Best of our wild blogs: 27 Jun 16

Sisters' Islands Marine Park: Walks resume in the midst of mass coral bleaching
Sisters' Island Marine Park

Johor reclamation at Tanjung Piai gets go ahead
wild shores of singapore

Moult of Stone Crab (Myomenippe hardwickii) @ Beting Bronok
Monday Morgue

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Malaysia, Johor: Plan to rejuvenate Sungai Segget

‘Gem of Johor Baru City’ set to make the place vibrant
ZAZALI MUSA The Star 27 Jun 16;

JOHOR BARU: The on-going multi-billion ringgit project to rehabilitate and rejuvanate Sungai Segget into the new 1.2km waterway in Johor Baru city centre is progressing as scheduled, according to Iskandar Malaysia Regional Development Authority chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim.

Dubbed as the “Gem of Johor Baru City”, it is also a new tourist attraction which is poised to transform the city into a vibrant place within the next five to seven years.

The opening up and cleaning of Sungai Segget was an ambitious plan to transform the city centre, Ismail said adding that the “RM270mil is part of the RM1.8bil allocation by the Federal Government to be utilised for the rehabilitation and rejuvenation work of the river including its beautification.”

Works on the river will start either in the third or fourth-quarter of the year including landscaping its surrounding.

Ismail said Johor Baru denizens could look forward to a “new Sungai Segget” which would be transformed and fully-functional by the end of 2017.

He said phase one of the work involved the construction of centralise sewerage treatment plan to enhance water quality through reducing pollutant loads to Straits of Tebrau.

“It is vital to transform the Johor Baru city centre in tandem with its position as one of the five flagship development zones in Iskandar Malaysia,” added Ismail.

First phase of Johor Baru river rejuvenation to complete by year-end
CHUAH BEE KIM New Straits Times 22 Jun 16;

JOHOR BARU: The first phase of the Sungai Segget rejuvenation project comprising two packages is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim urged the public to bear with the inconveniences for now.

"The Sungai Segget rejuvenation and upgrading works is part of Johor Baru City Transformation Plan, which is one of the five flagship projects under the long-term Johor Baru Transformation Plan," Ismail said.

"The river cleaning and flood mitigation which is under Package 1 and Package 2 of the first phase should be ready, hopefully by the fourth quarter of the year.

"Following the completion of the river cleaning and flood mitigation will be the landscaping works which will take a few more months," said Ismail after the launch of the third Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Awards (IMSHA), an annual event to give recognition to the unsung heroes who have contributed to the local community.

Traders and workers in the city centre have been affected by the ongoing works to re-open Sungai Segget, which is part of the river's rejuvenation project.

The works has reduced the four-lane main thoroughfare of Jalan Wong Ah Fook into a one-lane street.

Sundry shop owner Heng Siew Hoon, 57, said her business dropped by 50 per cent since the works began two years ago.

"Luckily, I still have food operators in the vicinity who walk to the shop to get their supplies from me. If not, my shop would have to close down.

"Many customers do not come to the shop any more because they cannot find any nearby parking," Heng said, when interviewed by the New Straits Times.

S. Pranay, 39, who works in one of the shopping malls nearby, said he faced difficulty getting a taxi to work.

"A taxi driver once told me he tries to avoid using Jalan Wong Ah Fook since the four-lane road was reduced to a single lane. I don't drive. The lack of taxis plying the route has forced me to car pool or take a bus," Pranay said.

Package 1 of the Sungai Segget rejuvenation project, which comprised river cleaning and construction of an underground sewage treatment plant, was initially slated for completion by the end of 2015. Package 2 involved flood mitigation and beautification project.

IRDA was tasked with the RM220 million project to carry out the works.

It was delayed due to a design change and site coordination issues, and was supposed to have been completed this month.

However, IRDA advisory council member Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad later said the project will only be fully completed by 2017.

Changing the face of Johor Baru
SALLEH BUANG New Straits Times 23 Jun 16;

Johor Baru residents are facing exciting times ahead as their city is being transformed from its hodge-podge landscape of uneven development today into a world-class metropolis of tomorrow.

Last November, in conjunction with his 57th birthday celebrations, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar officially launched the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD) at the Persada Johor International Convention Centre. Johor Corporation (JCorp), as master developer, plans to turn the 101ha IIBD site into a “metropolis of international standard”.

Simultaneously launched was a mixed-use development called Coronation Square, the first project under IIBD, with a gross development value (GDB) of RM3 billion, to be completed in 10 years. It comprises six towers (a hotel, a hotel with residences, an office, high-rise medical suites and two serviced apartment towers) and a mall with an estimated gross floor area of 80,000 sq ft. It will be yet another landmark in a city now mushrooming with other mega landmarks reaching for the sky.

This new IIBD master plan is now on public display at Komtar JBCC until July 3. According to JCorp president and chief executive, Datuk Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim, Johor residents are invited to see the plan for themselves and give their views on four major issues — business, green, heritage and connectivity. “We want Johoreans to play their role and be part of this development,” he had said.

