Best of our wild blogs: 17 Oct 16

Moult of Mangrove Horseshoe Crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Monday Morgue

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Concerns arise over release of sky lanterns

Launched during festivals, lit paper lanterns could set fire to plants or be eaten by animals
Audrey Tan, Straits Times AsiaOne 17 Oct 16;

You might have spotted them during the Mid-Autumn Festival last month: miniature hot-air balloons - with hopes and wishes written on their paper bodies - rising high into the sky.

Lit paper lanterns, or sky lanterns, drifting against the dark sky may make for a pretty picture. But, when the fuel runs out and the lanterns make their way back to the ground, they sometimes get entangled in trees, set fire to vegetation or end up being ingested by wildlife.

As sky lanterns continue to be released during Chinese New Year or Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations here, environmentalists are concerned that they could pose a fire and environmental hazard.

Those intending to release sky lanterns must inform the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore of their plans, and a spokesman told The Straits Times that it has received an average of about 17 notifications a year for the past five years.

Last month, travel company 3PlayGrounds organised a tethered sky lantern release event at a field near Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Clementi.

The event was touted as environmentally-friendly, involving lanterns attached to a string so they would not fly away - as per guidelines set by the Singapore Civil Defence Force - and made with biodegradable material.

But the event drew a backlash from some environmentalists, who said that despite the precautions, some lanterns still got caught in trees, causing embers to fall on surrounding vegetation.

Environmental biology graduate Sumita Thiagarajan, 22, who was at the event, said the 40m string was too long and too thin. She counted six lanterns getting entangled in trees when they could not be reeled in in time.

She also said that one lantern snapped from its line and flew into a nearby patch of forest.

In response, the organiser said that of the 80 lanterns released, three ended up in trees after the event, but they were retrieved the next day. On the lantern that flew into the forest patch, a 3PlayGrounds spokesman said the darkness prevented immediate retrieval and organisers returned to look for it the next day.

"The lantern was not found, and thick vegetation also made our search quite hard. We assume that the lantern, being of thin paper, was dissolved by the rain," she said, adding that the firm regretted this and recommended some precautions.

This includes using shorter strings that are 20m long, ensuring lanterns are released about 25m away from surrounding structures such as trees, and attaching the lantern to the reel more securely so the thread cannot be accidentally burnt through.

Miss Sumita said these measures were a step in the right direction, but added that organisers can look to alternatives without fire, such as lanterns with lights or drones.

To show that environmentalists are no party poopers, Miss Sumita and Ms Ria Tan, who runs wildlife site, plan to organise an event using kites instead of lanterns during the Mid-Autumn Festival next year.

"They can be wishing kites with different coloured lights and can still be flown high up into the sky, with no fire involved," said Ms Tan.

Related link
Tethered sky lanterns: what could possibly go wrong? on wild shores of singapore

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HDB calls tender for solar panel installation across government agencies

Channel NewsAsia 16 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has called a solar leasing tender - the second combined tender led by the board, it said in a joint press release with the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Sunday (Oct 16).

The tender, which was called on Oct 10, will aggregate demand for the installation of solar panels across nine governmental organisations such as the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Education and the National Environment Agency.

A total of 636 HDB blocks and 31 government sites including Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre, Bishan Fire Station and Ngee Ann Polytechnic will be installed with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, at a capacity of 40 MWp. That is equivalent to powering around 10,000 4-room HDB flats.

The initiative is part of the SolarNova programme led by the EDB. The first SolarNova tender was awarded in Dec 2015 and installation of solar panels is expected to start in Dec 2016 and complete in Dec 2017.

“One key distinction from the first tender is that companies bidding in this tender will be allowed to form consortiums,” it said.

The tender will close on 30 December 2016, and is estimated to be awarded in the first quarter of 2017. Installation works are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

By end 2016, the number of HDB blocks installed with solar panels island-wide will more than double to about 900, compared to 400 HDB blocks in 2015.

