Best of our wild blogs: 31 Dec 14



Bat End
from Go Wildlife Now!

Sungei Buloh extension, now nearer to mudskippers
from Sengkang Babies

Paradise Tree Snake
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Pasir Ris fun with families
from wild shores of singapore


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Malaysia floods: 220,000 at shelters

New Straits Times 31 Dec 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: THE number of evacuees nationwide yesterday hit 220,393 from 210,116 on Monday, with Kelantan and Pahang topping the list, followed by Terengganu and Perak.

Kelantan also had the most fatalities, with 14 deaths, while four were missing. In Terengganu, four were dead and five were missing, while Pahang had three dead and one missing.

The number of evacuees in Kelantan, the worst-hit state, stood at 144,015 people in 324 relief centres as of 9pm yesterday, a slight drop from 147,072 people on Monday. The decrease was due to the receding flood waters in several districts.

Kota Baru had the most evacuees with 29,531, followed by Tumpat (24,919), Pasir Mas (23,568), Kuala Krai (23,500), Tanah Merah (19,440), Gua Musang (13,327), Machang (9,538) and Pasir Putih (192).

In Pahang, despite the fine weather yesterday, the number of evacuees doubled from Monday’s 24,912, with 51,484 people from 12,588 families. Temerloh remained the worst-hit district with 21,284 evacuees, followed by Pekan (10,441), Jerantut (5,674), Maran (4,098), Kuantan (3,852), Lipis (3,090), Bera (2,879) and Rompin (166).

In Terengganu, the number of evacuees dropped to 17,169 at 53 relief centres, as nearly half of the 31,258 people recorded on Monday were allowed to return home after the situation improved. Several relief centres in the state have also been closed. Kemaman recorded the highest number evacuees with 9,023, followed by Dungun (7,923), Kuala Terengganu (208) and Hulu Terengganu (15).

In Perak, the number of people evacuated in Central Perak, Kuala Kangsar, Hulu Perak and Kerian stood at 7,577 yesterday. The state recorded 7,423 evacuees at 54 relief centres on Monday.

Central Perak remained the worst hit, with 4,717 people evacuated, followed by Kuala Kangsar (1,748), Hulu Perak (694) and Kerian (318).

Johor saw improved weather yesterday, with receding floodwaters and light rain reported in most districts. As of 4.30pm, 148 evacuees from 41 families were at four relief centres, a drop from 171 people on Monday.

Batu Pahat had the highest number of evacuees with 104 people from 31 families, followed by Segamat (44), while two relief centres in Kluang were closed.

Number of evacuees in Pahang and Perak rises
The Star 31 Dec 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: More people are being evacuated due to the worsening floods in Pahang and Perak while the number of evacuees in Tereng­ganu continues to drop.

In Pahang, the number of flood victims at the 263 relief centres in eight districts continued to rise to 51,343 yesterday evening from 49,978 recorded in the afternoon.

A spokesman at the Pahang police contingent flood operations room said Temerloh still recorded the highest number of evacuees, with 21,284 at 62 relief centres.

The seven other flood-affected areas in Pahang are Pekan with 9,960 evacuees at 40 centres, Jerantut (6,025 evacuees at 59 centres), Maran (4,238 evacuees at 32 centres), Kuantan (3,797 evacuees at 17 centres), Lipis (3,090 evacuees at 28 centres), Bera (2,854 evacuees at 19 centres) and Rompin (186 evacuees at six centres).

In Perak, the number of people evacuated in central Perak, Kuala Kangsar, Hulu Perak and Kerian stood at 7,762 yesterday evening, compared with 7,664 recorded earlier in the day.

According to a Perak National Security Council spokesman, the number of flood victims recorded in central Perak was 4,628, Kuala Kangsar (2,017), Hulu Perak (799) and Kerian (318).

In Kelantan, no latest information on the number of flood evacuees was made available as at 5pm yesterday after the 158,476 victims recorded in the afternoon.

In Terengganu, the number of people taking shelter at relief centres dropped to 20,122 yesterday evening from 25,775.

According to the Terengganu National Security Council portal, Kemaman still had 10,318 evacuees, followed by Dungun (8,815), Hulu Terengganu (39) and Kuala Terengganu (213).

Several relief centres in the state have also been closed, leaving only 28 each in Dungun and Kemaman, three in Hulu Terengganu and two in Kuala Terengganu.

In Johor, 148 people from 41 families were still taking shelter at relief centres yesterday. — Bernama

Floods: Johor continues to improve, lower water levels reported
BEN TAN New Straits Times 30 Dec 14;

JOHOR BARU: The flood situation continues to improve in Johor as of 12pm today, following lower water levels reported in most districts since this morning.

A total of 154 flood victims from 43 families still remained in the temporary flood centres in the state.

This was an improvement over yesterday where 175 victims from 50 families were registered by the National Security Council (NSC).

Johor NSC spokesperson said Batu Pahat district registered the highest number of flood victims which was 100 people from 30 families.

“This is followed by Segamat which has only 44 victims from 10 families seeking shelter at the centres,” she said today.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson said Kluang has been reported as the district with the lowest number of flood victims with only 10 remaining from three families.

“At present, there are only seven temporary flood shelters that are open in the state which are in Segamat (three), Batu Pahat (two) and also Kluang (two). The one in Muar has been closed as of today,” she said.

Freak storm wreaks havoc in Penang
ROYCE TAN AND The Star 31 Dec 14;

BALIK PULAU: Zinc roofs were blown away, trees uprooted and electric cables ripped off during a freak eight-hour storm that struck various places here.

The strong winds, which blew at an estimated 50kph starting from 8pm on Monday, damaged about 500 houses and shops, affecting some 1,500 people.

Among the worst affected areas were Kampung Sungai Rusa and Kampung Permatang Pasir. Other areas included Sungai Pinang, Jalan Baru, Kuala Jalan Baru, Pantai Acheh and Kuala Sungai Pinang.

More than 200 people had been temporarily evacuated to three relief centres – the Permatang Pasir mosque, Sungai Rusa Primary School and Teluk Bahang assemblyman Datuk Shah Headan Hussain Ayob Shah’s service centre in Sungai Rusa – following the storm.

The only injury reported was that of a motorist whose car was hit by a fallen tree along Jalan Tun Sardon on Monday night.

The man, in his 30s, was sent to the Balik Pulau hospital where he was reported to be in a stable condition.

Retiree Zainal Ariffin, from Kampung Permatang Pasir, said he was thankful that he told his family to take shelter in their relative’s house nearby after noticing the unusually high winds upon his return from the mosque.

“About 30 minutes later, the zinc roof of my patio came crashing down, hitting the cradle where my grandchild would usually take his nap in.

“I have lived here my entire life, but I have never encountered anything like this before. We are lucky to have left the house earlier,” Zainal said yesterday.

It was probably the most unforgettable birthday for Masriyah Harun who turned 64 on Monday as the wind blew the roof of her house in Kampung Sungai Rusa.

Masriyah said she was watching television when she heard a loud crash outside her house at about 10pm only to discover later that it was her roof which landed nearby.

“This is the first time I have encountered such strong winds since I moved here in 1986.”

Lorry driver Abdul Jalil Ishak, 54, carried his stroke-stricken wife Maliah Othman, 53, and ran out of their house when part of its zinc roof was blown off.

The strong gusts also destroyed the dome of the Sungai Rusa mosque, blowing off its steel panels.

The storm also dealt a big blow to agro-tourism and eco-tourism farm operator Sam Lim after it damaged a row of huts on his 1ha property in Sungai Rusa.

A similar freak wind, known as angin langkisau, has hit Penang in the past. This included the 60kmph one in June last year which toppled the lightning arrester of the Menara Umno building in Macalister Road.


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Malaysian $150bn mega-project riles Singapore

Gavin Bowring and Hafiz Noor Shams Financial Times 30 Dec 14;

Only a few hundred meters from Singapore, the sleepy fishing villages that flank the Malaysia-Singapore Second Bridge, to the west of Johor Bahru’s famous Iskandar development, feel a world away from skyscrapers and hustle.

But this is set to change. Country Garden, one of China’s largest real estate developers, has bought a huge 1,800 hectare area of land and sea, and has made progress on developing “Forest City”, a planned mega-project almost entirely built on four separate reclaimed islands.

When completed, it would be even larger than Singapore’s Sentosa Island and have a skyline reminiscent of Dubai or Shanghai’s Pudong district (see photo).

It would add to Country Garden’s existing project (under construction) in Johor Bahru’s Danga Bay which, although occupying a comparatively small 22 hectares of reclaimed land, is already Johor state’s largest standalone condominium project, delivering over 9,000 housing units upon completion by 2017-2018.

Forest City takes it to another level, however. Official blueprints envision scattered assortments of residential-commercial-retail districts, a new football stadium, and sports centers, with a potential gross investment value of up to $150bn. The photo below shows the area in its current state.

As a 66/34 per cent joint venture between Country Garden and the sultan of Johor, it is reportedly lobbying the federal government for lower corporate income tax to entice investment from foreign multinationals. According to local representatives of Country Garden, the company’s CEO, Yang Guoqiang, has “always dreamed” of undertaking a project such as this.

