Archive for the ‘Environmental Education’ Category

Budget 2020: RM83mil allocation to conserve wildlife population, protect rainforest

Friday, October 11th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry has received an RM83mil allocation in Budget 2020 to conserve the dwindling wildlife population and protect the nation’s rainforest.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced this during his Budget 2020 speech in Parliament on Friday (Oct 11).

“There are fewer than 200 Malayan tigers left in the wild, and it is estimated there are about 11,000 orangutans in Malaysia,” he said.

“To support the efforts of protecting these endangered animals, the government will allocate RM15mil to the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MyCat) and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and other NGOs,” he said.

He added that another RM48mil will be allocated to preserve the nation’s pristine forest and biodiversity.

Out of this sum, RM10mil will be used as matching grants against private sector contributions towards conservation and biodiversity initiatives like the Central Forest Spine, Heart of Borneo, and rehabilitation of degraded forests.

“To protect our flora and fauna better, RM20mil will be provided to employ more forest rangers among retired soldiers and local Orang Asli communities who know their lands the best,” he added.

Meanwhile, Lim said the government will also finance Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) initiatives with an allocation of a RM10mil matching fund towards a joint Government-United Nations SDG fund.

“In addition, the government will allocate RM5mil to support the convening of Parliamentary Select Committee meetings and also for greater engagement by Members of Parliament with civil society, including to address the Sustainable Development Goals at the local level,” he said.


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Investing in a clean environment is good for business

Monday, October 7th, 2019

BUDGET 2020 will be tabled on Friday and will contain the usual spending plans for the various ministries and social programmes in the country for next year.

The annual exercise will be scrutinised for how those plans will lay the foundation for Malaysia in the immediate term.

Initial suggestions point to how the government will likely prioritise spending to drive economic growth as that, together with ensuring a trade surplus, are bedrocks in assuring economic and political stability in the country.

The myriad of spending plans, focusing on the underprivileged, will show the compassionate side of the administration but one aspect of how the Budget needs to be moulded is to drive economic growth higher.

The benchmark FBM KLCI has only been up one year over the past few years and that together with other flashing warning signals have been prevalent in recent times.

With domestic investments flagging, housing in a slump and job creation remaining an issue, measures should be proposed to put more cash in the pockets of Malaysians and to encourage spending.

The risk is the gross domestic products (GDP) growth might still be stuck in the four-percentage point range and for Malaysia, that is not good enough.

The government must lift the lid on the economy and if that means slowing down the planned decline in the fiscal deficit, then so be it.

The US-China trade war has roiled the global economy and international trade, and the government must capitalise on this rare event.

We cannot afford to remain complacent while neighbouring countries welcome global investments and we adopt a more protectionist stance in dealing with regional or global trade.

Over recent months, Malaysians have also seen how environmental degradation has affected our daily lives.

Everything from the contamination disaster in Pasir Gudang, Johor, to the fires in Riau, Sumatra, that choked much of Malaysia in a cloud of haze and that has been a lingering farce for around two decades, signals that it is time for the government to act in aid of the environment.

Yes, bans and limitations on single-use plastic is a step in the right direction.

Images of and news on how sea animals have borne the brunt of our environmental disregard have tugged the strings of compassion.

Climate strikes organised by the youth of the world show the anxiety of the generation that will inherit the planet.

For our part, there need to be more legislative and budgetary allocations to ensure that Malaysia starts moving towards environmental best practices.

Budgetary allocations towards the environment need to be done in consultation with the states of Malaysia, as land and most natural resources are matters of the states.

Money should be allocated towards ensuring our rivers are clean, our forests are maintained and the air that we breathe is free from the toxins that have polluted much of the country.

States should be allowed more development funds only if they offer guarantees that forests that cover about half of Malaysia would not be felled in the name of development and that waters are kept clean.

We can blame the West for doing in the past just what they are asking us not to do now but it is also time for us not to make the mistakes of the developed West and learn from what they are doing to ensure a sustainable Earth and environment for the future of our children.