With the latest tender, a total of close to 2,500 HDB blocks will be ready to harness solar energy, it said.

- CNA/jq

HDB looking to install more solar panels islandwide
Today Online 16 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — The Republic’s solar energy industry looks set to grow — and so too the adoption of solar power — with a second tender called for photovoltaic (PV) panels to be installed across 636 public apartment blocks and 31 government sites island-wide.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks chosen are in areas managed by Ang Mo Kio and Marsiling-Yew Tee town councils, and the government sites include schools and hawker centres.

Unlike the first combined tender called by government agencies in June last year, bidders this round are allowed to form consortiums.

The move is aimed at lowering barriers so that the Government can “tap a larger pool of expertise in the solar industry”, said the HDB, which called the tender last Monday.

And this second bulk tender for solar panels sees the largest number of public organisations involved to date.

There are six first-time participants: The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Communications and Information, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, the State Courts and the National Environment Agency.

Besides the HDB, the Ministry of Home Affairs and national water agency PUB are participating a second time.

Calling a bulk tender means solar energy can be harnessed at a lower cost owing to economies of scale, which will also accelerate solar adoption.

And industry players whom TODAY spoke to said the latest tender can benefit smaller firms and attract new players into the market.

“(The) contract value of this tender is about S$100 million. Not many companies have the resources or risk appetite to take on this project alone,” said Mr Shawn Tan, senior manager of Sunseap, which won the first tender to power multiple public sector premises. “It is not uncommon for companies to form consortiums to participate in large tenders.”

He added that Sunseap is on track to complete installing its PV panels by end of next year, covering 831 HDB blocks as well as eight MHA and PUB sites.

The current tender, which is for a total capacity of 40 megawatt-peak (MWp), will close on Dec 30. Installation is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019. This takes the number of HDB blocks ready to harness solar energy — to drive common services such as lifts, lighting in common areas and pumps — to 2,500, which will help town councils to mitigate rising energy costs.

Sunseap and solar panel producer REC told TODAY they are thinking of bidding for the tender. REC said it has seen an “increase in overseas investors” who are keen to explore the market here.

The tender comes under the government-led programme SolarNova, which aims to spur the growth of Singapore’s solar industry by encouraging government agencies to use solar power.

SolarNova aims to have solar power contribute 350 MWp to Singapore’s energy supply by 2020, and more tenders under the programme will be called over the next four to five years.

Currently, 123 MWp has been procured and committed for installation on HDB blocks, of which the HDB committed 69 MWp under the first tender, which saw a total of 14 bids from nine bidders. By year end, about 900 HDB blocks will have solar panels, with a capacity of about 40 MWp, equivalent to electricity for around 10,000 four-room flats.

Last year, there were 400 blocks with solar panels, and the target is 5,500 by 2020, or clean energy for 55,000 four-room flats annually.

Mr Tan said the SolarNova programme gives private companies “confidence” to adopt solar power in Singapore. “(The) rate of solar energy adoption in Singapore has always been led by government bodies,” he said. “The companies always look up to the Government when it comes to solar energy adoption.”

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Small and successful nations climb to top of the league

Tommy Koh, The Straits Times AsiaOne 16 Oct 16;

When it comes to successful nations, small ones often climb to the top of the league. Here are some examples.

In the game of nations, size matters. Big countries tend to have big populations, economies, militaries, resources and ambitions. From time immemorial, big countries have tended to dominate small countries. Even in the contemporary world, important institutions such as the United Nations Security Council, Group of Seven and Group of 20 are dominated by big countries.

It would, however, be a mistake to equate size with success. Some of the most successful countries in the world, in different fields of endeavour, are small countries. This fact is seldom highlighted. What I would like to do in this essay is to restore some balance to our perception of small countries.

I will give examples of small countries which have overcome the disadvantage of size and achieved extraordinary success.


