Malaysia: Ban on plastic straws in KL, Putrajaya and Labuan from Jan 1, 2019

vijenthi nair The Star 20 Sep 18;

PUTRAJAYA: Plastic straws will be banned in all the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan from Jan 1 next year.

Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Adnan Mohd Ikhsan said businesses which are still found to be using plastic straws in 2019 risk having their business licences terminated.

"Business owners may also be fined, lose their deposits, have their trading items confiscated or even be imprisoned.

"The ban on plastic straws is in addition to the ban on plastics bags and polystyrene food packaging, which started in September last year (2017).

"The requirements are clearly stated in their business licences, so there is no excuse for the business owners to claim ignorance.

"Local authorities will not hesitate to take action according to its by-laws," he said.

Adnan said he hoped all business owners would cooperate and strictly adhere to requirements for the greater good of the environment.

Johor set to ban plastic straws
The Star 23 Sep 18;

JOHOR BARU: Johor is likely to follow the Federal Territories in banning plastic straws from January, says Jimmy Puah Wee Tse.

The exco member, who is the state International Trade, Investment and Utilities Committee chairman, said he would bring up the issue at the coming exco meeting.

“We have to move with the times to take care of our planet, and Johor should not be left behind in the efforts to reduce plastic waste.

“There are already alternatives to plastic straws in the market and the change is possible given the right push from the state government,” Puah told pressmen after attending the Walk For Hope 2018 programme organised by Senibong Cove developer, Front Concept Sdn Bhd, here yesterday.

Better alternatives to plastic straws needed
Esther Landau and Ahmad Suheal Adnan New Straits Times 22 Sep 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: Industries are being urged to find better alternatives for plastic straws, which will be banned in the Federal Territories from Jan 1, 2020.

“Industries should be more creative in finding ways to replace plastic straws. They have more than one year to achieve this,” Federal Territories Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Adnan Md Ikshan said at the Gotong-Royong Mega 2018 programme held in conjunction with World Cleanup Day at the Seri Semarak People’s Housing Project, here, today.

Even though some quarters were unhappy about the ban, he said it was needed to protect the environment.

He said an awareness campaign would be carried out beginning on Jan 1 next year.

Fourteen cities in countries like Canada, Greece, Guatemala, India, Scotland, Switzerland and the United States have already banned or are expected to ban the use of disposable plastic products like straws.

On another issue, Adnan said City Hall had imposed compounds on 200 premises that were still not using biodegradable plastic bags.

He said some supermarkets were dishonest and only used biodegradable bags when the City Hall was carrying out inspections. He warned that stern action would taken.

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Malaysia: Elephant sanctuary to be set up in Perak next year, says Xavier

Shaarani Ismail New Straits Times 20 Sep 18;

IPOH: The country’s second elephant sanctuary will be built in Perak to address the increasing occurances of human to elephant conflicts in the state.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the Perak Elephant Sanctuary, which will span a 40ha area in Hulu Perak will become the second project of its kind after the one that was being developed in Kota Tinggi, Johor.

“I thank Perak Menteri Besar (Ahmad Faizal Azumu) for allocating the 40ha area (for the sanctuary) because we will need a large area for this effort. The development of the project would start next year,” said Xavier after conducting a courtesy call on Faizal at Bangunan Peral Darul Ridzuan today.

The sanctuary will be built at Km20 of Jalan Raya Gerik-Jeli at a cost of RM28.8 million, and will include a paddock, clinic, food storage facility, office, research office, interpretive centre and gallery.

Faizal said that he welcomed the development of the Perak Elephant Sanctuary as it would address the conflicts between humans and elephants that involved villagers in the state’s rural areas.

“There is an urgent need for such a facility. I have visited the Kemar Post at the Royal Belum state park and I have found that the human-elephant conflicts are a major concern.

“Villagers in the fringes of the forests are living in fear as they crops are being destroyed (by the elephants)

“The sanctuary will be located at the border of Perak and Kelantan, and the state government welcomes the news as it would resolve many problems affecting the people,” said Faizal.

