Best of our wild blogs: 8 Jan 15

Sun 11 Jan’15 – 4pm- 6.30pm : The “Get Inspired ” Walk
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

thieving eagle vs. hapless great billed heron @ Pulau Ubin - Jan2015
from sgbeachbum

The Ubin dogs: The friendly, furry mascots of Ubin
from Pulau Ubin Stories

Ubin Day: Past, present and future
from Pulau Ubin Stories

Read more!

Singapore waiting for documents on Forest City

Today Online 8 Jan 15;

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore said it has not received any official correspondence from the Malaysian government regarding limiting the size of the Forest City project by Country Garden Pacific View as reported earlier this week by the Malaysian Insider.

The developer of Malaysia’s controversial Forest City in the Johor Straits was reported to have been ordered to cut the size of its giant 1,600 hectare development, but developer Country Garden Pacific View said in a statement issued earlier this week that limiting the project’s size was never discussed with Malaysian’s department of the environment.

A Malaysian Insider report on Sunday said the project will be limited to 405ha and that the limits followed issues raised by locals as well as the Singapore government over the environmental impact of the project.

“As conveyed to Malaysia earlier, Singapore is concerned about the potential transboundary impact from Malaysia’s land reclamation projects in the Straits of Johor, given their close proximity to Singapore,” a spokesman said.

“Singapore looks forward to expeditiously receiving all relevant information regarding such reclamation projects in the Straits of Johor, including environmental impact assessment reports, from Malaysia in accordance with its obligations under international law and in particular under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Another source said Malaysian environmental authorities made their decision after Singapore presented videos and documentary proof of continued reclamation work for the China-Malaysia joint-venture project. It is understood that the evidence was presented at the last Malaysia-Singapore Joint Commission on Environment, which met last month.

Read more!

New mobile app helps consumers reduce energy and water consumption

AsiaOne 7 Jan 15;

SINGAPORE - A new mobile application was launched on Wednesday to help consumers reduce energy and water consumption, lower their utilities bill and conserve the environment.

The free application is part of a joint pilot between SP Services, a subsidiary of Singapore Power, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB). It will be available to about 310,000 consumers who have registers an online SP utilities account.

The new app allows users to check the estimated utilities usage of their home appliances. Users can also use the app to compare their energy and water consumption against the average and most efficient consumption of their neighbours, and view their own consumption patterns over the past six months.

All users will also be able to perform common utility transactions on-the-go with the app.

SP Services will use the results from the pilot, which will run from Jan to Apr 2015, to study how consumers respond to enhanced information feedback relating to energy and water usage.

Mr Yeo Yek Seng, EMA's Acting Chief Executive, added that the new app will empower users to "make an informed decision on efficient use of energy, lower their utility bills and reduce their carbon footprint".

Read more!

NEA to sniff out causes of rat behaviour

Feng Zengkun My Paper AsiaOne 8 Jan 14;

Some of Singapore's rats may be changing their behaviour to adapt and live more easily.

The Norway or sewer rat, for example, traditionally burrows into the ground to make its home, or lives in sewers.

However, as more buildings have gone up across the island over the past few years, pest busters have noticed increasing numbers of them simply living in gaps in or between building slabs and other structural defects.

To better understand how the rats' behaviours have changed, the National Environment Agency (NEA) intends to begin a research project into the matter, The Straits Times understands.

Details of the project are still being worked out, but it is expected to involve finding out the rat population, how they behave, how that behaviour has changed and how the rodents survive in urban areas.

The study will be timely as companies that provide rodent control services said that the rat situation in Singapore seems to be worsening.

Four of them told The Straits Times that they have received up to 60 per cent more inquiries related to rats in the past year.

Star Pest Control, which dealt with the Bukit Batok infestation that made headlines last month, handles nearly 60 cases a month now, an increase of about 40 per cent from 2013.

Its general manager, Bernard Chan, said: "The scale of the work has also increased. In the past, a mall might want us to deal with just the one food shop that has rats. Now, they will engage us to deal with all of the food shops just in case."

PestBusters now fields about 130 inquiries a month on average about rats, compared with about 80 a month on average in 2013.

Its business development manager, Angela Toh, said that several malls and commercial properties have also requested more frequent inspections and extermination services.

"They used to want them on a monthly basis, but now, when they put out a tender, they want the inspection and eradication to be on a weekly or even twice- weekly basis," said Ms Toh.

"The number of rats has definitely increased. They are usually active at night, so when you see them in the daytime, as in the Bukit Batok case, it's due to overpopulation," she added.

The companies said construction activity may have flushed out the rats from their homes. The growth in Singapore's human population has also led to more food waste that is not disposed of properly, causing the rat population to grow faster, they added.