Since we live in a world which worships money, let me begin by asking which are the richest countries in the world. I will use GDP per capita as the criterion and define a small country as one with a population of less than 10 million. The 20 richest countries of the world are listed in the table on the left.

The astonishing fact is that, of the 20 richest countries, a majority of them, 14, are small countries.


I acknowledge the validity of the view that GDP per capita may not be the best criterion of human welfare. Many prefer the UN's Human Development Index, which also looks at a country's achievements in education, health, housing, gender equity, and so on.

Which are the top 20 countries in the Human Development Index (2014)? They are: Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Liechtenstein, Sweden, UK, Iceland, South Korea, Israel, Luxembourg, Japan and Belgium. Of the 20, 12 are small countries.

As a matter of interest, I would mention that China is ranked at No. 90, Indonesia at No. 110 and India at No. 130.


Corruption is a universal evil. It is the aspiration of citizens everywhere to live in a society which is free of corruption. The non-governmental organisation, Transparency International, publishes the highly respected Corruption Perceptions Index annually.

Which are the 20 least corrupt countries in the 2015 index? They are: Denmark, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, UK, Australia, Iceland, Belgium, Austria, the US, Ireland, Japan and Uruguay. Thirteen of the 20 are small countries. India, China and Indonesia are ranked at 76, 83 and 88 respectively.


Women have fought the longest battle for equality with men. Although women have made enormous progress in the last 50 years, the progress has been uneven. In some countries and in some cultures, women are still treated as second-class citizens. We must continue the fight until women throughout the world achieve equality and all glass ceilings have been broken.

The UN Development Report contains the Gender Inequality Index. Which are the top 20 countries in the 2016 index for gender equality? They are: Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Italy, Finland, Iceland, France, Singapore, Czech Republic, Spain, Luxembourg, Israel, Australia and Portugal. Fourteen of the 20 are small countries.


In this new world, human resource is a country's most important resource. Countries do well when they educate and train their people well. The World Economic Forum has just published the list of the 11 best educated countries in the world. The countries are ranked in the following order: (1) Singapore (2) Finland (3) the Netherlands (4) Switzerland (5) Belgium (6) Denmark (7) Norway (8) the US (9) Australia (10) New Zealand (11) Iceland. Eight of the 11 are small countries.


A pattern seems to be emerging from these facts and figures. Some small countries are extremely successful because they are well governed (non-corrupt), pro-women (high gender equality) and pro-inclusive growth (high score on Human Development Index). I would add two more factors to account for their success. The first is that they have educated and trained their population well. The second is that they are open economies, with an outward orientation and are highly globalised.


I will conclude my essay with some observations on the success of some small countries in competitive sports.

The Olympic Games is the apex of competitive sports. I was watching the Rio Olympic Games. I was not surprised that the US, Britain and China won the most gold medals. I was, however, surprised at how well some small countries did in Rio.

I was impressed that Jamaica, with a population of 2.7 million, won six gold medals and a total of 11 medals in track and field; Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, is a Jamaican.

Croatia, with a population of 4.2 million, won five gold medals and a total of 10 medals.

New Zealand, with a population of 4.5 million, won four gold medals and a total of 18 medals.

Fiji, with a population of only 880,000, defeated Britain for the gold medal in rugby!

Our own national hero, Joseph Schooling, defeated three world champions from the US, South Africa and the Czech Republic to win the gold medal in the hotly contested 100m Butterfly.

The moral of the story is that small countries can produce world champions. Small countries can defeat big countries in sports, as Fiji did to Britain in rugby in Rio or Iceland did to England in football in the Euro Cup. Iceland's population is even smaller than that of Fiji. There are only 332,000 people in Iceland.

We live in a world where size does matter.

It would, however, be a mistake to equate size with success. Some of the world's most successful countries are small countries.

We therefore need not have an inferiority complex because we are small.

If we work hard and we work smart, we can outperform the big countries.

