-China Hydro Joint Venture consortium working on the Bakun Dam.

The proposed public tender for the undersea cable laying process is expected to be held next year. The manufacture of these RM4 billion cables was promised to FCW Holdings way back at the onset of the project by TDM but anything could happen now that the government is under a new administration. (FCW Holdings is owned by Ting and allegedly also by one of TDM’s son.)

One last thing, the planning of the dam was conducted with no public accessibility to vital feasibility studies, no process of public feedback on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process and limited consultation procedures with the indigenous peoples. Feasibility studies and reports commissioned by the government on the Bakun project have been classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), meaning it is a criminal offense for anyone to see or use their information. Not all of the appendices, interim and final reports of the EIAs have been made accessible to the general public. Project proponents have refused to meet critics in any open discussion.

Cost overruns? Maybe, but one won’t get to hear about it as this information is classified (unless MT gets their hands on it). Let’s just put it this way – if a RM1.8 billion project situated in nearby Klang can balloon to a staggering RM12.5 billion, what are the chances that a US$5.2 billion (approximately RM26.3 billion) project situated in the middle of the forest in Sarawak, coming in on budget?

Jinxed dam? Perhaps, but one thing is certain – we (the taxpayers) are damned.
Malaysia Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has been going cuckoo.
Ranking for Malaysia has been sliding down.....
2001 - 36
2002 - 33
2003 - 37
2004 - 39
2005 - 39
2006 - 44
2007 - 43
2008 - 47

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Phee Boon Poh - My Environmental Hero

Phee Boon Poh is my hero for environment change. He dares to be different. Without fear of any blacklash from the voters. I have attended his meeting and found that he has been consistent in his policy on good environmental ethics. At last we have one politician who can speak the language of green living without fear or favour. Environmentalists should crusade with this rare gem from PENANG.
Thank you YB Phee Boon Poh.

Sept 30, 2009
Phee: Penang may fine hawkers using polystyrene

GEORGE TOWN: A proposed “polluters must pay” policy in Penang suggests imposing higher licensing fees on hawkers using polystyrene materials.

The policy was considered as polystyrene bowls, plates, cups and containers were found to be major sources of mosquito-breeding grounds, said State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.

Those caught polystyrene littering will also be slapped with heavier fines under this policy.

“We found 2,807 mosquito-breeding grounds in 130,000 places from Jan 1 to June 6.

“The biggest culprits were plastic bags and the polystyrene items, much of which were found on road sides, near dustbins and fields,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Phee said there were 814 confirmed dengue cases from Jan 1 to Sept 26 this year – a 72.46% increase compared to the 472 cases recorded during the same period last year.

He said hawkers and the public should opt for other alternatives such as reusable containers or bringing their own tiffin carriers for take-aways. “This may sound harsh but we care for the people.

“The alternative may be more expensive but the consumer has to decide which is cheaper: tiffin carriers and reusable containers, or going to the doctor?

“If one gets dengue, there’s always the possibility of death,” Phee warned.

He expected the “polluters must pay” policy to be discussed at the Seberang Prai Municipal Council full council meeting today.

He had also suggested to councillors from the Penang Municipal Council to bring up the matter at their next full council meeting.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Kinta Nature Park to be gazetted as wildlife sanctuary

Sept 25, 2009

IPOH: The Perak government will gazette the Kinta Nature Park as a wildlife sanctuary to prevent it from being destroyed by encroachment and illegal activities.

State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said gazetting the park would not take much time as the groundwork for it had been prepared when Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali was Perak mentri besar, and there was a file on the proposal in the state Land and Mines office.

“We will have to decide on which agency would manage the park and look into upgrading its facilities before promoting the park for tourism,” she told reporters during an inspection of the park in Batu Gajah after receiving complaints from the Perak branch of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

Accompanying her were MNS Perak branch vice-chairman Lee Ping Kong, council member Tan Chin Tong and ornithologist Lim Kim Chye, who is the MNS Perak Branch Bird Group Coordinator.

“It will be a waste if such a potential tourist attraction like the park is neglected. It is said to be the best place for bird-watching in Malaysia. It is the home to more than 130 species of birds and has the largest heronry in the country on one of its islands,” she said.

It was reported in The Star on Tuesday that the park would will lose the heronry if illegal activities continued there.

Almost 60% of the birds in the park are listed as totally protected or protected under the Protection of Wild Life Act 1976.

A recent check by the MNS revealed that someone had fenced up the whole lake where the heronry, with five breeding species of 2,000 waterbirds, is located, with the intention of starting commercial fish farming.