Furthermore, with the world paying more attention to environmental best practises, doing so is actually good for business.

It is clear how developed countries are using our lax environmental practices against us, and we should acknowledge that spending on keeping the environment clean and sustainable is actually not only good for future business but also that for the future of Malaysia.

By The Star Says
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Do more to curb poaching

Sunday, October 6th, 2019
Sabah Wildlife Department’s Rescue Team officers were despatched to conduct investigations following the discovery of the carcass of a male Borneo pygmy elephant found at Sungai Udin riverbank on Sept 25. NSTP/COURTESY OF SABAH WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT.

MANY animals are going to be extinct if drastic steps are not taken to address the rampant poaching in the country.

Killing and poaching are also part of wildlife trafficking in countries with high biodiversity like Malaysia.

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has estimated the global wildlife trafficking industry to be worth between US$7 billion and US$23 billion annually (RM28 billion and RM92 billion).

It is unfortunate that a 2016 report by the Wildlife Justice Commission revealed that Kuala Lumpur is the easiest port to illegally transport wildlife.

The report revealed that it costs 50 per cent less to move contraband through Kuala Lumpur International Airport and klia2, compared with Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

On Sept 25, it was reported that as many as a dozen Malaysian police officers were involved in syndicates smuggling pangolins across the Malaysia-Thailand border.

The report triggered an investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

There is an urgent need to review all existing laws, especially legislation pertaining to animal poaching. The government should expedite its plan to amend the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 to jail poachers for more than 10 years and fine them up to RM5 million.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) has made a clarion call that without serious action, the critically small population of wildlife such as the Bornean pygmy elephant may suffer the same fate as the Sumatran rhino.

Despite harsher punishments and improved wildlife enforcement under the new act, poaching continues to increase.

SAM believes that this is because of the absence of arrests of the masterminds.

The government should also prosecute those abetting the culprits.

We must take into account the police’s recommendation of mandatory whipping for criminals involved in wildlife smuggling,and tighten conditions for the issuance of firearms licences and hunting permits.

The government should strengthen collaboration among the enforcement agencies, including increasing the number of military or police personnel, especially in our forest reserves.

Greater public awareness, better law enforcement and political will are needed to not only prevent poaching and illegal wildlife trade, but also to avoid over-exploitation of natural resources.

Protecting wildlife and our nature’s treasure trove not only involves enforcement agencies but requires collaboration across the board.

Efforts to protect our wildlife are also in line with the theme for this year’s Earth Day celebration which is ‘Protect Our Species’.


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Dept monitoring cyberspace for wildlife trade

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
KOTA KINABALU: The State Wildlife Department (SWD) is continuously monitoring for online sales of protected wildlife animals, animal parts and products.
SWD Director Augustine Tuuga said the department has dedicated manpower, assisted by several related non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to do the monitoring on such online sale.
“Yes, online sales of protected wildlife animals, animal parts and products are quite serious but not rampant. We have people monitoring online sales of wildlife animals and products. We are also assisted by several NGOs on this.
“We have apprehended several people and almost all cases have been charged in court and handed penalties,” he said.

On foreigners coming to Sabah specifically to hunt illegally, Tuuga said none have been caught so far but the department have several cases of foreign plantation workers apprehended for poaching, but hunting the ordinary wildlife animals such wild boar and deer.

Tuuga said this when asked to comment on a report by Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network, that online trade of wildlife is becoming popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Traffic Southeast Asia Director Kanitha Krishnasamy, said online wildlife trade activities have been a challenge for the wildlife enforcement when presenting an overview of the bear trade in Asia at the 2nd International Symposium on Sun Bear Conservation and Management recently organised by SWD, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) here.
It ws held in conjunction with a meeting by technical working group, consisting of SWD, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Foundation, BSBBC, DGFC, WWF Malaysia, TRAFFIC, Animals Asia, Free the Bears and Sunway University, to formulate the Sabah sun bear action plan.