Opposition from Singapore
The sheer scale of the project has led to some degree of opposition. Most notable are the concerns of Singapore. While Forest City does not cross the water boundaries between Malaysia and Singapore, large-scale dredging would nevertheless impact water flows and silting through the channel.

Earlier this year, the Singaporean government demanded a thorough environmental impact assessment (EIA) and in late November renewed its complaints to the Malaysian federal government, calling for all reclamation work to be further suspended.

Malaysia’s Department of Environment deferred a decision that had been due last week on whether and in what form the project could be carried out. The deferral followed recommendations by a panel of experts on ways to minimise the environmental mpact on the Straits of Johor.

There is growing local opposition to the project, too. Fishing communities are upset about potential detriments to their livelihood, while the project effectively impedes the future development of the adjacent Port Tanjung Pelapas, Malaysia’s second largest port, which was previously planned for future expansion along the coastline.

The lack of public consultation has raised some eyebrows. While the land acquisition process itself has been smooth – owners of coastal land have happily sold most of their holdings for a hefty premium –land usage is heavily influenced by the sultan of Johor, who effectively is selling mostly “reclaimed sea”, despite Johor state’s abundance of unused land.

In addition to Country Garden, other major Chinese developers such as Greenland Group and R&F Properties are also developing large mixed use projects entirely on reclaimed land – and directly overlooking Singapore.

The biggest fear is that Forest City may tip the balance in Johor’s already-distorted real estate market. The recent entrance of condominium developers has led to a near quadrupling in land prices along the coast, with ramifications throughout the Johor area. R&F Properties, for example, recently paid MYR900 per sq ft for a stretch of sea close to the Malaysia-Singapore borderline. Just three years ago, prices were barely at MYR250 per sq ft in this area, industry experts said.

Can the surging prices continue?
The question is whether the astronomical price growth can continue, and whether these developers can successfully turn profits. For example, valuations would require condominium prices to increase at least another 30 to 40 per cent for R&F’s investment to breakeven.

For sure, developers have mainly viewed Iskandar and Johor through the prism of a Singapore proxy, and as a test case for future overseas expansion in other markets. Although average condominium prices are already in line with Kuala Lumpur (which has a higher average income), prices are still at a fraction of those in the city-state next door.

Growing connectivity across the straits – including the planned Malaysia-Singapore high speed rail and a proposed extension of Singapore’s MRT – lend support to the notion that this price gap will narrow over time, particularly given Malaysia’s practice of granting permanent residency to some foreign buyers.

The recent weakening of the Malaysian ringgit could also help promote this investment thesis. Nevertheless, increasingly out of reach of most local buyers, these projects may not be able to rely on foreigners alone.

By law, foreign property buyers are required to take out mortgages from Malaysia-domiciled banks. However, mortgage lending is facing growing caps, while buyers from mainland China are reportedly facing new restrictions due to banks’ inability to verify documents.

Buyers from Singapore are also increasingly worried about issues such as building management, landscaping, and other “soft” elements of real estate. With fears that the growing supply glut – including at least 10,000 new condo units in Iskandar’s Medini area from mostly local developers – could result in price wars between competitors, many existing players are pulling back new launches.

Already, average local house price indices (subject to revision) in Johor have seen moderate dips in the last few months. Given this environment, whether Forest City will proceed – at least according to its current blueprint – remains unclear.

Land reclamation has already begun near the Second Malaysia-Singapore Link, while huge parcels of land and forest have already been cleared by Teng Yue Construction, the main contractor for Country Garden.

A bilateral issue?
According to officials at Teng Yue, all further reclamation will be delayed at least until the first quarter of 2015, both due to Singaporean objections and the impending monsoon season. Singapore’s complaints, however have been directed towards the federal government in Putrajaya, not to the sultan of Johor.

The two governments have had a history of disputes over reclaimed land in the past, including Malaysia’s objections to Singaporean reclamation works around Tekong Island on the east side of their channel, which in 2003 resulted in a modification of Singapore’s original plans.

In theory, the federal government has the power to block or stall mega-projects such as Forest City. However, the political dissonance that has been created as a result of falling public support for Umno – the leading party in Malaysia’s ruling coalition – has effectively granted greater individual powers to state sultans. It is unclear, therefore, to what extent Putrajaya would be willing to embarrass Johor’s royals in order to do Singapore’s bidding.

In the meantime, Country Garden is trying its best to shore up its image amongst local Johoreans. It is now the lead sponsor of the local football team, in one of Malaysia’s most football-mad states.

Gavin Bowring and Hafiz Noor Shams are staff at Asean Confidential, a research service at the Financial Times.


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#TheYearThatWas: Distressing environmental issues in Malaysia in 2014

TAN CHENG LI The Star 30 Dec 14;

It has been a year marked by widespread deforestation, unpredictable weather, wildlife poaching and potentially destructive development schemes.

Rife with species

Half of Gunung Kanthan in Ipoh, Perak, has been quarried by Lafarge Malaysia but the untouched part is still a treasure-trove of endemic and new-to-science species. Recent discoveries include two species of plants, a tree, a gecko and a tiny snail. Nature lovers and scientists want what’s left of the limestone hill to be preserved instead of blasted.

Wise up about water

In late January, taps went dry in Hulu Langat and Kuala Langat in Selangor because of high ammonia levels – possibly from sewage pollution or fertiliser runoffs – in a river tapped for water supply. In March, millions in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur had running taps only every two days as reservoirs were drying up.

Lessons from the crisis? We have to use water prudently and stop fouling our rivers. It is also time to consider other water sources, such as recycled wastewater and rainwater.

Not-so-delectable caviar

The controversial sturgeon fish farming project just outside of Taman Negara in Pahang was put on hold as it had proceed without a detailed environmental impact assessment. Fearing that the introduction of an exotic species will harm native fish life and affect their income from ecotourism, the locals have objected to the project by Felda Investment Corp and MMC Hassed Co Ltd of South Korea.

Imports of live sturgeons are prohibited by Fisheries Departments.

Camerons in calamity

Devastating floods and a mudslide swept away homes, killing five and displacing hundreds in Bertam Valley and Ringlet in Cameron Highlands on Nov 5, in the latest disaster to hit the mountainous region. Accusations of corruption, said to cause widespread illegal land-clearing and land mismanagement, prompted state authorities to promise action.

Accusations of corruption, said to cause widespread illegal land-clearing and land mismanagement, prompted state authorities to promise action.

From forest to farm

Rubber trees, planted for both latex and timber, are replacing forests. In September, it was highlighted that 30,000ha of Lesong Forest Reserve in Kuala Rompin, Pahang, have been cleared for planting latex timber clones. The reason? It was degraded forest, stated Pahang Forestry Department.

From forest to farm

Rubber trees, planted for both latex and timber, are replacing forests. In September, it was highlighted that 30,000ha of Lesong Forest Reserve in Kuala Rompin, Pahang, have been cleared for planting latex timber clones. The reason? It was degraded forest, stated Pahang Forestry Department.

The changing climate

The World Meteorological Organisation says the world is getting warmer and the higher temperatures are already exacting a toll this year, with heavy rainfall and flooding in some countries, and extreme drought in others.

Locally, the four mini-twisters which tore through rural Kedah and the one which ripped up roofs in Klang, Selangor, might well portend the weather extremities to come.

Smothered by sandLand reclamation for the 2,000ha mixed development Forest City project off Gelang Patah, Johor, has buried portions of the seagrass meadows of Merambong Shoal, which is home to threatened animals such as dugongs, turtles and seahorses. Construction work has stopped for now as no detailed environmental impact assessment was conducted.

Smothered by sand

Land reclamation for the 2,000ha mixed development Forest City project off Gelang Patah, Johor, has buried portions of the seagrass meadows of Merambong Shoal, which is home to threatened animals such as dugongs, turtles and seahorses.

Construction work has stopped for now as no detailed environmental impact assessment was conducted.

Feasting on the wild

Poaching of wildlife remains rampant and people’s taste for wild meat, insatiable. In June, over 1,000 Asian box tortoises bound for restaurants in Thailand were seized. Last month, a former police constable was caught trying to smuggle 43 pangolins into Thailand. He had previously spent a year in jail for smuggling 18 pangolins in 2012. The most worrisome seizure was that of a sun bear, four barn owls and a common palm civet from a car at the Air Hitam toll plaza on the SKVE highway in October. Subsequently, a check of the driver’s house in Seremban unveiled a stash of a leopard cat, 20 barn owls, two flying lemurs and a porcupine.
Feasting on the wild

Poaching of wildlife remains rampant and people’s taste for wild meat, insatiable. In June, over 1,000 Asian box tortoises bound for restaurants in Thailand were seized. Last month, a former police constable was caught trying to smuggle 43 pangolins into Thailand. He had previously spent a year in jail for smuggling 18 pangolins in 2012.

The most worrisome seizure was that of a sun bear, four barn owls and a common palm civet from a car at the Air Hitam toll plaza on the SKVE highway in October. Subsequently, a check of the driver’s house in Seremban unveiled a stash of a leopard cat, 20 barn owls, two flying lemurs and a porcupine.


