Archive for the ‘Environmental Education’ Category

Change mindsets to address plastic pollution

Saturday, January 11th, 2020
Berahaman (second left seated) in a group photo with the students.

KOTA KINABALU: The best way to address plastic pollution is to change people’s mindsets in terms of value and attitude alteration towards much higher environmental sustainability awareness and commitment, said University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Dr Ramzah Dambul.

He said that people especially the younger generation could act as catalysts for adults around them to start reflecting on their habits as consumers

“Plastic pollution started since plastic was first manufactured in 1950 and it became augmented with approximately 8.3 billion tonnes produced worldwide thus far. Ultimately, to address the issue, it starts with changing consumers’ behaviours and mindsets.

“We should encourage people especially the young ones to take action by reducing plastic waste. This also will help them become leaders in their communities to ensure that people join the global fight in tackling the scourge of single-use plastic that is damaging to our environment.

“It fits very well in the agenda to mould the right mindset among the younger generation for a liveable, viable and sustainable future,” he said when officiating Plastic Pollution and Marine Conservation Environmental Education programme at Marine Museum and Aquarium, Borneo Marine Research Institute, UMS.

He was represented by UMS Director of EcoCampus Management Centre, Professor Dr Berahaman Ahmad.

The programme was organised by UMS, involving students from Hokkaido Sapporo Keisei High School, SM All Saints and SK Lok Yuk Inanam who collaboratively surveyed for macroplastic wastes and micplastics at UMS Beach via the quadrate sampling technique.

Ramzah said it is also focuses on the detrimental impacts of plastic pollution and seriousness of microplastics presence in natural environment.

He said besides being able to create a baseline data on microplastics presence at the beaches in UMS, Japan and Australia for future reference, the programme is well suited for UMS as an EcoCampus that has been upholding the EcoCampus agenda to become a reference centre in sustainable development.

He hoped that such programme would be continued in future to address plastic pollution.

“This programme, which was co-coordinated by the EcoCampus Management Centre, is imperative in highlighting the relevance of the university in spearheading sustainable development initiatives in the nation and region, to achieve the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

“Hence, we sincerely hope that Hokkaido Sapporo Keisei High School will continue to collaborate with UMS in co-organising the programme beyond 2020,” he said.

By: Ottey Peter

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/146218/change-mindsets-to-address-plastic-pollution/

Homestay, turtle egg hatchery: Libaran island’s tourism hope

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Breathtaking view of Kampung Pulau Libaran.

SANDAKAN: An island village is set to be the district’s new tourism attraction when a homestay and turtle egg hatchery centre initiated by an environmentalist and tourism entrepreneur get the villagers’ attention.

Alexander Yee, who has been operating the Walai Penyu Turtle Conservation Park on Kampung Pulau Libaran for the past seven years, said his efforts will bear fruit once the nearby residents are ready to use their land for the homestay and hatchery programmes.

He said his efforts, helped by the Wildlife Department’s initiative, produced results in conservation when he leased the villagers’ land not just for profit but also conservation.

“We now want the villagers to work on their homestays and generate their economy while the turtle egg hatchery will also be attractive and conservation efforts are undertaken at the same time,” he said.

Yee, who is also the President of the Friends of Sea Turtles Education Research or Foster, was speaking during a dialogue with villagers on the island.

Among all things, the dialogue touched on the mechanism to establish a homestay and a turtle hatchery as well as launching the Cleanest House Campaign on Libaran Island.

Yee also shared the success story of Walai Penyu which received the Best Tourism Product Award at the Sabah Tourism Awards 2019, recently.

Yee hoped it will inspire the villagers to jointly create a tourism product in Sandakan.

Left: Beach near Kampung Pulau Libaran.
Right: Villagers during the dialogue session.

Kampung Libaran Village Community Management Council Chairman Imran Mohd Unsun said he and the villagers welcomed the initiative and would work together to support Yee’s efforts to conserve turtles and their beaches, a call echoed by Village Head Ramlee Kahar.

The village has 74 homes with 400 residents, most of whom work as fishermen with some having migrated to the cities.

The villagers were also reminded to abide by the law against taking turtle eggs which carries heavy punishment.

One of the residents, Omar Sanma, said he is ready to make his land a turtle egg hatchery.

The former Wildlife Department boat driver was committed to working together to make their village a tourist destination.

