Archive for category environment

Earth lost 50% of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF

Damian Carrington
The Guardian
29 September 2014

Species across land, rivers and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats

The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates. Read the rest of this entry »

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Invitation to Minister in Prime Minister’s Department and Deputy Environment Minister to visit “Pulau Ubah” to ascertain whether large-scale land reclamation in accordance with the law

It is my pleasure to be with all of you today for this meaningful event. Soon we will get down to the ground, or rather the mudflats, to plant 500 mangrove seedlings, marking the start of coastal mangrove rehabilitation in this area.

This is a collective effort of different organisations and individuals present here today. The Green Team under the Malaysian Dream Movement, and the NGO J.A.R.I.N.G are the co-organisers. But perhaps more encouraging is to see many of you volunteers, from Pontian as well as other parts of Johore, to join us here on this faithful morning.

You are all agents for change for a better Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Uncontrolled Development – “Pulau Ubah”

(Speech 3 in Dewan Rakyat when taking part in the debate on Motion of Thanks for the Royal Address on Thursday, 13th March 2014)

Allow me to bring the attention of the House to the problems of uncontrolled and poorly regulated development activities in Iskandar Malaysia which caused irreversible damages to our precious environment and severely hurt local livelihoods especially the poor who are largely dependent on natural resources for their sustenance.

This is the case that took place at Pendas and Tanjung Kupang, within the parliament constituency of Gelang Patah. It is located in the district of Johor Bahru and also part of the Iskandar Development Region.

Since January this year, a coastal reclamation project has rapidly taken shape in the waters of the Johore Straits close to Tanjung Kupang. This is close to the Second Link and the Malaysia – Singapore maritime border. There are no signboards, no public information, no approval from the authorities be it federal agencies like the Department of Environment, the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), or the State Government which is supposed to regulate and control all earthwork activities.

It is one humongous project as far as coastal reclamation is concerned. The size is 2500 acres to be exact (according to official documents that we have sighted). I visited the ongoing reclamation site by boat twice. First on 15th February 2014 and then on 24th February 2014. It was shocking. The damages were beyond words. In the middle of nowhere, an island was in the making so rapidly that just between my first and second visit, the size of the reclaimed island has doubled. Read the rest of this entry »

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Does the palm oil industry meet the UN’s Climate Change Convention?

– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
January 30, 2014

What kind of men would cut down these ancient irreplaceable giants trees? Each of them was over one thousand years old. Over a period of a few decades around 1850, 95% of the two million acres of Redwood forest in California were cut and destroyed.

Now they say we are wrong to cut our trees to plant oil palms. What do they say when Brazil cut down their rain forest to plant soya beans? Let us examine the true situation.

Oil palm smallholdings and plantations meet the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change which defines a forest as an area of 0.5 to one hectare having more than 30 per cent canopy cover and having a potential height of two to five metres.

To accuse the industry in Malaysia and Indonesia of contributing to global warming is sheer nonsense. In fact oil palm trees just as with other forest species, produce oxygen for us to breathe and act to counter coal and oil emissions which are the major cause of global warming. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia in 2030

Liew Chin Tong
The Malaysian Insider
October 16, 2013

In discussing the issues we face in 2013, it will be instructive for us to find new perspective by looking beyond the horizon to consider the possibilities that 2030 holds.

Both Tun Abdullah Badawi who was Prime Minister from October 2003 till April 2009 and Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who took over from him since then have missed the boat to reform Malaysia. Likewise, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Vision 2020 is just a distant dream, a castle in the sky.

Post-13th General Election, discussions about Malaysia’s future is no longer depending on Barisan Nasional. The government-in-waiting Pakatan Rakyat and the rakyat (people) need a broader horizon as a reference for this kind of conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Environment Minister Palanivel and even PM Najib should be censured for failing to ensure that the Royal Address at the official opening of Parliament this morning address the government’s agenda on the haze emergency

Environment Minister Datuk Seri S. Palanivel and even the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be censured for failing to ensure that the Royal Address delivered by the Yang di Pertuan Agong at the opening of the 13th Parliament this morning address the government’s agenda on the haze emergency.

