Best of our wild blogs: 31 Oct 16

R.U.M. takes Ubin mangroves to the city!
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Lumpy Rock Crab (Euxanthus exsculptus) @ Tanjung Rimau
Monday Morgue

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Eco tours in high-rise Singapore

Lea WeeThe Straits Times AsiaOne 31 Oct 16;

Kayak through the tranquil mangroves of Ubin, embark on a night walk to spot owls at Bukit Brown Cemetery or dive in the waters around Pulau Hantu to explore its rich marine life.

These are just some of the experiences offered by specialist nature tours in Singapore.

There are now 18 licensed tourist guides specialising in nature and at least three organisations that offer eco-tours here.

This is a far cry from 26 years ago, when nature guides and tours were non-existent, says freelance licensed tourist guide Subaraj Rajathurai, 53.

Since 1990, he has been taking Singaporeans and foreigners on tours to various nature areas in Singapore, including Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

He believes nature tours are getting more popular among Singaporeans because nature has become a rare commodity in the urbanised city state.

"Those who grew up in kampungs especially miss nature."Tourists, too, are increasingly open to the idea of eco-explorations here.

Mr Rajathurai says: "People say there is little nature in Singapore and we cannot compete with the bigger national parks in neighbouring countries.

But not everybody wants to go to such parks, which take many days to explore. Some want an experience that combines many things in one day, for instance, a city tour with food stops and a little nature thrown in.

"And it is possible to achieve this in Singapore, he says, where one can go from a five-star hotel in the city to a rainforest or mangrove swamp in less than 30 minutes.Mr Leong Kwok Khuen, 49, from Edu Outdoor Activities, which leads nature walks, agrees.

"Many of our participants are often amazed that there's still so much nature to be seen in urban Singapore."

The Sunday Times talks to three organisations that offer eco-tours here.


Pulau Ubin's rich heritage and rustic charm make it a natural home ground for outdoor adventure company Asian Detours.

The company has been leading mangrove kayaking and cycling trips there since 2010.The expeditions combine a good workout and nature appreciation, with professional guides pointing out flora and fauna and historical landmarks, says Ms Nicole Chua, 36, the company's director of sales and marketing.

Its three-hour cycling trip takes participants to what is called the German Girl's shrine, which used to hold the remains of a young woman who lived on the island before World War I; Butterfly Hill, a knoll created out of wasteland to conserve butterflies; and the Chek Jawa wetlands.

Those who want more out of their trip can hike up to the highest point at Puaka Hill to get a bird's eye view of the Ubin Quarry.

Another trip takes kayakers on a 2 1/2-hour journey through mangroves in the western part of Ubin, where they might spot kingfishers, hornbills, otters and monitor lizards.

The more challenging four-hour "bisect kayaking" session follows a north-to- south route "bisecting" the island, with a short stretch where participants have to lift their kayaks overland.

Each trip is limited to about 10 to 30 people, depending on the activity, to minimise the disturbance to the delicate natural landscape, says Ms Chua.

As mangrove kayaking must be done during high tide, the company introduced a 31/2-hour trip round the nearby Ketam island. This can be done at any time and takes up to 40 people.

Mr Marcus Tun, 44, an operational project manager in a financial institution, went mangrove kayaking with his wife and two daughters, aged seven and 11, in June.

He says: "It was interesting to understand the make-up of the mangroves, their uses, how they propagate and their ability to prevent coastal erosion.

"One of the biggest takeaways was that the kids saw a part of Singapore they had never seen before, even though it is not far from where we live.

"Price: Mangrove Kayaking Adventure, $79.50 (adult) and $59 (child); Ubin Bisect Kayaking Adventure, $95 (adult and child); Round Ketam Kayaking Adventure, $85 (adult) and $65 (child); Ubin Bike Trail Adventure, $79.50 (adult) and $64 (child)



If you dive deep into the waters around Pulau Hantu, you might come across sea stars, sea turtles, sea horses, shrimp and sponges.

A great way to explore the rich marine eco-system is to follow a dive tour led by non-profit, volunteer-run group Hantu Blog, which has been leading regular trips there since 2003.

The organisation uses the money it earns from the dives - it costs $110 a person - to fund its public education work.

Pulau Hantu is south of Sentosa and a 45-minute boat ride from the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club.From the club, volunteers take participants out on a chartered boat to the waters around Pulau Hantu.

Because the boat is small, each group is limited to eight divers.

To ensure the safety and quality of the dives, all buddy pairs have their own guide.Day dives are done at least once a month and night dives about once a year.

Private and corporate charters are also available.

Hantu Blog was founded by photojournalist Debbie Ng, 34, in 2003.

She says: "Participants not only get to dive, but they also learn the value of protecting Singapore's natural shores and get the chance to meet rare and secretive animals such as octopuses, cuttlefish and sharks."There are two dives a trip.

An educational talk is given on the boat before the first dive.

In between dives, participants are taken to the shores of Hantu to look at crabs, mudskippers and other wildlife there.Price: A trip, which includes two dives, costs about $110



Not many would know that the former quarry at Dairy Farm is now a grassland or that you can spot owls at night at Bukit Brown Cemetery.

These nuggets of information are shared by guides at Edu Outdoor Activities, who have been leading walks to these places as well as better-known ones such as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the Rail Corridor .

The private company, which has three full-time guides and 15 part-timers, was started in 2001 by a group of nature lovers.

One of them, Mr Leong Kwok Khuen, 49, says: "Most of us grew up in kampungs. Nature was our playground.

But we feel that not many Singaporeans want to, or know how to, appreciate nature and we want to change that."

The company also runs nature camps and expeditions in Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. It owns a campsite called Mawai Eco Camp in Johor.

Engineer Wong Kum Hong, 48, who went on a guided walk to Dairy Farm last year, says he learnt more from the guides at Edu Outdoor Activities than he would have if he had gone on his own.

He says: "I learnt which plants are edible and which are not and why lichens grow on one part of the tree and not another.

"He has since joined the company for trips to Mawai Eco Camp and Gunung Panti in Johor.

Price: A nature walk costs $20 to $40 a personInfo: Go to or call 9681-0491Kayaking through the mangroves at Pulau Ubin. Go to

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New 8.8km cycling path network opens in Punggol

Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 30 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: With an 8.8 kilometre-long network of cycling paths completed some months ahead of schedule, cycling enthusiasts in Punggol can now get around the neighbourhood more easily on their bikes.

Launched on Sunday (Oct 30) by MPs for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Ng Chee Meng and Janil Puthucheary, the cycling network was originally slated for completion in the first quarter of next year.

Besides connecting residents to nearby amenities, like the new Waterway Point mall and SAFRA Punggol, the dedicated cycling paths also link to the Punggol Park Connector Network, allowing residents to cycle to Sengkang. And once the first phase of the Round Island Route is completed, cyclists can get to as far as Gardens by the Bay East on their bikes, via Pasir Ris, Changi, and East Coast Park.

Punggol is the seventh cycling town - after Sembawang, Tampines, Pasir Ris, Yishun, Changi and Taman Jurong - to be launched, as part of the Government’s plans to promote greener ways of travelling and a ‘car-lite’ Singapore.

But even as the Government provides and improves on the infrastructure for cycling, it is important for everyone to play their part to make cycling safe for all, said Mr Ng, who is also Senior Minister of State for Transport and Acting Minister for Education.

“Cyclists and users of personal mobility devices must be considerate of pedestrians at all times in order for us to share our limited space safely," he added.

The cycling network will make the commute to train stations a seamless one for residents. In addition, there will be provision for bicycle parking at Punggol MRT station. Since 2013, the Land Transport Authority has increased the number of lots around the station by 40 per cent, bringing the total to more than 300. This number will continue to grow to meet demands, said Mr Ng.

Parking facilities at LRT stations and residential blocks in Punggol will also be enhanced. For instance, the Housing Development Board (HDB) will be adding 2,400 dual bicycle racks at HDB blocks.

According to Mr Ng, the Active Mobility Patrol Scheme - where volunteers will conduct patrols and promote a sharing culture - will be introduced in the constituency. He also announced that a programme on safe cycling will be rolled out progressively at community centres, schools, and migrant worker dormitories by next year.

The programme teaches “safe cycling practices, the proper use of cycling infrastructure and the new rules and code of conduct for cycling”, he said.

- CNA/ll

Punggol joins growing list of ‘cycling towns’
KENNETH CHENG Today Online 31 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — With Punggol joining the ranks of cycling towns, now seven in total, the authorities have surpassed the halfway mark of building a cycle path network totalling 700 kilometres by 2030.

Punggol’s 8.8km of dedicated cycling paths, launched on Sunday (Oct 30), will connect residents to key public transport nodes, such as its MRT and LRT stations.

Residents will also have a more seamless ride to nearby amenities such as the Punggol Waterway Point shopping centre and to the neighbouring Sengkang town via the Punggol park connector network.

When the first section of the Round Island Route — a continuous 150km park connector — is ready, cyclists can ride from Punggol to Gardens by the Bay East, zipping through Pasir Ris, Changi and East Coast Park en route.