A representative of the Sandakan Wildlife Officer, Herman Shahrin, and Dr. James Alin of Foster, were among the dialogue attendees.

Libaran Island is about 45 minutes from Sandakan by speedboat.

By: Mardinah Jikur.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/145646/homestay-turtle-egg-hatchery-libaran-island-s-tourism-hope-/

Challenging year as Sabah threatened by wildlife extinction

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Iman, Malaysia’s last female Sumatran rhinoceros which died on Nov 23.

2019 has been a challenging year for Sabah in terms of preservation and conservation of its wildlife and environment, which has witnessed several tragic events, including the threat of extinction of some of the State’s most endangered species.

This “Land Below the Wind” never escaped media attention on wildlife issues throughout the year.

The death of Iman, Malaysia’s last female Sumatran rhinoceros on Nov 23, was among the most devastating news announced by the Sabah Wildlife Department (JHL) a month earlier.
Sabahans were not alone in feeling the sadness of losing the female rhinoceros, most Malaysians did, and news of Iman’s passing has gained worldwide attention as it is officially extinct in Malaysia.

Iman was pronounced dead at 5.35pm at the Borneo Rhinoceros Sanctuary (BRS) at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu, which dealt a major blow to the conservation efforts of the species and other endangered wildlife.

More tragically, Iman’s death occurred about six months after the country lost Tam, the country’s last male Sumatran rhinoceros, which died of heart and lung failure on May 27.

Apart from the rhinoceros, another mammal in Sabah facing extinction is the Borneo pygmy elephant when 24 deaths were recorded this year alone and shockingly, five elephant deaths were reported in the space of four months.

The first Borneo elephant carcass was discovered in the ravine in Sungai Udin, Dumpas, Kalabakan, Tawau on Sept 25 and JHL Sabah described the elephant’s death as a brutal killing as post-mortem results found around 70 bullets embedded in the body.

Several non-governmental organisations offered rewards of up to RM30,000 to those who could provide information and the swift response from police forces and JHL Sabah by launching “Ops Khazanah” led to the detention of five locals and one illegal immigrant along with five firearms, 59 live bullets, 53 bullet shell casing and elephant tusks

The carcass of a pygmy elephant with its tusks removed found in Beluran.

The dust had hardly settled down when another Borneo elephant was found shot dead on Oct 19 at a Beluran oil palm plantation, and two weeks later, a Borneo elephant carcass was found floating in the Kinabatangan River on Nov 3 before another elephant was found dead in Sukau on Nov 16!

Most recently, another elephant carcass was found by a farm worker in Bakapit, Lahad Datu, on Dec 9.

Since 2010,145 cases of elephant deaths have been recorded in Sabah, among others, due to poaching, revenge, poisoning, accidents, illnesses and the rest are unknown.

The numbers recorded over the past 10 years are huge especially given the state of elephant species in Sabah that is on the verge of extinction with only about 2,000 species remaining.

It is undeniable that wildlife hunters are a major issue across the country and has received the attention of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, who has taken drastic steps by launching “Ops Bersepadu Khazanah” (OBK) to curb the activities of illegal poachers of tigers, pangolins, porcupines and elephants for profit.

In fact, there are VVIPs in the country having been identified to be actively involved in illegal hunting around the jungle in the peninsula.

The war on poaching has not stopped the police from doubling their efforts in hunting down the culprits by checking on restaurants serving exotic menus of these protected animals.

By: Bernama.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/145566/challenging-year-as-sabah-threatened-by-wildlife-extinction/


Climate talks: Inaction borders on criminal

Monday, December 23rd, 2019
Activists protesting against climate change as the COP25 climate summit is held in Madrid, Spain, on Dec 9. Few serious commitments have emerged to meet the pledges made in Paris in 2015. REUTERS PIC

The recent climate talks in Madrid ended with a disgraceful whimper.

Outside of Europe, few serious commitments have emerged to meet the pledges made in Paris in 2015 — an exasperating outcome that reveals a lack of honest conviction to address an issue threatening the very survival of some countries in the foreseeable future, and every one of us in the not-much-longer term.

It is simply inexcusable that global fossil fuel emissions have risen four per cent since Paris, even as the decibel level of scientific sirens has risen sharply, imploring us to adopt “transformative change” in an “emergency response”.

Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing in many of the biggest emitter countries like the US, China and Japan, which is planning to export coal generators and build more coal-fired power plants — the only Group of Seven nation still doing so.

Incredibly, as this dawning, existential crisis becomes more visible on the horizon, we have tip-toed around the problem and the powerful economic interests behind it.

Could there be a better illustration than this, noted by a couple of COP25 observers?: “The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement ran 16 pages, but didn’t mention the words ‘fossil fuels’, ‘coal’, ‘oil’, or ‘gas’ once.

“It’s as if no one at Alcoholics Anonymous ever mentioned ‘whiskey, beer or wine’.

“Unlike the World Health Organisation, which bans tobacco lobbyists from taking part in negotiations about tobacco cessation efforts, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has no protections against industry corruption.”

Compounding the consequences of our negligence, in November seven eminent scientists, writing in the journal Nature, reported their conclusion that more than half the “tipping points” identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change decades ago have been activated, raising the spectre of abrupt and irreversible climate changes.

These include the thaw of Arctic permafrost and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, both massive reservoirs that now threaten to release billions of additional tonnes of carbon.

Inevitably, the greatest burdens of climate change will fall disproportionately on poor countries, i.e. those least responsible for the problem.

The Bahamas, for example, responsible for just 0.02 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, suffered 72 deaths and RM13.6 billion in losses as entire towns were blown away by Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, which stalled and parked over the country last August.

Notonly are less fortunate countries typically the hardest-hit victims of extreme weather, they’re also the most vulnerable to creeping threats like rising sea levels and crippling droughts.

Like citizens of other island nations, Bahamians justifiably contend that North Americans, the Japanese, Saudi Arabians, Australians and others who built their economies by burning fossil fuels are morally obligated to help less developed, more vulnerable countries.

And yet in Madrid, only a relatively paltry sum was negotiated for climate-related losses.

Wealthier countries broadly agreed to study the issue, with the US most visibly anxious to exclude itself from chipping in, to indemnify itself from liability.

It and other wealthy countries reportedly prefer to provide disaster loss and damage money as charity on their own terms, unbound by any international rules.

Meanwhile, negotiators at Madrid’s marathon talks ended up postponing to 2020 a key decision on how to regulate global carbon markets, an area of concern that dominated COP25.

The Paris agreement allows countries to set rules for trading in carbon credits.

Ideally, wealthier countries would help developing countries pay for projects such as land restoration or conversion to cleaner fuels while adopting more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals at home.

But in the absence of proper rules, richer countries could simply buy a way to maintain their own emissions’ levels.

Malaysia must step up and fully meet its obligations, in the context of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, a 28-year-old principle in climate talks that our delegation in Madrid, led by Deputy Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis of the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry, strongly endorsed, and rightly so.

Malaysia has been a strong advocate of this principle, first introduced during the negotiations at the Earth Summit in 1992.

As a moderate nation, we are in a powerful position to help broker more action but credibility demands we begin with “clean hands”.

In 2015, leaders pledged to limit global warming to “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius, while trying to remain below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But, to quote the World Resources Institute: “The can-do spirit that birthed the Paris agreement feels like a distant memory today.”

The disconnect between the lack of progress on the Paris pledges, between the overwhelming scientific consensus and what’s being done, borders on criminal.

In October, more than 300 scientists from 20 nations called for peaceful, non-violent protests and direct action, “even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law”.

And if that is what it takes to produce a change in course, it has my full endorsement too.

By TAN SRI DR ZAKRI ABDUL HAMID.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/12/550148/climate-talks-inaction-borders-criminal

SPAN threatens stern action against those dumping waste into manholes

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The National Water Service Commission (SPAN) has warned that stern action will be taken against those responsible for illegally dumping waste into manholes following the shutdown of water and sewage treatment plants in the Klang Valley over the weekend.

It said in a statement on Sunday (Dec 22) that action would be taken under the Water Service Industry Act 2006 to serve as a deterrent.

According to SPAN, the on-going water disruption was caused by people who dumped waste into manholes, leading to pollution in Sungai Semenyih.

As a result, the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant was shut down, followed by the plant at Bukit Tampoi.

This affected water supply to 1.5 million residents in Hulu Langat, Sepang, Putrajaya, Petaling Jaya and Kuala Langat.

“After completing investigations, we will forward the case to the public prosecutor for further action,” SPAN said.

