Thursday, December 29, 2011

‘Perhilitan officers wanted bribe’

December 29, 2011
‘Perhilitan officers wanted bribe’

KUANTAN: A pet shop owner is accusing a Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) officer of trying to solicit a bribe because he had in his possession a species of turtle protected under the Wildlife Conserva­tion Act 2010.

Hui Woon Chian, 51, claimed that three officers from Perhilitan visited his premises in Jalan Darat Makbar here on Dec 7 to carry out an inspection.

“But they did not show any identification nor did they have a warrant,” he said.

“One of them said he was a high-ranking officer and need not show me identification,” said Hui.

“They searched my shop. Then, they found three turtles on the front counter.

“The officer said the red-eared slider turtles were protected species and that I could be fined RM200,000 for each of them.

“He then said I should pay him so that I would not be fined,” he said after lodging a police report.

Hui said he was shocked by the “offer” and asked his sons to take photographs of him and the officer with the turtles.

“The officer was surprised by my action and tried to avoid having his picture taken.

“We had an argument when the other officers tried to intervene.

“They left after taking down our particulars,” he said.

To Hui’s surprise, he and his sons were summoned to the Kuantan police headquarters the next day to provide statements for allegedly injuring a Perhilitan officer.

“We were arrested and had to be bailed out. We did not hurt anyone.”

Hui’s wife Choi Yuet Hoe said after the incident, several Perhilitan officers returned to their shop and intimidated her.

“This time, they carried rifles and wore belts with bullets,” she said.

“They searched our shop again and asked about the turtles. I told them they had been taken to the police station. Then they left,” said Choi, who also lodged a separate police report.

Pahang Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Shariff said she has not received any report on the matter and could not comment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dr M, in India we have bad roads but true democracy

An interesting comment by an Indian national to Mamakkuty. There is a few paragraphs on the unsustainable development of our natural environment destroyed by Mamakkuty. Read on....

December 21, 2011

Last week, Dr Mahathir gave a speech in India which stirred one Indian activist to retort in an open letter to the doctor.

By Siddharthya Swapan Roy

Dear Dr Mahathir,

A couple of days back I woke up to newspaper reports which quoted you as saying that India’s democracy is a hindrance to its development and, if we did away with the nuisance of democracy, we will become developed.

Well, sir, it is heartening to see your concern about India’s future, especially now that our own elected government has orphaned us. To read that someone from the outside cares about our development sounds so very nice.

But you see, sir, your (apparently) good intentions notwithstanding, your advice to Indians is, well how should I put it… ill-advised.

I’m not really sure if you know much about the history of our nation. Don’t get me wrong.

Going by facts like the general absence of news from Malaysian newspapers; the absence of anything but song and dance in your electronic media; the absence of bookstores that sell knowledgeable books (for example, ones from which you can learn about history and not how to get rich in six steps); the abundance of malls and the stark absence of libraries; the abundance of coaching centres that can make masseurs, air hostesses and a host of quick-fix technicians and the relative absence of centres of higher learning especially in the social sciences; and, above all, the fact that this insanely consumerist and hedonist Malaysia was made under your tutelage, makes me doubt your knowledge of the history of India or any nation for that matter.

So allow me to apprise you of the story of our independence.

We won independence from colonial rulers waging a long and tortuous battle. A battle that sought to replace a discriminatory, unjust and violent regime that had enslaved huge populations with one which was based on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.

India was home then, as is now and as will always be, to an immense diversity of people who spoke different tongues, prayed to different Gods, wore different clothes and had different political beliefs. These diverse people said to each other that – we, despite our differences, will strive to live and flourish together and make a sovereign nation which will be democratic, socialist and secular.

We did not anywhere say that we want to be Malaysia or for that matter China or the US.

In India, no one is above the law

We want to become a nation with a system that treats all its citizens as equal unlike your country that officially accords special rights to Malay Muslims calling them first-class citizens while relegating thousands of people of Tamil, Chinese and other ethnic origins.

Despite the fact that they have known no other land than Malaysia as their own, you denigrate them with the tag of being second-class citizens.

We try to work towards having a system wherein a person will grow according to his merit and hard work earning what she or he has rightfully earned.

You may be surprised to know that here in India making cartels based on identity, even if under the name of a holy cow called “Bumiputra” or son of the soil is looked down upon by most of us.

Here, promoting the selective interests of one’s self or that of his kin is called corruption and nepotism and not, as you call it, development.

We are in fact fighting tooth and nail to arrest the scourge of corruption and (you’ll be shocked to know) get the guilty punished.

Here in India no one is above the law and many a times powerful public figures go to jail for being corrupt or subverting the law.

Now that we are at it, sir, I’m sure it would be interesting to know what the minorities of your country have to say – especially the jailed and beaten ones – about the development-democracy debate.

In fact, sir, your idea of development is largely at odds with many of us here.