In a constitutional monarchy, the Royal Address at the opening of Parliament outlines the government’s agenda for the coming year. The Royal Address is prepared by Cabinet Ministers outlining the government’s legislative agenda and their national priorities.

It is not that the haze emergency occurred only last night, catching the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers by surprise so that they could not incorporate the government’s concerns, agenda and priorities in addressing the haze catastrophe in the Royal Address.

The country has been haunted and hounded by the haze catastrophe for a week, with thousands of schools closed in the past week throughout the country, affecting the lives, health and livelihood of millions of Malaysians in various parts of the country, starting from Johor Baru and Muar in the south and moving progressively northwards to Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Pahang and Penang with the change of winds from the raging peat fires in Riau and Sumatra. Read the rest of this entry »

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The EC is playing God

Mariam Mokhtar
Malaysiakini
Jun 24, 2013

We have heard the same trite comments before: “We’re clean. We’re not guilty. It wasn’t us.”

Umno Baru’s most sanctimonious hypocrite, Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, has denied claims of cheating.

Abdul Aziz expressed sadness that the indelible ink used in GE13 could easily be washed off and in an interview with the Malay daily Sinar Harian said, “If people ask me now, what is the saddest thing in my life, I would answer: ‘Indelible ink’.”

The indelible ink had been tested before use and he said, “On the much-awaited day, the power of Allah is greater when the ink could disappear after being washed several times. Where is the mistake?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t scold neighbours, fix problem instead

- Koran Tempo
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 24, 2013

It is very sad when officials have yet to really learn about how to act when facing a haze disaster like right now. The haze problem is a routine disaster, happening every year. Yet, when the dry season comes, they are still confused about how to overcome the haze.

Those of sound mind will shake their heads looking at the minimal action taken by the government. This is especially so when we see Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono getting worked up and angry with Singapore’s frustration at seeing the haze, and saying “the neighbouring country’s action is childish”.

Mr Agung’s attitude is not helpful at all, and in fact shows how rotten government policy is in dealing with the haze. The disaster this time is fairly severe.

The Standard Air Pollutants Index owned by PT Chevron in Dumai showed a reading of 400, meaning the air quality was very hazardous. In Malaysia, the pollutants index reached 383.

The result is that thousands of students in Malaysia and Singapore were sent home. Former Singapore prime minister Goh Chok Tong even said “the child is being suffocated”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Smoke gets in our eyes: A way out

Dr Lim Teck Ghee
24.6.2013

Returning to Kuala Lumpur after several weeks abroad, the pea soup of polluted air that greeted our descent was the worst I have ever experienced. It seemed to stretch interminably for miles on end far beyond the horizon. The acrid smell of burnt wood induced bouts of coughing amongst fellow passengers as we queued for our taxi ride. “Welcome to foggy Malaysia”, someone remarked in a futile attempt at raising everyone’s spirits.

On board our taxi, the friendly Pak Cik driver asked where we had come from and how long we had been away. He was quickly absorbed in talking about the number one topic currently on the mind of millions in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia as lungs continue to be assailed by the smoke coming from the Sumatra fires.

The taxi driver’s point was indisputable although diplomatically expressed. Neighbours in an apartment or kampung should keep their own as well as the common environment hazard-free and clean. They also need to watch out for each other.

Clearly Indonesia needs to do more to get its act together to prevent the illegal burnings that are an annual occurrence. But as noted by the former Singapore Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong: “Forest and peat fires are not easy to put out. They are not like our lalang or bush fires, small and confined. They burn and smoulder over thousands of acres in remote places far from the reach of fire fighters. So it is best to prevent man-made, illegal fires from being started in the first place.”