In respect of land use, IIBD will not be dominated by its commercial area (51 per cent) because there is also significant room for green and open spaces (21 per cent), institutions (14 per cent), residential areas (nine per cent) and parking spaces (two per cent).

Kamaruzzaman said the cost of the IIBC transformation plan ranged from RM20 billion to RM25 billion. No deadline has been set for the completion of the entire transformation plan. The area covered by the IIBC is bordered by Jalan Ayer Molek (in the west), Jalan Tun Sri Lanang (in the south), Jalan Tun Abdul Razak (in the east) and Jalan Seri Lalang (in the north).

The transformation plan will bear in mind the “rich tapestry of heritage and culture which reflects Johor Baru’s rich history dating over 150 years”, said Kamaruzzaman. Steps will be taken to safeguard, preserve and conserve the old parts of Johor Baru city, allowing for a beautiful blend of the old and new.

He assured the public that JCorp would continue to engage with all stakeholders, including the Johor Baru City Council, Johor Economic Planning Unit and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) to ensure the smooth implementation of the project in the years ahead.

Johor Baru residents have long endured their city of haphazard narrow streets with old shophouses, and in recent years, dotted by newly-built structures such as Komtar, JBCC and City Square.

An attempt by the authorities to beautify and upgrade the dirty and smelly Sungai Segget a decade ago met with limited success. In late 2013, the reopening of Sungai Segget was undertaken through the JB Transformation blueprint of IRDA, in collaboration with the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB). Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

Not many Malaysians know that Johor Baru was formerly known as Tanjung Puteri or Iskandar Puteri.

Founded in 1855, it was renamed “Johor Baru” in 1862, becoming the capital of the Johor sultanate and its administration centre. Modern development came during the reign of Sultan Abu Bakar. Johor Baru was granted city status on Jan 1, 1994.

Nik Ramly (not his real name), a city planner who knows a great deal about the IIBD transformation plan, told me recently that the IIBD was envisaged as a liveable city in the same class as Vancouver, Sydney and Newcastle of England.

It is planned to be a smart city, integrating the features of a people city, a green city, a connected city, a knowledge city, a business city and a creative city. It is a city not of brick and mortar, but a city with a soul, “the soul of Bangsa Johor”, he said.

Within its 101ha site, there will be a retail district, financial district and cultural district, with sufficient room for a new commercial development, lifestyle development, transit station, waterfront, high street and health hub. Existing landmarks, such as Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim, will be preserved as heritage sites.

The IIBD site lies in the heartland of the much larger MBJB, measuring 21,468 ha. The latter is within Flagship A (one of the five Flagships of Iskandar Malaysia), consisting of the JB City Centre, JB Central Business District (now transformed and renamed as IIBD), JB Conservation & Heritage Zone, and Danga Bay.

Iskandar Malaysia, established on Nov 8, 2006, has an even larger area, 2,217 sq km in size. It is administered by IRDA under the IRDA Act 2007 (Act 664).

In short, IIBD’s future development must take into consideration various legislation and instruments already in place. These include (other than Act 664) the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172), the Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171), the Johor Structure Plan, the MPJB Local Plan, and two Comprehensive Development Plans (CDP 2006-2025 and CDPii 2014-2025) prepared under Act 664.

MBJB is the local authority under Act 171 and the local planning authority under Act 172.

Whether IIBD will be made a distinctive legal entity in the future remains to be seen.

Salleh Buang formerly served the Attorney-General’s Chambers before he left for practice, the corporate sector and, then, academia

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The World’s Disappearing Sand

VINCE BEISERJUNE New York Times 23 Jun 16;

MOST Westerners facing criminal charges in Cambodia would be thanking their lucky stars at finding themselves safe in another country. But Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, who is half British and half Spanish, is pleading with the Phnom Penh government to allow him back to stand trial along with three Cambodian colleagues. They’ve been charged, essentially, with interfering with the harvesting of one of the 21st century’s most valuable resources: sand.

Believe it or not, we use more of this natural resource than any other except water and air. Sand is the thing modern cities are made of. Pretty much every apartment block, office tower and shopping mall from Beijing to Lagos, Nigeria, is made at least partly with concrete, which is basically just sand and gravel stuck together with cement. Every yard of asphalt road that connects all those buildings is also made with sand. So is every window in every one of those buildings.

Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible. And we are starting to run out.

That’s mainly because the number and size of cities is exploding, especially in the developing world. Every year there are more people on the planet, and every year more of them move to cities. Since 1950, the world’s urban population has ballooned to over 3.9 billion from 746 million.

According to the United Nations Environment Program, in 2012 alone the world used enough concrete to build a wall 89 feet high and 89 feet wide around the Equator. From 2011 to 2013, China used more cement than the United States used in the entire 20th century.

