Friday, April 30, 2010

Sand Thieves damaging environment

This will be another "talking-kok" publicity stunt.
410 tip-offs" and only 43 nabbed?
This illegal activity has been going on for years..." and what have they done to nab the problem?
Most of these illegal sand minings are from Barisan Najis states....and that could be the reason why it will merely be a once in a full-moon-stunt. When political masters intervene, all these stunts will end.
Gua tak caya lagi....

Friday April 30, 2010
Hunt for culprits who have made billions and damaged environment

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is on a nationwide hunt for sand thieves who have not only raked in billions of ringgit but also caused massive damage to the environment.

It is learnt that MACC officers who went undercover have so far nabbed 43 suspects and several more are on their radar.

MACC director of investigations Mustafar Ali said a special task force had unearthed the activities of several syndicates that had been “exporting” sand under the guise of silica to a neighbouring country.

“Exporting sand is illegal but not silica which is a component in sand used to make glass.

“Nineteen people have been charged so far and more will be taken to court once we obtain the Deputy Public Prosecutor’s consent,” he told The Star.

Mustafar said the MACC had received 410 tip-offs and reports on illegal sand mining and it was working closely with other relevant agencies.

He said in one state alone, it was estimated that 3,000 lorries were transporting sand illegally, involving a face value of about RM1.6mil daily.

In a month, the sand thieves would have amassed at least RM48.9mil, and RM587mil a year. This amount does not include sand smuggled in barges.

“This illegal activity has been going on for years and they are damaging the environment, flora and fauna as well as causing erosion,’’ Mustafar added.

Mustafar said MACC investigations revealed that bribes paid out to those in authority ranged between RM500 and RM88,000, with sexual favours also thrown in.

He said those caught before the MACC Act 2009 was enforced in 2009 could be jailed a minimum of 14 days and up to 20 years, and fined RM10,000 or five times the gratification amount, whichever is higher, or both.

Under the MACC Act, a person convicted of the offence could be jailed up to 20 years or fined five times the amount of gratification or both.

Mustafar appealed to the public who knew of such illegal activities to contact the authorities.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stop! Who is destroying the Penang Botanic Garden?

Fern House today in horrible state

The Working Group of the Penang Forum expresses alarm over the building of concrete structures and the destruction of the natural beauty at the Penang Botanic Garden.

Our Penang Botanic Garden, founded in 1884, is one of our most treasured possessions. Set up as a botanical institute and propagation centre, it also provided cool lush greenery and a quiet haven for the growing population of the city. It has always had a very special place in the hearts of Penangites.

But now we see colossal concrete structures and ad-hoc destruction of plant houses and plant collections taking place. Natural meandering streams have been canalised into drains. There is widespread loss of greenery, and ecologically insensitive structures such as arches with no relation to the surroundings mar vistas of the hills. Oversized glass and steel buildings such as an administration block have taken the place of rain-trees and shrubs.

At a time when ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ are the buzzwords and in a site like the Botanical Gardens, the powers-that-be have engaged in an exercise of total non-sustainability. Seven concrete pools with insignificant fountains lie between the two arches. We all know that, all too soon, they will stop flowing and turn into mosquito breeding grounds. If the budget for maintaining the Garden is insufficient for qualified botanists and trained staff crucial for the proper maintenance of the plant collections, how will all these new outsized structures be up-kept?

The Federal Government is spending millions of taxpayers’ money on the Garden's development but with no masterplan or coherent concept of what the Garden should be. Without this master plan, the expansion of the Garden from from 72 to 592 acres in 2004 cannot meet the challenges in coming decades.

The present setting within a natural tropical dipterocarp rain forest is the envy of many botanic gardens in the world. Yet, the ill-conceived and thoughtless development we now see will mean we will never develop into a world class botanic garden. The authorities have not bothered to seek public consultation or feedback or tell us exactly what it is doing.

