Monday, November 15, 2010

For Sarawak

Radio Free Sarawak on air
Monday, 15 November 2010
By Bruno Manser Fund

We have been informed that Radio Free Sarawak has gone on air this morning. The new alternative radio station will broadcast two daily broadcasts on shortwave, presumably in Iban and Malay (Bahasa). It aims at Sarawak's rural communities who lack access to independent media. As you might know, the media in Sarawak are strictly controlled by an extremely corrupt state government under Abdul Taib Mahmud and the logging companies who own and control all major media outlets.

The transmission details of Radio Free Sarawak are as follows:

1st transmission: 0630-0730 local time (GMT +8) on 7590 kHz (short wave)

2nd transmission: 1800-1900 local time (GMT +8) on 15680 kHz (short wave)

The Radio Free Sarawak producers send us the following message:

"Please send the details to all your Sarawak friends so that they know the existence of the radio-which will become an alternative news source to the Sarawakians, especially to those who stay in the interior. The folks in the interior have been fed with a monotonous 1-sided views from the ruling parties-if at all they can receive the TV and radio transmissions. So they need another avenue-and Radio Free Sarawak intends to fill in this gap."

With best wishes,

Your BMF team

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Ban helps increase wildlife population in Johor

Sunday November 7, 2010

JOHOR BARU: The royal ban on wildlife hunting in Johor has helped to steadily increase wildlife population in the state.

Johor National Parks Corporation director Abu Bakar Mohamed Salleh said the wildlife population, especially that of tigers, had seen an increase and he attributed this to the ban that was decreed by Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar in April last year.

“Previously, we recorded 11 tigers at our national park.

“Since the ban was imposed, we have sighted four more tigers, including three cubs.

“We are happy that the number of tigers in the state has increased,” he said, adding that the population of their prey had also increased.

“We have noticed that animals that used to be targets of hunters such as rusa (deer), kijang (barking deer) and kancil (mousedeer) had also increased,” he said.

Abu Bakar added that heightened surveillance of the national park had also helped the wildlife population to grow.

“We are working closely with our counterparts in (neighbouring) Pahang to ensure poachers do not hunt in our forests,” he said.

Abu Bakar, however, said poaching had not been eradicated.

“We still have hunters breaching our borders. Hopefully, with the help of the public and increased surveillance, we will be able to stop them,” he said.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The gods must be crazy

Tue, 02 Nove 2010 06:38
By Maclean Patrick

It is human nature to remember your maker when things are bleak. Crisis and emergency and disasters remind us that there is a higher force at work, often times in conflict with the wants of mere mortals.

Who are we to question the heavens?

We accept the fact that we are mere dust in God's creation.

Yet, this mere fact has been turned into excuses by mortals seeking to hide the truth of the matter. Hiding fact behind a cosmic guise is nothing new. It has been practised by civilisations throughout history.

The Mayans cut out the hearts of captive soldiers to appease their gods when the harvest was bad or sickness hit the nation. The Egyptians believe that Pharaoh was a god in his own right, thus you should never question his word.

In Sarawak, the gods are the culprits for landslides and log jams and possibly the drought hitting the Rajang River.

The gods are responsible for putting Sarawak in the record books for staging the longest logjam in the world. And if that was not enough, the gods have been able to reduce the longest river in Sarawak, from mighty torrents of water to a mere stream.

Yes, the gods in Sarawak are really powerful. And with 10 pigs and 50 “piring” (small plates) and 200 people in attendance, the gods will promise not to break their record for the longest logjam and maybe turn a blind eye to the impoundment at the Bakun Dam and allow the Rajang River to flow again.

And before Barisan Nasionals start spinning the tale that disaster would strike Sarawak if Pakatan Rakyat takes over government, let’s look at the real disaster playing out under our noses.

Any sensible person, religious or not, would see that the logjam is man-made. Any sensible person, with basic common sense, would see that the drying up of the Rajang River can be traced back to the impoundment of the Bakun Dam.

Yet, we find none of these sensible people in the current establishment.

Scary reality

So far, there is no official report concerning the logjam, even though an investigation was promised to the people of Sarawak and various officials making trips to assess the situation.

Yet, reality seems too scary and it amounts to bad press for the establishment; hence, it takes the easy way out – blame the gods.

It is convenient to point the fingers at the gods and hold an appeasement ceremony. The gods are happy and no report is needed to explain things.

Who would question divine mischief? Aren’t the gods more superior to a report written by mere mortal man?

