Archive for the ‘Environmental Education’ Category

More study needs to be done on Likas Bay water – expert

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Dr Teru expalining to Jebsen & Jessen volunteers the water samples collected over a plankton survey.

KOTA KINABALU: Impaired water quality is a global issue. It is in fact a growing problem especially when there is proof of limited resources for drinking, domestic use as well as harming the ecosystems.

According to Associate Professor Dr Teruaki Yoshida, head of the Unit for Harmful Algal Bloom Studies (UHABS), Borneo Marine Research Institute, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, the data findings from the water samples collected over a plankton survey at Likas Bay showed high dominance of a single phytoplankton species – Protoperidinium.

“Water impairment often affects marine biodiversity. Eutrophication of the water exerts pressure on phytoplankton populations allowing the intensive growth of certain harmful-toxin producing species or nuisance blooms that may create problems in the ecosystem and public health.”

“When there is a single phytoplankton species dominating in an area, it may indicate deterioration in the water quality,” he revealed the findings during the presentation of the Plankton Survey for the Sustaining Kota Kinabalu’s Marine Heritage project – a joint marine conservation project between Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Sutera Harbour Resort here on Friday.

Dr Teruaki further stated that it is imperative for people not to increase the release of nutrients in the water.

“Excessive nutrient input into the sea is known to trigger phytoplankton blooms. The sources of nutrients are usually derived from coastal human activities and from agricultural and industrial wastes,” he said.

When asked about the level of water quality in Likas Bay, Dr Teruaki said more studies needed to be done.

“To evaluate the present water condition in Likas Bay, it is essential to monitor the changes in environmental variables and indicator species over a certain period before any concrete judgement can be made,” he said.

He also said that the water quality would further deteriorate if there were no improvements of wastewater treatment systems.

“The government’s responsibility to improve our wastewater treatment system is important.
“The discharge of inadequately treated wastewater may cause adverse impacts such as water pollutions, spread of waterborne diseases, decrease in tourism potential; just to name a few,” he said.

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‘Blood Moon’ reveals itself to Sabah skywatchers

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Sky gazers in Sabah had the rare opportunity of witnessing an orange-red “blood moon” and Mars or the Red Planet appearing next to each other in the second total lunar eclipse this year since the first in January.

Social media, too, went abuzz in the wee hours with updates of the rare phenomenon and some even tried to capture it using smartphone cameras.

The total eclipse lasted for 1 hour 43 minutes, making it the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon are aligned and the moon enters the Earth’s umbra – the darker, central part of the Earth’s shadow.

The moon changed from white to a reddish hue and then returned to its original colour over a five-hour period.

The penumbral eclipse (the lighter, outer part of the Earth’s shadow (penumbra) moved across the Moon) began at 1.14am with the maximum eclipse (mid-point of totality) at 4.21am and the penumbral eclipse (the penumbra moved away from the Moon) ended at 7.28am.

Malaysians were lucky as they were able to witness the spectacle but only certain places in the country – Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Terengganu, Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi – witnessed the entire seven phases of the eclipse. Mars shone bright all night as it was at its closest point to Earth since 2003 – visible as a “bright red star” when the skies were clear.

Mars appeared unusually large and bright, a mere 57.7 million kilometres (35.9 million miles) from Earth on its elliptical orbit around the sun.

A total lunar eclipse happens when Earth takes position in a straight line between the moon and sun, blotting out the direct sunlight that normally makes our satellite glow whitish-yellow.

The moon travels to a similar position every month, but the tilt of its orbit means it normally passes above or below the Earth’s shadow – so most months we have a full moon without an eclipse.

When the three celestial bodies are perfectly lined up, however, the Earth’s atmosphere scatters blue light from the sun while refracting or bending red light onto the moon, usually giving it a rosy blush.

In Jan 31, this year, stargazers were treated to a rare celestial display of a three-in-one phenomenon – a “blue moon” (the second full moon of the month), a supermoon (the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit) and a “blood moon” (a total lunar eclipse).

by Ricardo Unto.

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World’s new tallest tree in Tawau Hills Park

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Tawau: The Tawau Hills Park, located some 24 kilometres from town here, is home to giant tropical trees and the world’s new tallest tropical tree at 96.9 metres.

The tree of Shorea faguetiana species from the Diptercarpaceae family, located about 9.5km from the Park’s main station, was discovered on May 28, this year.

According to studies, the reason why giant trees can grow to such extreme height at the Park is because of its rich, fertile volcanic soil and high volume of rainfall.

For many years, the world’s tallest tropical tree has been recognised in the Tawau Hills Park at a height of 88.32m (Shorea faguetiana family: Dipterocarpaceae), which is located 900 metres from the Park’s main station.

Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew launched the new discovery after visiting the Park on Friday, accompanied by Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais.

Sabah has always been known to harbour giant tropical trees in the world, with the two records in the Tawau Hill Parks, apart from similar species of slightly taller tree (89.5m) found at the Maliau Basin Conservation Area in 2016.

Also, in 2016, the then tallest tree in the world was found at the Danum Valley Conservation Area at 94.1 metres.

The Tawau Hills Park, with a total area of 27, 972 hectares, was gazetted in 1979.

The primary aims of its gazettement are to protect the water catchment for the people of Tawau and Semporna peninsula, to preserve the forests for wildlife sanctuary and to preserve areas of scenic beauty for amenity and recreational purposes.