The State Government says they do not want to object in case the Federal Government withholds other funding for Penang. But surely not objecting to the projects does not mean that the state authorities cannot modify the proposals made by consultants. All attempts by NGOs and USM academics to put forward recommendations for the future well being of the Garden have been ignored. Where do the people of Penang come in; where do we count? Doesn’t anyone in power care that the future of the Garden is being severely compromised?

WE SAY STOP. Stop until a Penang Botanic Garden Master Plan has been commissioned, prepared and passed, to be the basis of all future developments of the Garden. It must be drawn up in consultation with all major stakeholders and users of the Garden, it must be professionally reviewed and publicly exhibited. The Garden cannot be at the mercy of passing fancies of ill-informed civil servants, politicians and VIPs who might visit and think there should be a ‘Balinese garden’ there and a ‘Japanese garden’ here or some horrendous arches at the entrance.

Over 2 million visitors enjoy the Garden annually and thousands of ordinary people walk and hike and enjoy the Garden daily. There is consternation and dismay and uncertainly at what is happening. What they see is ad-hoc, destructive, ecologically insensitive and is out of keeping with the natural beauty of our Gardens. Please stop before greater irreparable damage is done.

Dato’ Dr Leong Yueh Kwong
Loh-Lim Lin Lee
Tengku Dato’ Idaura
Kanda Kumar
James Lochhead
Ahmad Chik

On behalf of the Working Group of the Penang Forum, a coalition of Penang-based NGOs and concerned individuals

21 April 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Animal cruelty laws need more bite

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

April 19, 2010
Stories by BAVANI M

LAWS governing animal welfare in Malaysia have no bite. Take Section 44 of the Animal Act 1953 (2006 Amendment) which says that anyone guilty of an offence of cruelty to animals shall be liable to a fine of RM200 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both.

The sentence is too light and those found guilty hardly get the maximum sentence.

The governing authority with the statutory right to take legal action against animal abusers is the Veterinary Services Department (VSD). The VSD, however, has been accused of taking a lackadaisical approach to enimal cruelty cases.

Lack of enforcement by the department has been blamed for the rise in cruelty cases in the city.

Even municipal councils have been branded as toothless because of a lack of enforcement of the by-laws.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor marketing and communications manager Jacinta Johnson-Chan said a total of 657 cruelty cases were reported last year with 90% of it involving dogs but none were prosecuted.

The rare abuse cases that went to court resulted in the owners getting off with just a paltry fine.

However, the case of seven-year-old German Sheperd Sheena, who had to be put down after suffering abuse at the hands of her owner, sparked nationwide protests from animal activists pushing for a change in legislation.

Animal lovers got together to sign a petition calling for, among others:

·An increase in the fine from RM200 to RM10,000;

· Increase the jail term from six months to two years;

· A lifetime ban on animal ownership for those charged charged with abuse; and

· Urging the public to be responsible pet owners.

A total of 83,032 signatures were collected and the petition was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Department in January, 2007.

There has been no news since then and, despite all the efforts of animal welfare groups, nothing has changed in terms of enforcement.

SPCA chairman Christine Chin blames it on the lack of enforcement by the authorities concerned and the lack of willpower to change things.

“Such paltry sentences send out the wrong message to the public that it’s alright to abuse animals.

“Despite having these laws, no one really gets punished for cruelty and that’s why it keeps happening again and again,” she said.

“Municipal councils also don’t seem to address cruelty cases despite having provisions to do so.

“In fact, the councils are contravening their own by-laws,” she said, adding that local authorities seemed to be only interested in catching strays and putting them down.

Animal rights lawyer N. Surendran said that municipal council by-laws come under the Local Government Act 1976 and there were sections dealing with cruelty to animals.

However, Surendran said he had never heard of anyone being taken to court under these by-laws.

Surendran, who is also the president of the Malaysian Animal Rights and Welfare Association (ROAR), cited the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) by-laws as an example.

He said that Section 10 of the 2007 by-laws stated that any person who ill-treats a dog can be fined not more than RM2,000 or be put in prison for not more than a year or both.

