Best of our wild blogs: 6 Sep 17

Exploring Berlayar Creek to Marina at Keppel Bay
wild shores of singapore

Friends of the Forest library booths – a mid-week update!
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Short Course: Biodiversity of True Bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) 26–29 Oct 2017 at LKCNHM
News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

A Chat about Research in NUS Biological Sciences (Mon 25 Sep 2017: 6.30pm @ S2-04 SR1)
The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

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Monkey steals eggs, scratches child in Punggol HDB estate: AVA monitoring situation

Lydia Lam Straits Times 5 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is working with the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council to monitor the situation after a monkey was spotted at a Housing Board estate encroaching on residents' space and scratching a child.

The monkey has been seen in the evenings over the weekend at Waterway Sunbeam, resident Joseph Tan told The Straits Times on Monday (Sept 4).

He first saw the monkey on Friday (Sept 1), and took pictures and videos of it eating oranges as well as eggs it had snatched from a passer-by, and hanging out at a playground.

The monkey appeared at the same block - Block 663C Punggol Drive - from 5pm to 6.20pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"I called both AVA and the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres)," said the 36-year-old entrepreneur.

He said it was the first time he had spotted a monkey at his home, and he followed it to see where it came from.

"I think it came from Coney Island, because we are connected by the water way."

Mr Tan said the monkey scratched the leg of a little boy who is four or five years old. It also climbed up outside the units of some flats, but he did not see it enter the residences.

"There was this auntie who bought a lot of groceries - at least three to four plastic bags of food. The monkey snatched the eggs from her," he said.

Mr Tan said he did not share the photos and videos to get the monkey culled, but instead hoped that it would help educate others on what to do when they encounter a wild monkey.

A spokesman for the AVA told ST on Monday that the agency has received "a few pieces of feedback from the public on monkey-related issues at Punggol Waterway" since Sept 1.

"We have been working with the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council to monitor and conduct surveillance of the area," said the spokesman.

AVA said monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases that are harmful to public health, and aggressive monkeys are also a risk to public safety.

However, it stressed that its priority in managing Singapore's wild animal population is "to ensure public health and safety is not compromised".

It advises residents on how to mitigate the issues if the animals do not pose significant public health or safety concerns, including plugging up access points for wildlife or removing sources of food.

For animals that do pose significant public health or safety concerns - such as when animals enter premises and destroy property, injure residents, or are potential carriers of disease - AVA said it will "explore removal or relocation options where possible".

AVA advised the public not to feed monkeys as this alters their natural behaviour and causes them to become reliant on humans for food.

"As monkeys are attracted to food hand-outs from people, they may grab at plastic bags, or any other food containers that the monkeys have been conditioned to recognise," it said.

To make your home less attractive to monkeys, you can keep food items out of sight and practise good refuse management, including double-knotting garbage bags and disposing of garbage in bins with secured lids.

AVA gave the following guidelines on what to do if a monkey approaches you.

- Stop whatever you are doing immediately.

- Remain calm and quiet. Do not make sudden movements and do not maintain direct eye contact with the monkeys.

- Look away and back off slowly. Do not turn away from the monkeys and run.

- If you are holding an object which is attracting the monkeys, conceal or discard it.

- Do not try to hit the monkeys.

- If you have a child with you, put him/her on your shoulders. This will increase your perceived size, which could deter the monkeys from approaching you and your child.

- Keep away from the area until the monkeys have left.

Monkey in Punggol estate caught and will be relocated, says AVA

Lydia Lam Straits Times 6 Sep 17;

A monkey that caused a stir in a Punggol Housing Board estate over the weekend has been captured, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said yesterday.

The monkey was seen in the evenings at Punggol's Waterway Sunbeam estate, resident Joseph Tan told The Straits Times .

He took pictures and videos of it eating oranges as well as eggs it had snatched from a passer-by, and hanging out at a playground.

It scratched the leg of a boy who is four or five years old, he said. It also climbed up outside the units of some flats.

The 36-year-old, who thinks the monkey came from nearby Coney Island, called both AVA and the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres).

A spokesman for AVA told The Straits Times yesterday that the agency has received "15 pieces of feedback from the public on monkey-related issues at Punggol Waterway" since Sept 1, and has been working with the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council to monitor and conduct surveillance of the area.

Some cited safety concerns because the monkey snatched things from children and scratched a boy. "The monkey has been caught to safeguard public safety and we are exploring relocation options," said AVA.

It said monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases that are harmful to public health, and aggressive monkeys are a risk to public safety.

However, AVA stressed that its priority in managing Singapore's wild animal population is "to ensure public health and safety are not compromised".

It also advised the public not to feed monkeys as this alters their natural behaviour and causes them to become reliant on humans for food.

Monkey which stole items, scratched child at Punggol caught by AVA
Channel NewsAsia 6 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE: A monkey repeatedly seen bothering residents at an estate near Punggol Waterway was on Tuesday (Sep 5) captured by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

In a statement, AVA said it received 15 reports from the public about "monkey-related issues" at Punggol Waterway since Sep 1. These included incidents of a monkey snatching things from children as well as scratching a boy.