Development is no substitute for values

What you did to the tropical forests and water bodies of Malaysia (that is, raze vast acres of them into oblivion to make way for big-buck oil palm plantations and piggeries and so on) would cause huge outrage among many of us who are looking for sustainable development.

We are yet to be unanimously convinced that making cemented roads – however broad, lining them with buildings, even if glass-covered and glossy, and putting cars on them, however fast – is a substitute for our valued bio-diversity.

Many of us are very convinced that displacing huge populations of native people for useless things like racing tracks is a blot on the word “development”.

There are many of us who find it a shameful and cruel hypocrisy that while your country has abundant and openly advertised sex tourism, it still whips women for being licentious!

Thanks to the culture of reading here, many of us know of your penchant for cruelty in your personal career.

A career during which you enacted despotic and violent acts at times in the name (your contorted version of) Islam and at times in the name of security and national interest.

We could recount how you rose to power annihilating huge numbers of your opponents and stayed there for over two decades, continuing your devious rule using tactics and schemes which are far beyond Machiavelli.

Many of us know about your vile Internal Security Act, which you used to crush political opposition – jailing them and putting in place a frail and near-sham democracy and placing the entire nation under a one-man rule of Umno for over two decades.

You will note that I have used words like “most of us”, “many of us” and have tried to stay away from absolute claims.

Misconstrued understanding of ‘development’

Besides the age-old Indian practice of accommodating different opinions, it is meant to recognise that there are people in this country, too, who think like you and will have applauded you for saying what you did.

They, too, think that roads are all that important and not the humans who walk on them or the ones who sleep beside them.

They have misconstrued the word development as development of personal wealth and that this “development” is a holy cow and everything including the rights and lives of fellow humans is of lesser priority.

Their money power helps them buy a lot of print space and electronic bandwidth so they may appear like the majority, but thankfully the truth is they aren’t.

The majority of us recognise and are willing to admit – and even discuss at length – that there are problems in our nation – including bad roads.

But they’ll quickly add that we intend to solve those not by lessening democracy but by ncreasing it.

The author is a freelance writer and activist based in Maharashtra.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Malaysia a heaven for transit of Ivory

Actually it is quite easy to detect this type of smuggling. Any shipment from Africa continent that has elephant population should be inspected thoroughly. The frequency of successful seizures indicate there could be more undetected shipments. Is our customs so incompetent that they need public tip-off?


Tuesday December 13, 2011
S’gor customs seize elephant tusks, ivory handicraft worth RM4mil

PORT KLANG: The Selangor Customs Department busted an attempt by an international ivory syndicate to smuggle 15 tonnes of elephant tusks and suspected ivory-made handicraft worth RM4mil at Westport near here on Tuesday.

Department director Datuk Azis Yacub said the tusks originated from Kenya and the handicraft were found in a 20-foot container that was detained in Westport on Thursday and inspected thoroughly Monday.

"The seizure followed a public tip-off. Upon full inspection, the enforcement officers discovered the elephant tusks in brown boxes tucked behind the container, together with several other boxes containing handicraft," he said at a press conference on Tuesday.

He said initial investigations showed that the tusks, declared as "soapstone-made handicraft," were heading for transshipment to Tanjong Pelepas port from the port of Mombasa, Kenya, before reaching their final destination at Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

"We managed to intercept the goods at Westport," he said.

Azis said Customs would send some of the handicraft, believed to be made from ivory, to the Chemistry Department soon to ascertain their true material.

He also said that no arrests had been made so far, and the case is being investigated under Section 133 (1) (a) of the Customs Act 1967 for wrongful declaration of goods.

If convicted, the parties involved can be fined up to RM500,000 or imprisoned for up to five years, or both. This was the fourth attempt to smuggle elephant tusks into the country this year.

In September, the Customs Department foiled an attempt to smuggle two tonnes of elephant tusks worth RM3mil into Westport.

It was also reported that more than 1,000 elephant tusks were seized by local authorities when they smashed two attempts to smuggle them through the Pasir Gudang and Butterworth ports over the past two months. - Bernama

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Composting plants to be set up in each residential area

December 8, 2011

PENANG plans to take another step forward in its green campaign next year. A composting plant will be set up in each residential area to process food waste into liquid fertilisers.

State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the facility would be paid for by the respective assemblyman’s allocation.

“The project which is based on 3As — availability, accessibility and affordability — will be available in residential areas as the state intends to expand its effort from hawker centres to households.

“By placing the composting plants within the community, we hope to make it more convenient for the people to bring their waste to be processed into fertilisers.

“The composting plant is meant to educate the people on the benefits of recycling,” he told a press conference after launching the Penang Eco-Town workshop at a hotel yesterday.

Benefits of recycling: (left) Makoto Fujita from Global Environment Centre delivering his speech at the Penang Eco-Town workshop

Phee added that the approach would be executed through four approaches — educate, create awareness, implement and enforce.

“However, we do not intend to impose strict regulations on the people because the commitment to go green should come from within ourselves.”