He said the council’s enforcement officers could take action on cruelty cases but, for some reason, they refuse to do so despite having clear proof.

Surendran cited the recent KTM dog abuse case as an example.

“Despite identifying the perpetrators, the authority concerned chose to do nothing.

“This is not the first time though, there have been numerous cases with proof of animal abuse and the governing authorities always seem to turn a blind eye,” he said, adding that in the KTM dog abuse case the governing authority was the VSD.

“Malaysian animal laws are one of the worst (see chart) in the world and the situation has certainly put a dent in the image of the country as a developed nation.

“It sends out the wrong perception to foreigners when they see and hear about animal abuse cases,” he said.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mismanaging of Heritage Botanic Gardens Penang

This morning, I attended this so-called Natural Heritage Programme at Penang Botanic Gardens also known as Waterfall Gardens or Monkey Gardens. Botanic Gardens is actually a collection of mini gardens within this big garden. In 1884, Charles Curtis, a horticulturist and a keen gardener developed this ex-quarry into a garden famous throughout the world. It was known to have collected many species for the Kew Gardens then. It was a hush hush programme as invitation was only sent out within 24 hrs. There were not enough chairs for nature lovers to sit. We were actually called just for the sake of showing to the public that such an event was done. I didn't see any reporter too. Panelists were green horns or most were ignorant. The architect can't even answer a simple question "what is the concept for the two arches?". The master plan (dated 1987!) includes a pond inside the present garden, a canopy walk at the waterfall (which is only open for visitors once a year), a monkeys feeding area (and thus causing more monkeys problem later) and more stupid development that of course make some cronies very rich. It was a very sad day for Botanic Gardens. The Federal Government with all our taxpayers' money just spent, spent, spent for her cronies......and our local State Government just couldn't careless, afraid of jeopardizing the funding from the Barisan Najis. This is real SHIT! Shit to all of us as Penangites. Shit to our heritage! Gone forever!

Ugly arches taking shape at the Botanic Gardens. Beside some other smaller trees, I know of two huge raintrees were chopped to make way for this unsustainable fountain. Unsustainable because a nearby stream from the quarry garden was diverted into the drain instead of using the water for this pond. Energy and water resources will cost taxpayer money. They just know how to build without understanding the function of a botanic garden. Perhaps changing Botanic Gardens into Botanic Recreational Park would suit this mismanagement.

If you use the new side walk between Bambusetum and Lower Circular Road in the Botanic Gardens, you would pass these clumps of Nibong palms. Unfortunately, they were being burnt. Perhaps they are going to axe them as burning away the torns will make chopping easier. Let see whether they are going to chop them soon. Botanic Gardens are important sanctuary for the preservation and conservation of plant species. And here at Penang's Botanic Gardens, idiots are destroying them instead. And these Nibong are at least 80 years old.

Many years ago, there were 11 gardens in Botanic Gardens. I know of Bougainvilla Garden which had been replaced with a gazebo. Today, Fern Rockery suffered the same fate. Look at the miserable ferns. So badly damaged. If Charles Curtis is alive today, he would have f**k these idiots that destroy this heritage garden. Is it for the scrap steel?

I was shocked to read that the Master Plan exhibited was dated 1987! More than 20 years ago this plan was rejected because of unnecessary development that does not comform with the concept and function of botanic gardens. How hopeless this people in managing our Botanic Gardens. Can't even produce an updated and proper Master Plan. And they are management our valuable heritage. Sad indeed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Penans in search of tribesman appeal for food

Thu, 15 Apr 2010 06:45
By Roselind Jarrow

MIRI: A group of eight nomadic Penan families of Ba’ Puak are on the verge of starvation unless food rations are immediately delivered to them.

“We are seeking the help of the public at large to provide us with our daily necessities as our rations have drained out after carrying out almost five months of search and rescue (SAR) operation for one of our men who went missing around the forest in Loagan Bunut National Park last year,” said the headman of the group Jepery Moyong.