"The monkey has been caught to safeguard public safety and we are exploring relocation options," said the agency.

Photos and videos circulating online showed the monkey trying to climb through residents' windows, perching on top of lamp-posts, eating oranges and raw eggs, and even swimming in a pool.

Resident Joseph Tan, who published the photos and videos on Facebook, said he first saw the monkey last Friday while he was on his way to pick up his parents.

The 36-year-old entrepreneur told Channel NewsAsia that he was surprised to see a monkey at his block, adding that when he approached the monkey to take a photo, it jumped onto a bench and ran into the playground.

"Some kids were scared while parents (quickly) moved their kids away," he said. Mr Tan added that he called AVA and the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), as well as the police and the town council.

He then saw the monkey return over the next few days, and said that he saw it scratch a child's leg on one of those days.

Mr Tan said he does not want the monkey to be culled by AVA, as the animal "is innocent too" and "needs survival". He said he hopes people would stop feeding the monkeys so that the issue does not occur again, and has even made a poster to advise the public on how to approach monkeys.

In its statement, AVA warned the public not to feed monkeys as this could make them reliant on humans for food. People should also remain calm and back away slowly if approached by a monkey.

"The public can make their premises less attractive to monkeys by keeping food items out of sight and practising good refuse management, such as the double knotting of garbage bags and disposing of garbage in bins with secured lids," it added.

"Monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases that are harmful to public health," the agency said. "Aggressive monkeys are also a risk to public safety."

It gave the following guidelines on what to do if approached by a monkey:

Stop whatever you are doing immediately.
Remain calm and quiet. Do not make sudden movements and do not maintain direct eye contact with the monkeys.
Look away and back off slowly. Do not turn away from the monkeys and run.
If you are holding an object which is attracting the monkeys, conceal or discard it.
Do not try to hit the monkeys.
If you have a child with you, put him/her on your shoulders. This will increase your perceived size, which could deter the monkeys from approaching you and your child.
Keep away from the area until the monkeys have left.
Source: CNA/nc

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Green buildings, Singapore’s natural ally for a greener future

Green buildings look like nice places to live and work in. They may also hold the key to Singapore's fight against climate change as the Garden City continues to grow, says one design expert.
Derek MacKenzie Channel NewsAsia 5 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE: It is the year 2500. We travel with driverless cars, Mars is a much loved tourist spot, and robots live and walk among us as peers.

One catch – we’re all underwater, because sea levels have risen more than six metres, based on projections by some scientists.

Returning to present day, Singapore has just turned 52, and we probably should start thinking about how to avoid the above fate.

Singapore’s meteoric economic rise over many decades has launched a landscape of towering skyscrapers in the compact city-state. Her buildings contribute to almost a quarter of all emissions here. Offices, shopping malls, hotels, education institutions and healthcare facilities consume almost a third of Singapore’s electricity.

The greenhouse gases and carbon emissions generated by these buildings and their power sources are contributing to climate change and changing Singapore’s ecosystem’s natural processes, at an increasingly alarming rate.

The global fight against climate change is real, and Singapore, aptly nicknamed the Garden City, might just have the potential to combat it through technology and green building design.

The clean and green environment that Singaporeans enjoy and are so proud of is part of this Garden City's legacy, left over from earlier decades of the city placing the highest priority on protecting the environment.

For a country that has signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement and been a vocal supporter of environment protection, building design can be a key opportunity to contribute.

Sceptics ask, how does design come into play exactly? Can something that involves so much aesthetic content really make a noticeable dent in an issue as critical as global warming?


An intensively urban community, Singapore uses a significant amount of energy.

But with the Building Construction Authority aiming for 80 per cent of buildings to be Green Mark-certified by 2030, and awareness about climate change increasing every day, we are on the right track to turn that around.

Green buildings, designed to use resources more efficiently and cause minimal damage to the natural environment, have been hailed as a way to cope with the impact of climate change and reduce the environmental impact of urban living.
Energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials and so on are all taken into account in the buildings’ planning, design, and construction.

A few commercial buildings in Singapore have jumped on this green bandwagon – many urban planners now weave greenery throughout the city from green roofs that improve solar performance to cascading vertical gardens and verdant walls.

Just look at the architecture of PARKROYAL on Pickering or the interior landscape of Food Garden in Asia Square.


Asia Square has been oft upheld as a shining example – as host to the largest solar panel installation in Singapore and the first bio-diesel plant in a commercial development in the heart of the city.

Even the dining space in its Food Garden has a green wall that contributes to the building’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Green Mark Platinum status.

The wall is designed out of completely recyclable materials, and is water and energy efficient when it comes to self-maintenance.

Condensed water droplets are collected from air handling units and used to water plants and in toilets in the building, saving precious utility bills.
The results are telling. Asia Square performs in the top 10 per cent of buildings in Singapore, in terms of water efficiency, according to the Public Utilities Board. Compared to other standard commercial buildings, Asia Square consumes 35 per cent less energy.