Work on the first stretch of the route is set to begin by year end.

Before Punggol, cycle paths went up in Sembawang, Tampines, Pasir Ris, Yishun, Changi and Taman Jurong as part of the Land Transport Authority’s efforts to make journeys to and from public transport facilities more seamless.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who is a Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said Punggol’s network will promote a healthier lifestyle among residents and provide good first- and last-mile connections.

“It’ll make car-lite Singapore a possibility in future,” he added, referring to the Republic’s vision of weaning people off cars.

More bicycle facilities have also been added: There are 325 bicycle parking spaces at Punggol MRT station, 40 per cent more than in 2013.

And Mr Ng, who is also Senior Minister of State (Transport), said he has asked the LTA to explore the possibility of installing racks around LRT stations.

“Some residents have fed back to me that they do cycle from their homes to LRT stations before they continue their journeys,” he said, adding that bicycle parking has been catered for at other amenities, such as Punggol Safra.

Residents who spoke to TODAY said the completed cycle paths could nudge them to cycle more often.

Bank technology manager Jonathan Tan, 49, said that the safety of the designated paths could spur him to cycle to work at least thrice a week.

It takes him more than an hour to cycle to his Shenton Way office, compared with 40 minutes on public transport. But he is willing to make the sacrifice: “I enjoy cycling, and I go to work fresher when I cycle.”

The new paths could also nudge public servant Foo Siang Huat into cycling to Punggol MRT station from his Punggol Field home, instead of taking the LRT. This would raise his fitness, he said.

On an island-wide scale, the Housing and Development Board will be adding 2,400 dual-bicycle racks in existing blocks and installing new racks for its new developments, Mr Ng said.

Meanwhile, the LTA unveiled a new website on Sunday to push for active mobility. Called Move Happy, the portal features articles and videos, including stories of people who have adopted such modes of transport daily.

But even as Singapore ramps up its cycling infrastructure, Mr Ng said it was important for everyone to play a part in making cycling safe.

“Cyclists and users of personal mobility devices must be considerate of pedestrians at all times in order for us to share our limited space safely,” he said.

On Thursday, two men, one of them only 18, were killed along West Coast Highway after a trailer truck left their power-assisted bicycles in smithereens.

When asked what the authorities would do to protect users’ safety, Mr Ng said educating users of personal mobility devices, including e-bikes, in areas such as road rules was key.

“But I’ve also asked LTA to look at upping our enforcement so that people are more aware of what are the right things to do,” he added.

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Car-Free Sunday returns after hiatus, bigger than before

Leong Wai Kit Channel NewsAsia 30 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: After a hiatus of two months, the Car-Free Sunday initiative has returned with an extended route and longer road closure hours.

On Sunday (Oct 30), 5.5km of roads around the civic district and Central Business District were closed – up from 4.7km in previously – between 8am and 11am for the public to take part in activities such as cycling and mass workouts.

People showed up with their bicycles, inline skates and pets in tow, and Government agencies took the chance to reinforce their messages to the public during the event.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which organised the event, said its eventual goal is to encourage more people not to drive and for roads to be opened up for other purposes such as holding community events.

The Land Transport Authority, on the other hand, said it hopes to use the event to reinforce safety messages to cyclists and users of personal mobility devices like e-bicycles and e-scooters. Some of these devices were available at the event for members of the public to try out.

For the first time, the National Parks Board also organised walking trails along Ann Siang Hill and Telok Ayer Green, where participants can learn about the lives and trades of Singapore's early immigrants.

There were also events organised by volunteers, such as those from Thian Hock Keng temple in Telok Ayer Street. They gave guided tours to explain the significance of the island's oldest and most important temple to the early Fujian community in Singapore.

The URA also encouraged members of the public to contribute suggestions and feedback for activities and programmes to be included in Car-Free Sundays.

Car-Free Sunday is typically held on the last Sunday of every month. The second edition of the initiative will end in April next year.

- CNA/cy

Car-Free Sunday back with extended routes, longer road closure hours
TOH EE MING Today Online 31 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — The usually quiet streets of Telok Ayer came alive yesterday morning with the return of Car-Free Sunday SG, as cyclists arced through the conservation area, while passers-by posed for photographs and thronged the Thian Hock Keng Temple for a slice of history.

A focus on history was a draw in yesterday’s seventh edition. It had returned after a hiatus of more than two months — with new community-driven activities and an extended route that incorporated Telok Ayer.

For example, the activities included volunteers ferrying the elderly around the Civic District in specially built trishaws. The rain held off, but the winds provided a cool respite for cyclists and joggers.

Regular participants such as Mdm Amelia Ching, 61, felt that the extended route, with more roads in the Central Business District also fully closed to vehicles, provided a chance to “appreciate the surroundings”.

“Usually, the stretch in the CBD ... there’s nothing much to see,” said Mdm Ching, who runs a higher education academy. “It’s a good idea to also close off more roads fully, so it’s better for cyclists who don’t have to worry about safety.”

Another regular, Mr Jason Lee, 56, who was with his long-time university friends and avid cyclists, felt that this edition was more “fun” and had more “historical value”.

“In the past, (the route) was more of a concrete jungle, but today there’s a mixture of old and heritage sites to (visit). Now, we stop to take more pictures,” said the art programme director. “This place gives a better feeling because of its ambience.”

Several cafes made special arrangements to catch the morning crowd. Mr Franck Hardy, 46, owner of My Awesome Cafe, said his staff came in as early as 7am to bake croissants and bread to catch the “first big wave”.

While the cafe typically opens at 9am on Sundays, it opened an hour earlier yesterday and rolled out a special breakfast set at a cheaper rate of about S$10. “In our first hour, we had 100 breakfast orders,” he said. “We’ve never had a Sunday like this.”

Others, however, felt that there could be more publicity in advance to draw more spillover crowds from the Padang area. They said that the authorities had approached them to collaborate only a week earlier.

Ms Cindy Leong, 32, owner of The Cold Pressed Station, acknowledged that Car-Free Sunday SG had brought more buzz to the area. The store had specially opened from 8am to 3pm and rolled out a new drink for the occasion.

“Youngsters don’t usually drop by here, unless they are the (drinking crowd),” she said. “At least now in broad daylight, I see Singaporeans exploring, taking pictures.”

It was still a bit “quiet” for her, and she hopes for potential tie-ups with yoga companies in future, so they can hold sessions at the Telok Ayer stretch to attract the younger crowds.

At Thian Hock Keng Temple, volunteer Darren Lim, 43, who led the tours there, said the public’s response was encouraging. “During the week, you don’t usually see locals; more than 80 per cent are tourists, so it’s a good chance for Singaporeans to learn about the temple,” he said.

Echoing his views, volunteer guide Victor Woo, who led a two-hour tour for 20 participants, felt that it was a good way to breathe life into the stories of Singapore’s immigrants and pioneers, especially for the younger generation.

“Nowadays, everyone is on their handphones,” he said. “Hopefully, (with more partnerships), more people can get the knowledge and pass it down to their grandchildren ... so that our history won’t go down the drain.”

He suggested that future tours could also be held at conservation areas such as Chinatown and Beach Road, though he admitted that diverting the bus routes might be difficult. Toh Ee Ming

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Malaysia: Johor needs better management of water resources to prevent crisis

ZAZALI MUSA The Star 31 Oct 16;

JOHOR BARU: A water crisis is looming in the state if the Federal and Johor Governments fail to find long-term solutions to overcome and manage existing water-related problems in Johor by 2018.

State Public Works, Rural and Regional Development committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said Johor has to come out with plans to ensure there was sufficient water supply in the state beyond 2018.

“The clock is ticking fast and we have to put in more effort to better manage our water resources to prevent the crisis from happening,” he said after witnessing the signing of Corporate Integrity Pledge between SAJ Holdings Sdn Bhd and its 350 business associates at Persada Johor Internatio-nal Convention Centre here.

Also present at the event were SAJ Holdings chief executive officer Abdul Wahab Abdul Hamid and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Johor director Datuk Simi Abdul Ghani.

Hasni said if the water crisis took place in Johor, Iskandar Regional Development Authority would no longer be able to attract new investments into Iskandar Malaysia from 2018 onwards.

“We don’t want this crisis to happen or else Iskandar Malaysia will not develop into an international metropolis by 2025 as planned,” added Hasni.

He said the authorities could no longer depend on the rivers in the state as the main source of raw water, as most of the rivers were polluted due to human economic activities.

Hasni said the existing 1,700 million-litre water production capacity, daily, would not be able to cater to demand from domestic and industrial users especially in south Johor where Iskandar Malaysia is located.

“About 40% of the total production is being channelled to Iskan-dar Malaysia and this demand for water is growing,” he added.

Hasni said plans were already in place to start exploring underground water reserves in the Mersing and Kluang districts as new water resources for Johor.

He said the state government would allocate funds to conduct studies by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Japan Water Forum for underground water exploration.

“At the same time, consumers should also use water wisely and prevent wastage otherwise the efforts taken by the relevant authorities to prevent the crisis will go down the drain,” said Hasni.