Past attempts at preventing illegal fires have failed miserably – not only in Indonesia but also Malaysia. Because they have failed, tens of millions of ringgit and thousands of billions of rupiah have been spent purchasing the latest haze monitoring equipment to keep us informed, and fire-fighting and rain-inducing equipment to help put the fires out. In the meantime, incalculable sums are being lost in terms of the impact on productivity, health, tourism revenue, and other knock-on effects. If the haze persists for a few months, we may be talking of losses of billions of dollars and perhaps even a few points shaved off the region’s GDP. Read the rest of this entry »

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Haze now heading north to KL and PJ and beyond

By Trinna Leong and Kimberly Yeo
The Malaysian Insider
June 24, 2013

Sibu and Bukit Rambai are the latest areas where the Air Pollution Index (API) has been flagged as unhealthy as the haze from Indonesia moves northwards.

With this, a total of 21 areas have been rated as unhealthy.

In the capital, Kuala Lumpur’s API increased to 198, just slightly short of the very unhealthy level. Many people are now wearing face masks. Petaling Jaya is almost as bad at 193.

Authorities told The Malaysian Insider that strong winds blowing towards the northeast from the southwest of Peninsular Malaysia means the haze is clearing up in Johor. Read the rest of this entry »

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Haze (Smog) Causes Not Just Discomfort, It Kills

by Chee-khoon Chan
23rd June 2013

In 2002, Narayan Sastry, currently a professor of demography at the University of Michigan published a paper entitled “Forest Fires, Air Pollution, and Mortality in Southeast Asia” in the February 2002 issue of the journal Demography.

The smog of 1997 coincided with an El Niño year which intensified the seasonal mid-year drought. The land clearing and forest fires in that year burned an estimated 2-3% of Indonesian land area, mostly in Sumatra and Kalimantan but also affecting sizeable tracts in Irian Jaya, Sulawesi, Java, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Wetar as well as areas in Sarawak and Brunei.

Sastry obtained daily mortality statistics from the Department of Statistics in Malaysia and correlated these with the daily Air Pollution Index (API) readings from the Malaysian Meteorological Department, in order to analyze the acute mortality in Kuching and Kuala Lumpur following upon days of high air pollution (defined as days when PM10 > 210 ug/m3). (The API is largely based on PM10, the concentration of suspended particulates of size 10 microns and below). Read the rest of this entry »

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A hazy climate: Will anyone do the right thing?

– Daniel Murdiyarso and Luca Tacconi
The Malaysian Insider
June 23, 2013

We write with a strong sense of déjà vu. Over 10 years ago, one of us published a letter in The Jakarta Post titled Fires: stop blaming others, just start acting! The cause of the haze that is affecting Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore has not changed since then; it is clear: Plantation companies deliberately light fires in degraded peatland areas on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

They use fire because it is the cheapest way to clear land. But, in particularly dry years, the peat below ground also catches fire and it continues to smolder for months, generating thick and noxious haze. It can quickly cause headaches, nausea and respiratory problems, particularly in children and the elderly.

In that letter, we identified that fire was being used not only as a tool to clear land cheaply but also as a weapon to claim property ownership when Indonesia’s governance system was more centralized than it is today.

The recurrence of fire and trans-boundary haze was then, and remains today, not only a problem but also a symptom of complex governance issues. Read the rest of this entry »

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With state of emergency declared for Muar and Ledang, and probably for Bukit Rambai and Malacca town with API 428 and 415 respectively at 11 am, time has come for Najib to fly to Jakarta for emergency meeting with Yudhoyono on haze

Having declared emergency status for Muar and Ledang because the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings there have reached the dangerous level of 746 at 7 am today, and probably also for Bukit Rambai and Malacca town with API 428 and 415 respectively at 11 am, the time has come for the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to fly to Jakarta for an emergency meeting with President Yudhoyono on the haze catastrophe choking millions of people in the three ASEAN countries of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Top of his agenda with the Indonesian President must be the Indonesian ratification of the Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution 2002 which provides for a ASEAN Regional Haze Action Plan with provisions on monitoring, assessment, prevention, scientific research and technical co-operation as well as lines of communication and simplified customs and immigration procedures for disaster relief.