To build those cities, people are pulling untold amounts of sand out of the ground. Usable sand is a finite resource. Desert sand, shaped more by wind than by water, generally doesn’t work for construction. To get the sand we need, we are stripping riverbeds, floodplains and beaches.

Extracting the stuff is an estimated $70 billion industry. It runs the gamut from multinational companies’ deploying enormous dredges to villagers toting shovels and buckets. In places where onshore sources have been exhausted, sand miners are turning to the seas.

This often inflicts terrible costs on the environment. In India, river sand mining is disrupting ecosystems, killing countless fish and birds. In Indonesia, some two dozen small islands are believed to have disappeared since 2005 because of sand mining. In Vietnam, miners have torn up hundreds of acres of forest to get at the sandy soil underneath.

Sand miners have damaged coral reefs in Kenya and undermined bridges in Liberia and Nigeria. Environmentalists tie sand dredging in San Francisco Bay to the erosion of nearby beaches.

People are getting hurt, too. Sand mining has been blamed for accidental deaths in Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Gambia. In India and Indonesia, activists and government officials confronting black-market sand mining gangs have been killed.

Stronger regulations can prevent a lot of this damage, and do in most developed countries. But there’s a downside. Sand is tremendously heavy, which makes it expensive to transport. If you forbid sand mining in your backyard — as many American communities are trying to do — then it has to be trucked in from somewhere else. That drives up the price. Concrete is relatively cheap; if the cost of making a new building or road were to double, it could hit the economy hard.

Not to mention the extra truck traffic and pollution. California state officials estimated that if the average hauling distance for sand and gravel increased to 50 miles from 25 miles, trucks would burn through nearly 50 million more gallons of diesel fuel every year.

We can make more sand, but crushing rock or pulverizing concrete is costly, and the resulting sand is ill suited for many applications. We can use alternative substances for some purposes, but what other substance can we possibly find 40 billion tons of, every year?

The fishing villages in the mangrove-rich estuaries of Cambodia’s Koh Kong province might be the canaries in the global sand mine. For years, villagers have complained that rampant sand mining is wiping out the crabs and fish that provide their living. Locals told me on a recent visit that families have had to send members to work in Phnom Penh garment factories, or have simply moved away. The dredging also threatens endangered native dolphins, turtles and otters.

Last year, members of Mother Nature, an environmental group led by Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson and others, began a campaign to rein in the mining, organizing villagers to blockade and board the dredging ships. The government, which had expelled Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson a few months earlier for blocking road access to government officials trying to reach a hydropower dam in the province, arrested three of the activists, charging them with threatening to damage dredging boats, an offense that could mean two years in prison (Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson was charged in absentia as their accomplice a few months later).

Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson, who lives in Barcelona, is petitioning to be allowed back to attend his own trial. Meanwhile, the three jailed Cambodians have been denied bail for the past 10 months. Their trial has finally been scheduled for the end of June.

There’s an urgent question of justice for them. For the rest of us, there’s a profound lesson. Hardly anyone thinks about sand, where it comes from or what we do to get it. But a world of seven billion people, more and more of whom want apartments to live in and offices to work in and malls to shop in, can’t afford that luxury anymore.

It once seemed as if the planet had such boundless supplies of oil, water, trees and land that we didn’t need to worry about them. But of course, we’re learning the hard way that none of those things are infinite, and the price we’ve paid so far for using them is going up fast. We’re having to conserve, reuse, find alternatives for and generally get smarter about how we use those natural resources. That’s how we need to start thinking about sand.

Vince Beiser, a journalist, is working on a book about the global black market in sand.

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Malaysia: Normal for animals to cross to Singapore -- Malaysian Nature Society

ZAZALI MUSA The Star 27 Jun 16;

JOHOR BARU: Wild animals in southern Johor are crossing to neighbouring Singapore in search of food and shelter.

Malaysian Nature Society Johor chairman Vincent Chow said the clearing of jungles in the Tanjung Langsat area near Pasir Gudang and Pengerang in Kota Tinggi was the main reason why some of the wildlife had been forced out from their homes and they swam across to Singapore.

“The good news is that they don’t often stay in Singapore for long. After a few days, they cross back to Johor,” Chow said yesterday when he was asked about a Malayan tapir that was seen roaming near the coast of Changi in Singapore.

Lianhe Zaobao, a Singapore newspaper, reported the sighting of the nocturnal animal at about 4.30am on Friday. The image was captured by a reader of the city-state’s Chinese newspaper.

When Singapore’s Animal Con­cerns and Education Society was alerted, the animal had disappeared into the sea.

Chow said rapid development and land reclamation in south Johor had also forced endangered animals to emerge from their habitat.

“Wild animals are sensitive to drastic changes in their natural habitat and instincts will lead them to other places which are similar to their natural habitat,” Chow explained to the media.

Singapore, he added, also reported an increase in the number of hornbills in recent years. The birds flew from Johor to mate and nest in the republic.

He said dugongs from Johor could also be seen around the Che Jawa coastal line in Singapore, which is rich in seagrass – the main diet of the sea cows.