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Malaysia: All set for major floods to hit


KUALA LUMPUR: Major floods are about to hit the east coast prompting emergency agencies to prepare for the worst.

Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu will bear the brunt of the lashing north-east monsoon season in mid-November.

But the agencies are planning to be on top of things this time around.

Residents will be evacuated before the flood waters rise to dangerous levels.

The Civil Defence Force will act as secretariat to oversee flood relief operations.

Also gearing up are the police, Welfare Department and Fire and Rescue Department, besides the other relevant bodies.

The Pahang Meteorological Department warned of exceptional high tides on Nov 14 and Dec 14, with a total of 385 areas in the states being prepared for floods.

A total of 107 forward bases will have food stockpile for up to three days beginning Nov 7.

A department spokesman said early warnings would be issued 48 hours in advance.

“We expect rainfall from the second week of November with heavy rains from December to January, next year. If there is continuous rainfall, massive floods are likely,’’ he said.

Should a major flood occur, parts of the East Coast Highway (near the Temerloh rest area) and Jalan Ubai in Pekan will be cut off.

Mudflows are also expected in Bukit Goh, Bukit Satelit in Beserah and several bauxite mining areas in Kuantan.

A total of 118 locations in Pahang have been identified as possible landslide areas, with Maran being the most exposed.

In addition, 666 temporary relief centres to house 165,650 flood victims have been identified, and the centres will be increased if the situation worsens.

Leave for flood rescue personnel have been frozen for three months beginning Nov 15.

Pahang Crisis Relief Squad of MCA (CRSM) chief Datuk Chang Hong Seong said all its members were on standby.

“We will assist in distributing aid and help in evacuation efforts. Most of our members have received training and have the experience of dealing with major floods,’’ he added.

Kelantan Civil Defence director Lt Kol Zainuddin Hussin said via telephone from Kota Baru: “Everything is in place and we are all ready.

“Flood drills have been conducted many times and canned food, water and blankets have been stocked up.”

Lt Kol Zainuddin urged residents in affected areas to give their full cooperation to rescue teams.

“We have to act before the situation gets worse,” he added.

Terengganu Civil Defence director Lt Kol Che Adam A. Rahman said community leaders at flood-prone areas were also ready.

“We conducted flood simulation exercises for them, teaching them how to react and where to go to in case of floods,” he said, adding that 500 places, including schools and community halls, had been registered as flood evacuation centres.

Terengganu CRSM chief Datuk Lua Choon Hann said its branches in the east coast states had been activated.

“We are maintaining close contact with the relevant agencies, including the National Security Council and Welfare Department,” he added.

Lua said the squad was updating its database on logistics and equipment support.

Natural Disaster Management Agency deputy chairman Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said flood victims would be evacuated before the situation got dangerous.

“This way, we can cut down on the need to use boats for evacuation,” he said.

“The boats can be used to distribute aid instead.’’

Perak better prepared than ever for monsoon season floods
NABILAH HAMUDIN New Straits Times 1 Nov 16;

IPOH: About 1,178 firemen in Perak are on standby for the year-end monsoon season.

Perak Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (operations) Hasrin Hasbi said the department has enhanced its logistics capabilities with new vehicles to assist the public in the event of a disaster.

"We have a new vehicle to be used for the coming rainy season called the Amphibious All-Terrain Vehicle (AATV), which operates in both water and on land.

"All our equipment and assets are checked daily during (drills).

The number of personnel is sufficient to aid victims during a flood “We have gone through this before and we are now better prepared,” he said, adding that 640 personal floating devices will also be allocated for the state.

Hasrin said the department conducted special training for firemen at Tasik Banding on two occasions to increase their confidence level.

"We wanted to familiarise them with emergency situations, and the training sessions were tailored to be as close to the real situation as possible.

During the training, the firemen has to cross to Pulau Pangkor from Tasik Banding along the Sungai Perak," he said, adding that the training was conducted for the scuba diving team.

Hasrin stated that the department has identified high-risk areas for floods, namely, Teluk Intan, Pantai Remis, Sitiawan, Bagan Datoh, Bagan Serai, Bukit Merah, Alor Pongsu, Gerik, Lenggong and Taiping. Perak Civil Defence Force (APM) director Colonel Mohd Noor Hassan Ashari said it has 800 personnel ready to be deployed during floods.

"We have been well prepared since August, when the high-tide phenomenon hit the state in Sept and Nov," he said, adding that the identified coastal hotspots were Kerian, Larut, Matang, Selama, Perak Tengah, Hilir Perak and Bagan Datoh.

The authorities here have been improving their readiness since the 2014 flood, which was one of the worst to ever hit the state.

Effects of La Nina to occur in coming months
The Star 31 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: Heavy rains are set to hit the east coast but Perlis, Kedah, Penang and northern Perak are expected to receive lower than normal rainfall between December and January next year.

The Meteorological Department said the north-east monsoon will arrive some time in November.

In Sarawak, normal rainfall of between 300mm and 450mm is expected to fall until the end of the year.

Between January to February 2017, Kapit and Belaga are expected to receive slightly below normal rainfall. The other areas are expected to receive the normal rainfall.

For Sabah, most parts are expected to receive normal rainfall until January 2017, while Kudat and Sandakan will receive below normal rainfall from February to March 2017.

A weak or neutral La Nina is expected to occur until early next year.

La Nina leads to a cooling of seawater and often takes place after El Nino.

Both situations lead to unusually heavy rainfall in some parts of the world and drought elsewhere.

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Malaysia: Experts blame over-development for Penang flooding

The Star 31 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Environmental activists are worried Penang is being over-developed while the state government is upset with the Federal Government for delaying the disbursement of RM350mil for flood mitigation.

“Sea water did not rush upriver to stall the rain runoffs that submerged large tracts of George Town,” said Malaysia Nature Society Penang branch advisor D. Kanda Kumar.

Kanda also called on the state not to blame the tides or global warming on the Federal Government, as it was low tide when the four rivers here broke their banks on Saturday.

“It’s development. By allowing top soil to be cleared off and covering hectares of land with concrete and asphalt ... where will the rain go?”

He said while financial aid from the Federal Government slowed the flood mitigation plans, the state government should not allow property construction without sufficient rainwater dispersal planning.

Environmentalist and academician Datuk Dr Leong Yueh Kwong said over-development caused both floods and droughts.

“When rain cannot seep into the ground, the water runoff will flood the surface while the earth beneath stays dry. When the rainy season is over, drought will set in quickly because little of the rain reached the water table underground.”

Dr Leong also called for greater attention to hill cutting and clearing.

“One study by Universiti Sains Malaysia had shown that the development of Bukit Gambier had directly contributed to flooding on the campus and in the Minden Heights area.”

Penang Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow urged the Federal Government to approve the RM350mil flood solution.

“The first phase of the Sungai Pinang flood mitigation project was completed more than 10 years ago.

“The second phase cannot take place without that allocation.”

Air Itam Dam overflow played no role in Penang's flash floods, says PBAPP
PHUAH KEN LIN New Straits Times 30 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The flash floods that inundated 14 areas on the island and affected parts of the mainland yesterday were not related to the Air Itam Dam. Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa denied that the dam had anything to do with the floods.

"The flash floods that occurred in Paya Terubong valley, Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Masjid Negeri and Sungai Pinang yesterday were not related to the Air Itam Dam. "PBAPP recorded about 135mm of rainfall at the dam yesterday.

There was a minimal overflow of 12mm of water at the dam at about 7.10pm.

"Any overflow from the Air Itam Dam will go into Sungai Air Itam only," he said in a statement today. Jaseni stressed that a 12mm overflow is insufficient to cause widespread floods in George Town, adding that the flash floods occurred before 7.10pm.

He added that heavy rain had caused a landslide near the Kek Lok Si Temple along a stretch of road leading to the Air Itam Dam. "No one was injured, but debris, including a boulder, caused the road to be temporarily impassable to cars.

"The debris has been cleared by PBAPP, together with the Fire and Rescue Department," Jaseni said.

Penang wants speedy approval of RM360mil flood mitigation project funds
ANTHONY TAN The Star 30 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang state government has urged the Federal Government to expedite the approval of a RM350mil allocation for the second phase of the Sungai Pinang flood mitigation project here in the wake of Saturday's floods here.

Penang Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the flash floods that hit various places along Sungai Pinang and its tributaries highlighted the importance for the project's immediate implementation.

"The first phase was completed more than 10 years ago. However, the second phase could not proceed because of the failure to get an allocation from the Federal Government," he said in a press statement on Sunday.

Chow claimed that the state government had raised the matter with the prime minister and minister in charge many times since 2008 but had yet to get the money.

He said the state drainage and irrigation department had already resettled more than 200 families living along the Sungai Pinang river reserve for the second phase to be implemented.

"The state government urges the Federal Government to quickly approve the RM350mil allocation to solve the flood problems along the Sungai Pinang basin, which is an important basin as it passes through places with high residential and development density like Paya Terubong, Bandar Baru Air Itam, Jalan Air Itam, Jalan Lumba Kuda, the Jelutong area including Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Dato Keramat dan Jalan Sungai Pinang," he added.