The Indah Water Konsortium’s Bukit Mahkota sewage treatment plant was also forced to shut down, pending activities to clear the manholes in the vicinity.

SPAN and all relevant parties, including Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (Luas), the Department of Environment, Air Selangor and IWK, have taken steps to rectify the problem to ensure the affected treatment plants would be up and running as soon as possible, said the statement.

SPAN will hold a meeting with relevant agencies on Monday (Dec 23) to discuss preventive measures that can be employed to check illegal dumping of waste to avoid shutting down water treatment plants in the future.

Sabah’s conservation rated ‘satisfactory’

Monday, December 23rd, 2019
KOTA KINABALU: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-Use Forest Landscapes (MFL) in Sabah, Malaysia, ended with “Satisfactory” score under the UNDP-GEF Terminal Evaluation, for significant beneficial results it produced.
The final workshop that was held here recently marked the end of this ambitious project initiated seven years ago.
According to a statement, the project received a ‘Satisfactory’ score under UNDP-GEF Terminal Evaluation, for has produced significant beneficial results including in the expansion of protected area and ecological connectivity for wildlife and use of cutting edge scientific research data in forest landscape management planning.

Initiated on June 22, 2012, the “Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-Use Forest Landscapes (MFL) in Sabah, Malaysia” project was funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and implemented by Sabah Forestry Department.

The ambitious project of 261,264ha landmass connects the three renowned protected areas in Sabah namely Maliau Basin Conservation Area (58,840 ha), Danum Valley Conservation Areas (43,800 ha), and Imbak Canyon Conservation Areas (16,750 ha).
In line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on Goal 13: Climate Action and Goal 15: Life on Land, the project’s objective focused on bringing multiple land uses under a common and integrated management umbrella in order to mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem functions and resilience.
The workshop for the “Biodiversity Conservation in Multiple-Use Forest Landscapes (MFL) in Sabah, Malaysia” sees the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) handing over the project outputs and other key documents to the Natural Resources Office on behalf of Sabah’s government.

Among some of the key documents handed over includes the 10-Year Integrated Landscape Management Plan (ILMP) 2020-2029 for the Kalabakan Multiple-use Forest Landscape; which has been extended to the Sabah Chief Minister and the Yayasan Sabah Director for their reference and guidance on the management of the 261,264 ha forest landscape in near future.

The final draft Ecosystem Conservation Authority Enactment 2020 is expected to be finalised during the next State Legislative Assembly.

Upon approval, the new enactment will allow Sabah to impose and collect the Ecosystem Conservation Fee as a source of funds for the ecosystem conservation programme in Sabah that will complement government expenditure for carrying out ecosystem conservation activities. Other documents handed over included the draft Policy on Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), Guidelines for Operationalising Proposed Ecosystem Conservation Programme (ECP), draft Policy on Managed Retention of Sabah’s Forests: Moving Toward Biodiversity Net Gain, and outline of guidelines to accompany the draft Policy on Managed Retention.

The officiating speech, delivered by Frederick Kugan on behalf of the State Chief Conservator of Forests, highlighted several challenges faced during the initial stages of the project and extended his appreciation to UNDP and other project stakeholders from governmental agencies and NGOs for their strong support in making the ambitious project possible.
Through its seven years of implementation, Sabah’s MFL project has produced significant output for the state, some of the key achievements include classification of 149,277.37 ha for Totally Protected Area that contribute to Sabah government’s goal to increase its Totally Protected Areas to 30pc or 2.1 million hectares of Sabah landmass by 2025.
The project spent US$4.098m (RM16m) of the total US$4.4m (RM18.04m) allotted fund; remaining funds from the project will continue to support activities that focus on application, scale-up and capacity building in 2020 including stakeholder socialisation for an upcoming pipeline project on Integrated Landscape Management in the Heart of Borneo Landscapes in Sabah and Sarawak.
The new GEF-funded, UNDP-supported project is expected to embark implementation in 2021 for six years, with the aims to transform land use planning and management in Sabah and Sarawak to contain the footprint of palm oil production and maintain high-value forest for environment and development benefits.

NST Leader: Tomorrow’s economy

Friday, December 20th, 2019
Ahmad Iszuddin Ahmad Izham, 13, who set up a non-profit group to save sea creatures from extinction. His dedication to conserving the environment and saving sea turtles earned him praise from Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah. NSTP

YOUNG people everywhere are making their presence felt.