The MNS had complained that pristine mining pools at the southern end of the park have been taken over by duck farms and that incursions by sand extraction activities have increased.

The lack of a management body had resulted in damage and disrepair to the infrastructure.

The only watchman in the park said he was only there to guard the amenities and was powerless to prevent any form of encroachment.

Hamidah said the park was managed by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan). She expressed disappointment at the amenities in the park having been vandalised and the grass not having been cut for months.

“We will like to park to be managed by the Kampar district office with Perhilitan playing a monitoring role,” she said.

Hamidah also agreed to look into a suggestion by the MNS to let the park be placed under the jurisdiction of the Perak State Parks Corporation.

She said the duck farms operating without permit would have to stop.

Hamidah added that she would talk with the Kampar District Office to stop renewing the permits for sand mining in the park.

On whether the park should be named the Royal Perak Wetlands, as proposed after the it was set up in 2001, Hamidah said the name would need consent from the Perak royal family.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dams a curse from hell, say Orang Ulu

Joseph Tawie
15 September 2009

KUCHING - The Orang Ulu communities of Kayan, Penan and Kenyah have stressed their opposition to the Sarawak Government’s plan to proceed with the construction of the Baram and Murum dams, explaining that they will virtually drown almost all their properties, lands, fruit trees, graveyards and cultural heritage.

In Baram, some 20,000 people from 30 or more longhouses and villages along the Baram River valley, locally known as Telang Usan, will be affected and displaced by the dam, said Philip Jau of Long Laput when he and four other Orang Ulu representatives met the press at a hotel in Kuching today.

About 38,900 hectares (389 sq km) of forest and land, the bulk of it is native customary land consisting of temuda, cultivated lands, gardens, villages, churches, graveyards, community forests and sites of historical significance will be submerged.

Not moving an inch

“Our YBs (elected representatives) say that the dam is a blessing from God, but we say it is a curse from Hell,” he said, and insisted that they would not move an inch from their present villages and longhouses.

“We have seen how the people of Sg Asap suffer after they have been moved out of their villages and longhouses in Belaga because of the Bakun dam. Their lives are worse than they were before,” he said.

Jau declared: “We will fight to the end, and there are so many ways to fight them (government); one is through the elections and another is through the court and yet another is through the United Nations.”

“Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak talks about 1Malaysia with the people given preference and yet we the Orang Ulu have been sidelined, our plight and our problems ignored.

“What the state government is doing to the Orang Ulu is contrary to the wishes of the prime minister,” he added.

A 55-year-old tua kampong, Panai Irang of Long Sepatai Akar, Baram, said that he and his Penan people could not live in water and if the dam was to be built, they would perish together with the water.

Signature campaigns

Speaking in Penan, he said: “Our greatest worry is that the dam is going to flood our villages, our properties and our land on which we have planted fruit trees and we have learnt to cultivate on land to survive. That is why we don’t want the dam to be built.

“Not only the Penans are worried, but also other communities like the Kayans, Kenyahs and others,” he said, pointing out that this was the message his people wanted to convey to the authorities.

Expressing similar sentiments was Johannes Luhat of Kpg Long San, who said that they had initiated a signature campaign among the Orang Ulu communities against the dam project.

“So far we have collected more than 200 signatures. More are coming as we have sent our men to the ground,” he said, adding that after the signatures had been collected, they would submit a petition bearing those signatures to both the State and Federal governments.

Luhat made it very clear that they were not anti-development. “Sure we want development such as roads, hospitals, schools, rural electrification projects, but not a project such as the Baram dam which will destroy our lives and livelihood.”

Like their counterparts from Baram, two representatives from Belaga, Bujang Jalong and Suie Along also expressed their opposition against the construction of the Murum dam in their area.

Lives have turned for the worst

Suie said: “Both of us are representing some 1,000 Penans of Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu, Long Malim and Long Ubain villages along the Sungai Peleiran-Murum.

“We come to Kuching not to ‘makan angin’ (leisure) but with a heavy heart, full of worry and sadness and to tell the world of our plight after the construction of Murum dam has started,” he said.

Suie said that all their villages, longhouses, lands, gardens, properties and graveyards as well as their hunting grounds would be destroyed and flooded by the dam.

“We are then forced to move out from our villages to an unknown area,” he said, adding that they were aware that the government had failed to provide better living to those who had been affected by the Bakun and Batang Ai dams.

The people of Sg Asap faced serious social, economic and a host of other problems, he said.

The Penan Talun, Long Belangan have been suffering and their lives are worst now than they were in their previous villages.

“We know the impact will be on our livelihood, our community and on our generation,” he said, expressing the hope that the government should cease immediately the construction of the dam.