The writer is an Ambassador-At- Large with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Rector of the Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore.

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Little interest here for Singapore's first electric car

Ng Jun Sen, The New Paper AsiaOne 16 Oct 16;

Think sleek electric cars and the American Tesla models come to mind.

But there are people here slaving over a made-in-Singapore electric vehicle (EV) too.

The EVA, Singapore's first electric car which was designed to be a taxi, took four years of toil and innovation to create.

When the prototype was launched in 2015, talks to commercialise the vehicle began.

It's a dream come true for Singaporean researcher Raymond Khoo, 30, who describes the EVA as his proudest achievement.

He remembers when it existed only as a pen-drawn concept on paper in 2012.

The mechanical engineering masters graduate says: "With no automobile courses in Singapore, creating the EVA has been very difficult.

"I had to read books outside of my field and teach myself about automotive design online.

"It is simply the biggest project that I've ever worked on. This is our flagship product."

There is growing global interest in EVs and a growing market led by companies like Tesla and BMW.

In Singapore, a local electric car manufacturer is currently pumping in millions to create an EV, but not for the Singapore market. (See report, below.)

For all the hard work Mr Khoo and his team of 120 researchers put into EVA, there are still no takers - taxi companies, car manufacturers or budding entrepreneurs with the means - to put it into mass production.

This despite Singapore being touted by transport experts as the "perfect test bed" for EVs due to its small size and tech-savvy people.


Today, the EVA sits idle in the TUM Create's Automotive Lab at the National University of Singapore's University Town.

TUM Create is a collaborative research platform between Nanyang Technological University and Germany's Technische Universitat Munchen, and is funded by the National Research Foundation Singapore.

Occasionally, Mr Khoo will show interested visitors or researchers the EVA and demonstrate its capabilities as an electric taxi.

Essentially, it is designed in Singapore, built in Singapore and meant for the local market.

The EVA is by no means a failed project for its creators - it is still a platform for further research and development work.

A TUM Create spokesman says: "The EVA taxi is primarily conceived as a research outcome and a platform for testing and showcasing technology and new ideas. EVA has impressed and attracted a lot of automotive interest around the world.

"It is important to understand that starting automotive manufacturing and commercialisation of an electric taxi like EVA in Singapore is a complex issue, involving a large investment with an uncertain sale volume."

Taxi operator uses only electric vehicles

HDT Singapore launched its initial fleet of 10 electric taxis last week, becoming the newest taxi operator in Singapore and the first to use only electric vehicles (EVs), despite their higher initial costs.

The company hopes to launch its full implementation next January, with more cars and charging stations around the island.

HDT's managing director James Ng, 44, says the journey has not been easy.

For now, the company can charge its vehicles at any of the 26 charging stations located near HDT's office in Jalan Pemimpin in Bishan.

These stations are not locked away in a private compound but are placed beside public roads.

Mr Ng tells TNPS: "Part of the agreement was to build these stations in public so that anybody can use them."

A pricing and payment model is still being worked out, so only HDT vehicles can use these stations for now.

HDT bore the full cost of building these stations, paying around $20,000 for each station.

While the Government could have paid for what would become a publicly-used service, Mr Ng says the company had no time to wait for it to happen.

"We needed the charging stations so that our taxi operations can work," says Mr Ng.

HDT intends to have one charging station for every three to four EVs. Each full charge takes about 1.5 hours and gives the taxis a 300km range.

The company is affiliated with Shenzhen-based battery and automaker BYD and HDT's fleet of 10 taxis are all made by the Chinese manufacturer.

HDT also has a fleet of 30 BYD e6 saloon cars - the same model used by the HDT taxis - meant for car rentals primarily for Grab drivers.

Mr Ng declines to share how much has been invested into HDT's taxi operations so far, except that it is a large sum.

"It is an expensive ongoing experiment, but we are confident that it will work," says Mr Ng.