Penang gov't: Federal gov't yet to approve grant for flood mitigation project
PHUAH KEN LIN New Straits Times 30 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The state government has blamed the federal government for not approving a RM350 million grant to mitigate Penang’s chronic flash flooding woes.

According to State Local Government and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow, the local administration said federal agencies had delayed the completion of the flood mitigation project by not approving the funds.

"Phase two of the project undertaken by the state government has been stalled due to the failure of the federal government to grant fund approval.

"We have been bringing up the matter since 2008, but no allocation has been given by the federal authority," he said in a press statement today.

Chow urged the federal government to approve the allocation to ease the recurring flash floods.

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Malaysia: ‘Harsh penalties for river polluters’

NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 31 Oct 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Government is considering enlisting the Special Branch to track down those responsible for the contamination in Sungai Buah, which cut off water supply to millions in the Klang Valley.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar also called for a review of water treatment plant procedures so that odour could be detected faster and future shutdowns prevented.

At one of the chemical dump sites in Dengkil, repair works are continuing on a 20m bund holding the contaminants in Sungai Buah from flowing into Sungai Semenyih. Three more bunds are being built along the river.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the water in Sungai Buah was being treated with activated carbon, which bound the contaminants to the surface of the river.

“My ministry and the Department of Environment (DOE) are working with the Selangor government in an in-depth investigation to find the source of this pollution and the people responsible for it.

“I give the assurance that harsh punishment will befall individuals or companies that have so carelessly affected the welfare of the public.

“I am not ruling out asking the help of the Special Branch to track down those responsible and bring them to justice,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

Dr Wan Junaidi also called for a review of the standard operating procedure in the state’s treatment plants, which so far did not include odour detection in their parameters.

“Only Pengurusan Air Selangor (Air Selangor) and the Health Ministry monitor odour in raw water. The DOE also doesn’t include odour in its parameters under the National Water Quality Standard.

“We will have to immediately review these odour sampling methods and see whether the procedure used by Air Selangor is the way forward or if it should be changed,” he said.

The contaminant, which has been identified as 4-bromodiphenyl ether, is used as a fire retardant and is so corrosive that it has charred swathes of grass on the banks of Sungai Buah.

The minister also called for the cooperation of the Elite Highway operator to report any accident that involved chemical spillage that could flow into the river nearby, so that the DOE would be able to immediately monitor clean-up works.

Selangor exco member Elizabeth Wong continued to accuse Negri Sembilan of being uncooperative in helping to treat polluted water on its side.

Activated charcoal in the state, she said, was almost running out, with 10 tonnes already being used in Sungai Buah.

“We want Negri Sembilan to treat the site so that the polluted water does not flow into Sungai Buah,” she said, adding that if this was not done, Selangor might be forced to buy more activated carbon.

As of 4pm yesterday, Syabas announced that water supply in all areas affected by the shutdown was almost fully restored, leaving only Hulu Langat and Kuala Langat.

Review of SOPs urged for water treatment plant operators in wake of Semenyih pollution
FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR New Straits Times 30 Oct 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is recommending that water treatment plant operators review their standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be able to identify types of odours emitted from water.

Its minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said this is to enable them to swiftly shut down operations when necessary to ensure that consumers are not exposed to contamination.

"So far, only the Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas) monitors the odour parameter, although this is not required in raw water supply monitoring by the Health Ministry.

"The Environment Department (DOE) also does not have the odour parameter under the National Water Quality Standard for river water.

"(So) our integrated team will immediately re-assess the odour sampling methods implemented by Luas to check whether it complies with the recommended standards," Wan Junaidi said in a statement today.

He was commenting on the odour pollution crisis in Sungai Buah in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, which affected the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant, forcing it to be shut down.

The closure of the plant had affected some 1.6 million Selangor residents.

Wan Junaidi said the ministry has taken several measures to resolve the problem, aided by a joint task force from the DOE, Luas, the federal and Selangor governments and local authorities.

The measures include repairing a broken retaining wall to prevent overflow from Sungai Buah into Sungai Semenyih. "Repair works on the broken retaining wall are still ongoing.

"Three more walls will be built, after which, the water will flow through a small channel at the first wall and overflow from the following walls. "We have also placed activated carbon filters, to reduce the odour pollution, at each wall," he said.

Wan Junaidi also suggested that Luas study the use of activated carbon as a best engineering practice, as applied by other water treatment plants.

He added that he has instructed the DOE to work with the Selangor state government to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the cause of the Semenyih plant contamination and those responsible for the incident.

"We will ensure that the ministry and the DOE work continuously with relevant agencies, including with the local authorities.

"We will also make sure that legal action is taken against individuals or companies responsible for affecting the welfare of the people," he said, adding that the ministry would not hesitate to work with the police to arrest the culprits.

Wan Junaidi also urged highway operators to immediately report to the DOE any incidents of chemicals or harmful substances spilling from roads and flowing into water channels.

“The DOE will monitor the cleaning works and give advice when necessary to avoid untoward incidents," he said.

Water supply disruption in Petaling, Hulu Langat, Sepang: Syabas
BERNAMA New Straits Times 26 Oct 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Several areas in the Petaling, Hulu Langat and Sepang districts would experience water disruption as the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant (LRA) has yet to achieve its optimum level.

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) in a statement tonight said some of the affected areas were those which had its water supply scheduled to be restored in stages since 4pm today.

Yesterday, it was reported that the LRA resumed its operations after it was closed on Sunday due to odour pollution from the Nilai industrial area, in Negeri Sembilan.

“The restoration of the water supply has been delayed as the water retention pond has not achieved its optimum level,” said the statement.

The affected areas in the Petaling district are Bandar Puteri, Seri Kembangan 1 to 13, Serdang Utama, Bukit Serdang, Megaria Apartment, Bayu Apartment, Puchong Hartamas and Wawasan Puchong. In the Hulu Langat district, areas involved are Bandar Sunway Semenyih; Taman Semenyih Parklands; Desa Serdang; Gitu Bayu; Mines Resort; Heritage Apartment The Mines; Kajang Utama Persiaran Damai and Section 3; Sasapan Minangkabau; Kampung Rinching Tengah; Branang PKNS housing; Section 1 of Bandar Baru Bangi; Flats at Section 2,3, and 4 of Bandar Baru Bangi; Branang Industrial Park and Mahkota Branang.

In Sepang the areas involved are Section 11 of Bandar Baru Bangi, Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) and Taman Ayer Hitam Permai. Syabas said all efforts were ongoing to stabilise and expedite the restoration of water supply in the affected areas, including delivering water supply using tankers. -- Bernama

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Malaysia: Belum Rainforest Summit

100 world experts highlight four points to conserve, manage heritage site
NAIM ZULKIFLI New Straits Times 30 Oct 16;

GERIK: THE inaugural Belum Rainforest Summit this year (BRainS), during which 100 conservationists, scientists and policymakers worldwide discussed pressing topics on the environment, closed last Saturday with the adoption of the “Belum Rainforest Blueprint”.

BRainS was held at the Belum Rainforest Resort in Pulau Banding, here from Oct 17 to Oct 22. Titled “Blueprint for Local Action to Protect and Sustainably Manage the Belum-Temengor Rainforest”, the document was the culmination of six days of expert dialogue that highlighted four areas of vital importance to the Belum-Temengor Rainforest.

Pulau Banding Foundation chairman Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Mohamad said the blueprint was the main purpose of the summit and he wanted BRainS to not be a mere “talk shop” but a proper meeting of minds to ensure measurable actions would be taken as a result.

“A lot of thought and discussion with local and international experts went into the development of the blueprint,” he said.

To address the issues systematically, experts were invited to speak on five focus areas — biodiversity conservation, climate change, funding opportunities, payment for ecosystem services and sustainable resource management.

Among them were International Union of Forest Research Organisations president Professor Dr Michael Wingfield, University of Surrey Centre for Environmental Strategy director Professor Dr Richard Murphy, BirdLife International senior adviser Martin Hollands, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Climate Change Secretariat programme director Dr Jenny Wong, and Jane Goodall Institute Nepal executive director Manoj Gautam.

Fifty-nine papers were deliberated, addressing five current issues as sub-themes — biodiversity conservation, climate change, funding opportunities, payment for ecosystem services and sustainable resource management.

“Although there are many issues of concern, we have kept the blueprint narrow and distilled it down to four vital points,” said Latif.

“The first area of the blueprint addresses the tiger population in Belum-Temengor Rainforest. It outlined steps to be taken to increase the tiger population by 20 per cent within four years by strengthening enforcement on poaching, increasing the amount of prey in the tigers’ home range and conserving the salt licks, which are vital to their survival.

“The second focuses on sustainable management of Belum-Temengor Rainforest. Using the concept of payment for ecosystem services, which has been successfully applied in other countries, it recommends collaboration with the Federal Government to produce a biodiversity fund that can be used to preserve and maintain the rainforest complex.”