Although the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution have been ratified by nine ASEAN member states, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia has not ratified it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Environment Minister Palanivel sleeping on his job when Malaysians particularly in Johore are suffering from haze hazards

I am both impressed and dejected – impressed by the professionalism of the Singapore National Environment Agency (NEA) in recording and posting on its website the hourly Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) to provide accurate and timely information about air pollution levels in the island republic; dejected by the contrasting failure and lack of professionalism of the Malaysian Department of Environment (DOE) to provide prompt readings on its website of the Air Pollutant Index (API) from its 52 Air Pollutant Index Management System (APIMS) locations in the country, although the API readings are only provided thrice a day at 7am, 11 am and 5 pm.

I was checking the 11 am API readings on the DOE website,
http://doe.gov.my/apims/, but the results only appeared after more than two hours, i.e. after 1 pm.

In contrast, when I checked the PSI readings of the Singapore NEA, its 1 pm reading promptly appeared at 1 pm sharp. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib should make special visit to Jakarta to meet with Indonesian President Yudhoyono to highlight gravity of current haze emergency to millions in three ASEAN countries, and in particular the three states of Johore, Malacca and Negri Sembilan

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should make a special visit to Jakarta to meet with the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to highlight the gravity of the current haze emergency to millions of people in three ASEAN countries, in particular to the three states of Johore, Malacca and Negri Sembilan in Malaysia, and the need for urgent common Asean action to bring the perennial transboundary emergency under control.

The Singapore Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan flew to Jakarta yesterday and met with his Indonesian counterpart Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya on the haze emergency, with a letter from the Singapore Prime Minister to the Indonesian President.

In contrast, the Malaysian Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel is only going to Indonesia to meet with Indonesian government officials next Wednesday, more than a week after the outbreak of the latest haze emergency which have been posed serious health and environment threats to the people in Johore, Malacca and Negri Sembilan, resulting in the closure of some 700 schools.

Why is the Malaysian Environment Minister so slow and tardy in rising up to the challenges of the latest haze emergency afflicting Malaysians? Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia should convene emergency meeting of Environment Ministers of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia for urgent common ASEAN action to deal with haze emergency choking three nations

Malaysia should convene an emergency meeting of the Environment Ministers of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia for urgent common ASEAN action to deal with the haze emergency choking the three nations.

The haze condition in Johore state in general and in Johor Baru in particular continues to be in hazardous condition with the air pollutant index (API) readings in Kota Tinggi and Pasir Gudang reaching 314 and 323 at 11 am respectively.

Malaysians can still remember they were told that the government would declare a state of emergency once the API reached 301, but there seems to be a singular lack of seriousness whether by the National Disaster Relief Management Committee or the Ministry of Environment with the current haze emergency although hundreds of schools in Johore have been closed in the past few days because of the haze emergency.

Who should be the Malaysian “czar” in the war against haze in the current environmental disaster – the new Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the National Disaster Relief Management Committee or the Environment Minister? Is it Datuk Shahidan Kassim or Datuk Seri G. Palanivel? Read the rest of this entry »

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On a sustainable Malaysia

— Yasmin Rasyid
The Malaysian Insider
May 19, 2013

MAY 19 — I am sitting here on a fine Sunday, reflecting on the front page news in the Star (May 19th 2013), “Hills in Cameron Highlands ‘raped’ at an alarming rate”, and I was compelled to write this to the editors of all papers, with the aim of expressing my continued disappointment on how this country, rich in natural resources and heritage, is slowly wiping itself out of the surface of this planet.

Now that the political drama in the country has somewhat simmered down, I hope that this is the right time to help build a progressive and forward thinking nation, especially when it comes to ensuring that Malaysia is managed sustainably for the future generations.

In Pahang, we have seen what the media has called the “rape” of the century. For the last two decades, and in my experiences in local environmental issues, Cameron Highlands has gone from bad to worse. Property developers are rushing in to build so called eco or highland resorts. There are a few dams scheduled to be built on the same highland. Meanwhile, land clearing for agriculture is rampant, and landslides aren’t something new. Indigenous communities, meanwhile, and as usual, are side lined. Their voices almost deafened by other so-called urgent agenda. Don’t believe this? Google Tasik Chini.