There is a common misconception that going green is costly, as green materials and products can be expensive.

The truth is that it does not need to be. Even if it does cost more initially, organisations should also balance this against the long-term savings they can reap.

The best returns on these investments are realised when environmental considerations are integrated into the process at the start, rather than as a last-minute effort.
Green building design must be thought of as an investment in the future. Every design element is a choice to reduce environmental impact while still being durable enough to prove functional.


The fight for climate change is not just the fight of building planners, large organisations or world leaders. It is a fight all of us are in, and losing will have colossal consequences.

Here are five simple ways that anyone, in particular interior designers, can consciously incorporate to design a green building:


The colour of buildings affect heat absorption. Light-coloured paint can help reflect the sun’s heat away from the building. According to Solar Today Magazine, white walls, for example, gain 35 per cent less heat than black walls, therefore requiring less energy to cool the building. Lighter-coloured and brighter aesthetics are thankfully also on trend.


Singapore is blessed with an abundance of sunlight and making use of this can save huge amounts of energy. For corporate buildings, position meeting rooms at the periphery, and use mirrors to reflect the light from windows.

An open-plan office made possible by natural lighting can also provide alternative work settings and collaborative areas for a conducive work environment.


With smart homes becoming the new norm, going green is easier than ever. Installing smart lighting that can be controlled with timers or light and motion sensors can decrease energy usage drastically. Smart home devices present the next step towards green buildings.


For instance, one could use linoleum rather than vinyl flooring, since linoleum is made substantially from jute, a naturally occurring fibre, and possesses natural bacteria-resistant properties that make it a perfect choice for the upkeep of spaces.

Every finished product should incorporate strategies for reducing energy consumption and highlight opportunities for reducing, reusing, and recycling waste, including numerous recycling bins within the buildings.


Consider how to incorporate environmentally-friendly options that stakeholders may be open to. While not everyone may be invested in fighting climate change because of misconceptions or even ignorance, interior designers can play a part in involving climate change in the conversation.


Singapore has pledged to reduce our emissions intensity by 36 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2030. While continuing to play our part in the global community, we must also ensure that the fight against climate change starts from within.

The upcoming Singapore Green Building Week seeks to catalyse behavioural change at the individual, interpersonal and community levels. Now, more than ever, is a good time to think about what exactly is needed to step up our game as a green city.

Most of us are not radical environmentalists, but all of us want a sustainable future.
We have the opportunity to create man-made structures that enhance the existing landscape. Designers therefore have a responsibility to find ways to balance aesthetics and functionality with choices to reduce the environmental impact.

From something as seemingly frivolous as changing colours, to something more strategic like working with various stakeholders to make calculated, eco-friendly plans, design can pave the way to a greener future.

When designers make the conscious decision to choose finishes, furniture and lighting that are sustainable, we increase our chances of having a better quality of life.

Design can be a key weapon to aid in Singapore's fight against climate change. And it is up to us to design a future where we are not all living underwater.

Derek MacKenzie is managing director of designphase dba which has designed buildings like the new Tiong Bahru Plaza.

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Wield stick to cut plastic use?

Samantha Boh Straits Times 5 Sep 17;

It may be time for the authorities to impose a charge on plastic bags, like they do in places such as Hong Kong and South Korea.

Plastic is Singapore's most common type of waste, accounting for more than 822,000 tonnes of the 7.81 million tonnes of waste generated last year. (Food is second, at 791,000 tonnes.) But it is an uphill task getting people here to kick the habit.

There have been several initiatives in the past 10 years. One was Bring Your Own Bag day, which ran between 2007 and 2010. It was held every Wednesday, with shoppers charged 10 cents for each plastic bag.

Yet when Zero Waste SG, a non-governmental organisation, approached retailers to get on board its newly launched Bring Your Own campaign, few did so. Of the 200 retailers approached, only 14 gave the nod and agreed to dangle discounts and deals to encourage their customers to cut down on the use of disposable plastic.

The new campaign is designed to give consumers incentives to take along their own bags, bottles and containers when they buy groceries or takeaway food. Mr Eugene Tay, executive director of Zero Waste SG, said the retailers who declined to participate cited increased operational costs.

Some consumers were also against the idea, saying they needed the plastic bags for their trash. Also, using their own reusable containers for takeaway food was troublesome, they added.

It is obvious people in Singapore need to be educated on the harm plastic does to the environment. This includes the amount of carbon dioxide it produces when it is incinerated.

Education, however, takes time - a luxury the environment can ill-afford.

A quicker, more effective, way is to adopt the Hong Kong approach, in which HK$0.50 (nine Singapore cents) is charged for each plastic bag. Within a year, the number of plastic bags disposed of in landfills dropped 25 per cent.

As past efforts show, dangling a carrot may not work. Perhaps, it is time for the stick.

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Malaysia: Towards a sustainable future - interview with Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry

The Star 5 Sep 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: With the cost of fossil fuels rising every year, Malaysia is looking to rely on more sustainable sources of energy.

