Best of our wild blogs: 5 Aug 14

Job Opportunity: Scientific Officer (Outreach & Education)
from News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

New restrictions to some State Land sites – Zone Captains will inform Organisers
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

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Singapore's forgotten islands

Ho Ai Li The Sunday Times AsiaOne 5 Aug 14;

Kusu, Sudong and Lazarus. Even if you have never set foot on these outlying islands of Singapore, chances are you would have heard of them. More so Ubin, Tekong and Sentosa.

Children posing amidst a rustic setting during the final days of the kampung at Pulau Seking.

But what about Rabbit Island or Pulau Sakra, Sebarok or Sekudu? They don't even exist "on the margins of our mental landscapes", as organisers of the ongoing Balik Pulau (Return To The Islands) exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore so piquantly put it.

Many of the outer islands didn't exist for me until I visited the exhibition recently. Yet, Singapore once had as many as 77 islands, and still has about 40.

Before Singapore became a key node in Britain's global shipping empire, its identity was anchored in a network of islands in the Riau Archipelago.

A series of heritage activities and a Drama Box play this year have helped Singaporeans to reclaim some of these forgotten isles - dozens of which have been lost to the tides of history - and to reimagine Singapore's identity and position.

One significant island lost to us is Pulau Seking. As big as 10 football fields, it was home to the last southern island kampung community before it gave way to a landfill.

Many islanders were said to be descended from the nomadic Orang Selat, or People of the Straits. For centuries, they fished or built boats, although many later became wage-earners as technicians on nearby Pulau Bukom.

Seking had a Malay primary school that closed in the early 1980s, after which its pupils had to commute by motorised sampan to the main island for classes.

By 1994, the last residents - nearly 200 in all - had been relocated from their sea-facing kampung houses on stilts to high-rises on the main island. On their island, there had been no roads, no cars, just a lot of goats.

Provision shopkeeper Teo Yan Teck, 83, was one of the few Chinese on Seking. Interviewed on camera by organisers of the mu- seum exhibition, he was asked how he felt about leaving the island. His face crumpled, and he could only utter a silent cry.

Seking has since been joined to an adjacent island to form Pulau Semakau, a huge landfill for rubbish.

I knew nothing of Seking until I attended a recent talk at the mu-seum, held as part of the Singapore Heritage Festival.

Temasek Polytechnic lecturer Normala Manap, who did an anthropological study on Seking in 1982, said at the talk: "The fact that we have let Seking become a landfill (means) we have lost a big opportunity to get insights into Singapore's roots and history."

Old and young, the islanders had a deep sense of the history of Seking, which got its name from a fable about its founder Yang Meleking. Goats were released by Chinese devotees as an offering to the benefactress, who is said to have battled pirates to found the isle.

As documented in The Sea Nomads by cultural geographer David Sopher, the Riau Archipelago was home to nomadic seafarers, who lived with their families on boats and sailed from one mangrove coast to another. Some were also pirates.

As Ms Normala put it, Seking's residents looked to a wider Malay world than Singapore.

Anthropologist Vivienne Wee, who studied Seking previously and was a panellist at the same talk, said many of its residents would go by sampan to Pulau Pangkil in Bintan to attend relatives' weddings.

Most younger Singaporeans do not know about Seking, partly because there was hardly any public discussion about whether it should be preserved - unlike in the case of Pulau Ubin, home to Singapore's last surviving village community.

Dr Wee noted that former Nominated Member of Parliament Kanwaljit Soin was the only one to question the move to destroy the settlement in Seking, in Parliament in 1993. Dr Wee said turning the island into a landfill was a "demolition and rubbishing" of its history.

Another significant isle whose history could be better known is Pulau Senang. Now known largely as the location for military live-firing exercises, it was a penal settlement from 1960 to 1963, and the site of a bloody riot that took place in 1963.

Older Singaporeans know the incident well, but most younger people do not. I certainly didn't before May this year, when I watched the Drama Box play Senang, about the experimental prison without bars.