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Rogue Palm Oil Companies Continue to Destroy Indonesia's Forests

Grace Chua Vice News 31 Dec 14;

Widespread corruption and the absence of adequate law enforcement continue to enable deforestation in Indonesia, despite recent pledges from the world's largest agricultural corporations to halt forest clearing and a national moratorium on the issuance of new logging permits, according to a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

Palm oil firms in the province of Central Kalimantan, EIA found, were clearing forests to make way for their plantations without proper permits and were passing off the logs as legally harvested wood. Central Kalimantan is located on the island of Borneo, which Indonesia shares with Malaysia, and is where some of the highest rates of deforestation in the world have occurred.

EIA estimates some 52 million cubic meters of wood were cut down to make way for oil palm plantations in the province between 2000 and 2010, yet official Forestry Ministry figures were only 39 million cubic meters. The difference, says EIA, is illegal timber.

"Illegal logging in oil palm concessions is out of control and Indonesia's revamped timber laws have completely failed to rein it in," said EIA's Tomasz Johnson.

Agricultural commodities giants such as Unilever and Cargill, as well as large palm oil suppliers like Wilmar, have announced zero-deforestation policies that cover at least 75 percent of the global trade in palm oil, which is an ingredient in everything from ice cream to lipstick. However, EIA's report suggests illegal clearing remains widespread among small and medium-sized firms.

"Companies like Wilmar may be able to produce deforestation-free palm oil for sensitive markets," Johnson told VICE News, "but the net gains will be totally undermined by rogue firms producing for less sensitive markets."

Among those firms, says EIA, are Anglo Eastern Plantations, based in London, and Malaysia's CB Industrial Product.

There may be more than 1,000 such small to mid-sized firms operating under the radar of international environmental groups, Johnson said.

For several years, environmental groups, like EIA, Greenpeace, and the Rainforest Action Network, have pressured companies through often-sensational direct action protests to adopt zero-deforestation commitments.

But supply chains in the palm oil sector are among the murkiest and difficult to monitor of any agricultural commodity. Corporations can pledge to halt their own environmentally destructive practices but they sometimes end up sourcing palm oil from companies that slash and burn forests. The key to ending this practice, says environmentalists, is to trace the palm oil back to the particular mill or refinery where it is produced. Once the refinery is identified, watchdog groups can more easily audit plantations around the site and determine whether or not they are properly permitted and policed for government authorities.

Some companies have taken responsibility for their supply chains. Cargill, for example, helped a 45-member smallholder cooperative in South Sumatra obtain certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Under the RSPO program, farmers pledge not to clear forests and learn how to boost yields by using efficient fertilizer and improved farming techniques. In exchange, Cargill buys their crops at a price that is about a third more than what the cooperative earned before.

Indonesia accounts for over half of the world's palm oil production. But the crop is also Indonesia's single biggest driver of deforestation. Between 2009 and 2011, some 300,000 hectares - an area roughly the size of Yosemite National Park - were cleared for palm oil plantations, according to a 2013 report by Greenpeace.

But Indonesian president Joko Widodo says his government is committed to addressing deforestation.

"If they are indeed destroying the ecosystem because of their monoculture plantations, they will have to be terminated," he said on a visit to Sumatra in November, two months after taking office. "It must be stopped, we mustn't allow our tropical rainforest to disappear because of monoculture plantations like oil palm."


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Warning of Marshall Islands coral bleaching

Radio New Zealand 30 Dec 14;

An environmentalist in the Marshall Islands says some coral reefs in the north Pacific are struggling to survive as coral bleaching becomes more widespread in the region.

Bleaching has been linked to greenhouse gas emissions that are causing ocean temperatures to rise.

The University of Hawaii's coral reef manager in Majuro, Karl Fellenius, says coral reefs in the Marshall Islands had not been vulnerable to significant bleaching until this year.

Dr Fellenuis says it could get worse if gas emissions aren't brought under control.

"This is the first large-scale bleaching event that the Marshall Islands has seen and in fact it is associated with a much larger event in the region that has seen bleaching since the summer from northern Marianas through to Kiribati and up to Hawaii."

Karl Fellenius says coral bleaches in response to extreme temperatures.


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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Dec 14



Registration for Feb public walks at Sisters Island opens 1 Jan
from Sisters' Island Marine Park

New species and rediscoveries in Singapore this year featured in Straits Times
from lahiruwijedasa

Paddyfield Pipit preening
from Bird Ecology Study Group


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Malaysia: Situation worsens, more than 200,000 displaced by flood

New Straits Times 29 Dec 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The number of evacuees nationwide has swelled to 232,912, with Kelantan topping the list with 160,000 as it rained heavily in many parts of the East Coast.

The situation in Terengganu and Pahang also showed no let up with both having more than 60,000 at relief centres.

In Kemaman, Dungun and east Pahang, heavy rain is reported since morning.

However, in certain parts of Kelantan flood water has dried up. Our photographer Bazuki Muhammad who was in Kampung Wakaf Sena saw many cars stranded on the road as villagers cleaned up their houses.

Access to east coast cut off
RAZAK AHMAD, RAHIMY RAHIM, SYED AZHAR, SIMON KHOO, ONG HAN SEAN, JOSEPH KAOS JR, HANIS ZAINAL, AND RAHMAH GHAZALI
The Star 29 Dec 14;

PETALING JAYA: Access to the country’s flood-hit east coast states is now almost totally cut off after waters submerged many of the main roads to the affected areas.

The number of evacuees also rose by nearly 40,000 overnight as the Meteorological Department warned of a new round of heavy rains lasting until Wednesday.

A total of 200,023 evacuees are currently seeking shelter at more than 500 relief centres in five states, up from 160,921 on Saturday.

The East Coast Expressway was the latest major road to be flooded yesterday when water from Sungai Pahang spilled over at the 126km stretch of the highway at Temerloh, cutting off access to most parts of Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu.

The Works Ministry in a Twitter message issued information on an alternative route that is still open for travellers to the east coast states, starting from Karak via the coastal road through Cherating and then on to Kuala Terengganu and Kota Baru.

As at 6.30pm yesterday, Kelantan remained the worst-hit state with the number of victims rising to 124,966 from 81,925 the day before.

Terengganu had 36,410 evacuees, Pahang (33,601), Perak (4,581) and Johor (465).

The Meteorological Department issued a three-day “yellow” stage alert from today for Perlis, Kedah, north Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor.

The alert, which warns of the possibility of monsoon rains and heavy winds, also covers Kudat and Sandakan in Sabah as well as Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah and Betong in Sarawak.

In Alor Setar, the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) announced that it had opened tide gates at three irrigation canals over the past two weeks to prevent the floods in Kedah and Perlis from worsening.

Its chairman Datuk Othman Aziz said the measure was necessary to prevent water from Sungai Pendang, Sungai Anak Bukit, Sungai Padang Sanai, Sungai Bata and Sungai Arau from spilling over.

There were no plans yet to release water from the Pedu, Ahning and Muda dams in Kedah, Othman said.

In KUANTAN, Temerloh has been effectively cut off to land vehicles after a section of the East Coast Expressway became severely flooded.

According to the Pahang Public Works Department, several trunk roads leading to and from the district were also inaccessible to all vehicles.

Main roads from Temerloh to Bera and Jerantut have also been closed after the water level rose to more than a metre high.

A spokesman from the Pahang police contingent headquarters flood operations room said the Seremban- Kuala Pilah-Serting-Muadzam Shah-Kuantan route could be used as an alternative for travel between Kuantan and Kuala Lumpur.

Disaster first response impeded
The Star 30 Dec 14;

PETALING JAYA: The National Security Council (NSC) disaster management was hampered when its staff at the district level were themselves victims of the flood.

The NSC cited a “complete collapse” of its disaster management team at the district levels in the East Coast as the cause of delays in rescue and relief efforts.

Getting individuals and companies to donate food and other supplies was the “easiest” part – the trouble in finding and rescuing the displaced and working out which area was the worst affected magnified when communications systems were down.

The NSC secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab said their national disaster management team functioned by communicating from federal to state, and state to district level.

This time, however, the team at the district level had been hit themselves.

He said the massive floods which hit Kelantan and Terengganu in 1967 and then in 2004, were “nothing compared to the floods this year”.

“In the districts, the frontliners of our disaster management machinery include the village headman and district officers.

“But due to the magnitude of the floods, most districts were completely inundated.

“Our entire district machinery collapsed as they had become victims themselves.

“At this point electricity supply had to be cut to ensure victims do not get electrocuted.

“This made communications even more challenging, with downed lines handphones with drained batteries and no power.

“For us to know where help was needed and how bad each district was hit became the biggest problem,” he said yesterday.

“To make things worse, accessing these districts became impossible during the peak of the flooding between Dec 23 to Dec 27.”

“We could not use heavy vehicles, the currents were too strong to use boats and the winds were too turbulent to go by air,” he said.

Now, he said, the peak was over and things were getting “slightly better” as it was possible to deliver aid by air and on the ground.

He said 15 helicopters had been deployed in Kelantan alone. But there were still areas in the flood stricken states where helicopters had no landing ground and it was either government agencies, NGOs, or ad hoc leaders on the ground taking charge of distributing aid.

While the NSC coordinated the rescue and relief efforts, the agencies conducting the actual rescue efforts include the Fire and Rescue Department, army, police and Civil Defence Department.