Increasing connectivity between buildings, such as malls that are linked to one another or to other buildings like hotels, has also allowed the rats to range and spread farther, they said.

Also, the public's tolerance of the rodents may have fallen, said Star Pest Control's Mr Chan.

"Now, with the aid of digital media, people can snap a photo of a rat in a mall and put it online easily. That creates awareness and demand for rat elimination services," he explained.

Tackling the rat problem is not just about hunting them down and killing them.

Infestations could recur if pest busters catch the male rats but not the pregnant female ones, Carl Baptista, technical director of Origins Exterminators, pointed out.

"The pregnant rats don't venture far, so other rats go out and scavenge for them. These may be the ones that get caught," he said.

"All firms should be identifying the sex of the rats they catch. If the pregnant females are not caught, the problem will come back," he added.

Read more!

Malaysia: Wet condition but no heavy rain - MET

C. PREMANANTHINI New Straits Times 7 Jan 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The beginning of the monsoon surge has started yesterday afternoon and had hit several parts of the states in the country.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET) has issued advisory that heavy intermittent rain in the east coast has already begun and it is expected to continue till Friday or Saturday.

On its website, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor and Sabah (Sandakan, Kudat, Tawau and west coast) experienced intermittent rain that is occasionally heavy.

MET has also forecasted that states like Perak, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Johor had experience thunderstorm, heavy rain and strong winds, which persisted till late afternoon.

Among the affected areas are:

- Perak: Kinta, Kampar and Batang Padang District.

- Selangor: Hulu Selangor, Gombak, Petaling Jaya, Sepang and Hulu Langat.

- Negri Sembilan: Kuala Pilah, Rembau and Seremban.

- Malacca: Alor Gajah and Jasin.

- Johor: Kluang, Johor Baru, Kulaijaya and Pontian.

MET’s National Weather Centre senior meteorologist Mohd Hisham Mohd Aniq said that currently the department are unable to provide exact locations where the rainfall has started.

However, said they do not expect the monsoon surge to hit states in the west coast.

“We expected the rain to start tonight. The heavy downpour will continue till Friday or maybe Saturday.

“We hope it would not carry too much of rain as compared to last month,” he said.

He also said, last month, the amount of rain at certain part of their meteorological stations in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang were doubled and it was one of the factor that contributed to the recent severe flooding, in those states.

“The monsoon surge is expected to create wet condition to the east coast states.

“This can definitely affect the flood victims including the volunteers, who are busy with their cleaning-up works and mobilisation of the aids.

“However, this surge is not likely to produce heavy rainfall that can generate another round of big flood,” he said.

‘Cold surge’ set to hit east coast
The Star 8 Jan 15;

KOTA BARU: A third wave of rain, known as the “cold surge”, is expected to hit the east coast, according to the Malaysian Meteorological Depart­­ment.

“It is coming from mainland China and will hit our east coast sometime tonight or tomorrow morning.

“It will, however, not be as bad as the previous waves which led to intense flooding,” said senior meteorological officer Dr Mohd Hisham Anip.

He said the weather was expected to be wet and gloomy until Saturday.

“The rainfall will not be as heavy but it will certainly be cloudy and windy.

“As soon as the surge passes, we are expecting fine weather,” he said.

Dr Mohd Hisham said the western regions of Sarawak and coastal areas of Sabah would also experience some rain.

“If there are any drastic weather changes, we will issue a warning or a statement,” he added.

According to the department’s website, east coast states such as Terengganu, Pahang and Kelantan will have a rainy week.

The website warned Pahang, east Johor, Kelantan, Terengganu, Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan to expect strong winds (40-50kph) and rough waves up to 3.5m today.

All shipping and costal activities should be avoided during this period.

Health D-G: Outbreaks under control
The Star 8 Jan 15;

PETALING JAYA: There are close to 13,000 cases of flood-related infectious diseases at relief centres in the devastated east coast states but no deaths so far.

Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 12,765 flood victims were diagnosed with infectious diseases as of Monday.

He said the common diseases treated at the centres were acute respiratory infection, skin problem and fever.

The other infectious ailments monitored for were acute gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis, hand-foot-mouth disease, leptospirosis, dengue, typhoid, chicken pox and other notifiable diseases, he added.

“The outbreaks are well controlled with no cases requiring admission,” he said yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham said there were 10 episodes of food poisoning where the victims were reported to have consumed food prepared more than four hours earlier but there had been no E. coli outbreaks so far.

He said 793 food handlers at relief centres had been vaccinated for typhoid.