HDT is still looking for drivers to join them and interested parties can call 6258-8888.

Take-up rate here still low

As of June, there were only 120 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles here, according to data from the Land Transport Authority.

It is a paltry figure compared to other nations like Norway, the Netherlands, US and China. In Norway, there are 21.5 electric cars per 1,000 people - the highest in the world.

Some may see the figures as an indication that there is little interest or viability in electric vehicles (EVs), but HDT Singapore's James Ng, disagrees.

Mr Ng, who is the company's managing director, says: "The world's crude oil will eventually run out. Ultimately, we hope that one day, every vehicle in Singapore will be electric."

HDT's concept is similar to EVA as both vehicles target the taxi industry instead of private car ownership. It makes more financial sense as taxis typically have high daily mileage.

Currently, EVs are comparatively more expensive than their internal combustion engine counterparts because of the formulae used to calculate the carbon emission-based vehicle scheme rebates and road taxes.

More returns

Mr Ng says: "While the initial cost of an EV is high, the running cost of a taxi is really just the cost of electricity. The longer the taxi runs, the more returns we get.

"We believe that this model is viable in Singapore."

Each HDT taxi saves an average of $15 per day compared to a normal taxi, he adds.

Ms Larissa Tan, CEO of Vanda Electrics, also believes that the future is electric.

Ms Tan says: "Whether Singapore is ready or not for EVs depends greatly on the infrastructure. The Government is doing its part and there has been a large effort to push out more EV charging stations, which does help.

"But we are still slow on the uptake. Singapore has a very conservative approach when it comes to adopting EVs."

During a Parliament sitting in May, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the Government plans to set up 2,000 EV charging points across Singapore.

The TUM Create spokesman says: "We believe we are approaching a turning point between electric and internal combustion engine vehicles, especially for high-use public vehicles.

"The Government is moving briskly to explore electric car sharing schemes and EV fleet operations."

This locally-made car is headed overseas

Singapore's first supercar, the electrically-powered Dendrobium, is designed by local firm Vanda Electrics and looks set to steal the show at next year's Geneva Motor Show.

But it is meant for the global market, not Singapore.

Singapore is still not ready for electric cars, says Vanda Electrics CEO Larissa Tan, 41.

"We are very proud of our Singaporean heritage, and no, we do not want to shy away from that identity," she tells TNPS at the company's Joo Koon office.

"But to market it here is a different situation altogether. When you look at electric vehicle figures in US, China or Europe, Singapore is nowhere near."

The company has around 20 staff members and is part of Wong Fong Engineering, a Singaporean family-run producer of truck-mounted cranes and other heavy machinery.

It has invested $10 million in the Dendrobium project so far and has been collaborating with Williams Advanced Engineering in the UK to produce the two-door, two-seater car by next March.

The Williams group of companies also has a Formula One team.

Vanda Electrics also produces the Motochimp bike and the Ant Truck utility vehicle, both of which are also powered by electricity.

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Malaysia: Evacuation centres opened in several states following floods from high tide

ALLISON LAI The Star 17 Oct 16;

KLANG: Ten houses at Kampung Sementa, Batu 5, in Jalan Kapar here were flooded after the rising tide broke a portion of the bund along Sungai Keramat.

Eight cars were also damaged after floodwaters flowed into the villagers’ homes yesterday morning in Jalan Kebun Baru next to the river.

Residents said tree trunks used as part of the bund gave way at about 5.30am, causing the rising water to overflow into the village.

Khuriah Mohd Sahmsi, 47, was awakened by her neighbours and watched in despair as the floodwaters seeped into her home.

“My neighbour went to the nearby houses to alert everyone about the rising water.

“I moved my car to higher ground but could not save many things inside my house except for important documents,” she said.

The single mother added that her home had been hit by flash floods three times this year.

A resident, who wanted to be known only as Mohammad, said the bund started to erode around mid-September.