The Meteorological Department yesterday issued its highest “Red Stage” warning for heavy rains in Dungun and Kemaman in Terengganu, Kuantan, Pekan and Rompin in Pahang and Mersing in Johor.

It said intermittent and occasional rain is expected to continue until Wednesday.

According to Bernama, the number of flood victims evacuated were 147,072, in Kelantan, 35,501 in Pahang, 32,210 in Terengganu, 7.407 in Perak and 175 in Johor.


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Indonesia: Population surge, soil damage worsen Bandung floods

The Jakarta Post 29 Dec 14;

Recurrent floods in Bandung regency, West Java, worsen year after year and require comprehensive solutions involving many parties, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has warned.

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said comprehensive handling was needed to deal with the Bandung floods both in terms of infrastructure and environmental awareness

“Population growth and environmental degradation have increased the frequency of floods,” Sutopo said in Jakarta over the weekend.

Floods have been inundating five districts in Bandung regency for almost two weeks, submerging at least 36,000 houses in water 30 centimeters to 3 meters deep.

The affected districts include Baleendah, Dayeuhkolot, Bojongsoang, Katapang and Cicalengka. Some 14,000 residents of these districts have been forced to evacuate.

Flooding of the Bandung basin area and along the basin areas of the upstream Citarum River have been occurring for a long time because of the topography, which resembles a bowl, according to Sutopo.

Data show that floods have been hitting the areas almost annually since the 1980s.

“A number of the affected districts, namely Baleendah, Dayeuhkolot, Majalaya, Bojongsoang and Banjaran are densely populated and developing industrial areas,” he said.

The population of the Bandung basin area was 6.2 million in 2000 and is estimated to have increased to 9.1 million in 2014.

According to Sutopo, this huge growth in population has resulted in widescale exploitation of space and the environment, causing the erosion of between 1 million and 1.7 million tons of land per hectare from seven sub-river basin areas of the Citarum River.

This, he went on, had triggered sedimentation in the Citarum and its tributaries.

The head of the Citarum Management Center (BBWS), Adang Saf Ahmad, said that the river’s problems were very complex. He identified at least six problems that needed to be handled by a number of parties.

“The main problems are sedimentation in the basin of the Citarum and damage to forests around its upstream areas, especially in Kertasari and Pacet districts,” Adang said in Bandung as quoted by kompas.com.

This had caused major erosion as every rainfall washed away soil that would settle in the downstream areas, he explained.

“According to our records, the volume of mud settled in the basin of the Citarum reaches 500,000 cubic meters annually,” Adang said.

Other problems, he said, included a decrease in the surface of groundwater, widespread dumping of trash in the river and land conversion.

The BBWS noted that the groundwater had decreased by an average of 8.3 centimeters annually because of the decrease in the water catchment areas as a result of forest clearing and conversion into agricultural fields in the upstream areas, as well as excessive exploitation of groundwater resources.

The high rate of land conversion for housing purposes, according to Adang, rendered the surface of the soil unable to absorb and retain rainwater

This was concerning because as the capital of the province with the fourth biggest population in Indonesia, Bandung needed a massive supply of clean water, he said.

Sutopo said that a short-term handling proposal for the Citarum basin areas had been discussed during a ministerial coordination meeting in 2010, following a major flood.

Among the proposed solutions included conservation of seven sub-river basin areas of the upstream Citarum, relocation of residents, dredging of the Citarum and its nine tributaries, construction of 22 dams and retention pools, improvement of drainage facilities and revitalization of the river banks.

The total fund proposed for the project at the time was Rp 3.3 trillion.

“Unfortunately, it has never been approved,” Sutopo said.

Separately, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said that the handling of the Citarum so far had focused on its downstream areas, but more funds would now be allocated to the improvement of the upstream areas.

“We will continue evaluating and seeking solutions. We hope that the Citarum’s problems can be dealt with thoroughly within the next five years,” Heryawan said.

- See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/12/29/population-surge-soil-damage-worsen-bandung-floods.html#sthash.VV4LM8ak.dpuf


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As Indonesia’s Forests Burned, No End in Sight to Infernos

Seventy percent of 1,908 companies under the Forest Ministry’s supervision are said to be committed to complying with state environmental standards
Kennial Caroline Laia Jakarta Globe 30 Dec 14;

Environmentalists have attributed most of the haze cases in Sumatra this year to the slash-and-burn clearing of peatlands to make way for plantations, especially for oil palms. President Joko Widodo has signaled a tougher stance against the practice. (Antara Photo/Untung Setiawan)

Jakarta. Slash-and-burn clearing of forests to make way for plantations topped Indonesia’s list of environmental problems in 2014, with several major forest and land fires in Sumatra once again undermining the country’s fight against deforestation, while generating choking clouds of smoke that left local residents ill and prompt the ire of neighboring countries.

The Indonesian office of international environmental group Greenpeace says the number of fire incidents over the past few years have continued to increase in Riau, a Sumatran province at the center of major forest and land fire incidents in Indonesia in recent years.

Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Muhammad Teguh Surya says a total of 6,644 fire hot spots were detected across Riau in 2011, and this figure has continued to rise: 8,107 hot spots in 2012 and 15,112 hot spots in 2013.

“As of October this year, we recorded more than 21,000 fire hot spots,” Teguh told Indonesian news portal Tempo.co earlier this month.

The Riau administration declared a state of emergency in the province in late February after it failed to tackle fires and haze that spread to surrounding provinces, forcing airports to shut down and disrupting flights, as well as threatening the health of residents.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, said during the emergency period that ran from Feb. 26 to April 4 that potential economic losses from the fires and haze were estimated at Rp 20 trillion ($1.61 billion). Nearly 22,000 hectares of land were torched, including 2,400 hectares located in biosphere reserves.

Nearly 6 million people were exposed to the haze, and 58,000 people suffered respiratory problems as a result.

Riau was forced to declare another state of emergency in July. Although local firefighters, with the help of the military and police, eventually managed to extinguish most of the fires, they kept coming back throughout the year.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho has highlighted the need for better law enforcement. In the wake of the peak of the fire and haze incidents in the first quarter of the year, police have arrested dozens of people for allegedly starting the blazes, but law enforcement in the sector has generally been considered toothless, with security officers criticized for only nabbing small-scale farmers and barely going after the large plantation companies in whose concessions many of the hot spots are located.

“The key is law enforcement. Peatlands burn easily, and once they burn, it’s difficult to extinguish the fire. Prevention is more effective than putting out the fires,” Sutopo said.

Environmentalists have attributed most of the haze cases to the clearing of peatlands to make way for plantations, especially for oil palms.

Local farmers and big plantation companies been blame each other for starting the fires, but President Joko Widodo, during a visit to Riau last month, won activists’ praises when he threw his weight behind the smallholders.

“The best thing to do is to give the land to people so they can use it to plant sago. What’s made by people is usually environmentally friendly. They won’t do any harm to nature,” he said. “However, if we give the land to corporations, they will only switch it to monoculture plantations.”

Joko’s predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, won plaudits from the international community for parading as an environmental champion — pledging Indonesia’s commitment to cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent by 2020 using its own resources, and by 41 percent with international support. He enacted a moratorium on deforestation in 2011 to achieve those goals, and the ban will be in place until next year.

Yudhoyono’s administration, however, came under fire after Nature Climate Change journal published in June a report of a study that found Indonesia had overtaken Brazil as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter by deforestation, despite the much-ballyhooed moratorium.

The report said Indonesia’s primary forest loss totaled more than six million hectares from 2000 to 2012, with an average increase of 47,600 hectares per year.

“By 2012, annual primary forest loss in Indonesia was estimated to be higher than in Brazil; 0.84 million hectares and 0.46 million hectares, respectively,” it added.

Zenzi Suhaidi, a campaigner manager with the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, or Walhi, criticized a presidential regulation on peatland protection issued by Yudhoyono earlier this year because it changed the status of Benoa Bay in the south of Bali from a conservation area into a so-called buffer zone.

The change in status allows a controversial commercial development project in the area to proceed, despite an outcry from local fishermen and environmental activists.

“In spite of its name, the regulation jeopardizes the sustainability of peatlands because it compromises certain stakeholders’ interests, and the regulation provides no deterrent effects,” Zenzi said.

He also pointed to a clause in the regulation that rules on environmental restoration requirements for forestry and mining firms, saying it offered a lot of room for backroom deals.

“That was a setback by Yudhoyono this year. The regulation ‘inadvertently’ provides room for gratuities,” Zenzi said.

“This year we’ve seen the effects of forest destruction, yet the previous administration still issued that regulation to exploit [forests].”

Zenzi, though, like other environmental activists, is encouraged by Joko’s take on green issues, following his visit to Sungai Tohor village in Riau’s Meranti Islands district in late November.

They believe the president’s siding with local farmers and his particular attention to the management of peatlands are positive signs of his commitment to the environment. Joko, during that visit, introduced a canal system to manage the water level in peatlands to make them more resistant to fires. He said he wanted the system to be part of the government’s permanent policies on Indonesia’s peatland management.

Joko also has ordered reviews of logging permits and concessions of plantation and mining firms, in an effort to crack down on slash-and-burn clearing of forests.

“Those commitments may be part of a concrete agenda that will have significant effects. And implementations of all of them must start in 2015,” Zenzi said.