State Wildlife Department director Jamal Nasir Ibrahim said it was normal for wildlife to cross over to Singapore and back to Johor.

“About 20 years ago, an adult elephant swam across the Johor Strait and it was brought back to Johor as requested by the Singapore authorities,” he said.

On the runaway tapir, Jamal believed that it probably thought Singapore was part of its territory.

“It was able to swim with the help of its snout which acted as a snorkel,” he said.

Asked whether the tapir would be returned to Johor if it was captured by the authorities there, he said it was unlikely as the animal was now Singaporean.

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Best of our wild blogs: 26 Jun 16

Mass coral bleaching at Pulau Tekukor
wild shores of singapore

Butterfly Photography at Our Local Parks - Fusionopolis North
Butterflies of Singapore

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Rare sighting of endangered Malayan tapir at Changi

Chew Hui Min, Straits Times AsiaOne 26 Jun 16;

A tapir was seen near the coast at Changi at about 4.30am on June 24, 2016.

Photo: Lianhe Wanbao reader

SINGAPORE - A Malayan tapir was spotted in Changi on Friday (June 24) morning in a rare sighting of the endangered animal.

The herbivore is known for having a distinctive white patch round its middle, and a black head, shoulders and hind quarters .

In a blurry photo taken by a Lianhe Zaobao reader at about 4.30am on Friday, the tapir is seen trotting alongside a metal fence.

Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), said that it received a call about the sighting but the animal was "not in view" by then.

"We are keeping this case in view and hope that the tapir managed to swim to safety," she told The Straits Times.

As tapirs are not found in Singapore, it is possible that it swam over from southern Johor, said Mr Marcus Chua, Museum Officer for Mammal Biodiversity at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

The last sighting of a tapir in Singapore was on Pulau Ubin in 1986.

"It could be looking for new territory or pushed out of habitat because of development," said Mr Chua.

The tapir sighting is "extremely rare for Singapore", he added.

The nocturnal animal is dependent on the rainforest habitat. It feeds mostly on leaves, which it can grab using its prehensile snout.

It can be found in Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, and Southern Thailand, and is globally endangered, mainly due to habitat loss.

There are only about 1,500 to 2,000 in Malaysia according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

While the tapir looks like a wild boar with a longer snout, it is more closely related to horses and rhinos.

Malayan tapir spotted roaming around in Singapore
The Star 26 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: A Malayan tapir appears to be seeking its 15-minute of fame like Chickaboo the ostrich when it was seen roaming near the coast of Changi in Singapore.

It made the news in Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese newspaper in the republic, which reported yesterday that the nocturnal animal was seen running alongside a fence at a land reclamation area at around 4.30am on Friday.

When someone called Singapore’s Animal Concerns and Education Society, the animal had already disappeared into the sea.

A reader of Lianhe Zaobao captured the rare sighting on camera and passed the image to the daily.

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum researcher Marcus Chua Aik Hwee believed the herbivore had swum across the strait from southern Johor to Singapore.

“Tapirs are good swimmers and solitary creatures. This one might have taken a short rest at Tekong Island, or just swam straight to Singapore, I guess,” he told Lianhe Zaobao.

Chua said the rapid development in the region could have also forced the endangered animal to come out from its habitat.

Those who come across such animals should keep their distance and immediately inform animal protection organisations, he advised.

“Tapirs live in the forest. They are shy. Usually, they will not cause any harm to human,” he added.

It is believed that there are no wild tapirs in Singapore.

Its last sighting was in 1986 when residents spotted a pair on Pulau Ubin.

One of the four tapir species in the world, the main threat facing the Malayan tapir in peninsular Malaysia is agricultural land clearing and deforestation.

Between 2010 and last year, 68 Malayan tapirs were rescued in Malaysia while 54 were victims of road accidents in the past 10 years.

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Uncertainty growing in Singapore countryside as farmers are told to move

Audrey Tan and Yuen Sin, Straits Times 26 Jun 16;

Moving may be troublesome for many, but for farmers with bulky equipment and thousands of animals or crops in tow, the process can be downright painful.

Yet, farmers in Singapore tell The Sunday Times that if they have to move, they will, as long as they have the assurance that it will benefit them and the agriculture industry as a whole.

"We need to know that there is a plan, a direction. Are we moving blindly or would the move improve infrastructure and boost the industry?" says Mr Kenny Eng, president of the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA) that represents about 40 farms, many of which are family businesses.

Fourteen of its members, including goat farm Hay Dairies and Jurong Frog Farm, are among the 62 farms in an area in Lim Chu Kang which will be redeveloped to make way for the Defence Ministry's new training grounds. They were told earlier this month that they have to move out by the end of 2019.

The deadline had initially been June next year, but the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) pushed it back 2½ years to give farms more time.

Affected farmers will have the option of bidding for new farm land early next year, but the exact details of the location and size of the new plots available have yet to be announced.