On top of that, it is also known amongst the public and those savvy with green issues that gold mining in Pahang still uses cyanide. Whether cyanide still pervades the communities of Bukit Koman or not, only the strong probes of the sophisticated machines used by the Department of Environment are able to tell us the truth. What is perplexing is this – whether cyanide is pervasively used or not in Pahang, and whatever is it that comes out from the mouths of the politicians, what is stopping academicians or chemists in this country (private or government) to go down to the ground and be a CSI and measure and tell the truth. It’s bad enough that the media only reports what certain individuals or politicians say, so come on Malaysians, where are the chemistry experts in this country? Can’t you the least help us verify the content of the air, soil and water in Pahang? (Referring to: http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2013/5/18/southneast/13124846). While you’re at it, work on a comprehensive study to measure the entire health of the country from water and air quality, to the presence of toxic chemicals in food and so forth. I believe the public wants to know all this. Read the rest of this entry »

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This is an election to determine whether rakyat Malaysia will vote for a sustainable future for our children or a sustainable corrupt BN government?

Earth Day is an occasion to remind us that our mother nature is deteriorating over the last few decades, natural resources has been robbed off by corrupt government and their cronies that brought pollution, deforestation and degradation that hampered the livelihoods of people.

During the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2009, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that Malaysia has agreed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels, however, polluted industry that has been rejected by other developed countries such as Lynas rare earth refinery plants are allowed to operate in Kuantan and given 12-year tax exemption.

BN is also pursuing constructions of giant petrochemical hub in Pengerang, giant aluminium smelter plant in Sarawak, two nuclear plants in the country, BN government has clearly proven that it is pursuing economic development at all cost at the expense of the environment and people’s health.

If BN continues to run the country, Malaysia will never achieve a sustainable, low carbon and resource efficient future. Only a Pakatan Rakyat that pledge to make Malaysia a cleaner, greener, safer and healthier place to live will reject rare earth plants and nuclear plants to ensure our future generation can live in a better world.

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Pengiraan Detik 98 Hari ke PRU13 – Malaysia berhak mendapat kedudukan lebih tinggi berbanding tempat ke 36 di dalam indeks “Negara terbaik untuk dilahirkan” EIU

Pada Pengiraan Detik 98 Hari ke Pilihan Raya Umum ke-13, Malaysia diingatkan bahawa negara ini berhak mendapat yang lebih baik untuk semua aspek kehidupan di dalam negara ini baik politik, ekonomi, pendidikan, sosial, budaya dan persekitaran.

Malaysia tentu sekali berhak mendapat kedudukan lebih tinggi berbanding tempat No.36 daripada 80 negara di dalam indeks “Negara terbaik untuk dilahirkan pada 2013” dalam usaha Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) mengukur negara mana yang memberikan peluang terbaik untuk kehidupan yang sihat, selamat dan makmur. Read the rest of this entry »

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98-Day Countdown to 13GE – Malaysia deserves higher ranking than No. 36 placing in the EIU “Best country to be born” index

On the 98-Day Countdown to the 13th General Elections, Malaysians are reminded that the nation deserves better on all fronts of national life, whether political, economic, educational, social, cultural or environmental.

Malaysia definitely deserves higher ranking than No. 36 out of 80 nations in the “Best country to born in 2013” index by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) attempting to measure which country provides the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life.

The 10 top-ranking nations in the EIU “Best country to be born in 2013” index are:

1. Switzerland
2. Australia
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Denmark
6. Singapore
7. New Zealand
8. Netherlands
9. Canada
10. Hong Kong

Malaysia is outranked by Taiwan (No. 14), United States (No. 16), UAE (No. 18), South Korea (No. 19), Kuwait (No. 22), Japan (No. 25) and Britain (No. 27). Read the rest of this entry »

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