In this dramatic retelling, British warden Daniel Dutton experiments with hard work as a way to reform the detainees on Senang. But he becomes increasingly severe in his demands, forcing them to build a jetty in harsh weather on one occasion. An uprising by the detainees on July 12, 1963, led to the deaths of four officers, including Superintendent Dutton, and brought the shutters down on the experiment.

Senang is a reminder of how the islands were natural sites for imprisonment and exile.

Sentosa the tourist magnet used to be called Pulau Belakang Mati and was once a military base.

In 1970, it was renamed Sentosa, which means "peace and tranquillity", from the Sanskrit word Santosha. Long-time political detainee Chia Thye Poh, arrested in 1966, was confined to Sentosa from 1989 until his release in 1992.

Sentosa as we know it today is an amalgamation of several smaller isles, just as petrochemical hub Jurong Island is made up of islands in the Ayer Chawan archipelago.

A short film shown along with the exhibition sums it up well, noting: "The story of Singapore's islands is one of growth, in size and economic significance, and loss, in numbers and nature, as habitats and homes give way to the needs of a modern city."

In 1998, long after many of Singapore's islands had disappeared, then Indonesian president B.J. Habibie dismissed Singapore as being no more than a little red dot.

Singaporeans have since embraced that nickname, using it to underline how this little island nation has transcended size to take its place on the world stage.

But a red dot doesn't show context. Zooming in on our many islands past and present allows us to see mudflats and porcelain shards, and ways of life long forgotten, yet still part of our history.

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Nearly 2 million dengue inspections this year: Dr Vivian Balakrishnan

Channel NewsAsia 4 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency has conducted nearly 2 million dengue inspections this year, and deployed more than 1,000 Gravitraps in dengue clusters for mosquito-control purposes, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament on Monday (Aug 4).

There have been more than 12,000 reported dengue cases so far this year, Dr Balakrishnan said. This dengue epidemic, which has been ongoing since 2013, was driven by three factors:

There was a switch in the predominant dengue serotype to DENV-1 last year. This strain of DENV-1 virus spreads more rapidly than other strains in Singapore and now accounts for about 90 per cent of the current infections.

Singapore's general population lacks immunity to dengue due to cumulatively low incidence over the last two decades.

The mosquito Aedes aegypti is still endemic in Singapore despite efforts over the years.

Dr Balakrishnan said the National Environment Agency (NEA) has increased the frequency of inspections and taken enforcement action against errant contractors, whose sites have seen the breeding of mosquitoes. So far this year, 57 Stop Work Orders have been issued and 14 contractors prosecuted in court, he said.

Penalties have also been levied on homeowners, town councils and other landowners when breeding is found within their premises, he added. This year, the fines levied ranged from S$200 for home owners to S$39,000 for construction contractors.


When it comes to developing new tools to tackle dengue, Dr Balakrishnan said NEA's Environmental Health Institute (EHI) is working with local researchers to utilise the Wolbachia bacteria.

"We are currently studying the feasibility of using Wolbachia-carrying male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to suppress the mosquito population in Singapore. A Dengue Expert Advisory Panel consisting of international and local experts has been appointed to provide scientific advice on the safety and effectiveness of this technique in our context. As this is a novel biological intervention, we will not embark on any field trials unless it is clear that safety is totally assured."

Responding to questions from Members of Parliament on whether the Government will approve the Sanofi vaccine, Dr Balakrishnan said more needs to be done to ensure its efficacy. "It showed some promise, but to be honest with you, my frank opinion is that it is not good enough. Why do I say that? It showed reasonable effectiveness, about 75 per cent for Type 3 and Type 4 serotypes of dengue," he said.

"Against Type 1, which is the current problem we are having, it is only about 50 per cent effective. Against Type 2, which is the predominant dengue serotype which circulates in Singapore, it was only about 35 per cent effective. Those rates of efficacy are not, in my opinion, good enough."