The total energy consumption in Malaysia is high as subsidies are being extended to consumers. In 2011 alone, the country spent a whopping RM14.5bil to buy fossil fuels to generate energy.

One way to decrease fossil fuel-based electricity generation is by minimising electric consumption and using energy-efficient electrical items and gadgets. This is in line with the Govern­ment’s master plan to increase energy efficiency by 15% in 2030.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (KeTTHA) secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang gives an in-depth interview on sustainable energy, saving money on electricity tariff and conserving electricity.

Q: Sustainable energy is not a new topic in terms of policy and it has long been seen as serious by the Government. But it is not very popular compared with talking about electricity tariff increases, which is done every six months. With that perspective, we broadly see how they are linked to each other. Datuk Seri, may we start with the popular notion?

A: Electricity tariffs in Malaysia are largely determined by gas prices and foreign exchange rates when we buy coal. These two main sources that account for more than 78% because 22.5% of our energy is sustainable energy, while 78% is energy generated from gas and fuel which we need to buy.

Solar energy: The cost of installing solar panels is very high initially, but it makes for cheap sustainable energy in the long run.

Some gas supply we obtain from Petronas, some from locally produced gas and we also buy from abroad. We also rely heavily on coal, which is almost fully imported as very little coal is mined in Sarawak.

When the foreign exchange is not in the ringgit’s favour or the price rises at the international level, it has great impact on us.

That’s why the Government is looking at how best to cushion the tariff hike and for this, we have formulated several mechanisms that we deliberate on from time to time.

Q: Datuk Seri, if we talk of the electricity tariff today and from time to time, related agencies and KETTHA itself have stated that we have the lowest tariff compared with other Asean countries. Earlier, you showed that if seen from a global context, we are the fourth lowest in terms of tariff ranking compared to Sweden.

A: I have always spoken of this matter concerning consumers who use less than 300 kilowatts (kW) monthly. We are among the nations with the lowest tariff, maybe among the five lowest nations compared with Indonesia and the Philippines.

They may impose a higher tariff, double ours. But the issue is, why is it cheaper in Sweden? Because they depend more on renewable energy. Primarily, they use hydro electricity, nuclear and wind turbines, and they also use a lot of biomass, which is solid waste.

Indirectly, we have to shift our focus now from depending on fossil fuel to more sustainable sources of energy and the transition must be done well. Otherwise, it will cause a lot of problems in terms of reliability and the quality of our electricity supply. So, I would like to state a few things from the pricing aspect

The average electricity price in peninsular Malaysia is 38.53 sen. The cheapest that we can supply electricity is by generating it through the use of coal, which costs 25 sen. At this price, we can sell at 38 sen and make a profit.

Gas is between 33 sen and 36 sen, and lately 37 sen. At 37 sen to 38 sen, the difference is just sen. But if we go for other fuel or sources, it will be more expensive.

If we now go for solar energy on a large scale, the cheapest pricing is 40 sen. Even then, we would have to ensure the tariff level stays at 38.53 sen. This is specific because at more than 38.53 sen, it would cause a steep rise or surge in our price.

Many people have asked me or the ministry why they can’t manufacture or install solar energy in their factories and more often, their shops. By using the feed-in-tariff (FIT) mechanism, it is an incentive tariff and not the real tariff.

So, how do we get this tariff? For example, solar starts from 52 sen and through the FIT, it reaches 74 sen. So, we produce and sell to the utility company. If it’s in the Peninsular, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, we use it at 38 sen only.

The profit is huge, so many people think this is a good method for a new source of income, a new business. It needs to be clarified that this is an incentive tariff.

To get this incentive tariff, we must secure the money from other consumers or domestic consumers using more than 300 kWh monthly.They will be levied a 1.6% charge to be channelled to our renewable energy fund. For commercial and industrial consumers, they will be charged 1.6%, even if usage is small.

Q: That means we can have a gradual and systematic transition towards adopting more sustainable energy if it is done comprehensively and uniformly in the future.

A: Why are we making a fuss about sustainable energy? We cannot fully depend on fossil fuel. The world is shifting from fossil fuel to environmentally friendly fuel. The most suitable one is gas, which is more costly. If we depend on gas, it will cost 37 sen and we sell at 38.53 sen for a meagre profit of one sen.

Q: Some are saying that if we have sustainable energy, it means that there are industry players. I am also ready to adapt to solar technology usage and others. Why not use solar energy, why can’t we switch to sustainable energy? This is the perspective of the community which wants the transition to be done immediately but for policymakers at KETTHA and other agencies, the transition must be done as smoothly as possible. We need a more elaborate clarification on this, Datuk Seri.

Earlier, we discussed the electricity tariff increase in Malaysia, which is still among the lowest in Asean. If we look at the five countries with the lowest tariff, the benchmark is Sweden.

Sweden is often used as the best example of how it turned solid waste management into renewable or sustainable energy. They are so successful that they have to import 2.7 million tonnes of rubbish from neighbouring countries to accommodate and manage their solid waste for energy.

