Malaysia: Poachers may have triggered forest fires in Beaufort

AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 10 Apr 16;

BEAUFORT : Poachers may have been responsible for fires that caused extensive damage to a forest reserve here and an agricultural project for smallholders.

District Officer Mohd Shaid Othman said the poachers may have started the fire to chase out sambar deer from the forest before shooting the animals.

"We received information about this from the public and we leave it to the police to investigate," he said adding information about the poachers has been given to the authorities.

Shaid said the peat fires which began spreading extensive early last weekend had damaged about 70 per cent of the Binsulok Forest Reserve which stretches about 12,000 hectares.

"About RM5 million worth of crops planted by participants of the government Binsulok Mesej project under the Sabah Land Development Board and Rural Development Ministry were damaged," he said.

Under the poverty eradication project, smallholders plant between 1 ha go 10 ha of pineapples or oil palm in their respective plots.

Shaid expressed his gratitude to the Fire and Rescue Department who were relentless in battling the peat fires everyday until it rained yesterday and briefly today.

The Fire and Rescue department Assistant Director of Operations Khairul Azuwan said operations have been suspended for now after the downpour but most of their equipment were still at the fire sites.

"We have declared a temporary stand-down but we remain on full alert in case fire starts spreading," he said adding new teams will also be replacing those who were on duty at the scene.

259 schools closing because of heat wave
RAHIMY RAHIM The Star 11 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: Schools in Jerantut and Temerloh in Pahang and Perlis will be closed today as temperatures in those areas have exceeded 37°C over a 72-hour period, says the Education Ministry. In a statement, the ministry said that the closure was a precautionary measure to safeguard the health of the over 100,000 pre-school, primary and secondary pupils in the state.

However, the ministry said that only pupils would be excused from attending classes, with no replacement school day required, but school staff would still have to be in school to carry out other duties that did not involve teaching.

The ministry also directed the Perlis and Pahang education departments to ensure that the directive was adhered to, and also sought the cooperation of parents to monitor their children’s activity during the ongoing heat wave.

The closure involved 259 schools (68 secondary and 191 primary) in all three areas with 97,533 pupils (91,862 secondary and primary, and 5,671 preschool).

The ministry also asked parents to monitor the movement and activities of their children during the closure.

Meanwhile, Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail shared that more showers and thunderstorms are forecast to cool down the current heatwave that has seen the mercury rising in various parts of the country – at least until the end of next month.

Che Gayah said the country had already entered the inter-monsoon season with more rains and thunderstorms in the afternoons, especially over the west coast states of the peninsula.

“The inter-monsoon season is expected to last until mid or the end of May,” she said yesterday.

For this month, areas in Perlis, Kedah, Penang, north of Perak, Kelantan and the north of Terengganu are expected to experience slightly below average rainfall.

All other places in peninsular Malaysia are expected to see normal average rainfall throughout the whole month.

The average rainfall for the peninsula is expected to be between 100mm and 250mm and between 100mm and 450mm for Sabah and Sarawak.

However, Che Gayah said the country would be experiencing the south-west monsoon, which is the dry season, from June until September.

This is also the time when transboundary haze from Indonesia is likely to recur.

As at 1pm yesterday, Ipoh and Chuping both recorded 36°C, followed by Prai and Alor Setar at 35°C and Malacca, Kota Kinabalu and Senai at 34°C.

The water levels at three major dams – Padang Saga in Kedah, Bukit Kwong in Kelantan and Bukit Merah in Perak – have also recorded a drop to below the half-way mark.

Seberang Prai Tengah in Penang holds the record of not having any rain for 41 days, followed by Bahagian Kudat (Langkorn estate) in Sabah with 27 days.

259 Malaysian schools ordered closed as heatwave lingers
Schools in Perlis, as well as in Jerantut and Temerloh in Pahang, were ordered to close on Monday (Apr 11) due to extreme heat as a result of the El Nino phenomenon.
Channel NewsAsia 11 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: All schools in Perlis, as well as Jerantut and Temerloh in Pahang, were ordered to close on Monday (Apr 11) due to extreme heat as a result of the El Nino phenomenon.

The Malaysian Education Ministry in a statement on Sunday said the directive was a measure to safeguard students' health, as the temperature in the affected areas had readings above 37 degrees Celsius at a time, every day, and for more than 72 hours.

"This closure involves 259 schools, that is 68 secondary schools and 191 primary schools, while the number of students involved is 97,533, that is 91,862 primary and secondary school students and 5,671 students in pre-school," the statement said.

However, according to the ministry, the school closures involve only the absence of pupils, and the session need not be replaced. "The operation of the schools' administration, except for teaching and learning activities, must go on as usual," it said.

The ministry has also requested the education departments in Perlis and Pahang and the district education offices in Jerantut and Temerloh to conduct surveillance to ensure compliance with the directive.

"The ministry will also make announcements from time to time on any changes relating to the phenomenon," the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Community Development Department (Kemas) in a statement on its Facebook page said all Kemas kindergartens and nurseries in the three places would also be closed in line with the directive by the Education Ministry.

However, its said staff must turn up as usual.

- Bernama/jb


Parts of Sabah still dry despite rain
RUBEN SARIO The Star 11 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A two-hour downpour on Saturday in parts of Sabah’s west coast failed to reach the Trus Madi forest reserve where fires are still burning, and northern Pulau Banggi where some islanders have resorted to using drain water.

Banggi islander Salma Marail said some desperate villagers had resorted to getting water from the drain near Kampung Batu Layar.

It is where animals like cattle come to drink.

She said Saturday’s rainfall over the state’s west coast did not reach Banggi, although the sky was cloudy.

Despite assurances that 3,000 cartons of bottled water were being shipped from the northern Kudat town to Banggi, Salma said many islanders had yet to see any of them.

Fellow islander Jailani Badri said getting water was becoming difficult as hundreds of people queued daily at the single spring in Kampung Timbang Dayang.

“There is a well near the Esscom base in Karakit but the water level there is too low to collect at times,” he said.

A Sabah Water Department official said it would be sending 30,000 litres of water by boat from Kudat to Banggi, beginning today.

“We are keeping a close watch on the weather situation and hoping that Banggi will receive some of the rainfall, as forecast for Sabah’s northern region over the next two to three days,” he added.

The Banggi water treatment plant with a production capacity of two million litres per day was shut down on Friday after the island’s only river that was its water source ran dry.

In a related development, Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said fires spanning some 2,000ha were still burning at the Trus Madi forest reserve, about 70km south-east of the city.

There was too little rain over Trus Madi to make any difference, he said yesterday.

He said firemen and Forest Department rangers were still working around the clock to extinguish the patches of fires at the 185,000ha forest reserve near the Keningau and Tambunan districts.

Mannan said department personnel were also on the lookout for arsonists who could have started the fires in the forest reserve. Fortunately, the Saturday afternoon downpour had doused much of the peat swamp fires at the Binsuluk forest near the west coast reserve, he added.

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