With many questions going unanswered, uncertainty is looming large over Singapore's idyllic countryside, where farmers feel they are ploughing a lonely furrow at keeping their businesses and passions afloat.

One of those affected, 50-year- old quail farmer William Ho, is already considering a change. He says: "It may be too expensive to be a farmer after the move, but I can be a nature guide - children always enjoy hearing about my quails."


The Jurong Frog Farm, contrary to what many expect, smells surprisingly fresh. Its director Ms Chelsea Wan, 32, says the constant supply of running water from a well and reservoir within the farm helps.

But such amenities may not be available at the new site.

In fact, Ms Wan says the move might entail her farm moving into a factory, where frogs will be reared "without ever feeling sunshine or rain".

This is a no-no for the true-blue farmer, or the frog princess, as she is known in farming circles.

"We could work with our suppliers and establish farms overseas; we may just end up focusing on the factory packaging frog products.

"But we have family here in Singapore and it is less than ideal to have a farm overseas," says Ms Wan, who has an eight-month-old son.

For vegetable farmers, the quality of soil at the new site matters too.

As vegetable farmer from Farm 85, Mr Tan Koon Hua, 48, puts it: "The quality of soil is essential to how crops turn out - it can't be contaminated with waste or contain many stones. We also have to cope with the extreme changes in weather patterns of late."


Mr Ho, who is co-owner of Lian Wah Hang Quail and Poultry Farm, says the possible move could cost him about $10 million, including spending on infrastructure at the new site, such as power supply and a new slaughterhouse and processing plant that will allow him to scale up his enterprise and stay commercially viable.

Over at Hay Dairies, business director Leon Hay, 38, says that building double-storeyed barns to house his 1,000 goats would alone cost about $6 million. The layers are necessary because the new plot could be at least 50 per cent smaller than its current 2ha, he adds.

It could take between three and five years for the structure to be built, and another 10 years before investment costs can be recuperated, excluding any interests on loans, he says.

With the 20-year lease period announced by the AVA earlier this month, that leaves the firm about seven years to start making a profit, and only after at least 13 years of effort.

Mr Eng says: "If farms are given more flexibility to diversify revenue sources, they have a better chance to thrive in a challenging environment and, in turn, invest more in their core business of food production.

"Also, while production is important, creating the market and demand is just as important. Agri-tourism and agritainment contribute immeasurably to that."


Earlier this month, AVA decided to go back to the original lease period of 20 years after getting feedback from farmers that the 10-year tenure, with a possible 10-year extension announced in 2014, was too short for investing in automation.

AVA chief executive Tan Poh Hong had said then that the longer 20-year lease tenure would provide more certainty to farms and allow them to invest in intensive, highly productive technologies that operate on minimal manpower.

The news was welcomed by farmers but, even then, they said the prospect of repeating the cycle of bidding for a new plot and building new structures every 20 years was a daunting one.

Farmers say an increase in productivity could be achieved in other ways besides automation. They are trying to innovate by coming up with new concepts and products.

At the frog farm, for instance, one new product is bottled hashima, the oviducts of mature female frogs that has the same "beautifying properties" as bird's nest, says Ms Wan.

They are also trying to attract young people into the sector, to avoid becoming a sunset industry.

This is done by coming up with fresh concepts that combine both agriculture and entertainment, such as farm visits and tours.

They also launched the Farmers' Market, the seventh edition of which will continue today between noon and 5pm at the Nyee Phoe Flower Garden.

Ensuring the longevity of the farms beyond their leases could benefit more than just the farmers.

As Hay Dairies visitor and financing manager, Madam Priscilla Chong, 41, told The Sunday Times last week: "It is good to keep the farms. Without them, children may have to go to farms in Malaysia or Australia, or even the wet market, to learn about animals."

Young farmers keen, but there are doubts

They are young, without a tan and business savvy: Meet the second-generation farmers of today who are redefining what it means to be farmers by looking beyond simply raising livestock.

But despite their passion and innovation, farmers like Jurong Frog Farm's "frog princess" Chelsea Wan may eventually have to trade their wellingtons for more office-appropriate footwear.

The Jurong Frog Farm is one of the 62 farms in Lim Chu Kang which will have to clear out by 2019.

Although the farm's 32-year-old director hopes to continue her father's legacy, she says there is still too much uncertainty about the future of the agricultural sector.

"Even if we manage to secure another plot of land then, what will happen 20 years later? By that time, I will be 56 and structurally unemployed. Who would hire me then? " asked the National University of Singapore graduate.

This is not for the lack of trying, though. Young farmers like Ms Wan are often on the lookout for ways to boost productivity, such as through automation, for example.

They are also injecting a breath of fresh air into the sector by trying out new products and concepts, such as farm tours, to draw the crowds to Singapore's rustic countryside in the north-west.

Ms Wan, for instance, considered how the entire frog - instead of just the legs, a la frog leg porridge - could be consumed. Her answer: hashima, essentially the oviducts of adult female frogs. Some people are willing to pay up to $105 per tael (50g) for it.