Dr Balakrishnan said that Singaporeans must continue to stay vigilant and keep their homes free of breeding habitats. He said since January, more than 4,000 breeding sites have been found in residential premises.

- CNA/ac

Dengue vaccine ineffective against main S’pore strains
Paul Lim Today Online 5 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE — A highly-anticipated vaccine being developed for dengue that is in the advanced stages of clinical trials is not effective against the strain that is dominant in Singapore, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday.

Referring to the drug being developed by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, the minister said that while it showed some promise for Type 3 and 4 dengue, it is only about 50 per cent effective against Type 1 — the dominant strain here — and 35 per cent effective against the next most common strain here, Type 2.

“Those rates of efficacy are not, in my opinion, good enough,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

However, the authorities are studying the feasibility of using Wolbachia-carrying male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to suppress the dengue virus-carrying mosquito population, he said.

An advisory panel consisting of international and local experts has been appointed to provide scientific advice on the safety and effectiveness of this technique in the Singapore context, said Dr Balakrishan, who stressed that “unless it is clear that safety is totally assured”, there will be no field trials.

More than 12,000 dengue cases have been reported here this year, leading to questions about whether the Sanofi drug will be made available, despite mixed results in the latest study conducted among more than 10,000 children aged between two and 14 in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Noting that efforts have been stepped up to curb the number of breeding sites — more than 1.9 million inspections have been conducted and more than 1,000 Gravitraps deployed this year — Dr Balakrishnan stressed that the community still had to play its part to combat dengue.

“We can have 850 National Environment Agency officers and 1.9 million inspections, but it is not possible for officers to be everywhere all the time. This is where I really require the assistance of home owners, contractors, town council officers and even Members of Parliament. It does make a difference,” he added.

Nevertheless, Dr Balakrishnan said it was worth considering some of the calls that have been made to enhance penalties.

Suggestions mooted in the House yesterday included pegging penalties to the size and scale of the mosquito breeding ground, or publishing the list of pest control companies looking after sites that were found to have mosquitoes breeding.

Minister: Dengue vaccine not good enough
Dr Balakrishnan, a trained medical doctor, explained that the vaccine was not effective enough against the two most common types of dengue virus here, type 1 and type 2.
Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 5 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE - A new dengue vaccine, to be marketed by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi next year, is "not good enough" for Singapore, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to queries from Members of Parliament on when the vaccine and other new drugs would hit the shelves here.

Dr Balakrishnan, a trained medical doctor, explained that the vaccine was not effective enough against the two most common types of dengue virus here, type 1 and type 2.

The vaccinated group's risk of developing dengue is reduced by 50 and 35 per cent respectively for type 1 and 2, compared with an unvaccinated group.

"Until further clinical data is available for us to be sure that the benefits outweigh the risks, I don't think the Ministry of Health or Health Sciences Authority will rush into approving the vaccine," he said.

Meanwhile, celgosivir, an anti-viral treatment derived from plant seeds, has not been proven to be more effective than a placebo though it is found to be safe, Dr Balakrishnan added.

Members of Parliament also asked if the fines for mosquito breeding could be scaled based on the risks that the breeding poses to the public. For instance, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad wanted heftier fines for construction firms found to have mosquitoes breeding on worksites.

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah suggested that pest control firms that fail to control mosquito breeding at worksites be blacklisted.

Dr Balakrishnan said the ministry will study the suggestions on raising penalties but warned that pinning a specific case of dengue on a specific incidence of mosquito breeding would be hard.

To date, 62 stop-work orders have been issued and 14 contractors prosecuted this year for allowing mosquito breeding on their premises.

The number of weekly dengue cases for the last week was 640, down from a record high of 891 cases at the end of June and start of last month.

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Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill meant to send a 'strong signal': Balakrishnan

Channel NewsAsia 4 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE: The inadequate enforcement to deter illegal land land clearing, which is a cause of transboundary haze, is why the Government is tabling the Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill, said the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday (Aug 4).