“We appeal to the general public to help us with foods and provisions to enable us to sustain our community SAR operation.

“We will be starving soon and have no choice but to ask for help since we are severely facing shortages of food,” he said, adding that it was not easy to find food in the peat forest.

Jepery also said that they did not want to cause trouble and be accused for illegal encroachment into the national park.

Emang Moyong, 33, went missing on Nov 2 last year after performing at a cultural event organised by Petronas at its gas pipeline project camp site in Tinjar.

Emang was then purportedly asked to do video filming on the Penan’s way of hunting with blowpipes at Loagan Bunut National Park.

He was said to have been threatened by the so-called film crews. Since then, the Penans have launched a community search and rescue (SAR) operation in the thick forest around the park area.

The Malaysian Police had also carried out a three-week SAR operation in November and December but were unsuccessful.

The police have since closed the case as their operations after failing to trace and locate Emang whereabouts.

“We the Penan families are determined to continue with our search even though the authorities have ceased their SAR operation.

“We will not stop our SAR operations as we believe that Emang is still alive,” he said.

Jepery said Emang was frightened and traumatised and and could be hiding from somebody.

“This situation can happen to any nomadic Penans as we are seldom in contact with outsiders,” he said.

Emang’s wife Usun Malin, 26 and two children Maria, 8 and Mathew, 6, are still hopeful to find him alive.

“We would only be relieved if his remains are found that is if he had died, and then we will go back peacefully to Ba’ Puak,” said Usun.

The nomadic Penan group of Ba Puak is among the few Penan nomads left in the rainforest of Sarawak.

There are about 15 families at their settlement in Long Selulung, Ba’ Puak in upper Tutoh River area in the interior part of Baram District in the northern region of Sarawak.

The Loagan Bunut National Park has an area of 10,736 hectares and was gazetted by the Sarawak State Government as totally protected area on 29 August 1991. It is more or less about 100km from Long Selulung in Ba’ Puak.

The national coordinator of Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (SCANE) Raymond Abin is sympathetic with the plight and distress of the nomadic Penan Ba’ Puak.

He called upon civil society organisations, government and private agencies and the public to help in the community SAR operation and provide assistance in-kind to the nomadic Penan Ba’ Puak.

He said all assistance can be done through Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (SCANE) at Lot 1046 Shang Garden Shoplot, Jalan Bulan Sabit, Miri, Sarawak. Tel: MY +60 85423044 +60 85423044 Call Email:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Activities of Penang National Park - Release of Turtles?

"Some activities will be opened up to the public soon and among them are canoeing, visit to the Kuala Sungai Pinang mangrove forest, release of turtles, bird watching and the Canopy Walk".

If you have read the Star (12 April 2010) - "Boat trip into mangrove swamp and other activities in store at national park" (read below) then you will be surprised that one of the activities is releasing of turtles!
This is the most insane activity. Don't this people realise that releasing of turtles during the day will attract natural predators - the eagles, fish, dolphins etc? Turtles that hatched naturally at dawn, when both temperature and visibility are low have better chance to survive. Beside, these hatchlings have been struggling in the enclosure and would have been exhausted by the time they were released. Hatchlings should be immediately collected and released into the sea. Having an activity that jeopardise the lives of the turtles is not eco at all. The national park was declared to protect wildlife, but sadly, tourism is now more important than protection of wildlife. Malaysia Boleh again!


Monday April 12, 2010
Boat trip into mangrove swamp and other activities in store at national park

OUR guide Pak Rahmat turned off the engine so as not to disturb the birds and marine life when our boat entered the Kuala Sungai Pinang mangrove forest in Penang.

Just then, an eagle perched on top of one of the pokok api-api (Avicennia spp) took flight, creating a perfect opportunity for the shutterbugs in the boat to click away their cameras.

Our boat, carrying about six of us, accompanied 10 paddlers in five canoes from the second entrance of the Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang) in Kuala Sungai Pinang, Balik Pulau.