He said the government must set up a body to ensure implementation of those commitments, suggesting a name like “the Anti-Forestry Mafia Committee,” or “the Agrarian Conflict Resolution Board.”

“Mechanisms [for resolutions] have to be built because the number of cases of [land] conflict and environmental degradation are very high already, and the incidents are widespread,” Zenzi said.

He added Joko’s administration also faced a challenge in the form of regulations issued during Yudhoyono’s term.

“Although Joko’s administration has signaled its good intentions to fix our country’s environmental problems, we cannot forget that there are many policies on the environment arbitrarily issued by the previous administration,” he said.

Rasio Ridho Sani, a deputy to the environment and forestry minister, however, argued that Indonesia had made significant improvements in the environmental sector, citing growing environmental awareness among logging, plantation and mining firms operating in forests.

He said 70 percent of the total 1,908 companies under the ministry’s supervision were committed to complying with the government’s environmental standards. The figure is an increase from 49 percent in 2004.

“Seventy percent of those corporations have refined their commitments to managing their activities and the effects toward the environment,” Rasio said.

“This means the environmental awareness of the business community has increased. And we hope that the number will stay that high and increase even further,” he said.

He added that the public’s awareness about environmental issues was also improving, citing how more people were starting to cycle to work and were committed to recycling their waste as part of a greener lifestyle.

“This is a very good sign for our nation,” Rasio said.


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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Dec 14



Pollution at sea? Boats ramming reefs? Call MPA immediately!
from wild shores of singapore

2014 Macro Photography Highlights
from Macro Photography in Singapore

G√ľnther's Frog (Hylarana guentheri) @ Sungei Buloh
from Monday Morgue


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Doing more to make Singapore green

RICHARD HARTUNG Today Online 29 Dec 14;

How green is Singapore? The answer depends on which report you read.

The latest good news from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) is that the Republic’s carbon intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of gross domestic product — fell by 30 per cent between 2000 and 2010. It also recently announced the S$1.5 billion Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 to create a more liveable and green environment, which could place the nation as a leader in conservation.

Other statistics, however, paint a less favourable picture. While carbon intensity decreased, Singapore’s total greenhouse gas emissions actually increased by about 21 per cent to 46 million tonnes during that period, albeit as GDP increased 76 per cent.

And a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) showed that Singapore’s environmental ranking has worsened to the seventh-worst ecological footprint per person among 150 countries analysed, moving down from the 12th-worst spot a year before.

About 70 per cent of the city’s footprint comes from carbon emissions, with electricity usage and high consumption of imported food and services contributing to the large amount of carbon emissions produced, based on the WWF’s 2014 Living Planet Report. Doing far more to create a better environment and give green businesses a more credible base of operations could bring a multitude of benefits.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

A good first step towards making Singapore even more environmentally friendly is to set more ambitious targets in MEWR’s 2015 blueprint and then working to change people’s habits sooner.

The blueprint contains targets reducing per capita water usage from 151 litres per day to 140 by 2030, for example, as well as increasing domestic recycling rates to 30 per cent and raising the target for sky-rise greenery from 50ha to 200ha.

Yet average daily water consumption is already down to 107 litres per day in Denmark and stands at about 130 litres per day in Hong Kong. The household recycling rate in Taiwan is already 42 per cent and in the United Kingdom, it is 44 per cent. Adapting best practices from places such as Taiwan for recycling and Hong Kong for lower water usage could lead to far greater improvements than the blueprint’s current goals.

And since transport accounts for about 14 per cent of carbon emissions, further promoting public transport and considering policies to encourage more fuel-efficient cars and reduce the number of highly inefficient sports cars or sport utility vehicles could have a significant impact.

MEWR has criticised the WWF report as failing to recognise Singapore’s unique circumstances as a small island city-state with no hinterland and with little control over upstream manufacturing or processing of imports.

Yet, areas policymakers could consider is where Singapore imports goods from and how to promote a change in consumer mindsets so that products from nearby countries or with a lower ecological footprint are perceived more positively than ones from far away. Importing more fruit from nearby countries rather than Africa, consuming beverages produced in Asia rather than in Europe and importing sustainably grown lumber from nearby countries are a few of many opportunities for improvement.

As WWF International’s director-general Marco Lambertini said, Singapore should “consume products that have a lower footprint or no footprint, or products that are incentivising sustainable practices”.

While such changes by consumers can make a significant dent in improving the environment, it is also critical to change practices in the industrial sector — such as the manufacturing, refining and chemical businesses — as it accounts for 60 per cent of carbon emissions.

Parliament took a brave step by passing the Clean Air Act in the 1970s, requiring industries to install air pollution control equipment to meet emission standards, in order to avoid the economic loss and impairment of health which it said air pollution caused. So, too, could today’s Parliament support a similar stance to encourage refineries or other heavy polluters to take proactive steps more quickly to reduce their emissions.

To support businesses in the sector, Singapore could further showcase technology from companies such as Germany’s E.ON that are setting up offices or research labs to develop carbon emissions reduction technology for export.

If it wanted to go even further, Singapore could enhance its growing role as a leading global investment hub by applying sustainability standards to investments and investing in companies with high environmental standards. As Mr Lambertini said, it could redirect investments towards applying sustainable standards, investing in companies with high corporate social and environmental standards and divesting from fossil fuels.

Whether it is in the daily activities of consumers or the practices of large businesses, promoting faster progress towards a better environment and a green economy can improve health, liveability and businesses.

The WWF has outlined opportunities for improvement, and following its suggestions from the report as well as other global best practices could enable Singapore to improve the environment, enhance quality of life and make the city more attractive for top talent. We can indeed do far more to move faster towards what MEWR described as a more liveable environment for all of us and “a hub for the cutting-edge business of sustainable development”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Richard Hartung is a financial services consultant who has lived in Singapore since 1992.


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Singapore ‘faces constraints in further emission cuts’

With economy reliant on manufacturing, significant reductions are tough: Analysts
SIAU MING EN Today Online 29 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE — As the Republic prepares to commit to a global pact on climate change in Paris next year — when targets for carbon emission levels after 2020 will be set — experts TODAY spoke to felt Singapore faces limitations in its potential to further reduce emissions.

The nation has taken significant steps to manage emissions, most notably shifting from fuel oil to natural gas to generate electricity, and has limited options in making further cuts, they said. With an economic base still focused on processing and manufacturing, significant reductions will be hard to achieve, some felt.

WHERE SINGAPORE STANDS

In 2009, Singapore pledged to cut carbon emissions by 7 to 11 per cent below 2020 business-as-usual (BAU) levels and, in the case of a binding global agreement, by 16 per cent below BAU levels. This is based on a projection that the nation’s emissions would reach 77.2 million tonnes by 2020 if no measures were taken.

Statistics from Singapore’s first Biennial Update Report — a summary of the Republic’s actions to mitigate climate change and its effects — noted that the country’s growth in emissions slowed to an average annual rate of 2 per cent, lower than the 2.2 per cent globally.

In 2010, the nation’s carbon emissions totalled 46.83 million tonnes, of which about 45.2 million tonnes was carbon dioxide (CO2).

Separately, figures on the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources website showed that, in 2012, Singapore produced 41.5 million tonnes of CO2 from burning fossil fuels — excluding emissions from waste incineration and bunker fuels — more than the 39.06 million tonnes in 2007.

The nation managed to reduce carbon intensity — the amount of carbon emissions per dollar of gross domestic product — between 2000 and 2010 by 30 per cent, far more than the global average decrease of only 0.12 per cent. This was largely due to a switch from fossil fuels to a cleaner fuel mix of natural gas that produced lower carbon content per unit of electricity generated.

In 2010, the energy and transformation industries — which burn fossil fuels to produce electricity — contributed 46 per cent of carbon emissions from fuel combustion in the energy sector, while industrial activities accounted for 38 per cent. Transport, commercial-institutional and residential sectors took up 15 per cent, 1 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

Despite Singapore faring better in the global carbon intensity rankings — the International Energy Agency ranked Singapore 123rd among 137 countries in 2011 — the country’s per capita emissions remain high, coming in 27th of 137 nations.

STEPS TAKEN TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT this year

Solar energy is set to be Singapore’s most promising source of renewable energy. The Housing and Development Board (HDB) called for its largest solar leasing tender to date in May for about 680 HDB blocks in four residential towns.

In March, the Government also said it would raise the total installed solar capacity to a 350-megawatt peak by 2020, or about 5 per cent of the annual electricity demand.

Last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled Singapore’s second Singapore Sustainable Blueprint, which focused on maintaining green spaces and creating a “green economy”, among other things.

In the third Green Building Masterplan unveiled in September, a new S$50 million fund was introduced to help building owners and their tenants from small and medium enterprises offset the cost of retrofitting spaces to make them more eco-friendly.

Since April, PM2.5 readings have been incorporated into the Pollutant Standards Index to reflect more precisely the amount of fine particulate matter in the air. In August, Singapore also passed laws on transboundary haze pollution that allow entities causing or contributing to haze here to be fined up to S$2 million.

CUTTING EMISSIONS: CAN SINGAPORE DO BETTER?