READ: Up to S$100,000 fine for every day of transboundary haze

Dr Balakrishnan, speaking in Parliament, said that transboundary haze pollution has been a perennial problem in the region for the past two decades. "The root of this problem is misaligned commercial interests where companies burn forests and engage in unsustainable degradation of land because of short-term profits," he said.

There is, therefore, an urgent need for governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), responsible companies and local communities, to collaborate more effectively, to insist on transparency and to pursue investigations in order to hold the culprits accountable for their actions, he said.

However, there is inadequate enforcement on the ground to deter such illegal land clearing and Singapore cannot "simply wait and wishfully hope for the situation to resolve on its own".

This legislation will make it an offence for any entity – Singaporean and non-Singaporean - to cause or contribute to transboundary haze pollution in Singapore, he stated.

"The Singapore Government, and this Parliament, wants to send a strong signal that we will not tolerate the actions of errant companies that harm our environment and put at risk the health of our citizens," Dr Balakrishnan said.

"Given the very strong economic incentives today for companies to adopt, quite frankly, the cheapest methods of clearing land for plantations, we need to tilt the playing field in favour of businesses that do the right and responsible thing, and to deter against those who do not."

He added that the Bill is not intended to replace the laws and enforcement actions of other countries, but to complement their efforts to hold companies to account.

The Ministry of The Environment And Water Resources said in a statement on Monday that it will provide additional haze assistance to Indonesia in the form of a helicopter equipped with a heli-bucket to fight fires. This is in addition to the haze assistance package offered to Indonesia in June, the ministry said.

- CNA/kk

Fine imposed if PSI hits 101 under proposed anti-haze law
Neo Chai Chin Today Online 5 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE — The air quality threshold at which parties will be taken to task for causing transboundary haze affecting Singapore was spelled out yesterday, but Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan cautioned that the proposed law would be challenging to implement.

An offence would be deemed to have occurred if the Pollutant Standards Index in any part of Singapore hits 101 or more — venturing into the unhealthy range and beyond — for a 24-hour period or longer, Dr Balakrishnan said.

The Bill proposes a maximum fine of S$2 million for a party’s conduct that causes haze pollution here, from fines of up to S$100,000 for each day of pollution. Those who do not comply with notices to implement preventive measures could be fined up to S$50,000 a day.

Culprits need not have started the haze-causing fires to be liable — they need only be involved in managing the offending parties.

The Bill also allows notice to be served on firms that do not operate here to assist the National Environment Agency in investigations. Those made ill or who suffer economic loss from the haze may also sue the culprits.

Dr Balakrishnan said he does not anticipate an overwhelming number of prosecutions against companies when the law kicks in. This is because the Bill introduces new legal concepts to the law here. He also assured responsible businesses that they had nothing to fear.

Singapore’s proposed law is to complement other countries’ enforcement efforts and to deter firms from acting irresponsibly, he said. “It is only one of a slate of measures that we must put in place in order to tackle the transboundary haze that has plagued our region for many years.”

The Singapore Government has also told Indonesia that the Republic can provide a helicopter equipped with a heli-bucket to transport and discharge water to help fight fires. This is in addition to the haze assistance package offered in June — consisting of fire-fighting teams, a cloud-seeding aircraft, satellite images and planning assistance — that has not been taken up by Indonesia.

Two Members of Parliament yesterday backed the Bill but questioned if the financial penalties were a sufficient deterrent. Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said the fines should be doubled or tripled, with higher fines for repeat offenders.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Christopher De Souza said economic pressure should be applied on companies with slash-and-burn activities. He questioned how consumers could be made more aware about products made by errant companies. The debate on the Bill continues today.

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Singapore offers additional assistance to combat haze in Indonesia

AsiaOne 4 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE - Singapore has offered to provide additional assistance to Indonesia in the form of a helicopter equipped with a heli-bucket to fight fires, in order to help combat the haze situation.