Along the banks of the mangrove swamp, we saw fishermen laying traps for crabs while others were mending nets in their boats at dilapidated wooden jetties.

As the boat drifted deeper into the mangrove forest, we sat back, soaking in the tranquil ambience of the mangrove forest.

For some of us, it was our first time making such a trip into a mangrove forest by boat.

The cruise was the first organised for a group of media representatives and invited guests as part of a media familiarisation trip to the newly-upgraded Penang National Park.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) wildlife conservation ambassador and Era radio deejay Adifasha Juraimi was one of the invited guests.

The trip was held in conjunction with the park’s two-day Community Carnival held on April 10 and April 11 to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the site being gazetted as a national park.

After getting back to the Kuala Sungai Pinang jetty to hop on to another bigger boat, we headed for the newly built 250m-long Canopy Walk which hovers 15m above the ground.

The Canopy Walk is accessible via Sungai Teluk Tukun or Pantai Kerachut.

From the suspended walkway, one is able to view the lush forest from an interesting angle.

The soothing sounds of fresh water flowing from the mountains and the crisp cool morning air are enough to attract visitors to the Canopy Walk.

We ended the half-day tour of the park with a kampung-style lunch at the park’s administration office in Teluk Bahang.

Some activities will be opened up to the public soon and among them are canoeing, visit to the Kuala Sungai Pinang mangrove forest, release of turtles, bird watching and the Canopy Walk.

Park superintendent Wan Mohd Adib Wan Mohd Yusoh said about 20 certified nature guides would be trained to attract more visitors to the park.

“Being familiar with the places, the guides, who are locals, will be able to provide the right information to visitors,” he said.

Wan Mohd Adib said activities were now arranged by the park only upon request.

“We have plans to open up these activities to the public in the near future,” he said.

On the second day of the carnival, the Kerachut Conservation Run and a handphone photography competition were held. There were also a colouring contest, recycled invention competition, mural painting and other activities.


Monday April 12, 2010
100 baby turtles released into sea

IT was an exciting affair for dozens of nature lovers as they cheered enthusiastically for more than 100 newly-hatched baby turtles that were struggling to make their way into the open sea.

The hatchlings were released from Pantai Kerachut in Muka Head, Penang.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) wildlife conservation ambassador Adifasha Juraimi, who is also an Era radio deejay, said he was “happy and excited” to be at the Turtle Conservation Centre to witness the event.

“I am an animal lover so I am thrilled to be here. This is my first encounter with turtles and they are just so wonderful,” he said.

The release was held in conjunction with the park’s two-day Community Carnival.

Penang Fisheries Department licensing and resource protection branch chief Mohd Rafi Hassan said the centre targeted to release 6,000 turtles into the sea this year under its conservation project.

The young turtles were only released when it was dark to prevent eagles and fishes from spotting them.

“Last year, 5,200 turtles were successfully hatched from 8,543 eggs.

“We hope to collect 10,000 eggs this year and successfully hatch at least 6,000 turtles.

“Since January, we have released almost 700 baby turtles into the sea,” he said, adding that the eggs were collected from Pantai Teluk Ketapang Kecil, Pantai Teluk Kampi and Pantai Kerachut to be hatched at the centre.

The department purchases the eggs from appointed collectors at a price of RM2 each.

“So far, we have not received any reports of people collecting the eggs illegally — which is good news,” Mohd Rafi said.

Department officer Mansor Yobe said the uncertain weather conditions and temperature were the main reasons for the eggs failing to hatch.

“Here at the centre, we prefer to let the eggs hatch in the turtles’ natural habitat (on the beach) rather than in a temperature-controlled hatchery,” he said.

“This is because research has shown that in-situ hatchlings (natural) are healthier than ex-situ (hatchery) hatchlings.

“Here, the main thing we look out for are predators such as monitor lizards, palm civets and crabs.

“We recently built new fences to ensure that the hatchlings are not attacked,” he said.

In September last year, 15 baby turtles had their heads bitten off by what was believed to be a palm civet.