Research associate Melissa Low from the Energy Studies Institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS) told TODAY it is hard to compare the nation’s performance with that of other countries, given how Singapore is a small city state that is reliant on imported fossil fuels and that its economy still depends on energy-intensive industries such as processing, unlike in the European Union, where the economic downturn has led to a growth in services, which may help reduce emissions in the continent.

Assistant Professor Chang Youngho from Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Division of Economics noted that Singapore is using fairly advanced technology to produce electricity and any further breakthroughs to raise efficiency would not be easy.

NTU’s Professor Euston Quah pointed out that further efforts to cut carbon emissions or increase energy efficiency would result in higher costs, while barely making a dent in reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere globally. At present, Singapore contributes to less than 0.2 per cent of global emissions.

“Given that our contribution is already so low, reducing (it) further by increasing energy efficiency would not make sense economically,” he said.

Carbon emissions, he felt, are “necessary by-products” of industry and economic activities, which not only bring about growth, employment and income, but could also provide financial resources to reduce pollution and other environmental degradation.

However, Associate Professor Matthias Roth from the NUS Department of Geography felt Singapore has some way to go. He noted how absolute CO2 emissions had been allowed to increase despite a fall in carbon intensity.

“The Earth’s climate is changing in response to an increase in absolute concentrations of carbon dioxide,” he said. “The atmosphere does not respond to statistics such as per capita emissions, carbon intensity ... but simply to the amount of carbon dioxide in the air that affects the radiative balance of the Earth-atmosphere system.”

TACKLING CARBON EMISSIONS

In response to media queries, a spokesperson from the National Climate Change Secretariat said Singapore’s achievements in reducing carbon intensity reflect the “significant early actions” taken.

However, sustaining such reductions will be difficult going forward, even with technology that is higher in efficiency and alternative clean-energy sources being explored.

Given Singapore’s limited alternative energy options, energy efficiency is a core strategy in reducing carbon emissions, the spokesperson added.

This includes the Energy Conservation Act that came into effect in April last year, under which large users of energy need to submit their energy-consumption data and develop plans to improve energy efficiency.

Ms Low said the National Environment Agency should share its initial assessment of energy reports submitted by 167 companies, which operate 211 energy-intensive industrial facilities. She also felt with SMEs forming the bulk of firms here, they can do more, while many are not fully aware of the grants available to help them become more energy efficient.

Prof Quah suggested that both the public and private sectors could do cost-benefit analyses and environmental impact assessments for proposed developments and projects.

In addition, he raised the example of imposing a carbon tax as an instrument to correct for the price distortion of economic activities by making people and firms pay for the external costs that their activities bring to society.

Ultimately, climate change is a people problem, said Dr Roth. “It will be very difficult to achieve significant reduction in carbon emissions as long as the population is allowed to increase at the present rate without drastically lowering the carbon footprint of industries and individual behaviour,” he added.


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Supply of vegetables hit by Malaysia floods

Ng Lian Cheong, Channel NewsAsia 28 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE: The supply of some types of vegetables in Malaysia has been affected by the continuing floods in the country.

This has, in turn, caused the supply of these products to Singapore to fall by about 20 per cent. To stabilise the market, importers are bringing in about 20 per cent more vegetables from the south of China.

"The Kuala Lumpur market is bigger, so the demand is higher and some vegetables have gone there,” said Mr Vincent Lee, a treasurer at Singapore Fruits and Vegetables. The supply to Singapore markets has fallen by about 20 per cent. The price has gone up by about 20 cents per kilogramme."

The floods have also affected other services. The only express bus service that travels from Singapore to the Eastern Coast of Peninsula Malaysia said it had to cancel its daily trips from Dec 27 to Dec 29.

With Kelantan one of the more severely hit areas, one logistics company that delivers construction materials and food told Channel NewsAsia it also halted operations.

- CNA/ec


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$18m green makeover well under way in Yuhua

Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE - The $18 million project to transform Yuhua in Jurong into Singapore's first "green" neighbourhood is well under way.

Among the initiatives rolled out thus far are a new bicycle parking system, a vertical green wall and LED lighting in carparks.

Under the Housing Board's Greenprint scheme announced in 2012, 38 blocks in the estate will be equipped with energy- and water-saving solutions.

So far, LED street lighting has been installed at all three open-air carparks and their driveways in the estate. It is estimated that this will reduce energy consumption by at least half.

New double-tiered bicycle racks have also been installed at the void decks of 28 blocks.

Known as a dual bicycle rack system, the frames allow for twice the number of bicycles to be parked in the same space.

Block 223 in Jurong East Street 21 has also received a green makeover - literally.

Its walls are now covered in plant creepers, which, besides enhancing the estate's greenery, are expected to reduce the building's surface temperature by up to 5 deg C.

Also afoot are works to install solar panels on the roofs of 29 blocks, as well as elevator energy-regeneration systems in 18 blocks.

The lift systems can shave off about 20 per cent in energy consumption, while the solar panels will be used to power common areas such as lifts, as well as corridor and staircase lighting.

Work has similarly begun on building a pneumatic waste conveyance system.

This automated method uses vacuum-type underground pipes to gather household refuse, hence reducing the manpower needed for waste collection.
These green initiatives, to be completed next year, are expected to save up to $144,000 annually, said the HDB.

Residents in Yuhua are getting on the green bandwagon with their own activities.

Through the HDB's Greenprint Fund, which supports the testing of green ideas, they have started three hobby farming zones, as well as two community "parklets" - landscaped corners at void decks where residents can rest and interact.

Research engineer Lin Min, 26, who lives in Block 231, said he feels lucky to live in Yuhua and likes the new bicycle racks.

"I grew up here and it's cool to see the estate having a fresher look, and with greener technology," he said.

"The novelty appeals to me, and it feels good to do something for the environment."


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Malaysia: Third wave of floods may hit east coast states, Johor

New Straits Times 29 Dec 14;

KUANTAN: Folks in Johor and along the east coast have been urged to brace themselves for a third wave of floods expected to strike the peninsula from today until Wednesday.

Tengku Mahkota of Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad yesterday called on the people in his state to be prepared, to ensure that aid and rescue missions could be carried out in an orderly manner.

“Two important things to focus on in times of floods are the efforts of the relevant agencies in saving lives and the delivery of basic needs, such as food and drinks, to victims.

“I urge people to evacuate when they are instructed to do so, even when the situation has not reached a dangerous level,” he said at the Pahang police headquarters here.

Tengku Abdullah was speaking after a briefing by State Secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Safian Ismail, who is also Pahang disaster committee chairman.

Four deaths have been reported in the state so far, with one each in Lipis, Jerantut, Temerloh and Sungai Lembing in Kuantan.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Meteorological Department commercial and corporate services director Dr Mohd Hisham Mohd Anip said heavy rain was expected over the southern part of Terengganu, eastern Pahang and Johor in the coming days.

He said folks in Johor, especially, would have to brace themselves for the worst, given that they had yet to experience floods as severe as those in the east coast states. However, he said, Kelantan could look forward to a much-needed reprieve.

“We are expecting a lot more monsoon rain over the east coast and the coasts of Sabah and Sarawak, which may last for a few days, and less rain in Kelantan.”

Floods: Pahang prepares for third wave
The Star 28 Dec 14;

KUANTAN: The people in Pahang have been told to be prepared to face the third wave of floods expected to strike from Monday until Wednesday.

Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad, said being prepared was vital to ensure that aid and rescue mission could be carried out in an orderly manner.

"Two very important things to focus in times of floods are efforts of the relevant agencies in saving lives and delivery of basic needs such as food and drinks to victims.

"I urge the rakyat to evacuate immediately when they are instructed to eventhough it has not reached a dangerous situation. This is to prevent any untoward incidents," he said after attending a briefing at the Pahang Contingent Police Headquarters here.

So far four deaths had been reported in Pahang, each in Lipis, Jerantut, Temerloh and Sungai Lembing in Kuantan.

Tengku Abdullah said, Pekan, Maran, Kuantan and Rompin were still in critical situation.

"I am very satisfied with the work carried out by the agencies so far and after this, efforts should be focused on the districts which are still critical," he said. - Bernama

Floods: New school term postponed, to start on Jan 11, Jan 12: Muhyiddin
SAMEER AHMED SHAIKH New Straits Times 29 Dec 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The new school term has been postponed for a week due to the flood situation, says Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The scheduled school term will now take effect on Jan 11 for Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Johor while for the rest of the states, the school term will resume on Jan 12.

Muhyiddin said the decision was reached after looking at the flood situation and understanding the difficulties faced by teachers and students should the school term resumed as previously planned

He added, as of Dec 28, there are 340 schools in 7 states affected by floods either used as temporary relief centres or they were inundated.

Muhyiddin also said if the flood situation improves, schools are urged to use the period of postponement to organise gotong-royong to ensure an optimum learning environment.

Malaysian government under fire for flood response
More than 120,000 people forced to flee homes as rescuers battle to reach inundated parts of north-east of country
Agence France-Presse theguardian.com 27 Dec 14;

Rescue teams struggled on Saturday to reach inundated areas of north-east Malaysia as victims accused the government of being slow to provide assistance after the country’s worst flooding in decades.

Malaysians have vented their anger at the prime minister, Najib Razak, after the release of photos which went viral on social media showing him playing golf with the US president, Barack Obama, during the storms.