“Some officials came earlier this month and the bund, which was built using tree trunks and covered with soil, was repaired. But it was not strong enough to withstand the current high tides.

“We hope the authorities will repair it fast because we are worried about the high tides,” he said, adding that many villagers were mulling whether to relocate to the evacuation centre.

Rozita Bahar, 47, said the floodwaters rose up to her knee and damaged her furniture.

According to the National Hydro­graphic Centre in Port Klang, the tide hit at a level of 5.6m at 5.50am, while the floodwaters rose to 0.6m.

Selangor Disaster Management Committee secretary Kol Ahmad Afandi Mohamad said that as of 8.45am, 26 evacuation centres had been activated in the state.

Seventy-nine families had been displaced so far, he said, adding that the Dewan Kampung Tok Muda evacuation centre in Kapar had the highest number of evacuees with 53 families.

In Pantai Remis, the sea level at Kampung Bagan Panchor rose after 2.30am, damaging the bund and causing the main roads to become inundated in water which rose up to 300m, reported Bernama.

In Bagan Datoh, five areas were flooded since 4am but no houses were affected, said the district’s Disaster Committee chairman Datuk Hamzah Hussin.

In Perai, checks at Kampung Manis showed that floodwaters had risen up to 0.3m from 1am.

High tide phenomenon situation so far not alarming
BERNAMA New Straits Times 16 Oct 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The high-tide phenomenon that hit the coasts of several states early this morning did not inflict any casualties or cause severe damage. Although a number of families had to be moved in several locations due to water overflow, the situation so far is not alarming and the authorities are monitoring the phenomenon closely to face any possibilities.

In SELANGOR, 321 peoples from 74 families have been placed in three relief centres following the phenomenon which occured from 3am until 5.40am.

State Disaster Management Committee Secretary Col Ahmad Afandi Mohamad said, the three centres were Dewan Serbaguna, Kampung Tok Muda in Kapar and Dewan Sungai Air Tawar and Dewan Parit Baru in Sabak Bernam.

“This morning, the sea level rose to about the maximum height we had expected, which was around 5.6 to 5.7 metres. -- Bernama

'Supertide' threatens downtown JB with flash floods, 12 areas statewide also at risk
CHUAH BEE KIM New Straits Times 16 Oct 16;

PAHAT: High tide and tidal waves may cause flash flooding along Sungai Segget and the area between Lido beach and the Causeway in Johor Baru on Tuesday, authorities have warned. Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said cityfolk must be on alert for the possibility, which occurs as the result of a natural phenomenon known as ‘supertide.’

Ayub also called on the people to bear with ongoing upgrading works at Sungai Segget, which could also bring about flash flooding in the event of torrential rain.

The state government has urged residents in 12 coastal areas to be on guard as water levels are forecasted by the Johor Meteorological Department to rise up to 3.9 metres, coupled with a 1 metre-high tidal wave between today and Oct 20.

All local district councils in Johor have been warned of the supertide threat which may cause flash flooding in coastal and low-lying areas if there is torrential rain. Ayub said people in affected areas will be relocated if there is such an occurrence.

Areas under threat are Tanjung Langsat (tide up to 3.5m), Tanjung Pelepas (up to 3.5m), Pasir Gudang (up to 3.5m), Tanjung Pelepas (up to 3.5m), Pulau Pisang (up to 3.5m), Endau coastal area (up to 3.4m), Sungai Belungkor (up to 3.3m), Kuala Batu Pahat (up to 3.2m), Mersing (up to 3.2m) and Tanjung Sedili (below 3m).

"However, we believe Johor is under control. States in the northern region, especially from Selangor upwards, are more at risk," Ayub said, adding that there is no flooding in Johor as of now.

He spoke after visiting residents living in the coastal area of Kampung Sungai Lurus here.

With him were officials from the Johor Civil Defence Force.