Internal stakeholder management formed the core of the third area, where the blueprint called for the formation of new bodies, such as a Belum-Temengor Rainforest Council and a Joint Operation Force to ensure available resources related to the rainforest are optimally used for more effective governance of the rainforest, as well as assisting the Royal Belum state park to achieve the status of a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The final area touched on the importance of youth as key players in the conservation movement, where it pushes for more awareness among youth in Malaysia about the issues faced by rainforest conservationists and urged them to get involved in conservation through participation in activities at the community, state and national levels.

“In its first instalment, the blueprint is naturally very much focused on Malaysia, but we hope that in years to come, it will grow into an international blueprint,” said Latif.

The fact that Pulau Banding Foundation was serious about its intention to mobilise youth in rainforest conservation was highlighted by a parallel youth summit titled “Green Rangers Malaysia — Voices of Youth”, held from Oct 20 to Oct 22 at the Belum Adventure Camp.

EMKAY Group executive director Ahmad Khalif Mustapha Kamal, who is also a trustee of the Pulau Banding Foundation, said the younger generation had an important role in conservation.

“The Green Rangers will continue to reach out to youth as we want to spread the message of conservation as far and wide as possible among the younger generation.”

He said one of the points indicated in the blueprint was the establishment of Green Ranger clubs or similar organisations in schools.

On the final day, participants of Voices of Youth submitted a wish list of what they wanted to see being carried out for rainforest conservation to the main panel of BRainS.

The list will be handed over during the United Nations Environment Programme conference from Dec 12 to Dec 15 in Bangkok.

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Malaysia: Bacteria to bite back at mosquitoes

LOH FOON FONG The Star 31 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: A research programme is underway to use a type of bacteria that fights mosquito-borne viruses, including the dengue virus.

The pilot project, which costs RM3.836mil, will be carried out by the Institute of Medical Research (IMR). The programme will be funded by the Wellcome Trust Fund.

IMR is collaborating with Lancaster University, Britain, and the Melbourne University, Aus­tra­lia, to work on a project to infect the aedes aegypti mosquito with Wolbachia bacteria, he said.

“When they are released into the wild, they will spread the Wolbachia into the aedes aegypti mosquito.

“The Wolbachia will block the dengue virus from replicating within the mosquito,” he said in an interview.

According to by Melbourne Uni­versity scientific collaborators, Wolbachia are bacteria that live inside insect cells and are naturally occurring in up to 60% of all insect species, including butterflies, dragonflies, moths and many mosquito species, but not aedes aegypti.

Wolbachia reduces the ability of insects to become infected with viruses.

“Since there is no cure or specific treatment for dengue, the main strategy is to attack aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits the virus,” he added.

He said the effect of Wolbachia on disease transmission will be evaluated continuously after release.

The project will end in 2020, but this may be subject to changes, he added.

Dr Noor Hisham also said that common insecticides, such as organophosphate (temephos) and pyrethroids (permethrin) have lost much of their effectiveness as the mosquitoes were found to have developed resistance while bed nets are not effective since the aedes aegypti are daytime biters.

Asked on the success rate of the method, he said studies have shown that Wolbachia had reduced the ability of mosquitoes to transmit chikungunya, dengue and Zika viruses.

“A dengue-mitigation project in 2014 in Brazil showed that it was able to reduce the spread of Zika and chikungunya viruses,” he added.

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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Oct 16

Grass Blues of Singapore
Butterflies of Singapore

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Bats can be model for human medicine

Audrey Tan, Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Oct 16;

Prof Wang, once nicknamed the Bat Virus Man, hopes to breed a colony of these flying mammals here as part of his research into infectious diseases, so he can uncover how they remain largely immune to deadly viruses such as Nipah, Hendra and Sars even while playing host to the organisms.

Bats are often viewed with distaste, except in Chinese culture, where the characters for bat, bian fu, evoke the term for prosperity, fu. So for the Chinese, bats are a symbol of good fortune and longevity.

Professor Wang Linfa, 56, from the Duke-NUS Medical School, believes there might be truth in this.
Although they are natural hosts of viruses such as Nipah, Hendra and Sars, bats themselves are largely immune to the deadly diseases.

They also have an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years - generally 10 to 20 times longer than that of their land-bound rodent cousins. Also, studies have shown that bats do not get cancer easily.

These are some reasons Prof Wang, who is director of the emerging infectious diseases programme at Duke-NUS, believes the study of bats could unlock novel cures for diseases in humans.

For more than 20 years, the Shanghai-born biochemist researched bat-borne viruses. Then in 2006, he decided there was a need to learn more about the bats themselves.

"I used to be nicknamed the Bat Virus Man. But now, it is probably more accurate to call me the Bat Man," he told The Straits Times with a chuckle.

He now hopes to breed a colony of bats in Singapore to learn more about them, as part of a study funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

He could not be drawn into giving more details about the project, but said: "Humans always dreamt of living long lives and, in a way, bats are a great model system to achieving that goal. After all, living long lives, being cancer-free and not getting deadly infectious diseases seem to be all linked."

An NRF spokesman said the research is supported under the foundation's Competitive Research Programme Funding Scheme, which funds use-inspired basic research up to a period of five years.

She noted: "Prof Wang's research was deemed by an international review panel to be cutting-edge, with potential relevance to Singapore.

"It could uncover strategies and mechanisms for novel drugs in cancer and infectious disease. It could also develop immunological research tools that could be commercialised."

So even as vampire bats rise among the ghouls that populate Halloween this weekend, remember, they might be more friend than foe.

Some bats found in Singapore

There are more than 1,000 species of bats in the world, 25 of which can be found in Singapore. Those here can be divided mainly into two groups: insect eaters, and species that prefer fruit or nectar.
Here are some examples of bats found in Singapore.


Most common of all fruit/nectar-eating bats here. It can be found in habitats ranging from orchards and gardens to forested tracts.


Not as common as the short- nosed fruit bat and can also be found across South-east Asia. In countries where it roosts in natural caves, uncontrolled tourism and mining are major threats.


Possibly the smallest bat in Singapore, this insect-eater can be found in secondary forests, parks and gardens. They are small enough to roost in the cavities of bamboo plants.

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Malaysia: Group airs videos in fight against illegal wildlife trade

The Star 30 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: An organisation championing Asian biodiversity has posted four video clips on Facebook in its war against illegal wildlife and bushmeat traders.

The Kinabatangan-based Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) aims to discourage the sale and consumption of such wildlife products.

Its three-minute videos, which were jointly produced with the Sabah Wildlife Department and nature photography firm Scubazoo, contain graphic footage of slaughtered or caged animals.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said he hoped the clips would eventually be aired onboard flights coming to Malaysia, especially those arriving from China and Hong Kong.

He also said he would meet with state Tourism, Culture and Envir­onment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun soon to ask for his help in getting the videos screened on the flights, at airports and in cinemas.

“The message we want to send is that those caught eating food like pangolin meat are liable to a RM5,000 fine.

“Eating illegal bushmeat can turn out to be a very expensive meal,” Dr Goossens added.

He said the clips – which are in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin – would also encourage the public to report illegal wildlife trade to the authorities.

He said DGFC uploaded the clips on social media because the sale of illegal bushmeat and wildlife products had become rampant on such sites.

“We have seen someone trying to sell a sun bear cub on Facebook.There are also those selling bushmeat on Instagram and WhatsApp.

“This is a serious situation in Malaysia and we want to do our part in addressing this problem,” Dr Goossens added.

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Malaysia: Armed enforcement team formed to protect forest reserves

The Star 30 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Trespassers into Sabah’s forest reserves are becoming more aggressive, prompting the state Forestry Department to form an armed enforcement team.

The intruders – mostly gaharu or sandalwood harvesters and poachers – do not hesitate to use weapons against forest rangers, according to department director Datuk Sam Mannan.

“Some of these culprits are foreigners. They do not want to go back to their home countries empty-­handed, so they are getting more vicious,” he said after launching the department’s Protect Squad at Labuk Forest Reserve near Sandak­an on Friday.

Mannan noted that a department officer was attacked at Kampung Sugut in the east coast Beluran district last year.

Earlier this year, a ranger fell victim to assailants in the northern Kota Belud district, he said.

“Our personnel are facing potentially dangerous situations now,” he added, citing a case at the Silabukan Forest Reserve near Lahad Datu last year, in which they stumbled on a man who turned out to be a militant from southern Philippines.

Mannan said the Protect Squad would have an initial batch of 25 personnel trained by the military in intelligence gathering, as well as enforcement and ambush techniques.

The selected forest rangers were also trained in self-defence, hand-to-hand combat and weapons handling.

He said the department was also expanding its canine unit to four tracker dogs as part of efforts to boost protection and increase enforcement of forest reserves.

Mannan said almost 800 forestry offences had been committed in Sabah since 2011 and some of them involved China, Philippine and Indonesian nationals.

The department has detained 486 individuals for various forestry offences and 192 have been charged in court so far.

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Malaysia: Sungai Buah pollution has lasted too long for it to be an accident, says Minister

The Star 30 Oct 16;

KUCHING: A joint investigation into the source and cause of pollution in Sungai Buah, which flows into the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant, will be carried out soon.

Bernama quoted Natural Resour­ces and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar as saying that he had directed the Department of Environment (DoE) to conduct a probe with the Selangor government.