Whether on social media or being part of a global movement for a cause, they are agents of change and face of the future.

History abounds in narratives of youth who have made a difference.

France’s Joan of Arc (1412–1431) was only 16 when she met with the Dauphin of France to convince him to renew the fight with the English, Germany’s Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) opposed Nazi ideology and was executed for high treason at 22, and Pakistani Iqbal Masih (1983-1995), a child labourer who rescued more than 3,000 children from forced labour in Pakistan before he was shot in the head.

Modern-day youths include Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to girls’ education, and 19-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, environmentalist and youth director for Earth Guardians. These young people have one thing in common — fighting to make the world a better place. Some of the most meaningful social changes in the world today have been sparked by the actions of the young.

Malaysia, too, is not short of youth achievers. Yesterday, this newspaper front-paged Ahmad Iszuddin Ahmad Izham, 13, who set up a non-profit group to save sea creatures from extinction. His dedication to conserving the environment and saving sea turtles earned him praise from Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, who mentioned him in a speech during the launch of a book.

We also have Mohd Lutfi Fadil Lokman, 29, the co-founder of Hospitals Beyond Boundaries — a youth group from various fields of expertise, building hospitals where they are needed most; United Kingdom-trained surgeon, Dr Nur Amalina Che Bakri, 31, successfully removed a 200gm tumour from baby Ainul Mardhiah Ahmad Safiuddin’s mouth at a London hospital; and Jazz Tan Yee Mei, 27, the co-founder of Youthstoday that implemented some 1,500 youth development projects nationwide.

Indeed, the youth are the backbone of a society. Malaysia needs more of them. Their participation in all aspects of society is important and as this newspaper stressed, imperative to the nation’s development. Often, it is said that youth is the time of vigour and spirit, therefore empowering young people in various work realms can help reduce unemployment and social ills.

Let’s not forget, though, that the young must be guided, for, without education they have no direction, no purpose. Higher education for our youth is critical to their success. With globalisation, Malaysia would have to boost efforts to move up the value chain towards a more knowledge-driven youth workforce, so they can compete in the world market.

This Leader believes more young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. For instance, more empowerment to qualified youths at the senior management level, including in government-linked companies. Seniors need to be aware that the workings of today are best understood by people who are 40 and below, because they were born in “tomorrow’s economy”.

Former United Nations secretary-general, the late Kofi Annan, once said, the young, if empowered, are key agents for development and peace — “if they are left on society’s margins, we will be impoverished

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2019/12/549075/nst-leader-tomorrows-economy

Waste not to save the planet

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019
There are other environmentally-friendly activities that can be encouraged, such as reducing usage of or refusing plastic bags, planting rooftop gardens, growing herbs and vegetables, and harvesting rainwater. – FILE PIC

AS a consumer advocate, I urge that children at schools be exposed to the many ways of saving resources.

We generally see food wastage as a sin, so avoid wastage.

Eat what you can by all means but don’t waste. Everybody should eat and live in moderation. That is the right way to live.

Also, do not overeat. Do not waste God-given resources like food and water too.

It is wrong if we do that. Check your home for leaky taps and toilets.

When we wash dishes, fill a dishpan with water instead of running the tap water.

Use energy-saving power gadgets and devices in homes and offices. However, ensure they are Sirim-approved.

Run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machines to save water.

Take showers instead of baths. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.

There are other environmentally-friendly activities that can be encouraged, such as reducing usage of or refusing plastic bags, planting rooftop gardens, growing herbs and vegetables, and harvesting rainwater.

Strive to go green by all means and at all times so that we help protect and save the environment.

There is only one Mother Earth and we have to work hard to save this planet.

By BULBIR SINGH

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/12/544501/waste-not-save-planet

At least 50 per cent of Sabah will remain under forest cover — Shafie

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: In tackling deforestation in the state, the Sabah government ensures that about 50 percent of Sabah’s land area is always under forest cover and sufficient to provide ecosystem services like watershed areas and habitats for flora and fauna.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the overall forest cover in Sabah at the end of the 1980s was estimated at 44,750 square kilometers, slightly over 60 percent  of the Sabah’s total land area of 73,631 square kilometres.

In 2010, around 37,600 square kilometres or 51 percent of the Sabah’s land area were covered with forest, he said.