At the neighbouring Hay Dairies, business director Leon Hay, 38, sells not only goat's milk, but also the chance to see live goats by taking groups on farm tours. Hay Dairies, Singapore's only goat farm, is also affected by the 2019 deadline.

Still, all the young farmers' efforts at diversification and innovation may come to naught if farms are forced to move every 20 years - a costly affair.

On whether he would bid for the new farm plots come 2019, Mr Hay told The Sunday Times: "I am willing to use my retirement savings for the move, if there is a future for the industry."

Farmer and son hope to develop business further

Mr Tan Koon Hua, 48, director of Farm 85 Trading, takes quiet pride in growing leafy crops such as bok choy and kang kong on his vegetable farms.

His son Liang Zhong, 21, is as old as he was when he first started out in farming more than 20 years ago, and eager to learn the trade. But Mr Tan is reluctant to hand over the reins. Out of his five farms, three totalling 10ha in Lim Chu Kang have been affected by redevelopment plans, and he feels the outlook for the industry remains uncertain.

"My son is very interested in farming, but I am worried that he may end up suffering," he said in Mandarin. "I can train him so the trade can flourish. But the policy direction for the local farming industry is still unclear. If he joins me, he might be spending time learning something that will be wasted."

Mr Tan has been trying to improve business efficiency and quality, and said farmers are not just concerned about the relocation, but also the longer- term outlook. Every day, his farms produce seven to 10 tonnes of leafy vegetables, which are distributed to supermarkets and wholesalers. He has developed a tool that allows seeds to be sown with sufficient distance between each plant, which eases harvesting and ensures scarce land is utilised well. Since 2012, the farms have also reduced the use of chemical fertiliser by scaling up the production of their own organic fertiliser made out of compost.

Mr Tan hopes there will be more dialogue between farmers and the authorities so that the needs of the industry can be better communicated.

Besides soil quality and availability of water at the relocated farms, there are also rising manpower costs and changes in weather patterns in the light of climate change to contend with.

"We want to coordinate well with the authorities so that the journey ahead for the industry will be a smooth one, and ensure that there will be Singaporeans who can produce food for the country," he said.

Mr Liang Zhong, who has just completed national service and is helping his father out at the farm, said: "I will try my best to continue his work, but we need the assurance from the Government that this industry is here to stay so that we can further develop and invest in the business. "

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Transboundary haze law do permit extraterritorial jurisdiction in some cases

S. Jayakumar and Tommy Koh, Straits Times AsiaOne 25 Jun 16;

In 2014, Singapore enacted the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, which came into force on Sept 25, 2014. Essentially, the Act makes it an offence for any entity to engage in conduct, or to condone conduct, causing or contributing to haze pollution in Singapore. Apart from criminal liability, the Act also creates statutory duties and civil liabilities.

The Act is unusual but not unprecedented in targeting conduct that occurs outside Singapore, and which causes or contributes to haze pollution in Singapore.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, speaking in Parliament in August 2014, said the Act "is not intended to replace the laws and enforcement actions of other countries, but it is to complement the efforts of other countries to hold companies to account". He added that "we, in Singapore, cannot simply wait and wishfully hope that the problem will be resolved on its own. The Singapore Government would want to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate the actions of errant companies that harm our environment and put at risk the health of our citizens".


There were mixed reactions to this law in Indonesia. Some parties expressed support for Singapore's law. Others, including some Indonesian ministers, criticised the law on the grounds that it was a violation of Indonesia's sovereignty. A typical comment was: "As it happened in Indonesia, it is part of Indonesia's jurisdiction. If Singapore could easily try Indonesian citizens, it could be a violation of Indonesia's sovereignty."

The Singapore Government responded that the law was consistent with international law. It was drafted with the advice of international law experts and did not violate the sovereignty of any country.

The issue is whether it is permissible for a country to enact legislation that would have extraterritorial reach. The answer to this question turns on a proper understanding of the established principles of international law.

The general principle in international law is that states exercise jurisdiction on a territorial basis, namely, over persons, property and acts within its territory. However, there are exceptions to this principle.

One exception is a group of crimes that attract universal jurisdiction. Examples are piracy, genocide, torture, slavery, crimes against humanity and serious war crimes. For instance, under this exception, it is permissible for an Indonesian or Singapore court to try persons accused of committing piracy, such as Somali pirates, even if the acts of piracy occurred outside their respective maritime jurisdictions.

Another exception involves crimes committed outside a state's territory but which have harmful effects on the state concerned.

There are many examples, including bribery and corruption, terrorism, cybercrimes and cyber attacks and pollution. Such an exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction can be justified under several principles of international law, notably the "objective territoriality principle".

To argue that states cannot exercise such jurisdiction would mean that states are powerless to deal with a variety of situations where individuals, groups and corporations can, with impunity, carry out acts outside their territories which have harmful effects and consequences on them.