Krishnasamy also said there were 694 seizures made involving 1,820 bears in 14 countries throughout Asia in between 2012 and August this year.

While in Southeast Asia, she said there were 151 seizures including 17 in Malaysia and 50 per cent of all these seizures involved sun bears.
There were also increasing number of Vietnamese caught for illegal poaching in Malaysia, she said.
The Government and NGO officials involved also discussed on strategies to better deal with online wildlife trade after her presentations.
By: Larry Ralon

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149kg rubbish collected in Labuan cleanup event

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

LABUAN: Some 149kg of rubbish was collected during JCI Labuan’s annual beach cleanup held in conjunction with the World Cleanup Day last Saturday.

The event commenced with more than 500 people of all ages coming together to help clean up the Tanjung Purun Beach.

Numerous OGA, NGOs, private sectors, schools and uniform bodies also took part in the event.

Additionally, 5Rs (Recycle, Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Rot) booths on Waste Management were set up and a children colouring contest was organised simultaneously to create environmental awareness amongst the general public at Labuan International Sea Sports Complex during the day.

According the Organising Chairperson Caris Teo, JCI Labuan is focusing more on creating environmental awareness this year and also targeting children to instill good waste management practice at a young age.

Invited speakers from the Fisheries Department and environmentalist Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma shared their knowledge in the importance of preserving the environment.

Young children were also engaged in Q&A sessions to indirectly sow awareness into them.

The 5Rs booths attracted a large number of visitors throughout the day.

The public were invited to bring recyclable wastes collected and sorted at home to the recycle booth set up by Tzu Chi Foundation.

With the help from Leo Club of UMSKAL, Lions Club Labuan Host and the public, a astounding total of 760kg of paper products, 3.8kg of aluminium cans, 8.4kg of steel cans, and 4kg of plastic bottles were collected. This event successfully involved partnerships and collaborations from numerous government agencies, NGOs and private business entities.

JCI Labuan expresses their utmost gratitude to all the sponsors and supports from the following organisation for making this a historical and memorable event.

By: Iffah Dilaney.

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25 schools in Putrajaya to closed tomorrow if API reading exceeds 200

Monday, September 16th, 2019
As many as 25 schools in Putrajaya will be forced to suspend classes on Tuesday if the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading exceeds 200 which is ‘very unhealthy’. (NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH)

PUTRAJAYA: As many as 25 schools in Putrajaya will be forced to suspend classes on Tuesday if the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading exceeds 200 which is ‘very unhealthy’, according to the Deputy Director (Planning) of the Federal Territory Education Department, Dr Roslan Hussin

He said the department would monitor the API reading from time to time and schools would be required to close if the haze reading exceeded 200 to ensure the health of students and teachers stayed protected.

There are 25 schools in the Putrajaya area of which 15 are primary schools and 10 are secondary schools.

As of 4pm this afternoon, the reading of the API in Putrajaya was 196 which is unhealthy.

“We are monitoring the reading of the API in Putrajaya. The director of the Federal Territory Education Department has asked all principals and teachers to come up with an appropriate plan including postponing all activities outside the classroom based on the reading of the API,” he said when contacted here today.

Putrajaya became the latest area to register a very unhealthy API reading today with a reading of 202 at 12 noon.

By Bernama.

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Strong winds wreak havoc in Sabah

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

Kota Kinabalu: Many parts of the State were lashed by 70km/hr winds and heavy rain since midnight Thursday, causing widespread damage to homes and vehicles as well as uprooting trees.

Two houses were badly damaged by strong winds at 11.30pm on Thursday at Jalan Kolam, Sri Gaya. A resident identified only as Kenny, 34, said their car porch roof was blown away after an hour of strong winds.