“We will continue monitoring the infectious diseases in the centres and in the community as many victims have already returned to their homes,” Dr Noor Hisham added.

He said the active surveillance would continue for at least a month as some diseases had a long incubation period.

He said two helicopters were on standby for the ministry to use for critical cases.

Dr Noor Hisham also advised flood victims to take care of their mental and emotional health.

In Kota Baru, a Health Ministry statement said there had been 54 food poisoning cases since the flood started.

The number of people seeking consultation for acute gastroenteritis had increased from 240 to 280 a week. There were, however, not many cases of cholera or typhoid recorded in Kelantan, the statement said yesterday.

“Officials have inspected and sanitised 20,212 houses in 617 villages and disinfected 15,472 wells and 9,508 premises. Hand sanitisers were also handed out to the people in these areas,” the statement added.

Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital infectious diseases physician Dr Alwi Muhd Besari said the most common diseases treated by the hospital included typhoid or enteric fever, leptospirosis and melioilosis.

“About a month ago, we only had three patients with typhoid, one with leptospirosis and three with melioilosis,” he said, adding that the number had almost tripled since the floods.

A spokesperson for Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II said there had been more cases of typhoid fever, leptospirosis, food poisoning and diarrhoea.

“The numbers have already doubled since the floods started,” she said, but did not give exact statistics.

She feared there were many infected people who were not seeking treatment.

National Park’s tourism activities at a standstill
The Star 8 Jan 15;

JERANTUT: Tourism activities at the National Park in Kuala Tahan here has come to a standstill due to the recent floods.

The floating restaurants at the bank of Sungai Tahan are no longer there. All five restaurants were swept away by strong currents during the floods.

The souvenir shops and tourism information office on the hill were not spared either. Only the steel-made office cabinets and parts of the building structure remain.

Budget chalets run by tourism operators were also destroyed. Some had only opened a few months ago.

According to the Jerantut Member of Parliament, Ahmad Nazlan Idris, only the road from Jerantut town to the Kuala Tahan tourist centre was still intact and passable to vehicles.

He said some 70% of the 2,000 people here were involved in the tourism sector.

“Only 30% of the villagers here have other jobs. The others who have made tourism their bread and butter are finding their daily life miserable and have nowhere to turn to,” Ahmad Nazlan said yesterday.

He said the water level started to rise on Dec 20 with continuous heavy rain.On Dec 25, a level of 79.70m was recorded at Kuala Tahan compared to the previous record of 74m in 2001.

At present, water supply in the whole area remains disrupted and most of the villagers are washing their clothes and dishes at another village which has water supply from a hill.

Mutiara Resort Taman Negara general manager Nathan Vaithi said they needed a few weeks to clean up and refurbish the place before they start accepting new bookings.

The Tourism Ministry’s Pahang office general manager, Idros Yahya, said his office was planning to organise a “gotong-royong” with his staff and other tourism operators in the state to clean up and rehabilitate the tourism centre in Kuala Tahan.

Taman Negara Tourists Guide Association chairman Zamri Mohd Amin said the immediate task for the Government was to reconnect the telecommunications and restore the water supply.

Flood clean-up exercise likely to cost M'sian govt $7.5m
Mergawati Zulfakar, Loh Foon Fong, Zuhrin Ahmad The Star/Asia News Network AsiaOne 8 Jan 14;

PUTRAJAYA - The clean-up exercise in the flood-affected states of Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu is likely to set back the Federal Government by about RM200 million (S$7.5 million).

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said it would cost RM78 millionlion to clean up public areas and amenities in areas under local authorities in Kelantan alone.

The ministry has yet to receive estimates from the Pahang and Terengganu governments but expects the cost to be at least RM50 million each.

"We have already raised the issue with the National Disaster Committee headed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and we suggested that the money required to handle post-flood clean-up be placed under the National Security Council.

"We have already started the exercise in Kelantan on Tuesday, with the help of the local authorities, Fire and Rescue Department personnel and volunteers," he said after flagging off a volunteer team heading for Kelantan.

The 270-strong team comprised Umno's Urban Affairs Secretariat (SHEB) and non-governmental organisation #TeamRD which will be cleaning up schools in Kuala Krai.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has tasked the ministry to lead the clean-up exercise in states severely hit by the floods.

During the 2007 floods, the mi­­nistry spent RM90 million to clean up affected areas in Malacca and Johor.

Rahman said the ministry's target was to complete the clean-up before the school session starts next week, adding that hospitals were also a priority as the need for medical services was high.

"Our other concern is to remove animal carcasses to prevent people from being exposed to more health risks," he said.

The authorities were also determining the extent of damage the floods had on landfills, Rahman said.

Read more!