This information was conveyed to the Indonesian government today, according to a statement to the NEA.

Singapore had earlier offered Indonesia a haze assistance package on June 9 this year, which comprises:

(i) One C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding operations;
(ii) Up to two C-130 aircraft to ferry fire-fighting assistance teams from Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF);
(iii) A team from SCDF to provide assessment and planning assistance to our Indonesian counterparts in their fire-fighting efforts; and
(iv) High-resolution satellite pictures and hotspot coordinates.

According to the statement, the offer complements Indonesia's fire-fighting capabilities in anticipation of an extended dry season due to the El Nino phenomenon this year.
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Dog lovers riled up over voucher

Judith Tan The New Paper AsiaOne 5 Aug 14;

PEOPLE National Day Discount Booklet offers 0 per cent instalment voucher for puppies

Puppies for sale at zero per cent instalment.

This is what a voucher in this year's National Day Parade (NDP) funpack is offering.

It has drawn flak from animal activists here, especially in light of recent national efforts to promote responsible pet ownership.

The issue has gone viral on Facebook, Twitter and some social media sites.

Dog lovers have also expressed their displeasure on NDPeeps, the NDP Facebook page itself.

The voucher, issued by Pet Arena, is part of the National Day Discount Booklet that is usually distributed during the parade.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has written to both the NDP organisers and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to express its "extreme disappointment" that they had chosen to "close an eye to the predicaments of the shelters which continue to grapple with throw-aways, abandonments and surrenders", SPCA's executive director Corinne Fong said.

She adds that by this, the NDP organisers and, by extension, the MSF have encouraged impulse buying of puppies. "The credit card zero instalment payment is but a marketing gimmick by the card issuer," she says.

Chief executive of Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres) Louis Ng says: "In celebration of our nation's birthday, we should be promoting the adoption of animals rather than treating them as commodities."

Dog rescuer Sharon Oh asks: "I'm all for adopting. I totally do not agree with getting a dog through instalment payment. It is not a car. What if the client defaults? What is going to happen to the dog?"

"I wonder what values we are teaching our kids. You can't buy love in any instalment plan!" dog lover Dhurga Devi Ramasamy writes on her Facebook page.

They believe that this flies in the face of recent efforts such as the Codes of Animal Welfare formulated by the Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration Committee for Animal Welfare.

The proposed code is being reviewed by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

This year, rules to reduce impulse buying by children and abandonment of pets came into force - those under the age of 16 can buy pets only when accompanied by their parents or a legal guardian, and the shop must do a pre-sale screening.

In response to The New Paper on Sunday's queries, Colonel Teo Cheng Leong, deputy chairman of the NDP 2014 executive committee and chairman of the parade's sponsorship committee, says they worked through "a vendor which has a set of internal guidelines for compliance by its partners".

"These guidelines include ensuring that NDP-related publications do not carry religious, obscene or offensive materials. The NDP 2014 exco supports responsible pet ownership and believes that the coupon does not dilute such support."

Also responding to queries, Mr K C Wong of Pet Arena says the shop has previously received "countless requests" for the 0 per cent instalment plans from customers who wished to make their payments by credit cards.

"We adopted the plan to ease payment and absorb the interest imposed by the bank, for our customers," he says, adding that his business was started "out of love for animals".

"Our objective is to provide healthy pets for lifetime companionship. We take great effort in educating our customers - particularly walk-ins - on the vital need to be responsible pet owners. We do not advocate impulse buying."

I totally do not agree with getting a dog through instalment payment. It is not a car. What if the client defaults? What is going to happen to the dog? - Dog rescuer Sharon Oh
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Let electric cars park for free?

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 4 Aug 14;

Free parking, power charging and entry through Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries would make electric cars more attractive to Singaporeans.

A conference yesterday on the future of transportation heard how similar measures boosted the take-up of "greener" vehicles in other countries.