The water contamination has affected more than a million consumers in the Klang Valley.

“Those responsible must be identified and brought to book.

“We have a number of laws to deal with the culprits such as the Local Government Ordinance, DoE laws and regulations and others with heavier penalties for such offences,” he said after distributing RM173,500 in grants to 70 groups in Santubong here yesterday.

Dr Wan Junaidi said he believed the pollution was not an accident as the problem had persisted for the past few days.

“Whether the people or factory owners are careless, ignorant or not concerned at all about the impact of discharging their waste water into the river... we will get to the root of this.

“However, we will only investigate and then refer our findings to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to decide on the prosecution,” he said.

Dr Wan Junaidi said he had received numerous reports on the situation in Sungai Buah, said to be due to pollution discharges from industrial areas in Nilai, Negri Sembilan.

On Thursday, Selangor state exco member Elizabeth Wong said the substance contaminating Sungai Buah was 4-Bromodiphenyl ether, which is normally used as a fire retardant.

In Klang, Wong said water was now free of the substance after 10 tonnes of activated carbon was placed at the source of the contamination in Nilai, as well as in Sungai Buah in Negri Sembilan.

“The compound has bonded to the activated carbon. The river water now records zero reading in the Threshold Odour Number.

“However, the contaminated water at the source of the pollution in Nilai is still there and is being diverted to a nearby pond to be treated,” she added.

Wong said two more bunds were also being constructed to contain the overflow onsite and to treat the water.

Authorities had earlier built a bund across Sungai Buah to stop the water from flowing into Sungai Semenyih but it gave way after a heavy downpour on Friday, forcing the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant to cease operations at 4.15pm.

“We are building these bunds because if it rains heavily in Nilai, there will be too much volume and pressure on the existing bund,” she said, adding that activated carbon would also be placed at these bunds.

Wong also accused the water authorities in Negri Sembilan of refusing to help clean the source of pollution in Nilai.

Wan Junaidi: Integrated investigation into source, cause of Sungai Buah pollution
The Star 29 Oct 16;

KUCHING: An integrated investigation on the source and cause of pollution in Sungai Buah which flows into the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant will be carried out soon.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pic) said he had directed the DOE director general to conduct the investigation together with the Selangor state government.

The contaminated water is affecting more than a million consumers in Klang Valley.

He told the media this, today, after distributing minor rural development project grants totalling RM173,500 to 70 associations and organisations in his Santubong parliamentary constituency here.

"We must identify and bring to book those responsible.

"We should use whatever laws we have and we have a number to deal with the culprits such as the Local Government Ordinance, DOE laws and regulations and others with heavier penalties for such offences," he said Saturday.

He believed the pollution was not done accidentally as the problem had persisted for the past two to three days.

"Whether people or the factory owners are careless, ignorant or not concerned at all of the impact of discharging their waste water into the river....we will get to the root of this.

"But I must emphasise here, we will only investigate and will then refer our findings to the Attorney-General's Chambers to decide on the prosecution," he said.

Wan Junaidi said he had received numerous reports on what was happening in Sungai Buah, said to be affected by pollution discharges from industrial areas in Nilai, Negri Sembilan. - Bernama

Polluted water still flowing to Semenyih treatment plant, say authorities
ESTHER LANDAU New Straits Times 29 Oct 16;

KUCHING: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry have received reports on contaminated water samples taken from Sungai Buah in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, which flows into the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant.

The closure of the plant due to pollution had affected some 1.6 million Selangor residents.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the ministry has taken several actions to resolve the water pollution problems, aided by a joint task force from the Federal and Selangor government, Department of Environment, Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas), and local authorities.

He said work has been ongoing to pump the polluted water out from Sungai Buah.

Repair works on bunds along the river also took place yesterday. However, as of 9pm, the polluted water is still flowing from the river to Semenyih and has affected the water treatment plant.

“Therefore, the water treatment plant had to stop operating,” said Wan Junaidi.

The minister was speaking at a grant-presentation ceremony to recipients of the Santubong district, at his office here today.

Compounding matters, the downpour last night worsened the situation as the odour pollution could still be detected.

He said the ministry had instructed the Department of Environment and Selangor Government to conduct a joint research to identify the culprits involved in the pollution.

Wan Junaidi said that the person or company, if found guilty of causing contamination to the river, could be charged under the Water Services Industry Act 2006, which he said would carry heavier penalties.

Dry taps put damper on Selangor folks' Deepavali celebration
JUNE MOH New Straits Times 29 Oct 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: For the Hindu community in USJ 4 Casablanca in Subang Jaya, the Selangor's water woes have definitely left a mark on their Deepavali celebrations.

USJ 4 Casablanca Residents' Association president Jeyanthy Pillai said the community at the area is not in the mood to celebrate the Hindu festival of lights due to inconsistent water supply that has practically disrupted their preparation for the occasion.

“On Deepavali eve, we were happy as water came trickling in our water pipes.

Today, there was no water in the morning and we are not able to cook heavy dishes like curry.

There is also no running water to clean our cooking utensils. We have to use water sparingly.

“I was able to cook some light dishes in the morning, such as coconut candies, Kara Murukku and Sweet Semolina Balls from the water we had collected yesterday,” Jeyanthy said.

Jeyanthi said she could not invite friends and relatives to her house due to the water cut in the morning but in the evening, when water supply resumed at around 4pm, she was able to cook main dishes for the occasion to have a late Deepavali celebration with her family.

Despite the water shortage, she said, the residents in USJ 4 Casa Blanca had been sending Deepavali wishes to one another in the community’s WhatApps group chat.

“During this entire water crisis, we made more friends with our neighbours, we started sharing and communicating... and we really started caring for each other, that is what life is all about, to create a loving heart for all living beings.” she said.

It was reported that the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant has resumed operations at 3.15am today, some 11 hours after it was forced to shut down yesterday.

The plant had to be temporarily closed at 4.15pm when the bund at Sungai Buah in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, built to stop contaminated water from flowing into Sungai Semenyih, broke during a downpour.

Water disruption dampens Deepavali celebrations
KATHLEEN MICHAEL The Star 29 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: The water disruption in four districts in Selangor has dampened the Deepavali celebrations.

The Petaling, Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang districts were affected after the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant was shut down for the fourth time in two months on Oct 23.

The plant was shut down due to pollution, but was back in operation with water channelled to reservoirs in stages as of 3.15am Saturday.

S. Selvi, 50 who lives in Putra Permai, Seri Kembangan got her water supply back at 9am, but decided to celebration the rest of the day’s celebrations at her sister’s place in Klang.

“We’ve been depending on our water tank and for Deepavali, I cooked a lot less than I would normally, because we don’t know if water will be cut again,” she said.

In some other areas, residents like Lat Mayar, 52 in Bandar Puteri Puchong has decided to postpone celebrations because water supply has not resumed.

“My family’s celebration is quiet this year. I’ll be visiting homes instead of having an open house,” she said.

Though water tankers are sent to their area, she said they come at working hours when she is not around to collect water for her elderly parents.

She added that the water cuts is frustrating, as it does not follow the schedule.

In Bandar Bukit Puchong, P. Komalam, 67 has been miserable and stressed out over the water disruption but did not let it stop her from having an open house.

She served food in brown wax paper and drinks in paper cups.

“We had water a few days ago and I’ve stored enough but we still limit our use,” she said.

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Malaysia: Cloud seeding to be conducted in Negri Sembilan

The Star 29 Oct 16;

SEREMBAN: Negri Sembilan will conduct cloud seeding to raise the water level in dams and rivers in the state, said its Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan (pic).

He said the state disaster management committee had been instructed to discuss the matter and the Meterological Department had agreed to conduct cloud seeding in Jelebu, Kuala Pilah, Jempol and Tampin.

"At present, we have the right type of clouds, cumulonimbus for cloud seeding and therefore it should be done.

"After that I hope it rains heavily, especially in these areas which are upstream," he told reporters after the Deepavali open house hosted by National MIC information chief Datuk V.S. Mogan here Saturday.

He also said the disaster management committee was in the process of studying proposals to have water rationing if the water level continued to decrease. - Bernama

N. Sembilan MB urges mosques to pray for rain as drought takes its toll
NUR AQIDAH AZIZI New Straits Times 29 Oct 16;

SEREMBAN: The state government has urged all mosques in the state to hold special prayers for rain, as water levels in rivers across Negri Sembilan continue to drop amidst a lingering dry spell.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the current rainfall could only provide 50 per cent of the water source for the rivers.

“We have been asking all mosques to hold prayers since last week, and Alhamdulillah, it has rained for the past few days,” said Mohamad.

He said the state Disaster Management Committee will also be conducting cloud seeding operations across the state, including in Kuala Pilah, Jelebu, Jempol and Tampin.

“Current weather conditions are not too dry, which is suitable for cloud seeding. We hope the plan can be conducted soon, and that it will help produce heavy rainfall in the affected areas,” he said. M

ohamad added that the state government’s plan to implement water rationing could be put on hold if the cloud seeding operation is successful.

