Sunday, October 31, 2010

'Stop impoundment of Bakun dam'

Sun, 31 Oct 2010 11:56
By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR wants the state government to stop the impoundment of Bakun dam immediately.

The party wants the governemt to conduct a 'fresh and independent' feasibility report and environmental impact assessment (EIA) to re-evaluate the viability of the hydro-electric dam project.

“This is in view of the problems brought about by the impoundment of the Bakun dam,” Baru Bian, chairman of Sarawak PKR told reporters.

He said the impoundment of the dam had caused hardship to the people and destroyed the ecological system.

He added that the Balui River which is the upstream part of the Rajang River had dryed up and marine life dying.

“The Balui River (the upstreamd part of the Rajang River) is drying up.

"We have received reports and complaints that river communications have been cut off, food rations, medical supplies and other essential services are affected. A lot of fish, especially the most expensive fish, the empurau are dying.

“So we call on the government to immediately stop the impoundment of the dam as the relevancy and accuracy of the factors and data taken into consideration in the feasibility study and EIA reports conducted in the early 80s are now questionable and doubtful,” Bian said.

He said the feasibility studies conducted 30 years ago had not taken into account the deforestation in the upper reaches of Sungai Balui which had inevitably affected the water retaining capacity of the catchment areas.

Another glaring flaw of the EIA is the dry riverbed experienced now which could not have been anticipated, he said.

Bian also warned the government not to proceed with the construction of the Baram dam project as it woul affect the people’s livelihood, longhouses and their lands will be much worse than that of Bakun dam.

Some 25 longhouses, churches, schools and clinics will be affected by the dam which is expected to submerge 38,900 hectares or 389 sq. km of land.

And more than 20,000 natives will have to be moved out and resettled, he said.

Source here

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rajang River has no future

Rajang River has no future. Logging, then the logjam, then when Bakun Dam was dammed, you have Rajang river drying up so fast that 2 weeks ago it was floating with logs and today it is silting and drying up. I don't want to discuss the consequences anymore. But I know the ecosystem will never be the same again. Greed has taken over humanities. Blame it on the people that still vote for the greedy government.

Tuesday October 19, 2010
Rajang River is drying up
The Star

SIBU: Less than two weeks after the logjam disaster in Rajang River, the country’s longest river is again a cause for concern for people living along its banks.

Express boats have not been able to ply the Sibu-Belaga-Sibu routes since Friday as the river is drying up due to the current dry spell. The only option left for travellers is the gruelling journey on the 190km Bintulu-Bakun road.

Floating pontoons at the Kapit Express Boat Wharf along Khoo Peng Loong Road here are now resting on a muddy river bed.

“This time the water level went down really fast. Just 10 days ago, it almost reached the road level, a drop of more than 2m,” boat skipper Lau Ah Kuok said.

Lau said he believed the drastic change in the water level was partly due to the impoundment of the 205m-high Bakun Dam which began last Wednesday.

The flooding of the dam, which is South-East Asia’s largest, is estimated to take seven months and in the process, would flood 69,000ha of land.

Social activist Wong Meng Chuo, who has a masters degree in Environmental Management from the Imperial College in London, said he was worried that a prolonged drought would pose severe environmental and ecological consequences below Bakun Dam.

Wong said the Rajang River was denied one-third of the water source with the impoundment of the dam.

“Firstly, river navigation in some areas will stop due to low water. Secondly, salty water from the ocean would come up to as far as Sibu. Thirdly, marine and river life will be affected,” Wong pointed out.

He explained that with less water in the river, there would be less oxygen which could cause some species of fish to die. Wong added there could also be more landslides along the riverbanks as the soil structure would be different.

He said it was unlikely that the impoundment of the dam would stop because it would incur a loss of RM330,000 per day to do so.

The low water level is also a cause for concern for the RV Orient Pandaw, the only cruise ship here.

“If the dry weather continues, I am worried our ship would have difficulties navigating near the Pelagus rapids,” the ship’s purser Neville Joseph said, adding that October to December were peak seasons with an average of 40 passengers per trip.

Durin vegetable farmer Kong Chiek Wak is worried the prolonged dry weather will seriously affect his vegetables.

“We only have a small water pump. It would be difficult to pump water from the Rajang for farm use if the water level is too low,” Kong explained.

The low water level will also affect the transportation of logs by barges and cargo boats from Kapit-Baleh areas to the sawmills in Sibu or for export through Tanjung Manis.

Sibu Water Board general manager Daniel Wong said he was monitoring the situation closely.

“The water supply in Sibu is normal and there is no cause for alarm now,” he said.

At about 4.30pm yesterday, heavy rain fell for about an hour on Sibu after a dry week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Continuing the Raping in Iban Country

Photo source here
Monday, October 18, 2010
Taib's loggers: Sebuyau Ibans prepare to form a human shield

By Christina S Suntai

My brother Numpang anak Suntai and his wife, Helen Unchat, together with 11 tribal leaders and villagers from 11 longhouses are now camping in Ulu Sebangan as we speak. Today I want to refer to their make shift camp as “Langkau Ngintu Menoa.”

They are leading the villagers to form a blockade to stop bulldozers used by illegal loggers, Quality Concrete Holdings, whose Executive Chairman is Tiang Ming Sing, from further penetration into their native customary lands, which include rice fields, pepper vines, fruit trees, rubber plantations and communal forest at Ulu Sebangan.