In one smooth move, the logjam has been swept under the carpet and the Ibans are made out to be really feeble-minded people who belong to the Stone Age.

Hooray for the government of Sarawak, which takes pride in dealing with the gods when it comes to man-made natural disasters.

How then will the drying up of the Rajang River be explained away? Will we need another 10 pigs and 50 “piring” to appease the gods of the Bakun Dam? Is nature to blame because the rains have not come on time or the gods have not allowed enough rain to fall in the Bakun area?

Clearly, the gods have gone crazy in Sarawak. And our sensible politicians are giving us the answers we all have been waiting for. It is a good thing that our local politicians have priestly backgrounds that allow them to mediate between this world and the nether-world in matters that defy explanation such as the logjam and the drying up of a river.

God from the machine

There is something wrong, seriously wrong, in Sarawak: people want to see Sarawak modernised and high-tech yet they won’t bat an eye to stooping down to old-wives tales in order to appease the masses.

The people of Sarawak want real answers to real problems. The logjam caused real problems to the people living along the Rajang River. It killed off large numbers of fish, prawns and river animals.

It stops everyday life for many riverside communities – children could not attend school, fishermen could not fish, commerce was at a standstill and river folks could not get much needed supplies.

And this is now compounded by the drying up of the Rajang River. With waters running dangerously low, the same effects of the logjam will be felt in the long term by the same communities who were just getting over the October logjam incident.

We want real answers and not mere “deus ex machina”.

The Latin “deus ex machina” meaning “god from the machine” points to a practice in ancient times in theatre which the script writer would employ to explain problems in the plot where no apparent solution can be provided to the audience.

Where no answer can be given, a god would appear on stage as it lowered down by a mechanical crane from the ceiling or raised via a lift through the floor of the stage.

This practice was considered bad writing and the practice was frowned upon by ancient writers such as Aristotle, who advocated a solution that was logical and acceptable based on the logic of the story.

The Sarawak government has pulled a “deus ex machina” on the people of Sarawak, and no amount of pigs or “miring” should blind the people to the fact that the government of the day has truly failed in looking after the welfare of the Rajang River communities.

Maclean Patrick is a webmaster based in Sarawak.

Source here


Ibans to invoke spirits against 'irresponsible' loggers
Tue, 02 Nove 2010 06:00
By Joseph Tawie

KAPIT: Some 200 Iban elders and chieftains will seek the help of their “Petara” (gods) to punish those who were responsibile for the logjam in Rajang River and its tributary Baleh River.

According to an Iban shaman, who refused to be identified, they will be performing the traditional “miring” (ritual) next month to seek the help of the spirits because the government has refused to act against those responsible for the logjam.

The logjam has caused so much hardship and misery to the people who live along the rivers.

“We have to call our ‘Petara’ (gods) to punish those responsible,” said the shaman.

Meanwhile, State Land Development Minister James Masing confirmed that a massive “miring” ceremony will be held next month in Kapit to appease the spirits whose anger was believed to have caused the logjam along the Baleh and Rajang rivers.

The ritual is also to calm the angry Ibans living along the Rajang and Baleh rivers as their livelihood is affected by the logjam.

Ten live pigs, 50 sets of “piring” (ritual ingredients) and foodstuff will be required for the ceremony.

Some 50 longboats will be needed to transport the longhouse chiefs and guests to Muara Sungai Meratai, which is a four-hour journey by boat from Kapit.

Kapit district officer, Simon Japut, who is involved in the planning of the ceremony, said that after the ceremony, the 10 pigs will be slaughtered, five on each of the river banks, and their carcasses hanged on rocks at the Muara Sungai Meratai.

Massive losses suffered

Japut said that after the ceremony, no one will be allowed to pass through the site for at least one week. The cost of organising the ceremony is about RM50,000.

He added that the estimated loss of properties and infrastructures caused by the logjam is RM1.8 million. This amount did not include the two bridges which were washed away by the debris at Meratai.

None of the longhouses along the Rajang and Baleh rivers had been damaged, but some of the longhouses were badly affected by soil erosion and needed urgent attention, especially on building retention walls.

The logjam was caused when the logs, which have been piling up over the years as a result of indiscriminate logging at Sungai Meratai, a tributary of the Baleh River, were washed away.

The logs drifted down on Oct 7 after a downpour and caused a jam which spread over 250km of the Rajang and Baleh Rivers, suffocating tonnes of fish and cutting off river communications.

Then a few days later, the Rajang River began to dry up soon after the impoundment of the Bakun Dam on Oct 13.

Source here