The number of people forced to flee their homes climbed past 120,000 with weather forecasters warning of no respite for the north-eastern states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.

The under-fire Najib was expected to arrive in Kelantan on Saturday to lead the national flood response after cutting short his holiday in Hawaii, his aide Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad said.

The government has allocated about $14m to manage relief centres.

The deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, admitted rescuers were facing challenges with power outages and roads being washed away by the floods.

“I admit the situation is challenging to the rescue workers and we are trying our best to make sure that the food arrives to the victims depending on the flood situation,” he was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper.

Military helicopters and trucks were seen in Kota Bharu area, which is near the border with southern Thailand, but rescue efforts were being hampered by fast rising waters and strong currents while roads to hard-hit areas were impassable.

“The severity and scale of the floods had taken the authorities completely by surprise as it was worse than anticipated, overwhelming all disaster management plans and preparations,” Lim Kit Siang, veteran opposition MP with the Democratic Action party said in a statement on Saturday.

Kelantan, one of the worst-affected areas, is led by the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic party (PAS) and is one of the poorest states in the country.

From the air, parts of the state capital Kota Bharu resembled a vast, muddy lake, with row after row of rooftops peeking out of the murky waters.

Tempers were frayed among people sheltering at a crowded relief centre just outside Kota Bharu, with fears the situation would worsen as it continued to rain in surrounding areas.

“I am angry with them [the government]. We don’t care about their politics. We just want the government to do what they should do and help us,” Farhana Suhada, 23, who works for a courier service, said.

Holding on tightly to her six-month-old baby, she said: “For breakfast I had three biscuits and tea. There’s not enough water and no food at all for my baby. I had to buy my own milk.”

Suhada was forced to abandon her home four days ago after flood waters rose quickly almost to neck level.

“I have lost everything, including huge damage to my house and my car and motorcycle,” said Suhada, who was among 200 people seeking refuge in a two-storey school.

Many flood victims were seen lying on the floor while children ran around.

Nur Fatin Nurnabilah, 13, said it was her first experience of floods and she was afraid for her family’s future.

“I am scared and I miss my home,” she said. I am scared because I can’t swim. And we lost everything we had.”

2-week closure for East-West link
New Straits Times 29 Dec 14;

IPOH: The East-West Highway, which has been impassable since Wednesday, will remain closed to traffic for up to two weeks, said state Public Works Department director Datuk Dr Safry Kamal Ahmad.

He said the department had to extend the closure because of more landslides along the highway.

“There were four landslides, at Km69, Km79, Km87 and Km90,” he said, adding that three of the landslides were in Perak, while the Km90 site, the worst of the four, occurred in Kelantan.

Safry said the department had initially sought to reopen the highway for between three and seven days.

He said 23 roads in the state had been closed to traffic, mostly in Perak Tengah and Hulu Perak districts.

Motorists can call the department at 1800-88-3377 for more information on road closures.


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Best of our wild blogs: 28 Dec 14



Morning Walk At Venus Drive (27 Dec 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

2014 - Looking Back...
from Butterflies of Singapore

Pasir Ris Park (28 December 2014)
from Psychedelic Nature

Strait to the city
from The annotated budak

Leopard cats in the news: illegal wildlife trade
from Through the Eyes of the Leopard Cat


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Foreign worker volunteers clean up East Coast Park

Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid, Channel NewsAsia 28 Dec 14;

SINGAPORE: Over 300 foreign workers from the construction industry spent part of their rest day to help clean a 7-kilometre stretch of East Coast Park on Sunday morning (Dec 28). The initiative, which started at 8am, was organised by their employer GATES PCM Construction.

The company said the workers, who participated in the clean-up, did so voluntarily. They come from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines.

The initiative is part of the firm's corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. Last year, the company brought some of its workers to help out at an old age home. For its CSR initiative this year, it got every foreign worker on its payroll involved.

Its CEO M Krishna said: "Last year's effort was warmly welcomed, when we involved a fraction of our foreign employees. Therefore, I felt this year, I should give all my foreign employees an opportunity to give back to the country that has given them a better life."

Sivanessan s/o Kitnasamy, director of GATES PCM Construction, said: "A lot of them are quite veterans in terms of their work in Singapore...(as long as) about 12 to 14 years. So these guys have a little bit of sense of belonging to Singapore and this is one of the ways they can display that."

One employee, Kaleeswaran Vdaiyar, said: "I don't mind taking a half day (of my rest day to clean the East Coast Park), because I like Singapore, and I want to help clean the park. I like to do social service."

One park user was grateful for the clean-up. Katherine Ee said: "Feel thankful, feel very thankful. Since I know that they are doing on (a) volunteer basis, I think if I jog past them, I will appreciate it, say thank you..."


- CNA/ir


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Malaysia: Flood situation in Johor improving

Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 27 Dec 14;

JOHOR BARU: The number of flood victims in Johor continue to decline with only 439 victims still being sheltered at 10 relief centres as at 4 pm.

At noon, the number stood at 1,096 victims at 14 centres in six districts in the state.

The Johor National Security Council (NSC) said there are still 10 flood relief centres in operation while five centres have been closed.

There are 182 victims from 37 families currently being sheltered at three relief centres in Kluang, which is the hardest hit district, while in Segamat, two centres are still in operation housing 19 victims from four families. In Batu Pahat, two centres remained open with 94 victims from 31 families.

In Kota Tinggi, one centre is currently operating to house 72 victims from 20 families while in Kulaijaya, 54 victims from 14 families are currently seeking shelter at one centre. In Muar, one centre is in operation, housing 18 victims from six families.

160,000 evacuees to date
The Star 28 Dec 14;

PETALING JAYA: The number of flood evacuees rose by more than 40,000 to over 160,000 as the floods worsened due to bad weather.

Rescue and relief efforts intensified as Kelantan, Terengganu, Perak, Johor, Perlis and Selangor recorded a rise in the number of evacuees yesterday.

The floods have killed eight people, including an 18-month-old child, two cousins and a husband and wife.

Kelantan was the worst-hit state, with the number of victims displaced nearly doubling to 81,925 from 45,467 on Friday.

They are part of 160,921 victims nationwide seeking shelter as at 3pm yesterday, up from 120,341 on Friday.

In Pahang, the number of evacuees stood at 35,564, Terengganu at 35,246, Perak at 6,730, Johor at 1,096, Perlis at 195, Selangor at 85 and Negri Sembilan at 80.

There is no sign yet that the situation will improve, with the Meteorological Department issuing an alert to warn of the possibility of monsoon rains occurring from tomorrow to Wednesday.

States affected by the alert are Perlis, Kedah, north Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Sabah (Kudat and Sandakan) and Sarawak (Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah and Betong).

In Kelantan, Welfare Depart­ment director Nik Omar Nik Abdul Rahman said the victims were being sheltered at 254 evacuation centres.

More food items and relief supplies have begun arriving by air to Kelantan at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, including donations by ordinary Malaysians and non-governmental organisations.

Airport manager Ramzi Ahmad said the airport remained open although some areas nearby were already flooded, including parts of Jalan Sabak, Jalan Pengkalan Chepa and Jalan Tok Guru.

Two previous floods recorded more victims
The Star 28 Dec 14;

PETALING JAYA: The current floods that have hit many states are some of the worst in Malaysia, but there had been two incidents in the past decade that saw bigger numbers of victims.

A 2013 statement by the National Security Council (NSC) on its website stated that flooding at the end of 2010 triggered the evacuation of 230,000 residents.

Heavy rain in Kelantan, Johor and Kedah that year also damaged 45,000ha of rice fields.

NSC said 140,000 people were evacuated when a typhoon that landed over the Philippines and Vietnam led to heavy rain from December 2006 to January 2007.

The 2006 floods affected a number of states that included Pahang, Negri Sembilan and Johor.

The worst ever flood to hit Kelantan was in January 1926.

It was referred to as the “red flood” (bah merah) as the water, which inundated almost all parts of the state, was reddish in colour, a departure from the usual milk tea or brown-coloured water.

The reddish tint was caused by the many landslides following 10 days of non-stop heavy rain.

The current flood situation, meanwhile, has yet to show signs of abating with the Meteorological Department issuing 38 severe weather alerts since Dec 18.

Fifteen were categorised as “red” alerts, 15 as “orange” alerts and eight as “yellow” alerts.

With the exception of Putrajaya, alerts have been issued in all states and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

A yellow alert involves a possibility of a monsoonal surge within the next 24 to 48 hours, while an orange alert is for moderate to heavy monsoon rains from a low-pressure system or tropical depression with sustained wind speeds of 50kph to 60kph, or when there are strong winds of between 50kph and 60kph for more than two hours.

A red alert is for moderate to heavy widespread monsoon rain accompanied by wind speeds of 60kph or more with moderate to heavy rain for over two hours.

Red alerts hint at the strong possibility of flooding that is accompanied by swift currents.

East West Highway cut off due to landslides
HARIZ New Straits Times 27 Dec 14;

IPOH: The East West Highway in Gerik, near here, is still cut off at its KM63 due to a landslide on Tuesday evening, while a part of the highway at its KM83 (Jeli-bound) is also closed due to a landslide.

Three roads in Perak Tengah - Jalan Selat - Teluk Sena, Jalan Bota Kanan - Teluk Intan and Jalan Parit - Siputih, are also closed to all vehicles as they are inundated by flood water of between four and five-metre depth.