In the case of our nation, many would probably say they face the risk of foreign exchange by using two natural resources. But to move in that direction, how will the transition from the existing system to sustainable energy be carried out?

A: There are two factors which I mentioned earlier. One, if we depend on gas in Malaysia, we have to pay at a rate that is profitable to Petronas. Yes, it is our homegrown company. The royalty from Petronas will be paid to the Government for various purposes.

Secondly, we have to find other methods to address the issue of cheaper energy and find a replacement for coal. Coal is currently the cheapest at 24 sen.

Now, our tariff is fixed at 38 sen and coal at 24 sen. Whatever is above 24 sen should be balanced so that we get the 38 sen. The more costly the energy, the more coal we must use in order to generate electricity. This is what we use everyday, as the balancing happens daily.

There are several types of sustainable energy that are cheap, not dependent on the entry of foreign products and attract foreign exchange. For example, small hydro, not big hydro which needs huge dams. Where there’s a river, you can generate at any part of the river. And I have been informed by TNB that they can generate up to two megawatts (MW) using the stream of a big river. They divert the water and generate power.

If we can generate 100MW or 200MW, which does not require a dam or foreign exchange, continuously, it means we buy the machine only once, say from Japan or Germany.

Secondly, we have an abundant supply of biomass. Biogas, or biomass from wastes, is a major part of solid waste from many sources which is biodegradable. When there is biodegradation, the major portion of it is biogas.

We can produce biogas and this can be converted to electricity later on. We also have solar energy which is the most expensive because the capital expenditure or cost of installing solar panels at the initial stage is very high but in the long run, it is cheap.

Hence, to calculate the FIT mechanism, we have fixed the profitability at 10% throughout 21 years or whatever the number of years we have given. So, regardless of the type, the profit is 10%.

It means that even though people question why small hydro gets 24 sen or 26 sen while solar panel energy gets 52 or 74 sen, many go for solar whereas with small hydro, you get the same profit in the long term.

Q: In this respect, if we speak about sustainable energy, the challenge often faced is the need for sustainable demand, but financial sustainability is also another matter.

A: Companies that want to pursue such projects must be supported with financing from financial institutions. The ministry has embarked on several initiatives to ensure that we obtain the full support of financial institutions.

I myself am getting Bank Negara Malaysia to conduct a workshop for financial institutions to explain to them the relevant requirements. Many financial institutions are not clear about the investment risk element involved in such projects.

They are very cautious. For example, tariffs were supposed to have been revised but this was not the case. According to their calculation, the review was supposed to have been done but the Govern­ment did not do so. They are wary about what will happen to their investments. Many financial institutions are cautious about investing in sustainable energy. We will take up the matter with Bank Negara. We will issue the first sukuk for green technology soon.

Before I delve further, I want to clarify another matter. There are three elements of sustainable energy. The first element is electricity generation supply, the second is demand, which must be handled well, and the third is financing, which is tied to investment.

I want to speak specifically about demand but before that, I want to touch on financing. As an example, if I am a consumer and want to invest in sustainable energy, it can be done. As an example, we have the FIT and net energy metering (NEM) if we want to tap solar energy. (FIT and NEM are methods designed to accelerate investments in renewable energy technologies.)

The FIT quota for industries, commercial and individuals have been taken up. We obtain about 338 MW. The quota has been fully exhausted. What is available now is net energy metering. With FIT, we generate electricity and sell to utilities, for example at 74 sen. Then we buy back for our own consumption at 38.53 sen.

We make our profits here but remember, electricity generation is for four to five hours only each day. The electricity supply generated is not much. Second, the NEM is undertaken by us for our own consumption and the excess is sold to utilities. We sell for 31 sen only.

This is more sustainable in terms of supply and energy planning, and is a true reflection of what we can submit to the ministry’s tariff. We cannot give subsidies through FIT as it is a promotion tariff.

The NEM is open and now, less than two MW have been taken up. Our quota is 500 MW. A lot more quota can be utilised but the people say at 31 sen, there is no profit, though in fact the profits are huge. Q: Datuk Seri,earlier we talked about the NEM and the huge profits that can be reaped. We also talked about using solar energy at home, which we felt was expensive. Five years ago, the cost was a bit cheaper and this is our investment for the future.

A: I am the first person to use NEM at home. In Malaysia, people ask, why use NEM and not FIT? As a civil servant who manages energy in Malaysia, honestly, I should not use FIT because the profit factor is obvious. NEM is more sustainable and this is what we want to promote. That is why I am using it in my house. For four kW of energy generated by solar panels, our investment is about RM27,000. The cost is going down now, probably to RM26,000 or RM25,000.

I was told three years ago that the cost had doubled, so it was not profitable. In my house, based on the calculations made between three and four years ago, we have an estimated return on investment. We use it for our consumption and the balance we sell to TNB.

How do we reduce our dependence? We can reduce the number of energy blocks to cut usage.

There are prices for five energy blocks. For the first block of 100 kW, it costs 23 sen; for the second 200 kW, it costs 34 sen; for the next 300 kW it will cost 51 sen; and the next 300 kW it will cost 54 sen; and after 900 kW it will cost 57 sen.