“As a result, some part of the house was exposed to rain,” he said. Another resident, David Lee, 48, had to repair his roof after about a dozen tiles were blown away. The strong wind lasted about an hour. I heard a loud noise from the rooftop and before I knew it, rain started pouring into the house,” he said

Meanwhile, some 100 lanterns in Foh Sang were lashed by the strong wind occurred at the same time.

Lanterns were also scattered all over the road in Foh Sang and some were seen near the traffic light. At 4.30pm Friday, two vehicles were hit by uprooted trees in Tg Lipat.

Another vehicle also damaged in a similar incidet at 4.30pm when a Honda HRV driven by a 40-year-old woman with two of her kids believed to be heading towards Inanam was hit by an uprooted tree some 150 metres from City Mall.

The tree hit the back of the car but all three victims were unscathed. Sabah Meteorological Department Director Ambun Dindang said the bad weather was due to a squall line along the South China Sea.

“Squalls can trigger a sudden gust of strong winds and heavy rain. We expect this phenomena to last about an hour,” he said, adding the department issued a first category warning at 2pm.

Some of the houses with damaged rooftops.

He said the 11.30pm Thursday storm recorded wind speeds of about 70km per hour and the public are advised to avoid open sea as rough waves could be dangerous to small boats, recreational sea activities and water sports.

According to City Hall, as of 6.21pm Friday there were 37 uprooted cases reported and 32 had been cleared.

Fire and Rescue Department was also kept busy as they had to cut and remove uprooted trees that blocked many roads and hit a number of vehicles No casualties or injuries reported from Kudat, Beaufort, Lintas, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Sook firestations at 8pm press time

By: Jimmy Goh, Stefyanie Myla Micheal

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A passion for Sabah’s rainforests

Monday, September 9th, 2019

THE lush greenery of Sabah’s rainforests have always been the source of inspiration for many, including the production of award-winning narrative and documentary films.

And the picturesque landscapes that the forests offered are the object of affection for professional photographer and filmmaker Jorge Camilo Valenzuela.

Born in Chile, raised in Brazil and now based in France, Valenzuela is a self-declared citizen of the world but had his heart docked in Sabah.

The award-winning photographer works across the globe, mostly in tropical rainforests and his first documentary film which was shot in Sabah had won him two international awards.
The film, Into the Wild of Borneo grabbed the awards for Best Ecosystem/Habitat Category in the New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival 2016 and the Best Director of Photography in the Marbella Filmmaker International Film Festival 2016.

“Into the Wild of Borneo was produced three years ago,” he said to the Daily Express.

“During the initial process, I came to Sabah alone to capture all the wildlife images which took me about three to four months.

“And then my production team from France came down to finish the film together for about two months.”

The project also marked a beneficial tie-up with a local entity to provide extra technical crew to complete the shooting.

“When my team did the film, we collaborated with University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF).

“I did a masterclass in UCSF and I brought along five best students as my film crew for Into the Wild of Borneo.

“It was a good initiative as they contributed a lot into the making of the film.

“Usually when foreigners come here to make films, once finished they would went back to their countries and the locals are left with nothing…you did know what happened, you did not get anything out of it.

“But my project was different…I love Sabah and I have been here since 2009 and even made a coffee table book of the photos I took here,” he said.

However, due to time constraints, he could only covered Danum Valley, Crocker Range and Kinabatangan areas for the film.

“The biggest challenge was time and as we are short budget as well, we worked hard every day.

“We had to sleep late and woke up early the next day and it was very hot in the jungle…and the crew was also tired.

“The film was made purely out of passion and I do not think many people would able to do that.

“You have to be strong and brave, especially when you take up-close shots of the wildlife.

“For the next project, I hope I can also shoot in Imbak Canyon, Tabin, Maliau Basin and other parts of Sabah.”

Sabah’s forests, he said, had won his heart thanks to its tranquillity and natural charms.

“It is very peaceful…in the morning, when you wake up, you can hear the sounds of the gibbons and birds, and then the light comes shining through with the fog fading out.