Meanwhile, in Kedah, no evacuation has been called for, as the high tide phenomenon has not caused significant flooding as of press time.

Kuala Muda district Civil Defence Force (APM) officer Azhar Hamad said the situation is still under control, however, villagers have been warned to take heed if they are ordered to vacate their houses due to high tide.

“So far, no relief centre in the Kota Kuala Muda area has been opened, but we are monitoring the situation closely,” he said when contacted this morning.

According to Azhar, Kedah’s coastal areas have been blessed with good weather conditions since this morning, mitigating the effects of high tide. He said wave levels during high tide have been between 2.8 and 2.9 metres, and have yet to reach 3 metres.

Over 300 people evacuated in Selangor due to high tide phenomenon
ALLISON LAI The Star 16 Oct 16;

KLANG: A portion of the river bund in Sungai Keramat collapsed Sunday morning due to high tide, flooding more than 10 village houses at Kampung Sementa, Batu 5, in Jalan Kapar here.

Eight cars were also damaged after floodwaters gushed into the villagers’ homes in Jalan Kebun Baru, situated right next to the river.

Residents said the tree trunks that were used as part of the bund had given way at about 5.30am, causing the water to overflow into the village.

Khuriah Mohd Sahmsi, 47, said she was awakened by her neighbours and could only watch the floodwaters seeped into her home.

“My neighbour was going around nearby houses to alert everyone about the rising water that rose quickly to the level of my thigh near the kitchen.

“I quickly moved my car to higher ground but I did not manage to save much things inside my house except for important documents because the flashfloods, which was not due to heavy rain, came too sudden.

“I have to use an electric pump to pump out the water,” she said when met here.

As Khuriah was busy scooping out water from the living hall, the single mother said her home had been hit with flashfloods three times this year following downpour.

She hoped the authorities would take appropriate action to make things right.

A resident, who only wished to be known as Mohammad, said that the bund started to wear out since mid-September and little was done to improve it.

“Some officials came early this month and the bund, which was built using tree trunks and covered with soil, were repaired.

But it was not strong enough to withstand high tides.

“We hope the authorities will repair it swiftly because we are worried over the coming high tides on Monday and Tuesday,” he said, adding that many villagers were mulling to relocate to an evacuation centre for temporary shelter.

Zaiton Abdul Rahman, 55, who was awakened by her siblings, breathed a sigh of relief as she managed to save her only cow from being drowned.

“The cow was tied to a tree outside and all its legs were already in the water when I got to her. Luckily I managed to quickly untie the cow and brought it further away,” she said.

Rozita Bahar, 47, said that water rose to her knee and her bed and mattress were damaged, among other furniture.

According to information from the National Hydrographic Centre in Port Klang, the tide was recorded at 5.6m at 5.50am, while floodwaters rose to 0.6m.

Selangor Disaster Management Committee secretary Kol Ahmad Afandi Mohamad said that as of 11.30am, 26 evacuation centres have been activated in the state.

“Seventy-nine families are displaced so far,” he said, adding that the Dewan Kg Tok Muda evacuation centre in Kapar recorded the most number of evacuees with 53 families.

Fishermen taking big risk by going out to sea during the high tide

BUTTERWORTH: Fishermen in Penang are still going out to sea during the high tide phenomenon.

Ridzwan Rahim, 30, was spotted coming back from the sea at around 11am yesterday, where his boat was pounded by huge waves at Pantai Bersih in Bagan Ajam.

He said he had to earn a living, so he decided to go out early in the morning and return before the high tide.

“The tide was high but luckily for me, there was no strong wind,” he said yesterday.

Instead of leaving his boat in the water as usual, he pulled it to the shore as he was worried that the strong waves might damage the boat.

A check by The Star showed that people were still visiting tourist spots by the sea such as the Esplanade, Chew Jetty and Gurney Drive.

Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) Penang director Pang Ah Lek said no one was evacuated over the phenomenon yesterday.