If we could reduce the usage of energy blocks, from the 54 sen block to 34 sen block as an example, by using NEM, we are paying for the block at a cheaper price of 34 sen.

This will indirectly reduce consumers’ burden when using electricity and at the same time, we do not burn fossil fuels that produce carbon materials that raise global warming. This is a pressing issue. For example, the United Kingdom will ban the use of fossil fuel for all vehicles by 2040. This is related to our discussion today.

Q: Datuk Seri, you talked about National Transformation 2050 (TN50) and the way forward is green technology, which needs to be explained more clearly. We need to start today. What is your analysis and understanding of the way forward?

A: We have the National Green Technology Master Plan 2017-2030. By 2030, we expect energy efficiency to increase by 15% compared with 2015. This means using energy­-efficient electrical items and gadgets. The ones we have now may not have a star rating, but the ones in future will have a five-star rating.

To be more specific, there is a regulation in place now which only allows electrical products with a four or five-star rating to enter Malaysia. We do not allow those rated below to enter the country.

We also have the Energy Commission label, which serves to remind the people that these are the materials or equipment that can be used. We also have the Malay­sian Green Technology Corporation indirectly promoting certain items and certain labels.

On the whole, not only do we control or manage in terms of energy and its generation, we also control its usage. We want to reduce energy demand by 15%, so if everyone can decrease their requirement by 15% by using solar energy and energy-efficient equipment, we can minimise electric consumption.

For example, open the windows during the day instead of turning on the lights. This will help minimise electric consumption and indirectly decrease fossil-fuel based electricity generation, thus cutting down on carbon emission.

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Malaysia: LED light thieves to blame for jumbo incursions

Compiled by QISHIN TARIQ, NG SI HOOI and R. ARAVINTHAN The Star 5 Sep 17;

THE woes faced by three Jerantut villages over a rampaging herd of elephants were due to the theft of LED lights designed to keep the jumbos away, Kosmo! reported the Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) as saying.

State Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohammad said irresponsible parties had stolen 30 solar-po­wered LED (light-emitting diodes) floodlights from the entry point to the Lepar Forest Reserve.

These lights were part of an un­­con­­ventional new strategy to stop a herd of 30 wandering elephants from encroaching into human settlements at Kampung Pulau Tawar, Kampung Batu Leja and Kampung Bukit Nikmat.

It was previously reported that the hungry elephants ate the villa­ges’ food crops.

Ahmad Azhar said the herd had been led across Sungai Batu back to the forest, but ended up returning to the villages.

He added that attempts to usher the elephants away from the human settlements were also hampered by the people who came to watch the effort.

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Malaysia: Residents worry over encroachment of wild elephants at school

NABILA AHMAD The Star 5 Sep 17;

KOTA TINGGI: Several wild elephants that entered school grounds in Bandar Penawar here are causing panic among residents.

They are urging the Johor Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) to come up with long-term solutions to prevent the elephants from encroaching their settlements.

The pictures of the wild elephants, which had damaged the school’s property, went viral on Facebook since Sept 3.

It had received over 1,000 likes and more than 900 shares with netizens expressing their concern.

Zone Eight residents representative committee chairman Abdul Wahab Manan said on Tuesday that the herd had destroyed the landscaping at the school.

“Fortunately, no one was injured as the school was closed for the long break. This is the first time that wild elephants have encroached into settlements," he said.

Abdul Wahab hoped Perhilitan and the Pengerang local council will work together to ensure that wild elephants do not trespass again.

Johor Perhilitan director Jamalun Nasir said the department would investigate the incident.

He believed the wild elephants, which came from the Panti forests and Felda settlement areas in the Kota Tinggi district, had strayed into the settlements.

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Malaysia: Kuala Perlis on wildlife smugglers’ route

The Star 6 Sep 17;

BANGKOK: Due to its strategic location, the sleepy seaside town of Kuala Perlis has become one of the routes used by wildlife smuggling syndicates to traffick a variety of exotic animals to China.

From the jungles in Indonesia, these exotic animals, including pangolins and even orang utan, endure an arduous journey across the sea and land to Kuala Perlis, Padang Besar, Hatyai and Laos to reach their main destination, China.

“The syndicates choose the Padang Besar route because it is the closest route from Indonesia to Thailand.

“They (the wildlife traffickers) travel by boat from Indonesia to the Kuala Perlis port in Malaysia and then to Thailand.

“(Kuala Perlis) is about 40km from the Padang Besar border,” said Padang Besar Thai Customs Service Division director Arthit Visuttismajarn.

Nevertheless, he cautioned that Kuala Perlis-Padang Besar was just one of the many smuggling routes taken by the syndicates to send their “goods” to China, to satisfy that country’s burgeoning demand for exotic animals.

He said should the traffickers succeed in crossing the Malaysian-Thai border in Padang Besar, the exotic animals were handed to other members of the syndicates in Hatyai, who take it to the Thai-Laos border and to China.

Hatyai is an important transit route for wildlife smuggling syndicates.