A state National Security Council spokesman said Jalan Sungai Korok - Cangkat Banjar (Parit) in Perak Tengah; Jalan Telok Bakong - Kampung Gajah; and Mile 38 of the Alor Pongsu - Bukit Merah road in Kerian are only accessible by heavy vehicles.

Meanwhile, another road in Kerian, which connects Bagan Serai and Selama (at KM17), and Jalan Lintang - Pekan Lintang in Sungai Siput had been declared as risky for light vehicles.

The main road at Felda Lapang Nenering (KM8.5) in Pengkalan Hulu was also affected by a landslide, but still accessible with only one lane.

Road users who wish to travel in Perak can check on accessible roads by contacting the state Public Works Department hotline at 1800-88-33-77.


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Malaysia: Sibu achieves first-ever zero-styrofoam target

Raymond Tan The Borneo Post 28 Dec 14;

Styrofoam containers can leach out toxic dioxin into warm food or drink, posing health threats to the gastrointestinal tracts and kidneys and even more dangerously, the toxin is carcinogenic in nature.

SIBU has marked a milestone in environmental preservation by becoming the first town in Sarawak to ban polystyrene – or more known as styrofoam – takeaway containers.

Effective Jan 1 this year, styrofoam meal boxes which eateries have been using for three decades, have all but vanished from food stalls, coffeeshops and restaurants across town – to be replaced by bio-degradable paper boxes.

The Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) have been working with local food operators for nearly two years towards achieving this zero-styrofoam target; and their indefatigable ‘greening’ efforts have earned them the reputation as being the most successful among other councils in the state in such endeavour.

For years, it has been working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to raise awareness among the townsfolk of the benefits of composting or making natural enzymes from organic food waste which in turn, could flourish home gardens.

The townsfolk have also been encouraged to reduce the use of plastic bags, practise the 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) and segregation of refuse to cut down landfill waste, recycle e-waste, as well as to continue observing the annual Earth Hour in March and Love Earth Day in April.

The council held dialogues with food operators in implementing the ban against styrofoam containers, apart from introducing it on a trial basis during last year’s Borneo Cultural Festival and other major food fests and also bringing the idea to schools, kindergartens and social organisations as well as educating the public through the media and forums.

The announcement on the ban came in July last year – which SMC felt was the right time for the implementation.
The then-deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng pointed out that the council was determined to enforce the ban, stressing that it would deal firmly against those defying the regulation.

He reminded food operators: “The ban will be a clause under the licence of all eateries. There will be two warnings for offenders – come the third offence, their licence will be revoked.”

Sibu food operators now have turned to using paper takeaway packs.

Kudos for move

When the ban came into effect on Jan 1 this year, it earned praises from environmental conservation groups, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia.

Its head of conservation for Sarawak, Dr Henry Chan, lauded SMC’s move in supporting the Local Agenda 21 slated for sustainable development.

“We’re pleased that Sibu is taking this initiative – the first in Sarawak. It is not only benefitting the community, but is also a noble act towards environmental conservation. Banning polystyrene is how society can play its communal role for the environment,” he said.

Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos also gave his support for the initiative, adding that styrofoam packaging should not be used at all because it could adversely affect people’s health and the environmentin view of it being a by-product of petroleum containing hydrocarbon.

Dawos, a former state environmental advisor, pointed out that styrofoam containers could leach out toxic dioxin into warm food or drink, posing health threats to the gastrointestinal tracts and kidneys and even more dangerously, the toxin was carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in nature.

“Polystyrene packaging is also environmentally-unfriendly because it takes (five) centuries to biodegrade. It’s is even more poisonous than plastic bags because when hot, it (styrofoam) releases dioxin more quickly.”

Adding on, Dawos said most developed cities around the world had already banned such packaging.

Meanwhile SMC secretary Hii Chang Kee said the council was determined to work with the people to ensure the success of the ban.

“Our long-term objective is to create a friendly environment for future generations.

“According to our contractors, lots of drain blockages are caused by styrofoam containers being thrown into them. These containers also collect water and in turn, become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”

The SMC has reasons to worry about the accumulation of waste in their Kemuyang landfill, noting that nearly 30 per cent of the dump are plastic materials inluding polystyrenes, as well as paper products and paper boards.

Chain reaction

The participation of food operators and members of the public in the polystyrene-ban movement has been encouraging.

Food operators had already switched to using paper takeaway boxes one month before implementation of the ban, as a way to acclimatise their customers to the change.

One economy rice stall owner at Tuanku Osman Road said he started using paper containers on Dec 1, charging them at 20 sen apiece.

“Surprisingly, public response was encouraging. If you want to save costs, (you should) bring your own (non-polystyrene) containers.”

So far, he hasn’t received any negative feedback.

It seems that SMC’s effort in banning styrofoam packaging has sparked a chain reaction.

On Oct 2 this year, neighbouring town Sarikei took the bold step in launching their ‘Say No to Polystyrene For Packaging of Food’ campaign in response to concerns over the health hazards and negative environmental effects caused by polystyrene.

Sarikei District Council (SDC) chairman Chan Phan Chan said: “For the good of the community and the environment, we discourage the use of polystyrene materials. As the authority entrusted with overseeing the operation of local eateries, SDC is duty-bound to ensure that food operators would strictly comply with food safety regulations.”

The SDC now requires all food operators to use bio-degradable materials for takeaway packs.

Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) followed suit. On Oct 18, it launched a similar drive against the use of polystyrene for food packaging.

SRDC deputy chairman Oliver Kuo said notices were sent to food and drinks operators a month in advance, adding that they were allowed to use up the remaining polystyrene packs.

“By 2015, there will be no more polystyrene meal boxes in Sibu Jaya as well as in Selangau.”

Kuo said just like SMC, SRDC had also identified styrofoam packs as the main cause for blocked drains.

SRDC’s jurisdiction covers the outer parts of Sibu, including the villages along the west bank of Sungai Bidut, the new township of Sibu Jaya and the hinterland town of Selangau.

It appears that with implementation of the ban by both councils, the prohibition against the use of polystyrene food packaging in Sibu is total.

Dr Henry Chan hopes that other town councils and local governments across the state would emulate SMC’s effort in replacing polystyrene packaging with alternative ones made from recycled paper and bio-degradable products, as well as encouraging customers to bring their own food containers.


A beach along an island in the Pacific, miles away from human habitation, is littered with polystyrene and plastic waste that have been washed ashore.

Wake-up call

THE use of polystyrene or styrofoam meal packs is still frustratingly extensive in Sarawak because only three local councils have enforced the ban against them. This means over 90 per cent of the population across the state are still using polystyrene packaging.

If you are one of them, think of the consequence on you and the adverse impact you are building for your children:

=You’re adding polystyrene waste to your home space for the next 500 years because that is how long it takes for it to compose.

=You are adding to the 46,000 pieces of floating plastic per square mile in the ocean when the items you throw away flow to the sea. The latest figure in PLOS ONE journal shows that an estimated five trillion pieces of plastic, including polystyrene items weighing altogether over 250,000 tonnes, are floating around the world’s oceans. They will stay there for the next 500 years, unless they are mistakenly consumed by sea creatures, which will eventually kill them.

=You are adding to the 30 per cent of non-biodegradable waste in the landfill.

=You are eating poison because polystyrene contains toxic substances, styrene and benzene. You face the risk of getting cancer and suffering from neurotoxins. Hot food and liquids cause styrofoam to break down. Styrene, then, enters your bloodstream and tissues.

The accumulation of the residues in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves causes acute or chronic functional impairment of the nervous system. You will suffer from depression, headache, fatigue, weakness as well as effects on kidney function and blood.

You are also drinking poison if you drink tea with lemon, coffee with dairy cream, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages, oily hot soup and wine from styrofoam cups and bowls. These drinks, especially red wine, instantly dissolves styrene monomer.

You are spoiling your health if you heat Vitamin A-rich food like tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes in polystyrene containers. In packaged food with the addition of heat (including that induced via microwave), Vitamin A will decompose and produce m-xylene, toluene and 2,6-dimethylnaphthalene.

You are polluting Earth because polystyrene manufacturing is the fifth largest creator of hazardous waste due to its large power consumption that creates greenhouse gas effect. Polystyrene’s environmental impacts are also the second highest, behind aluminium.

You are contributing to global warming because polystyrene manufacturing process causes ozone depletion, which poses 1,000 times greater effect on global warming than carbon dioxide.

You are putting your health in danger and depleting the environment if you burn polystyrene waste in your garden. Burning releases carbon monoxide and styrene monomer.

A Green Action Plan: The four simple steps

Banning polystyrene food packets is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the array of green solutions to address global plastic pollution. Nevertheless, taking the first positive step means that half the battle is already won.

Use reusable cups at work instead of foam cups.

When shopping for groceries, select items that are unwrapped, or wrapped in non-polystyrene materials such as vegetables, eggs and meat.

Ask local restaurants and food suppliers to use a more environmentally friendly form of food packaging or takeaway packs. In Sibu, most food operators are using paper meal boxes.

Report to the SMC, SRDC and SDC should you encounter food operators in these areas serving you food in polystyrene packs.


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