Mohd Rafi said the incident occurred because the eggs had hatched earlier than expected when no one was stationed there that night.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Pulau Redang for the Rich

In future Pulau Redang will be beyond our budget. Only foreigners will enjoy our natural heritage....not for locals. This is what the Terengganu's government thinks. And I think by only approving 5-stars hotels, they are not going to nip the actual problems. Do they know that 5-stars hotels used alot of water? Just look at their bathrooms - bathtubs and big showers are eating up alot of water resources....and in this small island! Do you think it will be sustainable? There was one 5-stars hotel at Teluk Bahang, Penang (now closed) that used water that was equivalent to the whole township of Teluk Bahang!!!
Budget accomodation usually has shared bathrooms and water tickles but then, not much water was used. The state government should look into controlling the number of accomodations rather than approving and welcoming only 5-stars. This means only rich corporation can afford building these high end hotels. And rich people always consume imported products. Wines, beers, cheeses are imported. Golf course too. Imported chefs to cook foreign menus. Perhaps imported waitresses and waiters to speak foreign languages too. Shares of big corporations are owned by rich shareholders. So what do local community gain? Nothing? Isn't ecotourism should only benefit the locals? Perhaps the only gain will be taxes. This is the mentality of our rent-seeking politicians.
Limit the carrying capacity to protect our natural heritage rather that welcoming load of wasteful rich tourists. Stupid politicians!


Friday April 9, 2010
Pulau Redang aims to lure the rich with room rates no less than RM1,600

KUALA TERENGGANU: Pulau Redang — rated as one of the world’s most beautiful islands — is set to be turned into a getaway exclusively for the rich and famous.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said said the state government would no longer approve the construction of chalet-type accommodation on the renowned island, which is much visited by the diving community.

“Only hotels rated five-star and above will be allowed to be built,” he said when met after the state assembly sitting here yesterday.

In future, only wealthy individuals would be able to afford holidays in Pulau Redang as hotel rooms will cost no less than US$500 (RM1,599) a night, Ahmad said.

He that said with the decision to turn the island into a high-end holiday destination, current chalets catering for backpackers would have to upgrade and raise their rates.

Asked if the move would draw criticism from non-governmental organisations, Ahmad said it was the only way to save the surrounding rich marine life and prevent environmental destruction due to pollution and indiscriminate littering.

“Some of the budget accommodation places on the island have no proper sewage system and waste is directed to the sea, and this destroys the corals,” he said.

Apart from that, Pulau Redang is a jewel for Terengganu and the 10th most beautiful island in the world, Ahmad said.

“Efforts must be made to save the island from deteriorating environmentally. Those on budget excursions can visit other islands like Pulau Kapas and Pulau Perhentian that are equally charming.”

Pulau Redang, a popular holiday destination for locals as well as foreigners, attracts about 100,000 visitors annually including many who flock there to visit the marine park.

Terengganu Tourist Association deputy president Alex Lee lauded the move, saying that it was time for Malaysia to create its own niche market.

“Redang has only one five-star hotel and others are mostly budget accomodations,” he said.

He believed the move by Ahmad was initiated out of concern for the environment as damage to the corals had been extensive.

The owner of an eight-room hotel in Redang, however, was worried that his livelihood would be affected if Pulau Redang became an exclusive holiday destination.

He said the move would affect many holidaymakers, both local and foreign, who would not be able to afford to stay in Pulau Redang if the state government went ahead with the niche market proposal.

“I hope the state government will meet budget hotel and chalet operators in Redang to get our views and include us in the planning,” said the man, who wanted to be known only as Dina,

He also said the state government should ensure there was proper drainage and sewage on the island for better waste disposal.

Another chalet operator, Nik Kamal Nik Husin, 43, said the move would only burden the villagers on the island as many were renting out rooms to budget travellers.

He also said only a handful of irresponsible chalet operators were directing the waste into the sea.

The state government, he said, should build a centralised sewage treatment to deal with the waste disposal problem.