Thai Customs officials have identified about 11 “risky points” along the 12km stretch of the Thai-Malaysian border separating Perlis and the Sadao district of Songkla, which have been used by wildlife smugglers, and have increased monitoring.

Arthit said that on June 7, his men managed to stop the smuggling of endangered turtles and rare coral at the border.

However, the biggest seizure of exotic wildlife was on July 21 this year at the Padang Besar Immigration Checkpoint when the authorities stopped a Malaysian-registered pickup truck transporting various types of endangered animals, including a pair of two-month-old orang utan hidden inside a suitcase.

Other exotic animals seized from the vehicle were the endangered Hamilton tortoises, Indian Star tortoises and six racoons, said Arthit, adding that a 63-year-old Malaysian driver was detained for questioning.

The Malaysian, who faces 10 years in prison upon conviction, had alleged he was paid to send the animals to another man in Hatyai.

According to Arthit, the Padang Besar customs unit had seized more than 500 pangolins at the border checkpoint over the past several years.

Most of the pangolins, he said, came from Indonesia with Thailand serving as the syndicates’ transit point before they headed for China. — Bernama

'Pointless for Indonesian wildfire smugglers to use Kuala Perlis as transit point to China'
ILI SHAZWANI New Straits Times 7 Sep 17;

KANGAR: Law enforcement agencies in the state have refuted claims that Kuala Perlis is being used as a transit point for Indonesian traffickers to smuggle wildlife to China.

The agencies said it makes no sense for wildlife traffickers to transit at the Kuala Perlis coastline, as the syndicates could have travelled directly by boat to Satun in southern Thailand.

Perlis Wildlife Department director Mohamad Affendi Ibrahim said the syndicates face greater risk of getting caught in Malaysian waters compared to going straight to Satun.

He pointed out that to get into Kuala Perlis' coastal area, traffickers from Indonesia would have to pass Malaysian law enforcement agencies patrolling Langkawi waters.

"It means the traffickers would have to go extra nautical miles and expose themselves to the risk of getting caught by Malaysian sea border patrol teams in Langkawi waters, before they could reach the Kuala Perlis coastline.

"If they wish to smuggle wildlife through Thailand, it only makes sense for them to travel directly to Satun as it is much closer to Indonesia," he explained.

Affendi added that the syndicates would also be taking a greater risk by transiting in Kuala Perlis as they would then have to pass either the Padang Besar or Wang Kelian border checkpoints.

"It is not going to be easy for the traffickers to use the rat lanes to transport wildlife from here to southern Thailand due to the geographical condition.

"That is why in previous cases, wildlife traffickers were caught at the Malaysia-Thai border checkpoints in Padang Besar and Wang Kelian," he said in an interview at his office.

However, Affendi admitted there were a few cases of exotic birds, especially of Burung Murai Batu (White-rumped Shama) being smuggled from Thailand into the country through Kuala Perlis waters.

He said the Murai Batu could be purchased at about RM60 per bird and could be sold in Malaysia for up to RM1,000.

As such, he said the department’s enforcement team is monitoring the Kuala Perlis coastline, especially at the fish landing jetties, where they have caught local men for bringing the exotic birds bought in Thailand without permits.

A villager, who declined to be named, said her relative was once fined by the Wildlife Department a few years back for bringing back a Murai Batu from a village in southern Thailand without a permit.

According to the woman, in her 50s, the relative paid a fisherman in the neighbouring country to transport the bird in the fishing boat to Kuala Perlis.

“He paid the fisherman RM100 for the bird and fees to transport it to here," she said when met in Kuala Perlis.

Affendi was responding to a claim by southern Thailand's Padang Besar Customs Service Division director Arthit Visuttismajarn that Kuala Perlis is being used as a transit point by Indonesian trafficking syndicates to smuggle exotic animals from Indonesia to China.

Bernama reported Arthit as saying that the syndicates picked Kuala Perlis as a transit point as it is the closest route from Indonesia to Thailand by sea.

According to the report, Arthit claimed that from Kuala Perlis, the exotic animals are being transported to Padang Besar before being smuggled to southern Thai and Laos.

The animals are smuggled to China, where the demand for exotic animals is growing.

In response, Perlis National Border Security Agency (Aksem) commander Deputy Superintendent Syed Basri Syed Ali said to date, there are no reports of Indonesian wildlife traffickers using Kuala Perlis as their transit point.

He said Aksem Perlis had foiled several attempts to smuggle exotic animals out and into Malaysia via land in both Padang Besar and Wang Kelian.

"As of now, there is no such information that wildlife traffickers from Indonesia are using Kuala Perlis to smuggle the animals to southern Thailand but we would discuss the matter with our counterparts in Thailand," he said.

In July, Perlis Aksem had arrested three people, including two Thai nationals, in Padang Besar for smuggling 58 bearded dragons and eight tortoises of the sulcata species from Thailand into the country by train.

A month before, Thai wildlife officers arrested a Malaysian man attempting to smuggle two baby orangutans, 51 tortoises and six raccoons across the Thai border.