“In case the operation fails, we have to proceed with water rationing. We do not want to burden the people here, but we will be facing a bigger problem if we don’t take any action. Let’s use water wisely,” he said.

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Malaysia: Flash floods bring Penang to its knees on Deepavali

PHUAH KEN LIN New Straits Times 29 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: For the second time in two months, flash floods brought Penang to its knees, halting traffic and submerging homes in various parts of the city.

The floods, which have become a perennial problem on the island, also meant that a bleak Deepavali was on the cards for the Hindu community.

In Jalan P. Ramlee and arterial roads at Bandar Baru Air Itam, more than 100 houses were submerged in knee-deep water, forcing residents to salvage whatever they can.

Several roads in Lebuhraya Thean Teik and Jalan Thean Teik were also badly flooded, leaving dozens of cars submerged and their owners ruing the damages.

Floods waters also struck Jalan Masjid Negeri, one of the island's main arterial roads. Water levels rose quickly, reducing traffic to a crawl. Several cars which later attempted to brave the flood waters ended up stalled halfway.

The water also seeped into the common area on the ground floor at a densely-populated block of flats in Bandar Baru Air Itam.

Among the areas affected by flash floods were Jalan Paya Terubong and Taman Lumba Kuda.

An uprooted tree also reportedly hit a parked vehicle at Jalan Patani.

The rain started about 3pm. Flood waters rose quickly and reached waist level at several places at flood-prone places in Jalan P Ramlee and its vicinity.

A grim atmosphere was evident as residents waded through the floods to salvage their belongings and transfer their household items to higher ground.

The entire section of the road was cordoned off, as residents at the nearby Sungai Pinang residential area chipped in to help the affected residents.

A dejected Mohamad Rafiq Jalil, 46, who lives off Jalan P. Ramlee, lamented the losses he has to endure each time flash floods hit his neighborhood.

Rafiq vented his fury on the state government and local authorities, whom he claimed tended to shift the blame on Mother Nature for the floods.

"I am tired of hearing repeated excuses from the state government, attributing the flash floods to the so-called 'King' Tide and tidal change pattern.

"Nothing has been done to mitigate the flash floods for far too long, I am saddened that the analysis and much-politicised flood mitigation schemes have come to nothing," he said.

Another resident, S. Rajasekaran, 62, said he is at his wits' end. He claimed he has given up hope that Penang's flood problems will be resolved in his lifetime.

"I doubt the state government knows what it's doing, we suffer each time it pours.

"Our plight has fallen on deaf ears and there is no way we can recover the hefty losses due to the damages over the years," he said.

Meanwhile, a near tragedy was averted when a landslip occurred at a hillslope in Paya Terubong behind several high-rise buildings.

The loose earth came crashing down the hillslope and missed several parked cars.

The downpour petered out by 8pm. There has been no word yet on the extent of the damages.

Last month, floods hit Bayan Baru, leaving residents scrambling for safety.

Environment civil liberties group Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) had then urged the Penang government to investigate and take immediate action to resolve the flash floods problem.

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris had claimed that its survey showed that rapid development and failure of the drainage system to function effectively during heavy rain had triggered the flash floods.

Environmental groups had also blamed rampant development as among the factors for the floods. Flash floods had also submerged parts of Penang in May and July.

Heavy rains, flash floods, make for a miserable Deepavali in Penang
PHUAH KEN LIN New Straits Times 29 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Continuous heavy rainfall has put a damper on Deepavali celebrations here today, with flash floods hitting many low-lying areas of the city.

Rising waters have reached knee-level at flood-prone locations such as Jalan P Ramlee and its vicinity, as well as the highly-populated Bandar Baru Air Itam.

Flood waters have reportedly streamed into the ground floors of high-density flats in Bandar Baru Air Itam.

At Lebuhraya Thean Teik and Jalan Masjid Negeri, two of the city’s main arterial roads, flash floods have reduced traffic to a crawl.

Cars have stalled along flooded roads, and residents could be seen wading through rising waters. An uprooted tree is reported to have crashed onto a parked vehicle at Jalan Patani.

No one has been reported displaced or injured so far.

Three-hour rain triggers traffic woes and disruption in hill railway services

GEORGE TOWN: The Deepavali celebration was cut short for many Hindu families after a heavy rain swept though many parts of the island.

Lawyer Dev Kumaraendran said traffic was especially bad in Jalan Masjid Negeri after a flood occurred in the area yesterday.

“The plastic barricades placed along the road were floating around because of the flood water and this worsened the traffic congestion.

“We were travelling back from George Town to Jalan Masjid Negeri after watching a movie and doing some Deepavali shopping,” he said when contacted.

Consumers Association of Penang education officer N.V. Subbarow said Hindus celebrating Deepavali in Penang were angry at the floods but not the rain.

“People who want to visit their friends in the late evening were either stuck at home or on the road due to poor flood management system.”

Sungai Air Hitam burst its banks causing the water to spill into several major roads such as Jalan Masjid Negeri and Scotland Road.

A check on the Public InfoBanjir website of the Department of Drainage and Irrigation (DID) found that the Sungai Pinang water level was at 2.89m, exceeding the danger level at 6pm yesterday.

Traffic came to a standstill at several low-lying grounds in the state.

Among the worst hit were Lebuhraya Thean Teik and Jalan Thean Teik in Bandar Baru Air Itam where water rose to knee-level.

Engineer M.H. Wong, 34, said the water reached knee-level at about 5pm in Lebuhraya Thean Teik.

“I was stuck in a traffic jam in front of All Seasons Place for more than an hour. Traffic has never been bad along this road.”

Air Itam assemblyman Wong Hon Wai when contacted said firemen were on site to assist traffic and assess the flood situation.

Landslides also occurred within a 50m stretch along the hilly road leading to the Air Itam Dam as well as Bandar Baru Air Itam.

Hikers were told to descend the hill on foot and to leave their vehicles behind on the hill as the road was impassable to traffic.

The Penang Hill funicular train services were also interrupted for several minutes after a tree branch fell on the track. It was later removed by firemen and services resumed.

Floods were also reported in Jalan P. Ramlee, Taman Lumba Kuda and Jalan Paya Terubong,

Major traffic congestion was also seen in Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway following an accident where a car overturned near Bayan Mutiara in Bayan Lepas.

Heavy traffic was also spotted in Lebuh Bukit Jambul, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Jalan Tengku Kudin, Jalan Hamilton, Jalan Bagan Jermal, Jalan Datuk Keramat and Jalan Free School.

State DID in a statement said about 600 people from 300 homes were affected by the flood following three hours of continuous rain from 4.30pm in the northeast district of Penang but there was no evacuation.

“The floods were caused by an unsystematic drainage system,” the statement said, adding that the system needed to be upgraded and the developments closely monitored.

Flash floods are becoming a normal occurrence in Penang with the worst being reported in July.

Teluk Bahang residents said that was one of the worst flash floods in recent years, with about 300 houses affected by the rising waters.

A total of 12 flights were rescheduled at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas.

On Oct 18, heavy rain lasting more than two hours coupled with the king tide phenomenon resulted in Kampung Manis, Prai, and the Telok Ipil, Nibong Tebal, on the mainland being inundated by 3.1m of water.

In September, about 45 homes were damaged when it flooded in Kampung Dodol, Kampung Makam, Jalan Singora, Jalan P. Ramlee and Jalan Air Terjun. A 20-year-old Nepali plantation worker was crushed to death after an oil palm tree fell on him during the four-hour rainstorm.

Flooding causes Penang traffic standstill
CHRISTOPHER TAN The Star 29 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Traffic came to a standstill after a downpour swept through several areas in Penang, including Bandar Baru Air Itam, Bayan Lepas and Air Itam.

Rising water levels were also recorded at Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Jalan Masjid Negeri, Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Zoo in Air Itam and Scotland Road.

Engineer M.H Wong said that the water reached knee-level at about 5pm in Lebuhraya Thean Teik.

"I was stuck in a traffic jam in front of All Seasons Place for more than an hour,” he said when contacted.

Nine rescued after landslide in Penang
The Star 29 Oct 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Nine people were trapped in a temple and in a car due to a landslide in Air Itam here.

The landslide – which happened at about 6.28pm – took place on the route towards the Air Itam dam near a Buddhist temple.

Nine firemen were deployed to the scene and all four who were trapped in a car were successfully rescued.

However, those present at the temple refused to leave.

"The Fire and Rescue Department received a call from one of the victims trapped We had deployed our officers and due to heavy rain and traffic gridlock, we had arrived at the scene at 7.46pm," said the fire and rescue spokesperson in a statement.

Authorities had confirmed that the area was safe and not in danger as rescue operation ended at 8.09pm. - Bernama

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Indonesia peak rainy season expected in January, February 2017

Antara 29 Oct 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is expecting the rainy season to peak in January and February 2017, according to the Meteorological, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

"The rainy season will peak in January and February, particularly for Jakarta," BMKG Chief Andi Eka Sakya said here.

This year, rainfall has been 50 percent normal, however, because of natural phenomena such as Dipole Mode and La Nina, the country has been experiencing high intensity rainfall.