Meanwhile, Xavier said the ministry also discussed on ways to address the issue of the endangered Malayan tiger, which is known to be found in Perak forests.

He said to address the issue, the number of forest rangers will be increased, while police and military personnel would be deployed to help during patrols to prevent illegal hunting activities.

Xavier said efforts were being made to deploy another 50 forest rangers to help the current 12 forest rangers, who were now responsible for patrolling the Royal Belum state park, which is five times the size of Singapore.

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Malaysia: No to coal power in Sabah, explore renewable energy first, says WWF

stephanie lee The Star 20 Sep 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Please don't restart the coal power plant project in Sabah, explore renewable energy sources first to solve the state’s power supply woes, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia urges the Malaysian government.

WWF-Malaysia said in a statement that this proposal to use coal as an energy source had been strongly opposed and turned down during the previous government.

“WWF-Malaysia supports the Malaysian government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement of holding temperature increase to below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,” it said.

This statement was issued in response to Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad’s call to utilise coal in Sabah during his opening address at the 22nd Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry (CEPSI) 2018.

WWF-Malaysia said the use of coal and coal-fired plants will bring with it implications that will undermine Malaysia's climate change commitment in the long run.

“As such, renewable energy and energy efficiency options as an alternative way to generate electricity, as opposed to coal should be the priority for Sabah,” the statement said.

WWF-Malaysia was part of the Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) coalition in 2009 which successfully stopped the coal power plant project in Sabah.

The topic of renewable energy in Sabah is not new, as a number of studies had been conducted on its feasibility in the state.

WWF-Malaysia said as a responsible government, protection of the environment for the well-being of the people should be top on the list.

“While electricity woes continue to plague Sabah, steps to rectify this issue should not have a negative impact on the environment,” it said.

WWF-Malaysia that the Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment ministry has acknowledged the inefficiency in electricity generation, transmission and distribution in Sabah. However, matters concerning climate change must also be considered when it comes to finding ways to solve the problem.

Meanwhile, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Christina Liew when asked to comment on Mahathir's coal proposal, said she does not want to say anything yet because "the matter is still in talking stage".

Sabah to look into gas and coal power generation, says CM
Norasikin Daineh New Straits Times 22 Sep 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The state government will carry out in-depth studies into energy production from coal and gas.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said Sabah had an adequate supply of both resources, compared with diesel which was more expensive and harmful to the environment.

“I was made understand that there is new technology (for power generation from coal) where it will not be detrimental to the environment,” he told a press conference at a convocation ceremony here where 679 students from eight community colleges received their certificates.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that Malaysia had yet to fully utilise its coal reserves, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

Shafie said the nation need skilled, creative and innovative workers who could use the latest technology.

“It is in line with current needs in the market and to develop industry sector, especially in Sabah,” he said.

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Indonesia: Batang Toru dam will affect orangutans and villagers - Walhi

Kharishar Kahfi and Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 21 Sep 18;

Activists have slammed a planned Chinese-funded hydroelectric power plant located at the Batang Toru Ecosystem in South Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra, for potentially affecting the livelihood and health of people living around the river.

The project has also been criticized for being a potential “death knell” of the endangered Tapanuli orangutans, as a dam made for the project would flood “a key expanse of the orangutan’s habitat and, even more crucially, [slice] up its remaining forest home with new roads, power lines, tunnels and other built facilities,” activists said.

According to the company responsible for the project, PT North Sumatera Hydro Energy (NSHE), the planned power plant will use "green run-of-river technology" and produce a maximum capacity of 510 megawatts between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m.

Because of the time restriction, the plant would use a relatively small amount of water, which is safer for the environment, the company added.

These claims, however, were dismissed by activists from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), who said the plant’s limited operational hours would still affect the flow of the entire river.

“This means the operator will need to hold the water for around 18 hours and later release it from the dam along the river for six hours to power the four turbines [in the power plant],” Walhi’s North Sumatra office director, Dana Prima Tarigan, said during a press briefing in Jakarta on Thursday.

This could affect the living conditions of villages in at least four districts located downstream of the river, namely Batang Toru, Muara Batangtoru, Angkola Sangkunur and Muara Batang Gadis.