Mr Tormod Endresen, Norway's ambassador to Singapore, said financial and other incentives resulted in a flood of drivers choosing electric cars in his home country.

Electric cars are better for the environment than conventional cars that use fossil fuels, partly because electric cars cause less pollution.

However, The Straits Times' senior transport correspondent Christopher Tan, who was one of the panellists, said: "If the power generated for the electric car is clean, then the car is clean. But if the power (used to charge the car) is generated by fossil fuels, then the argument becomes a lot weaker."

Other experts also said that beyond cost considerations, electric cars may need to be desirable in other ways, and it is essential to have reliable and accessible infrastructure to support them.

Mr Khoo Lin Zhuang, senior vice-president of Singapore-based firm Greenlots, which installs charging points for vehicles, said: "In California, electric car drivers are allowed to use high-occupancy lanes to beat traffic congestion, which makes the vehicles more attractive.

"For Singapore, most of the population live in high-rise buildings, so one challenge would be who pays for the charging infrastructure."

Mr Tan pointed to another hurdle for Singapore: "From the policy point of view, it's difficult for the Government to offer any kind of subsidy to private cars. Whether they are electric or powered by gas or diesel, they're seen as luxury items, so to subsidise cars in any way is going to be contentious."

Most experts agreed that electric vehicles could be a key plank in the fight against climate change.

Nanyang Technological University president Bertil Andersson said: "It's pressing for the world to reduce carbon emissions and use renewable energy. Electric cars running on batteries have less emissions and the development of electric mobility can also create new industries."

The Land Transport Authority has said that it plans to develop a technology road map to assess the advantages and challenges of using electric vehicles, as well as how to encourage their adoption if there are significant benefits to Singapore.

Yesterday's Future of Mobility International Conference was held at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre and organised by NTU and carmaker BMW Asia. It drew industry, government and university representatives from seven countries, including South Korea and Germany.f

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Malaysia: Sarawak starts cloud seeding tomorrow

New Straits Times 5 Aug 14;

KUCHING: The state government will carry out cloud seeding throughout Sarawak tomorrow, regardless of the cost of the operation.

State Public Utilities Minister Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said even though rainfall over the past few days had overcome water shortage in the affected areas, this might only be temporary as the hot and dry weather was expected to end only in September.

Speaking after chairing a meeting at Wisma Sumber Alam, he said the cost of cloud seeding and water delivery was not discussed in the meeting.

“The cost is not an issue as the government must ensure the people have sufficient supply to carry on with their daily routine.

“We will carry out whatever operations we need to and the cost will be submitted to the chief minister’s office later.”

Awang Tengah said water production in most areas had returned to normal due to the heavy downpours over the past few days. The only area still facing water shortage is Simunjan.

“We are sending 15 lorries of water to Simunjan every day until the water crisis is over,” he said, adding that the water shortage there had begun during Ramadan last month but the situation was manageable.

Awang Tengah said the water level of Sungai Sarawak Kiri at the Batu Kintang treatment plant had risen until the top of the weir and there was now full storage.

“Water production has returned to normal and water distribution to the city and its surrounding areas has been restored.”

However, the relevant agencies are still on standby in case of an emergency.

“We expect the dry spell to hit the state again so we are ready to deliver water by lorry, tanker and boat to the rural areas and settlements which are not accessible by road.”

Awang Tengah denied that the delay in the operations of the Bengoh Dam was the main cause of the water shortage.

Awang Tengah said the dam was built to cater to the increasing
demand for water supply in the future.

“It is meant for the greater Kuching area in the future and has nothing to do with the current water crisis.

“It will play an important role in the next few years, but, sadly, the opposition is trying to instigate the community.

“If they are as concerned about the needs of the people as the government, they should stop instigating the people,” he said.

Construction work on the dam, located about 40km from here, began in July 2007. It was completed three years ago but has yet to become operational.