Indeed, the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) 2006 Report stated that "today, the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction by a state with respect to persons, property or acts outside its territory has become an increasingly common phenomenon".

The ILC said this phenomenon is due largely to increased movements of persons beyond national borders, the growing number of multinational corporations, globalising of the world economy, increased transnational criminal activities, increased illegal migration and increased use of the Internet for legal or illegal purposes.

To that, we will add the growing interdependence between nations, and the undeniable fact that we live in a fragile environmental ecosystem, where harmful polluting activities in one country can cause serious harm, not only to its own people but to the people of other countries. The nature of transboundary offences necessarily means that multiple states do have a legitimate interest in bringing the offenders to justice.

It cannot therefore be said that any of these states would be acting in contravention of the offending state's sovereignty by enforcing its own laws. Such a violation of sovereignty would arise in some cases, such as, for example, if a state were to send its firefighters into the territory of another state, without its consent, to put out a fire.

Clearly, Singapore's legislation does not seek to do this. The law is enforced only when the party accused of causing the harmful act enters Singapore and comes within Singapore's jurisdiction.

We should add that Indonesia itself has enacted laws that have extraterritorial reach, such as its laws on corruption and on electronic transactions.


In a previous contribution to The Straits Times, ("The haze, international law and global co-operation", Oct 6, 2015), we discussed the principle of international law that a state has the sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, including its forests. However, that sovereign right is limited by a second principle, namely that a state has the responsibility to ensure that activities within its jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other states.

We explained that there is a clear rule in international law that acts committed in one territory that cause environmental harm to the territory of another state constitute a legal wrong. It is, therefore, consistent with international law for Singapore to hold accountable individuals and companies that have caused the fires in Indonesia or elsewhere for that matter, and which have, in turn, caused the haze pollution in Singapore.

Singapore and Indonesia are close friends and partners. We are two of the founding members of ASEAN. Under Article 2, paragraph 2 of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN and its member states are committed to adhering to the rule of law and upholding international law.

Indonesia insists that the haze issue be resolved under the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. We agree that we should use the ASEAN agreement, as well as other bilateral, regional and international agreements, to solve this problem. However, such agreements cannot curtail Singapore's right to take actions that are in compliance with international law.

Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act is consistent with international law. It does not violate Indonesia's sovereignty.

On the contrary, Indonesia should welcome Singapore's law, which complements Indonesia's efforts to hold accountable those errant companies and individuals that have acted in blatant disregard of the serious harm they have caused to the people of Indonesia as well as those of its neighbours.

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Malaysia: Multimedia Commission to shut sites that sell animals illegally

RAHIMY RAHIM The Star 26 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: Wildlife protection authorities are working closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to close down websites or home pages selling wildlife illegally in Malaysia.

A Malaysian Facebook page offering wildlife such as leopard cats, dusky leaf monkeys, binturong (bearcat), barred eagle owls and several other protected species was just shut down by Facebook.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the ministry had agreed to work closely with Wildlife Protection and Natio­nal Parks Department (Perhilitan) on this issue at a meeting last year.

“For cases involving Facebook and Twitter accounts that were found selling exotic and endangered animals, Perhilitan will conduct initial investigations before ordering an enforcement operation and later request the help of MCMC to shut the accounts.

“The page can also be shut down by the Facebook administrator if there is complaint from the public,” he said yesterday.

The Facebook page called ‘Peminat Haiwan Exotic Malaysia’ (Malaysian Exotic Animals Fans), claimed to be “selling regulated goods”, and was promoting the sale of protected Malaysian species.

It was also found to be facilitating illegal activities by allowing members to post advertisements of nationally protected species for sale to the members of public.

In a five-month survey of local Facebook groups, wildlife trade watchdog Traffic South-East Asia found 236 different posts with protected animals such as the sun bear and slow loris “not very secretly” being sold for up to thousands of ringgit each.

Deputy Minister Datuk Hamim Samuri said such acts were unacceptable and gave his assurance the ministry would work with all the relevant enforcement agencies and increase its surveillance to curb the selling of rare and exotic animals, especially in cyberspace.

The ministry, Hamim said, was also in the midst of fine-tuning all existing laws, including the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972, to ensure they were relevant to current challenges.

“Our minister had the officers check existing laws and push for the revamp those that are not current, including the penalties, for dealing with illegal online trading,” he said.

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Best of our wild blogs: 25 Jun 16

Mass coral bleaching at Beting Bemban Besar
wild shores of singapore

Rainy Night Walk At Venus Drive (24 June 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Malaysia: Benalec’s entire Tg Piai reclamation project gets DOE approval

The Star 23 Jun 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Benalec Holdings Bhd has received the green light from the Department of Environment (DOE) for all three phases of its Tanjung Piai Integrated Petroleum and Petrochemical Hub and Maritime Industrial Park (TPMIP) project in Johor.