There are currently three composting plants which are at the Bagan Ajam market in Butterworth, Bayan Baru market in Penang and the Desa Damai resource centre in Bukit Mertajam.

On May 3, The Star reported that the pilot project at the Bagan Ajam market could process organic wastes into fertilisers within 24 hours.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Pahang govt ‘killing’ Tasik Chini’s ecosystem

Aneesa Alphonsus
November 30, 2011

The legendary Tasik Chini’s more modern saga concerns ecological mismanagement and the near collapse of a delicate ecosystem.


Mystical Tasik Chini, which once spawned a legendary tale of a behemoth dragon or sea serpent called Naga Seri Gumum and the presence of the Sacred Lotus Nelumbo Nucifera is deeply polluted and the Pahang government is to be blamed.

Chini which is made up by a series of 12 lakes is not so much a lake but more of a naturally dammed tributary of the Pahang River.

Until recently the lake’s waters rose and fell with the seasons. During the rainy season the waters were unable to flow down the narrow Sungai Chini and so became backed up in a series of lakes.

This resulted in a unique ecosystem, dominated by the presence of the Sacred Lotus Nelumbo Nucifera which once covered the entire surface of the lake system.

During low waters the lotus seeds would germinate, their roots would take hold in the soft mud and the stunning blooms would appear on the water’s surface.

During the monsoonal floods, from October to January, the lotus would die but their fertilized new seeds would litter the lake bottom waiting the dry season to bloom again.

This exquisite cycle is however damned.

In 1995, the state government, in a bid to commercialize the area and make the lakes more appealing to visitors in the dry season, built a dam at the point where Sungai Chini entered the Pahang River. The structure stopped the free flow of water which was never able to recede again.

It wasn’t long before the Tasik Chini natural ecosystem started showing signs of stress.

Species going extinct

According to Azimudin Bahari, who is with the natural resources and environment ministry, studies have shown that the lake is polluted.

“The scientific studies by the Tasik Chini Research Centre in University Kebangsaan Malaysia clearly show several indicators of a more polluted freshwater lake. Lotus is increasingly extinct and tourist arrivals to Tasik Chini are declining.

“With the rapid decline of this lake, many species of freshwater fish have become extinct.

“The loss of fish not only deprives the communities of an important source of protein, but also has resulted in the loss of traditional fishing methods.”

Azimudin was speaking on the matter at the Care To Action: Multi-Pronged Strategy Needed To Reverse The Decline of Tasik Chini Workshop organised by Transparency International Malaysia (TMI) recently.

He said the suggested multi-pronged strategies however should be based on the principles of sustainability, good governance and recognition of the community particularly the Jakun Orang Asli tribe as the guardians of the locality.

He said the aspiration and cultural practices of the local community must be respected in the economic development of the Tasik Chini area.

There is hope

Despite the less than heartening prognosis, there might still hope for Tasik Chini.

But much of this hope hinges on whether the Pahang government will take the necessary measures to stop the sources of pollution and restore the free flow of water into the lake from Sungai Chini and Sungai Pahang.

Many are of the view that a collective effort between the authorities and the locals is needed to rehabilitate the lake.

The Orang Asli and other conscientious residents around the area have already made it their business to remove weeds called Ekor Kucing (Cat’s Tail) which are choking and absorbing the oxygen in the water.

Ailee Jane, a frequent visitor to Chini, opined that the authorities should remove the dam to allow the lake to heal itself naturally.

“The lake is dying a natural death because of the weir. It is polluted and there is so much of sedimentation.”

Urgent need to resuscitate lake

TMI secretary general Josie Fernandez said that the catchment area around Tasik Chini is being destroyed because of certain kinds of fertilizers which go into the water.

Residents, mostly the Orang Asli, use this water for cooking, bathing and drinking, thereby resulting in skin afflictions.

“Tin ore mining is yet another culprit,” she said, adding that “water from the waste flows into the lake which results in the loss of the fish which is a cheap source of protein.

“There is a story of an Orang Asli who went out early in the morning to catch some fish and only came back with one. He asked how was he going to share that one fish with the other seven families in his village.

“The thing about the Orang Asli at Chini is that they observe sustainable use of the natural resources.

“It’s never about huge profits where they are concerned, and definitely not about enterprise. They don’t do it to destroy the area.

“There really should be more accountability and Chini should be protected as an eco-tourism area. There is an urgent need to resuscitate what has been lost,” said Fernandez

Buy land back from Felda

Fernandez firmly believes that that all development in the catchment area should be stopped and if necessary, land should be bought back from Felda.

“In any development, there should be equity for all, for people and nature and a balance of the two must exist.

“This has been overlooked in previous policies pertaining to development and conservation of Chini.

“It’s our collective responsibly to resolve and go to the very source of the problem which lie in the way the catchment areas have been developed.

“This is not just an environmental issue but more of one concerning governance,” she said.