“In combating deforestation in the state, the government is under an obligation to ensure that about 50 percent of Sabah’s land area is always under forest cover and sufficient to provide ecosystem services like watershed areas and habitats for flora and fauna.

“The average deforestation rate of 0.75 percent per annum from 1990 to 2010, however, has nearly halved when compared with the 1980s,” he said at the opening ceremony of ‘Wood and Biofibre International Conference 2019 here yesterday. His speech was delivered by Sabah Infrastructure Minister Datuk Peter Anthony.

Mohd Shafie said the Sabah government was able to maintain the total forest cover over the years through its Sabah Forest Policy 2018, which stipulated that every dissolution of the forest reserve area must be replaced with an area of the same size or something bigger.

He said apart from natural forests, Sabah also has a vast area of forest plantations.

He added since 2012, Sabah has established about 226,000 ha of forest plantations, of which about 55 percent are cultivated with high-value commercial species.

The two-day conference is organised by the Institute of Tropical Forestry and Forest Products (INTROP), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

UPM Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Dr. Zulkifli Idrus, in his welcoming speech, said the conference was an important platform to strengthen relationships between industries, researchers and academics.

He said it was an excellent initiative to bring together industry and academia to discuss the latest developments in wood and biofibre, from upstream agricultural topic to downstream fibre processing and product advancement, as well as the socio-economic impact of these bio-resources.

by Bernama.

Read more @ https://www.theborneopost.com/2019/12/04/at-least-50-per-cent-of-sabah-will-remain-under-forest-cover-shafie/

Handle pollution issues, EU’s palm oil ban prudently

Sunday, November 24th, 2019
It is very simple to connect the dots and link them to potential companies behind the pollution. But no action was taken. – NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

LET’S recap. We had two Pasir Gudang pollution incidents followed by a few river pollution cases that caused water treatment plants to shut down.

And recently, there was the haze too.

These issues have striking similarities. Once the incident is over, we tend to forget about it until the incident occurs again. Except for lip service from responsible parties, no concrete solutions will come of it.

The haze has been happening for more than two decades. In the 2020 Budget, RM27 million was allocated to manage anti-palm oil campaigns and another RM30 million to the Department of Environment and Department of Chemistry to deal with pollution issues.

Will we get value for money spent? What happened to the “full report” on Sg Kim Kim and the Pasir Gudang pollution?

Just look at how the haze situation makes Malaysia a loser.

It will start with denial followed by statements of regret. When pressure builds up in Malaysia, we get a reply that it’s only few months but it (Indonesia) gives clean air to breathe for the rest of the months.

If further pressure is applied, Indonesia will name a few Malaysian companies and then there is a short brouhaha.

Finally, that forgetful attitude kicks in again — until the same scenario repeats the following year. This is a simplified version on how the haze is dealt with in Malaysia. Can transboundary haze laws help? Frankly, the minister in charge of environment should look at the bigger picture and not merely follow Singapore to enact a law on transboundary haze.

Malaysia should include haze as one of the provisions. A legal agreement of cooperation between our neighbours should follow suit.

Use such a collaboration to further get Asean to adopt the Transboundary Pollution Cooperation Agreement to cover all types of pollution.

Just look at the Pasir Gudang situation.

It is very simple to connect the dots and link them to potential companies behind the pollution. But no action was taken.

What will we do if hazardous chemicals cross national boundaries to pollute a neighbouring country?

So, Asean needs to provide better protection for its people.

On the other hand, the anti-palm oil campaign can be handled professionally and swiftly. Once Malaysia and Asean weed out the bad companies, there will be improved standing for the industry itself.

If the palm oil industry is wrongfully accused, get the facts straightened out in a court case and use judicial review or other due processes to overturn the European Union ban on use of palm oil for biofuel.

If EU is defeated, this court verdict will become a free advertisement globally and the industry can clear its name.

Why use taxpayers’ money? In Malaysia, we use palm oil in almost everything, so why carry out a campaign here? The industry should fund any activity to protect its interest.

The Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia never expected the environment and safeguarding of people’s welfare to drop to such levels due to poor execution. It is even more heartbreaking to see the focus put on cheap publicity stunts.

So before any of the allocations are wasted, can the ministers in charge of palm oil and environment carry out the suggestions by the end of this year?

by PIARAPAKARAN. S

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/11/541480/handle-pollution-issues-eus-palm-oil-ban-prudently