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Indonesia: Environment Ministry to strengthen forest management unit

Antara 4 Sep 17;

Palu, C Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - The Environment Ministry will strengthen the development of forest management unit (KPH) in all regions across the country, the Forestry Resources Director Rufiie said here on Monday.

"One unit now has been established in Central Sulawesi province," he remarked during the Community-Based Business Economy Development Forum held in the provinces capital city Palu.

The unit has played an important role in ensuring the just distribution of forestry resources, Rufiie stated.

He further explained that some large companies, under the HPH concession scheme, have dominated the forestry business.

"Although the scheme is still applied, the business in the grass-root level will be run professionally by the unit," he remarked.

As a result, the unit will be beneficial for the community living near the forest according to the director.

"The forestry resources should be well-governed in order to achieve the maximum results," he noted.

Apart from the business interest, the good governance in the forestry sector will support the sustainability of the wildlife flourished in the forest.

Most companies now have developed some timbers, such as teak wood and rattan, and several derivative products, including resin, rubber, honey, candle nut, as well as some non-log commodities.

The ministry hoped that in the future, the local governments would improve the development of non-timber product.

The commodity, according to Ruffie, has a high economy value, which should be optimized, because the resource could serve as a source of livelihood to the community.

Therefore, he remarked that the government, along with the community and the private sector, should maintain a good cooperation in the forestry sector.

"We call all stakeholders to set a partnership in order to improve this sector," he reiterated, while calling the private businesses to support the products developed by the local community as well as the unit.(*)

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Indonesia: Central Java villagers face skyrocketing water price amid drought

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 4 Sep 17;

Residents of 13 villages in Kemalang district, Klaten, Central Java, are being forced to buy clean water, as the dry season has caused wells and rivers in the area to dry out.

The villages, which are remote and geographically difficult to access, have seen the price of water skyrocket up to Rp 300,000 (US$ 22.49) for each 5,000-liter tank. Clean water usually costs from Rp 100,000 to Rp 150,000 per tank.

The water in each tank lasts only two weeks, because villagers use it not only for bathing, cooking and washing clothes, but also to water their livestock.

“The more livestock they have, the more water they will need,” Sidorejo resident Sukiman said on Sunday.

Sidorejo is one of the villages hit by the water crisis. The others include Kendalsari, Panggang, Talun, Tegalmulyo and Tlogowatu, all of which are located on the slopes of Mount Merapi and prone to drought.

The villagers are forced to buy water because their rainwater reservoir has run dry, while the water supplied by the Klaten Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) is inadequate to cover their needs.

“Residents here have bought water from private suppliers several times. In August, one tank containing 5,000 liters of water cost Rp 230,000,” said Sukiman.

Each household in Sidorejo village spend between Rp 600,000 and Rp 1 million per month on clean water.

“Before, there was always water from Brebeng spring in Sleman. After Mt Merapi erupted in 2010, there is no more,” said acting Kemalang district head Hajoko. (foy/ebf)

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Vietnam: Smart phone app launched for nature reserve protection

Viet Nam News 5 Sep 17;

ĐÀ NẴNG — The Biodiversity Conservation Centre of GreenViet, an NGO in Đà Nẵng, will launch a warning application for smart phone users to alert of violations against animals and vegetation in the Sơn Trà Nature Reserve.

Director of GreenViet, Trần Hữu Vỹ, told Việt Nam News the Sơn Trà SOS application will be used from November. Smart phone users can report or send photos of illegal logging or hunting in the reserve to GreenViet for rapid response.

Vỹ said the Sơn Trà SOS, funded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), would create quick supervision of any dangerous situations and infringements in the reserve, which is just 10km from the city centre.

GreenViet has been developing a website for the red-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus) – an endangered primate species.

The NGO is also co-operating with the Frankfurt Zoological Society of Germany, San Diego Zoo Global in the United States and the IUCN to protect the red-shanked douc langurs through long-term campaigns.

More than 440 visitors had joined free biodiversity trips in the reserve, while 400 junior secondary school students were taught about biodiversity in the reserve.

According to a recent report by the city’s rangers, six monkeys were killed by motorcyclists in 2015-17, and two cases of illegal hunting were uncovered. Two red-shanked douc langurs were also killed for money.

Around 10ha of forest was illegally logged for buildings in three cases between 2014-16.

Thousands of traps and tonnes of rubbish have been collected by local rangers and volunteers over the last two years.

The langurs in Sơn Trà Nature Reserve were declared endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2013, but the species has recently been classed Critically Endangered (CR) – nearly extinct.

Biologists warn that the development of concrete buildings will push the endangered primates into extinction.

In March, the National Administration of Tourism designated Sơn Trà Mountain a national tourism site. It will host a luxury eco-tour resort complex including 1,600 luxury hotel rooms, and 4.6 million tourists by 2030.

The nature reserve has shrunk from 4,300ha in 1977 to 2,500ha in 2014 to make room for the development of dozens of resorts and hotel projects. More than 20 streams in the reserve have dried up. — VNS

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