“A disruption in the flow of the river will affect fisheries run by local residents along Batang Toru River. Farmers will also not be able to get water for their fields from the river anymore,” Dana said.

Walhi has also raised concerns that during the six hours of the water being released, the villages around the river would get flooded.

Walhi has filed a lawsuit against the regional administration’s decision to issue permits for the power plant, as their issuance was deemed problematic on account of the lack of discussion and participation involved.

While the project had yet to enter the construction phase, Walhi said the company had conducted several activities around the designated project area, such as preparing necessary heavy machineries during the construction of the power plant.

“We also know they have brought explosives to the area,” Dana said.

According to a letter titled “Notice of Blasting Operations” obtained by Walhi in late July, Synohydro Corporation Limited warned locals not to approach the blasting area as “there will be flying rocks after each explosion”.

“Please cooperate with Syno Hidro and do not endanger yourself or family or friend,” the letter said.

Syno Hydro is the contractor of the dam.

“We demand the judges handling our lawsuit to issue an interlocutory decision to stop such activities from happening, until our suit is final and legally binding,” Dana said.

Previously, the environmental group also criticized the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between NSHE and Medan-based South Sumatra University (USU) on Sept. 11 to accelerate the construction of the power plant.

“We hope USU’s involvement can reveal the impact of the project’s construction to the public rather than cover all of the bad impacts,” Dana said.

NSHE, however, denied Walhi’s accusations, saying the company had obtained all the necessary documents for the project.

“All mitigation studies for any impacts that can be inflicted by the power plant, ranging from environmental to socioeconomic, has been completed by PT NSHE. The company has also made these documents publicly available on our website,” Agus Djoko Ismanto, senior adviser to NSHE, said in a statement.

He added that the company had been voluntarily conducted all the required mitigation efforts as stated in the Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment document.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry had assigned its directorate general of natural resources and ecosystems, Wiratno, to address any objections leveled at the project. Wiratno said on Thursday that his team had been working on the issue.

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Indonesia: President Jokowi imposes moratorium on palm oil plantations

Marguerite Afra Sapiie The Jakarta Post 20 Sep 18;

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has instructed ministers and regional administrations to halt the issuance of new permits for palm oil plantations.

The President also ordered a review of the existing permits amid deforestation concerns, said Prabianto Mukti Wibowo, an official from the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, on Thursday.

“From ministries to regents, [they all] have been ordered to review the forest permits for [palm oil] plantations.”

Prabianto said the moratorium had been imposed to reduce conflict, especially on plantations owned by smallholders and corporations inside natural forests.

“We are aware that many palm oil plantations are located within the natural forests according to [an Environment and Forestry Ministry] map.”

The presidential instruction, he said, was expected to boost the productivity of palm oil plantations and clarify the rights of smallholders.

A recent Greenpeace report claimed that 25 major palm oil producers supplying the world's largest brands were "known to have destroyed more than 130,000 hectares of forest and peat land since 2015, an area almost twice the size of Singapore”.

Responding to the report, the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) deputy chairman Togar Sitanggang said Gapki had ensured that each of its member obeyed the law and prevented further environmental damages.

"In converting land into oil palm plantations, it has to be converted from a forest area to a non-forest areas, or areas for other use [APL]. Therefore, companies are allowed to do it legally. On whether to cut down trees, that is each company's [choice]," Togar said. (ahw)

Groups welcome Jokowi’s palm plantation moratorium
Dyaning Pangestika The Jakarta Post 21 Sep 18;

Environmental groups welcomed President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s instruction to halt the issuing of permits for palm plantations, calling it a long-awaited step towards sustainability.

However, they raised several concerns.

The Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) said in a statement on Thursday that it welcomed Presidential Instruction No. 8/2018, which “had been on the President’s desk for a long time”.

“This is a good initial step towards revamping natural resource management, especially the palm plantation sector,” the group added.

The President ordered a review of the existing permits amid deforestation concerns, said Prabianto Mukti Wibowo, an official from the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, on Thursday.