“It is hard for me to explain it, it is just so peaceful and I love be in the jungle.

“And the animals…when you have connection with the orang utans, or the pygmy elephants, it is so intense, I cannot describe it in words, I felt loved, and respectful for these wildlife and nature,” he said.

Having worked in the Amazons, in Peru and Brazil, and in Uganda with the gorillas in the mountains as well as the pumas in Patagonia, Velanzuela is well-exposed to various types of natural surroundings.

“When I came to Malaysia in 2006, I first went to Sarawak and the peninsula, but when I visited Sabah a few years after that, I instantly fell in love with the State.

“The people are very nice, friendly and smiley, and the food is very good.

“Everybody take time to greet each other whenever we meet and there are many ethnic groups living together here…it is very peaceful and harmonious.

“And I tried to come here at least once a year for my photography works.

“I think I am one of the best promoters of Sabah in France as I hold regular photography exhibitions, and National Geographic and Unesco are one of my partners for these exhibitions.”

However, he disclosed that he had yet to exhibit any of his work in Sabah.

“I can hold an exhibition here if I am funded. In fact, I would like to promote my works here, but you must be funded when you want to make something of a high quality.

“And I do not do photo exhibitions in malls, I need a proper gallery or a big space as well as the right setting.

“I also have to consider the photo printings…it must be high quality as the exhibition is not about me, but about the photos and the places that the photos were taken.

“It would not be good if I promote Sabah around the world with bad quality photos.

“It will not be a good image for Sabah if you exhibit your works with bad printing in malls,” he said.

His love for the forests and wildlife is not without challenges, not excluding endangering his own safety.

“I was asked to test a new camera and also do a reportage photography in Sabah, in 2012

“Unfortunately, got my knee broken when fell in the jungle and I was all alone…but I did know that it was broken until later on.

“So I stayed on for a month to finish my work with a swelling and painful leg.

“Once completed, I went back to France and got my knee X-rayed and the doctor told me that I was crazy as my knee was broken.

“The doctor promptly arranged for a surgery the next day.”

He also shared that one of his fondest memories was shooting pumas in Patagonia.

“I went there in 2010 to trail a ‘mama puma’ that now has become a ‘grandmother’ as its ‘daughter’ has three babies.

“I approached this group of pumas, and they are big…it was very intense as anything can happen in when you are in the wild, in a second, the puma could jump on me and kill me.

“But I am here now, I live to tell the story. I think the pumas know that I do not have any bad intentions and let me do my work.

“I love animals so much and I think they, too, know this as well…they can feel it if you are scared,” he said.

Valenzuela will continue to show his love for Sabah in his works through his next big project.

“I am very focus to initiate my first full-feature narrative wildlife film here.

By: Ricardo Unto

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135 special education students take part in environmental activities

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 135 special education students from schools in Kota Kinabalu did their part for the nature in the recent Apresiasi Alam programme at Tanjung Lipat beach.

The one-day event saw gotong-royong activities and beach cleanup along the shoreline apart from ecobrick lessons as a measure to save and utilise plastic waste in the area.

Organised by SMK Kolombong’s Special Education Integrated Programme (PPKI), the event was aimed not only at raising environmental awareness and instilling the sense of love and responsibility towards nature, but also develop confidence among students with disabilities.

SMK Kolombong’s Special Education Senior Assistant Alizah Abd Malek said apart from giving them learning experience, the school also hoped to expose the students to the public and allow them to interact and engage with local community.

“We are therefore killing two birds with one stone…we hope these special education students will be able to socialise with the community through this exposure.

“For us under special education, every step is a learning experience. Even one step outside of school is a lesson for our children because that is where they will learn how to interact with others, how to listen to instructions, appreciate the nature, and learn to love everything in their surrounding,” she said.

Following its initiation last year, she stated that the programme had left significant impact among students with some parents telling them that their children had learnt to pick up rubbish from the ground.