He added that the highest water level recorded was 2.8m at 12.47pm, both on Penang Island and the mainland.

“The condition was under control but the water level is expected to rise 0.1m higher today, and 3m tomorrow and Wednesday,” he said, adding that there would be two high tides daily – one at around noon and the other at midnight.

Pang said other factors such as heavy rain and strong winds would also increase the water level.

“However, the public, especially those living near the sea and low-lying areas, need not panic.

“Just be alert of the water level and move out if it flows into the house. Water will usually subside within two hours if there is no rain.

“APM is always ready to assist the public,” he added.

Pang previously said the tides would potentially affect 10 areas in the state – Teluk Bahang, Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah, Teluk Kumbar and Balik Pulau on the island, and Penaga, Pantai Bersih, Teluk Air Tawar, Pulau Aman and Sungai Udang on the mainland.

The phenomenon is expected to last until Wednesday. Another round of high tides will happen between Nov 13 and 17.

The public can contact APM at 04-228 9012 or 04-226 3876 in case of emergency.

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Indonesia: Rain extinguishes Meranti Islands forest fire

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 16 Oct 16;

After burning for almost a week, a forest fire on hectares of peatland was distinguished after rains throughout Saturday night poured over the Rangsang Timur district in Meranti Islands, Riau.

“It was raining cats and dogs last night. As of this noon, the burning peatland has not emitted haze anymore, it’s clear,” said Meranti Islands Disaster Management Agency head Edy Afrizal on Sunday.

“On Sunday morning, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geography Agency said there was one hotspot in Meranti Islands, but it was extinguished as well,” he said.

However, Edy said, he and his team were on standby at the location to anticipate fires. “The wind blows hard, we are preparing for the possibility of some fire underneath,” he said, adding that without rains, forest fires in the region would be difficult to extinguish.

“The biggest problem is lack of water supply. It is true that Rangsang Island is surrounded by sea, but it is difficult to pump sea water when it recedes. I can be a kilometer from the shore,” he said.

When the sea rises at night, they can pump the water, he said.

His office had estimated that as of Friday, the burned fields, including local farmers' rubber and coconut plantations, reached about 50 hectares. (evi)

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Indonesia; Attempt to smuggle stuffed lesser birds-of-paradise to Papua foiled

Andi Hajramurni The Jakarta Post 17 Oct 16;

The South Sulawesi Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BBKSDA) confiscated 64 preserved lesser birds-of-paradise and 83 bunches of cassowary feathers during a recent operation, highlighting the rampant illegal trade of wildlife in Indonesia.

BBKSDA South Sulawesi head Dody Wahyu Karyanto said the traders were trying to send the rare animal parts via an air shipping service to Jayapura, Papua, the country’s easternmost province, which was actually the natural habitat of the two protected bird species.

The smuggling attempt was uncovered when the shipping service’s officers asked PS, a courier assigned to send the stuffed animals, which were packed in a cardboard box, to attach an animal delivery permit letter from the BBKSDA South Sulawesi, he further said.

“PS later came to our office to ask for a permit to deliver the animals to Jayapura. He brought those animal parts here. We immediately confiscated them all,” said Dody, Wednesday.

He said both lesser birds-of-paradise and cassowaries were protected species as stipulated by Law No.5/1990 on the conservation of natural resources and their ecosystem and Government Regulation No.7/1999 on plant and animal preservation.

PS told investigators that the protected birds were being sent from Papua to Maros, South Sulawesi, to be preserved before they were sent back to Papua.

“We have handed over this case to South Sulawesi Environment and Forestry Law Enforcement and Security Agency investigators,” he said.

The agency’s regional office 1 head Muhammad Amin said his institution was still investigating the case to reveal who the animal parts belonged to.

It was suspected the preserved lesser birds-of-paradise and cassowary feathers were to be used for traditional ceremonies in Papua. (ebf)

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