The marine construction firm said on Thursday that the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) study submitted by 70% owned subsidiary Spektrum Kukuh and Johor State Secretary Inc for Phases 2 and 3 got the nod on Friday last week.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the company said this was for the balance area of 2,407 acres of the total reclamation area of 3,487 acres.

The go-ahead for Phase 1 of the project had been received in January 2015.

The company said the DEIA approval encompassed the reclamation construction for all three phases of TPMIP, oil storage terminals and related marine facilities, which will be capable of accommodating vessels up to 350,000 deadweight tonnage.

“The approval also includes infrastructure components on TPMIP such as jetties, a land bridge connecting TPMIP to the mainland of Tanjung Piai, and drainage channel dredging activities in the waters of Tanjung Piai, Johor,” it added.

Reclamation works for Phase 1 began in December last year after the relevant approvals were secured, and there has been formation of land covering more than 100 acres at the project to date, Benalec group managing director Datuk Vincent Leaw Seng Hai said in a press statement.

The company said its reclamation and development works for the Pengerang Maritime Industrial Park at Teluk Ramunia, Johor, had also secured the development order and earthwork plan approvals.

According to reports, among the directors of Spektrum Kukuh are the Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Idris Sultan Ibrahim and Daing A Malek Daing A Rahaman, who are said to be partners to Benalec in the Tanjung Piai project.

Benalec shares gained 3 sen to close at 50 sen on Thursday,with 1.665 million shares changing hands.

Benalec confident of raising enough cash internally for project
S. PUSPADEVI The Star 27 Jun 16;

PETALING JAYA: Benalec Holdings Bhd is confident it can generate enough cash internally to fund the reclamation works of the massive Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park (TPMIP) project in Johor.

Having reclaimed more than 2,400 acres in Malacca, group managing director and CEO Datuk Vincent Leaw Seng Hai said the firm had to date monetised most of its reclaimed land and was seeing the fruit of its labour.

“We have to fork out the entire reclamation costs upfront and recoup our investments later on as we monetise the land we have entitlement to as payment in kind.

“Our main source of internally generated funds come from the monetisation of our reclaimed land,” he revealed.

At present, the group has over 200 acres of reclaimed land that have yet to be sold and more than 300 acres awaiting to be reclaimed in Malacca, apart from an additional 100 acres being held for sale in Pulau Indah, Port Klang.

“We are optimistic that we can monetise these land banks soon to generate more cash flow to reinvest into our TPMIP in Johor,” he said.

According to the latest quarterly report, Benalec has total liabilities of RM161.64 mil, including bonds of RM149.9mil. Its cash amounted to RM142.19mil and this includes fixed deposits of RM133.51mil.

Benalec carved a niche to reclaim land in Malacca where it had sold seafronting properties.

On that note, Leaw said the group would replicate its strategy in Melaka for its Johor projects.

Meanwhile, Leaw revealed that Benalec was also exploring other routes of equity fund raising for future investments.

This was not restricted to land reclamation but for also oil terminals by way of private placements, rights issue, merger and acquisitions, and even a dual listing in Singapore, he said, adding that this would enhance the group’s profile since many oil majors and multinational corporations had their businesses rooted in Singapore.

Benalec hoped that the income generated from the storage leased out by tank terminal would be its future revenue stream, while it explored other methods to boost its recurring income by promoting its land at TPMIP and Pengerang Maritime Industrial Park.

“We will be exploring outright sales, upfront leases, annual leases and joint ventures with potential partners depending on their requirements,” he added.

Going forward, Leaw opined that with the present market condition, it would be appropriate to make investments now that raw material prices were at their lowest.

Taking into consideration the growth in energy and its demand in South-East Asia in the coming years, he believed the projects in Johor would lead to more inflow of foreign investments into Malaysia.

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Malaysia: Johor mulls importing more beef following FMD outbreak

The Star 25 Jun 16;

JOHOR BARU: With Hari Raya just around the corner, Johor may have to import beef to meet demand, after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) among cows in Mersing.

State Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Committee chairman Ismail Mohamed said this must be done if there was great demand for beef in the next couple of weeks.

The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry has issued permits for the import of beef due to the outbreak and coming festive occasion. The state government has appointed five local suppliers to import the meat, but only if the need arises, Ismail said.

He downplayed worries over FMD, saying not many cows were affected and that the situation was under control.

“Cows in enclosures or in feedlots are healthy and do not show any symptoms of FMD. Only cattle that were roaming tested positive,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Ismail pointed out that in Mersing alone, there were 297 farmers with 14,935 in livestock – 8,708 cows, 3,260 buffaloes, 2,419 sheep and 548 lambs.

The Johor Veterinary Department started vaccinating cows against FMD in nearby Teriang and Endau from June 7.

Further tests by the department found that only 43 cows, belonging to 11 farmers, have the disease at this time.

Ismail said the next step was to find the source of the infection and how it was able to spread.

Livestock farmers in Mersing have told The Star that they could lose tens of thousands of ringgit if people stay away from beef due to the outbreak.

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