Best of our wild blogs: 22 Feb 15

Fishes dying at Pasir Ris?
from wild shores of singapore

Glorious at St. John's Island
from wild shores of singapore

Shrimp day at Little Sisters' Island
from Peiyan.Photography

Pangolin Party
from BES Drongos

Birds at the Botanics
from My Nature Experiences

Animals attracted to the Banana inflorescence
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Favourite Nectaring Plants #6
from Butterflies of Singapore

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Malaysia: Expect a hot and dry weather with low amount of rain until early April

The Star 22 Feb 15;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is expected to experience hot and dry weather with low amount of rain until early April, according to the Malaysian Meteo­rological Department.

MetMalaysia spokesman Dr Hisham Mohd Anip said the country was in the final stages of the Northeast Monsoon season before entering the hot season between March and April mainly due to the equinox phenomenon, when the sun crosses directly over the equator.

“In the final stages, we will usually experience low amount of rainfall and on top of that the temperature will keep increasing towards next month until early April.

“This is due to the transition of the sun from the southern to the northern hemisphere.

“By end of March, the position of the sun will be exactly on top of our country,” he said yesterday.

The equinox occurs due to the passage of the earth around the sun with the plane of the earth’s tilting at an angle of 23.5 degrees.

Asked if the hot weather will be worse than last year, Dr Hisham said that it was just a normal occurrence and the weather was expected to get cooler when the rainy season starts immediately after that period.

“We experienced extremely dry weather.

“We do not expect it to be so dry this year,” he said.

A check on MetMalaysia Facebook showed that Malaysia recorded the maximum temperature of 38.9°C last year on May 18 at Chuping, Perlis.

International forecast website predicts that major cities in Malaysia will see high temperatures next week, including Alor Setar, Kedah, which is expected to climb to as high as 36°C.

For the latest weather updates, the public can access MetMalaysia website or its hotline 1-300-22-1638, as well as MetMalaysia official Facebook page or its twitter account

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Malaysia: NGOs question EPD approval of Sabah aquaculture project

RUBEN SARIO The Star 22 Feb 15;

KOTA KINABALU: The move by the Environment Protection Department (EPD) in Sabah to unilaterally approve a massive aquaculture project is worrying seven non-governmental organisations here.

The NGOs want greater transparency and public participation in the evaluation of Envi­ronmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports as all projects ultimately affect the people.

They were responding to the EPD director’s recent statement that he was not obliged to refer any matters back to the EIA Review Panel before a final decision is made in approving an EIA.

Datuk Yabi Yangkat had cited Section 12D(1) of the Environment Protection Enactment 2002, which stipulates that the EPD director was empowered to approve an EIA report even if no Review Panel meeting was held.

The NGOs – Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa), Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (Joas), Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora), Sabah Environmental Trust (SET), Save Open Spaces Kota Kinabalu (SOS KK) and Himpunan Hijau – believe EPD is moving backwards by interpreting the law so narrowly.

Sepa president Lanash Thanda said the role of the Review Panel could be considered obsolete, and the concept of public participation undermined.

“The recent statement means that NGO participation in the process is nothing more than a rubber stamping exercise.

“This is a breakdown of social and environmental safeguards as it allows for one authority to approve future EIAs without consultation,” Lanash said.

On Dec 19, EPD approved the EIA for a RM1.23bil shrimp aquaculture project in Pitas, despite an earlier rejection by the Review Panel that included SEPA and WWF-Malaysia.

The department also did not notify the panel members of its decision.

SET Chief Executive Officer Dr Rahimatsah Amat said the EPD’s Handbook on Environmental Impact Assessment in Sabah (2nd Edition) clearly mentions a public hearing and a review panel.

Rahimatsah, who claimed several activities had commenced in the last few years even while the Terms of Reference (TOR) were being discussed, added that this was a breach of section 7(1) of the Environmental Protection (Prescribed Activities) (EIA) Order 2005.

The seven are now seeking an appointment with the State Tourism, Culture and Environ­ment Ministry, under which EPD falls, to discuss procedures and issues related to the EIA process.

The group is also contemplating a public forum to create awareness on environmental issues and the EIA process.

“We are here to ensure that public interest is respected and protected.

“We do not have any other agenda,” Rahimatsah said.

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