The illegal loggers, Quality Concrete Holdings, whose Executive Director is Tiang Ching Kok and major shareholder is Rodiah Binti Mahmud, sister of CM Taib Mahmud remain relentless in their efforts to grab the valuable trees. They are bulldozing their way to get to the trees and destroy everything in their path! Every tree they killed for the timber, 28 other little trees will die with it. So far the loggers continue to steal the valuable trees when no one is around to stop them. Therefore the villagers decided to set camp in the jungle to guard the forest, to ensure that the valuable trees will not be stolen by Quality Concrete Holdings.

Read more here

More story here

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Unholy mess

Nature is unleashing the consequences of greed, courteousy of Pek More and cronies....

14 October 2010

The sight of thousands upon thousands of logs mingled with debris and mud clogging up Sungai Rajang for as far as the eye could see was reminiscent of scenes from the 2004 tsunami in Aceh. Even without the floating corpses and cars that accompanied the earlier event, it was not hard to comprehend that what happened in Sarawak last week was a disaster whose scale, though yet to be fully measured, was huge. Little wonder that local residents flocked to the river banks to look at the strange sight. Elders described it as a portent of the end of the world, God's punishment for mankind's rapacity. A combination of heavy rains upriver, denuded ground and a massive landslide resulted in this -- a 250km logjam starting from Ulu Baleh to Sibu -- nearly half the length of the mighty Rajang, Malaysia's longest river. The logjam cut off Kanowit, Song and Kapit from Sibu because express boat services could not traverse the river safely.

The sheer flood and mud flow killed fish and polluted the river, and may possibly affect the peat-swamp-rich area of the delta. If not recovered, the logs will wash out to sea and continue their destruction there. A fully grown tree can suck up five tonnes of water. It is for this reason that trees are described as nature's great flood mitigator. Without them, every time it rained heavily, water would hurtle downstream and flood the area there.

Whether further investigation proves this to be a natural or man-made disaster, the fact is that this is an environmental calamity. How is it possible for an entire mountain to collapse from the beating of days of heavy rains? Where did the logs come from that formed the initial debris dam that then broke and swept its deadly detritus downstream?

These questions have been implied by Baleh assemblyman Datuk Seri Dr James Masing, who has acknowledged that the area upstream is heavily logged. Heavy rain may be an "act of God", and humankind might be helpless in preventing it. But, for the trees that are felled and the ground laid bare, humankind must take responsibility. Eighty per cent of Sarawak's 12.3 million hectares is supposed to be covered by forests. The Sarawak Forest Department's remote-sensing system should gauge the state of forested areas to see whether what remains corresponds with legitimate logging activities. Perhaps, too, it's time to tighten laws, so that it is not possible to run out of forest cover, even by legitimate means.

We have been warned.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Field testing approved for GM mosquitoes

Beware, GM mosquitoes will be here soon. I wonder how the ecosystem will be affected. Disaster in waiting?
October 11, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Biosafety Board has approved the release of genetically-modified Aedes mosquitoes for field testing, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.

However, the decision would still need Cabinet approval, he said.

“Clinical trial at the laboratory level was successful and the biosafety committee has approved it for testing in a controlled environment,” he said.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would present it to the Cabinet for approval, he told a media conference at the 61st session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific here yesterday.

The board had assessed the field experiment proposal from the Institute of Medical Research to release the mosquitoes in Bentong, Pahang, and Alor Gajah, Malacca, in early October.

Male Aedes Aegypti would be genetically-modified and when mated with female Aedes mosquitoes in the environment, it is hoped the killer genes would cause the larvae to die. (The Aedes Aegypti mosquito can spread the dengue fever, Chikungunya and yellow fever viruses).

“We see it as the most efficient and fastest way in eradicating Aedes mosquitoes from our local environment,” Liow said, adding that Aedes is not a species endemic to Malaysia.

However, he said, dengue posed a major concern in Malaysia because the number of cases has increased by more than 25% this year.

Liow said his ministry was taking the disease seriously because it was not only a health issue but also an environmental hazard.

WHO Western Pacific regional director Dr Shin Young-soo said Malaysia is leading in the research in this area but cautioned that care be taken in introducing a new species to the environment.

He said global experts on tropical diseases research would discuss the issue soon and decide on what they would do with the new development.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Severe Penalties To Stamp Out Poaching

October 07, 2010

IPOH, Oct 7 (Bernama) -- Illegal wildlife traders and poachers will face stiffer penalties when the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 is gazetted and enforced by year-end, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.

The act was amended from the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 to stamp out illegal wildlife trading and poaching, he told reporters after opening the Department of Environment's Vehicle Smoke Testing Centre here Thursday.

Under the new act, poachers or those who keep endangered species of animals can be fined up to RM500,000 (up from RM5,000 before) or imprisonment, he said.

The Wildlife and National Parks Department has established an inter-agency cooperation with the Customs, army, People's Volunteer Corps, Orang Asli Affairs Department and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to curb wildlife smuggling.


The Macaque that abducts and bites

The news today about a macaque that abducts, bites and drops baby from the roof is horrible and is going to be a common phenomena. Human has been constantly encroaching into wildlife's territories and destroying their food and habitats. Its payback time! If you read the article here you could identify two key points that caused the aggressive behaviour of the macaque.

1. Staying in a "residential areas with a foliage of trees", just like an island of forest, no corridor for the monkeys to move. Seeking food from the residential houses is the best option for the monkeys. These macaques are omnivorous. Anything moving that is small enough to carry will be food.

2. "The family kept a female monkey in captivity". And the male was attracted and perhaps that was the consequences of taking something that belonged to the wild.

In all cases, wildlife is best left in the wild. The consequences are too many.