Awang Tengah said one of the reasons for the delay was the resettlement process, while some minor construction work had yet to complete.

Sungai Selangor dam reaches critical level
New Straits Times 5 Aug 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sungai Selangor dam, which is a source of raw water for 60 per cent of the Klang Valley and Putrajaya, stood at a precarious level of 32.74 per cent yesterday, just shy of the 30 per cent critical mark.

This is believed to be its lowest ever mark after the dam, which supplies water to 1.9 million users in Kuala Lumpur, Gombak, Petaling, Shah Alam and Klang, had recorded a 36.74 per cent level in March this year. This is also well below the 55 per cent minimum level.

Water reserves at other dams in the state, however, showed healthier figures. Checks at the Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (Luas) website yesterday showed that other dams, namely at Semenyih and Batu, were at 75.9 per cent and 82.3 per cent, respectively.

There has yet to be any indication that the Selangor government will introduce another round of water rationing, as it did in February.

National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) officials told the New Straits Times that, as of yesterday, they had yet to be informed of any rationing plans.

SPAN corporate communication director Carol Pelly said there had been no developments yet on the issue.

Syabas corporate communications and public affairs general manager Priscilla Alfred, meanwhile, said should water rationing be implemented, the company would conduct the necessary preparations, including readying water tankers.

“However, Syabas has not been informed of anything so far. I am not allowed to say anything more,” she said in a text message.

On Aug 1, NST had quoted Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as saying that there were no plans for another round of water rationing.

The state had undergone a rationing exercise between Feb 27 and April 30 this year, after water levels at its dams plummeted.

In Shah Alam, Selangor police have set up a task force to investigate allegations of sabotage involving six water pumps at the Hang Tuah ponds in Bestari Jaya near here last Friday.

Selangor CID chief Datuk Mohd Adnan Abdullah told Bernama police had received two reports on the incidents and were scrutinising details for further action.

“We are trying to determine if the alleged sabotage was carried out by individuals or groups,” he said yesterday.

Last Saturday, state Youth and Sports, Infrastructure and Public Utilities Committee chairman Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi, in a statement, said six water pumps at the Hang Tuah ponds were sabotaged by irresponsible parties and asked the authorities to take stern action.

According to him, the sabotage occurred twice at the ponds. However, it did not affect treated water supply to consumers.

In Kota Baru, about 1,500 residents in the two villages of Kampung Pulau Panjang and Kampung Pauh, Pengkalan Chepa claimed they have been without water supply for the past month.

A resident, in his 50s, said complaints had been made to Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd but the utility had only sent its water tankers to the affected areas yesterday.

Residents, who had been surviving on water from wells and gathered from rain, claimed that the water pressure had been low before their taps completely dried up last month.

Palanivel: 150 hot spots detected in Kalimantan, 15 in Sumatra
Borneo Post 5 Aug 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) detected 150 hot spots in Kalimantan and another 15 in Sumatra on Sunday when Malaysia was hit by haze.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G Palanivel said the centre detected 18 hot spots in the country, including 11 in Sarawak and seven in Sabah.

“All these hot spots (in the country) will be investigated and appropriate enforcement action will be taken,” he said in a statement.

Palanivel also sought public cooperation in putting out small fires and report any cases of open burning to the Fire and Rescue Department and Department of Environment (DOE).

Meanwhile, two areas recorded an unhealthy air pollutant index (API) as of 4pm yesterday.

According to DOE portal, Bakar Arang in Sungai Petani recorded an unhealthy API reading of 106 and Sri Aman (117).

The portal also reported that 23 other areas recorded a moderate API reading, including Batu Muda, Kuala Lumpur (100), Tanjung Malim (80) and Alor Star (78).

An API reading of between zero and 50 indicates good air quality, between 51 and 100 (moderate), between 101 and 200 (unhealthy), between 201 and 300 (very unhealthy) and over 301 (hazardous).

Members of the public can refer to the DOE portal at to find out the API reading for their areas. — Bernama

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