“From ministries to regents, [they all] have been ordered to review the forest permits for [palm oil] plantations.”

Greenpeace Indonesia, which released a report on deforestation caused by palm plantations on Wednesday, welcomed the instruction, although it was quick to note that a presidential instruction would not be enough.

Arie Rompas, a Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaign team leader, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that a presidential instruction would not carry any weight and therefore the subjects of the instruction could just ignore it.

Jokowi had promised to issue the moratorium since April 2016 and environmental groups had been waiting for it since then.

Walhi had sent a policy paper, suggesting a 25-year moratorium because “environmental rehabilitation needs a long time”. The instruction, however, would only be effective for “a maximum of three years since the date of the release”, which is Sept. 19.

The instruction, entitled Postponement and Evaluation of Palm Plantation Permits and Increasing Productivity of Palm Plantations, ordered five ministries, the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), governors, regents and mayors to halt new permits, evaluate the existing permits and increase the productivity of palm plantations.

The rationale behind the instruction is increasing sustainability, giving legal certainty, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, farmer empowerment and increasing the productivity of palms.

Environmentalists have argued that increasing the productivity of plantations on existing fields would prevent the opening up of new areas.

Both Walhi and Greenpeace have urged transparency and public participation during the reviewing process.

The instruction allows the continuation of forested areas that had been turned into palm plantations before it was issued and ordered the Agriculture Ministry to make sure that 20 percent of those areas were allocated to smallholders. Greenpeace, however, said the recipients were often times not really smallholders.

Walhi closed the statement by saying the transition period should focus on “justice for the people and the environment as well as ecosystem rehabilitation”.

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Indonesia: BMKG warns of heavy rains, high waves as Typhoon Mangkhut ends

The Jakarta Post 20 Sep 18;

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned the residents of 17 provinces across the country to be wary of potential heavy rains in the regions.

The agency’s meteorology deputy, Mulyono R. Prabowo, said in a statement on Wednesday that the end of Typhoon Mangkhut had caused a weather pattern shift in Indonesia, signaled by the decreasing activity of dry air mass flow from Australia.

Moreover, he said, the increase of air humidity in the atmosphere had created cumulonimbus clouds in several regions and could cause heavy rains with lightning, thunder and strong winds until Friday in almost all provinces in Sumatra and Java, as well as in West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, North Kalimantan and Papua.

Waves as high as 2.5 to 4 meters are expected in the waters of Mentawai Islands, Enggano in Bengkulu, western Lampung, the western part of the Indian Ocean from Aceh to Lampung, the southern part of the Sunda Strait, southern Java, Sumbawa Island, Bali-Lombok-southern Alas straits and the southern part of the Indian Ocean from Java to West Nusa Tenggara,” he said.

Mulyono also said residents should be prepared for the impacts of the weather, such as flooding, landslides, flash floods, cyclones and strong winds. (ris)

BMKG warns of potential heavy rains in several parts of Indonesia
Antara 20 Sep 18;

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned of potential heavy rains in several parts of Indonesia in the next three days.

With typhoon Mangkhut weakening in the past few days, the weather pattern has changed, marked by the weakening mass flow of dry air from Australia and away from Indonesia, BMKG Deputy for Meteorology Mulyono R Prabowo said in a written statement released on Thursday.

The presence of cyclonic rotation in the South China Sea and the rising humidity of wet air in the atmosphere at an altitude of 1,500 to 3,000 meters, coupled with a change in wind direction and slow movement of wind in the bottom of the atmosphere (at 1,000 meters) had formed rain clouds in several parts of Indonesia, he said.

The dynamic condition of the atmosphere may have the potential to lead to heavy rains accompanied by thunderbolts and strong winds in several parts of the country in three days` time, he said.

The provinces that have the potential to experience heavy rains include Aceh, Riau, Riau Islands, West Sumatra, Jambi, South Sumatra, Bangka Belitung, Lampung, Banten, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, North alimantan and Papua.

Reporting by Desi Purnamawati
Editing by Suharto,Fardah Assegaf

Editor: Suharto

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