"Besides, there is monsoon (a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation), and there is also a tropical cyclone and low pressure in the region," he noted.

The peak rainy season in January and February 2017 is forecast to be less wet than that in early 2016, BMKG Deputy in Charge of Meteorology Yunus Swarinoto said.

However, it has tended to be of a longer duration, according to Mulyono R Prabowo, head of the Public Meteorology Center of BMKG.

The intensity might be less than the previous year, but the duration is expected to be longer, and this could trigger hydro-meteorological disasters such as landslide and flooding, he said.

Therefore, the agency has urged people living in disaster-prone areas to remain vigilant in order to mitigate disaster and prevent casualties.
(Uu.F001/INE/KR-BSR/F001) 29-10-2016 11:48:48

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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Oct 16

Birding Kent Ridge Park
Singapore Bird Group

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Malaysia: Sg Semenyih water treatment plant shuts down yet again

P DIVAKARAN The Star 28 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) again closed the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant on Friday afternoon.

The plant ceased operations at 4:15pm when the bund at Sungai Buah in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, the source of the contamination earlier in the week, gave way following a heavy downpour upstream.

The bund had been erected to prevent the poisonous water from flowing into Sungai Semenyih and diverted to a nearby pond.

(The plant, which shut down on Sunday, resumed its operations on Wednesday and supply was expected to resume fully to over a million customers by Saturday.)

“Every effort is being taken to restore the bunds at Sungai Buah immediately and prevent the polluted water from flowing into Sungai Semenyih,” said Syabas Corporate Communications head Amin Lin Abdullah said in a statement Friday.

Amin said all areas in Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat, Sepang and Petaling Districts will experience temporary water disruption until the water treatment plant resumes operations.

He said relief water supply would continue to be sent by water tankers to affected areas and critical premises, namely hospitals and dialysis centres, until water supply is restored.

It also said that the existing water schedule for Zones 1 and 2 is no longer valid.

Water supply is available at public water standpipes at the following locations:

PETALING: Bangunan Eon Bank, Jalan Bandar 1, Pusat Bandar Puchong; In front of Lake Edge, Persiaran Setia, Bandar Metro; In front of Enggang apartments, Jalan Kinrara 6F, Bandar Kinrara, Puchong; In front of Bosnia Flat, Jalan Raya 7/1, Taman Serdang Jaya; In front of the Rumah Pam Perindustrian Bukit Serdang, Jalan PBS 14/1, Perindustrian Bukit Serdang; Road Side of Jalan USJ 3/1h USJ3; Service Centre TP2 Taman Perindustrian Subang UEP and Road Side of Jalan USJ3A/1.

SEPANG: Dengkil Town (Market); Dengkil (Taman Gemilang Community Hall); Sungai Pelik (Taman Murni) and Salak Tinggi (Near Jumbo Water Tanker Station).

KUALA LANGAT: Jalan Keli, Taman Sri Putra; Jalan Sempadan Kachong; Jalan Merak, Bukit 9 Kebun Bharu; Jalan Merbuk, Bukit 9 Kebun Bharu; Simpang Morib and Masjib Banting.

HULU LANGAT: Kajang Utama (Jalan 3/13, Kajang Utama); Taman Sri Mewah ( Jalan Sri Mewah, Taman Sri Mewah); Taman Tropika, Sungai Tangkas (Jalan Bestari – depan Balai Polis Sungai Tangkas); Apartment Green Villa, Sungai Tangkas (Jalan Bestari, Sungai Tangkas – in front of Green Villa apartment); Bandar Teknoloji Kajang (Persiaran Hill Park, taman Hill Park); and Bandar Sunway Semenyih (Persimpangan Taman Desa Mewah - Sunway Semenyih).

Water supply is also available at the following Jumbo Water Tanker Stations:

Petaling: USJ 4/5; Taman Wawasan Puchong Recycle Centre and Jalan BS 5/28 Bukit Serdang.

Hulu Langat: Jalan Kesuma 3 Junction, Bandar Tasik Kesuma and Jalan Bandar Tasik Kesuma.

The Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant was forced to close temporarily on several occasions since September following contamination at Sungai Semenyih.

Sources of pollution had been identified to come from an industrial site in Semenyih, including Sungai Langat, which gets water from Pahang.

The closures caused water disruptions that have affected over a million residents in the Klang Valley.

Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant resumes operations
The Star 29 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: The Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant is back in operation, says Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas).

“The plant is back in operation and we have started to channel treated water to the reservoirs in stages since 3.15am,” it said on Facebook, Saturday.

It said Syabas had mobilised water tankers, activated jumbo tanker stations and public water standpipes to help those affected while waiting for water supply to recover.

“We apologise for the inconvenience and are working to accelerate the recovery process,” it said.

The plant had ceased operations at 4.15pm on Friday when the bund at Sungai Buah in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, the source of the contamination earlier in the week, gave way following a heavy downpour upstream.

Syabas urged the public to avoid congesting its hotline and to seek updated information via its website, mysyabas app, puspel syabas or air selangor Facebook page.

The public can also request for water tankers via sms by sending: tanker to 15300

Advanced technology seen as long-term solution to raw water contamination

KUALA LUMPUR: The use of advanced water treatment technology can serve as a long-term solution in addressing the issue of raw water contamination.

Water quality and modeling expert Dr Zaki Zainuddin said the technology which had been adopted by Singapore had proven to be effective in treating raw water as compared with the conventional treatment methods used in this country.

He said the use of such technology would also be able to provide a better quality water supply to consumers, thus avoiding recurrence of water supply disruption following the closure of water treatment plants (WTP).

“The current method being used is not outdated, even developed countries like the United States are still using the same technology but the control aspect of river basin areas there is better than in Malaysia, thus reducing the risk of contamination and disposal of industrial waste into water resources.

“However, the cost of using the most advanced water treatment technology is quite high and certainly has its own implications such as the increase in water tariff to cover the expenses incurred for that purpose,” he said.

Zaki was asked to comment on the fourth closure of the Sungai Semenyih WTP, Selangor within two months following odour pollution of the river water, believed to have originated from an industrial area in Nilai, Negri Sembilan.

The first two shutdowns occurred on Sept 22 and Sept 23 while the third was on Oct 4 due to the pollution which had caused disruptions in water supply in the Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat, Petaling and Sepang districts.

Zaki said a more economical approach such as using water resources from the upper reaches of the river which was more clean and free of contamination could also help reduce the risk of raw water contamination supplied to WTPs.

He said most of WTPs in the country had been using water resources in the lower reaches of the river, whereby their surrounding areas were rapidly being developed, thus affecting the quality of the river water there.

“However, there are some parties rejecting this proposal by claiming that the upstream river areas are quite far to access and to supply water to WTPs,” he said.

Senior lecturer at the Environmental Studies Faculty of Universiti Putra Malaysia, Dr Mohd Yusoff Ishak said he was confident that academic experts and researchers from the country’s public universities were willing to cooperate to find a solution to the water pollution issue. - Bernama

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Indonesia: No Tax on Plastic Bags Next Year -- Finance Minister

Tabita Diela Jakarta Globe 27 Oct 16;

Jakarta. Indonesia is pulling the brakes on its plastic bag excise, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Thursday (27/10).

"No new excise is going to be imposed in 2017," Sri told reporters at a Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club meeting.

Earlier, the government was planning to tax plastic bags to increase state revenue and reduce plastic consumption.

Indonesia imposes excise on tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and ethyl alcohol to reduce consumption of these products and monitor their circulation.

"There are concerns coming from the parliament and business community, so I will be pragmatic and [say] I will look at them," Sri said.

Despite canceling the plan for the plastic bag tax, the government's newly passed 2017 state budget mandates a higher revenue from excise.

The Finance Ministry's directorate general of customs and excise aims to collect Rp 157.2 trillion ($12 billion) for the state coffers next year, 6.1 percent more than it planned to collect this year.

The government has so far collected Rp 81.9 trillion in excise this year, or 56 percent of the 2016 revised state budget target, according to the directorate's website.

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3 months' jail for man who smuggled birds into Singapore

Channel NewsAsia 27 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: A 29-year-old Singaporean man was sentenced to three months’ jail on Thursday (Oct 27) for illegally importing three Red-whiskered Bulbul birds. Muhammad Farhan Abdullah was also given three months' jail for subjecting them to unnecessary suffering or pain.

Both sentences will run concurrently.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) alerted the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to the case in June, after officers discovered three live birds in the man's car at the Woodlands Checkpoint.

In a joint media release on Thursday, AVA and ICA said the birds were found hidden inside three small boxes beneath the carpet of the front passenger seat, as well as under the rear passenger seats of the Singapore-registered car.

Following investigations, AVA confirmed the Red-whiskered Bulbul birds were imported without an AVA permit. The birds were also tested and found to be free from avian influenza, and have been successfully rehomed at Jurong Bird Park, added AVA.

“Animals that are smuggled into Singapore are of unknown health status and may introduce exotic diseases into the country,” said AVA. Offenders who import any animals or live birds without an AVA permit are liable to the maximum penalty of S$10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to a year.

- CNA/xk

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