This was proof that people with disabilities have equal responsibility and could also play their role in looking after the environment.

“It is actually quite easy to teach these students because they tend to remember and adopt our lessons into their lives, making it a routine after being trained and taught several times inside and outside of school.

“Therefore, we want them to attain inclusion and play their role as well, as citizens of Kota Kinabalu.” Some 75 mainstream students also took part in the initiative which was joined in by SMK Taman Tun Fuad, SMK Inanam, SMK Kolombong, SK Luyang, SK Bukit Padang, SK Kolombong, and SK Tanjung Aru.

With disabilities ranging from autism to cerebral palsy, SMKKolombong PPKI currently has 107 students, 19 teachers, and five assistants, with facilities that include three fish ponds and 12 classrooms for Form 1 to Form 5 students.

Besides skills development classes, students were also required to take up core subjects including Bahasa Melayu, English and Mathematics.

She said elective subjects – pastry, sewing, basic gardening, and beading for low-functioning students – were prioritized, adding that the school had just begin rearing stingless bee.

“These are all one step ahead towards entrepreneurship to train the students so that they would no longer have to rely on job seeking.

“The lessons that we try to deliver were also for those that can be guided by their own parents at home…we want to help them think, what would happen to their children when they are no longer here?

“That is why elective subjects are critical for special education students as it helps them become independent beings,” Alizah said.

In addition to PPKI, she underlined that some of its students with special needs were involved in the Inclusive Education Programme (PPI) where they learn the usual mainstream syllabus and sit for public examinations – PT3 and SPM.

This has resulted in a number of its PPI students pursuing higher education at public and private institutions including Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and AMC College, among others.

She noted, however, that limited options for special education students in Sabah have left them with nowhere to turn to, apart from development centres.

“For our students, we usually enrol them to Cheshire Home – they have this programme with ATI College where they teach pastries, housekeeping and F&B but since seats are limited, we could only assist four to five students.


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The merbau is now Malaysia’s national tree, says Dr M.

Saturday, August 24th, 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: The merbau tree (Malacca teak) is now the national tree, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“With its hardy nature, I believe that all Malaysians can take the merbau as a symbol of national pride, ” he said when officiating at the “Hutan Kita: Journey Through Our Rainforest” exhibition on Malaysian rainforests at the KL Tower here on Friday (Aug 23).

The event was also attended by Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar and other ministers, as well as diplomats.

The Prime Minister further reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

“We will maintain at least 50% of our land area under forest cover, in accordance with our commitment made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

“When translated, ‘Hutan Kita’ means ‘Our Forests’, a powerful affirmation that the forest belongs to us.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad signing the plaque of merbau tree as the national tree at the KL Tower. -Azman Ghani/The StarTun Dr Mahathir Mohamad signing the plaque of merbau tree as the national tree at the KL Tower. -Azman Ghani/The Star

“We could take the irresponsible contention that since it belongs to us, we can very well do what we like with it – on the other hand, I would like to believe that our interpretation of the tagline is positive in which, since the forest is ours, it is our responsibility to protect and conserve its longevity, sustainability and beauty.

“Further to that, it is also a declaration that it is something shared, meaning that protecting and conserving the forest is not only for ourselves and the present generation, but for that of future generations, ” he said.

Dr Mahathir also said that it is important that sustainable forest management be practised to ensure that development is not hindered in efforts to protect forests.

“The government will outline eight key actions that will be implemented to enhance Malaysia’s efforts in sustainable forest management and mainstreaming biodiversity in Malaysia’s socio-economic development agenda in the era of post-2020.

“On the global front, as one of the world’s most biodiverse nations, Malaysia takes its commitment to conservation seriously and is proud to be a signatory to an extensive list of global treaties on conservation, wildlife, forestry and the environment, ” he added.

The exhibition “Hutan Kita: Journey Through Our Rainforest”, organised by the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry, will be held until Sept 22.

By Zakiah Koya
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