There are three main peaks in the form of extinct volcanoes, which were last active about 27,000 years ago, namely Mt Magdalena (1,310m), Mt Lucia (1,201m) and Mt Maria (1,020m).

The Park, also popularly known as Table among locals here, recorded a total of 63,357 visitor arrivals in 2017, comprising 62,087 Malaysians and 1, 270 foreigners.

The number was lower compared to 2016, which recorded 67,693 visitors comprising 66,571 Malaysians and 1, 122 foreigners.

Meanwhile, the Park’s spokesperson said Sabah Parks commissioned a management plan study for the Tawau Hills Park in 2015, conducted by the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Sabah, where the management plan will be re-evaluated this year to implement some of the medium-term development plan.

Four development plans to be re-evaluated are:

- First: The enhancement and beautification of the entrance complex and the recreation area for creating an attractive boulevard tree-lined entry road.

- Second: Upgrading of the network of trails leading to the natural pool of hot water springs, upgrading the trail from Park’s main station to the Sulphur Hot Spring by introducing good buggy car and cycling tract and introducing attractive sign boards offering interpretation nature at the park.

- Third: Redevelopment of the recreation area as a Boutique Natural Hit Springs Resort and the facility be developed to a high standard with the appeal to both international and domestic markets.

by Lagatah Toyos.

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Partnerships, engagement key to finding solutions in managing sharks and rays in Sabah

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) director Cynthia Ong (left) facilitating a panel discussion at the recently concluded Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018

KOTA KINABALU: The establishment of strategic partnerships, as well as honest and continuous engagement, are needed in approaching the complex issues surrounding the conservation of sharks and rays in Sabah.

Although their reasons and motivations differ, stakeholders at the recently concluded Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 agreed they want to see an abundance of sharks and rays in Sabah waters.

Different sectors of society – fishermen, tourism players, civil society, government and researchers – each have their own priorities for healthy shark and ray populations.

Subsequent progress must therefore address the concerns of all – in particular the views of those in Semporna, the most important district in Sabah for shark-related fisheries, tourism and protection.

Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) director Cynthia Ong said based on presentations at the forum, the range of options include reviewing and reforming law and policy; tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; defining and reducing bycatch; establishing shark sanctuaries and Locally Managed Marine Areas; exploring alternative livelihoods for shark and ray fishers; and awareness raising.

“This will need to see collaboration on a wide scale, working with a range of stakeholders and the Department of Fisheries to enable more meaningful input into the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA 3).

“For example, some fishermen may not necessarily be keen on alternative livelihoods in the tourism sector, and there are some who say they are only responding to market demands. We also heard that understanding and defining bycatch is crucial for further shark conservation efforts as many sharks are caught as bycatch – a trend mirrored worldwide.

“Other efforts that could be looked at would be to trial shark and ray bycatch reduction techniques on trawlers, and to assess the viability of establishing a locally managed marine area with sharks and rays as the main drawcard that is self-funded through tourism in Semporna,” Ong said.

She said the recommendations, agreements and recognition that sharks and rays are important for healthy tourism and sustainable fisheries have inspired leadership, scientists and local conservationists to strive together for a healthy ocean that include sharks.

One major outcome of the conference was that research groups are keen to work with government and the fisheries industry to gather additional scientific knowledge of local shark and ray populations and to support increased marine protection in Malaysian waters. The fisheries sector meanwhile, said it was willing to be engaged on how it could improve, but without losing its economic and trade values.

Other areas of future work that emerged from the forum included improved monitoring of shark and ray catch at markets to species level – to gather baseline data at species level, as well as determining whether protected areas such as the Tun Sakaran Marine Park – have seen an increase in shark and ray abundance
Relevant parties would also need to continue promoting awareness on the importance of sharks and rays, as well as the negative impact to the environment when consumers opt for shark fin soup as sharks are apex predators and are essential for maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem.

Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA) chairman Aderick Chong stressed on the need to list species of sharks that are known to be abundant and to limit harvesting to these, and to protect the rest.

The Green Gold of Borneo: an exciting environmental docufiction by Sabahan writer

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Emin Madi’s new release English book titled “The Green Gold of Borneo (GGoB)”, is not only an adventure-packed documentary fiction, but also provides an insight into Sabah’s phenomenal achievement  in forest conservation efforts.

The protagonist of the 145-page literary work is a strong-willed journalist obsessed to uncover the secrets of the unexplored saucer-like summit in the middle of the famous Maliau Basin Conservation Area (MBCA), also known as Sabah’s Lost World.

The fictional journalist did not heed a Murut shaman’s advice and later encountered unusual happenings and strange events in very unlikely situations.

“In many ways, although the plot is mostly fictionalised, GGoB is all about natural environment, particularly the fate of the last remaining undisturbed rain forest in Malaysia and Sabah in particular.

“I came to realise that natural wonders, and in this case the totally protected forest in Sabah, is a very interesting topic for book writing.

“I was very fortunate to have participated in many resource and wildlife surveys inside Sabah’s last remaining natural wonders and I thought I should write something more interesting, such as documentary-adventure-fiction.

“It took me the whole year of 2016 to complete the manuscript for GGoB , after which my former colleague, Zahir Ahmad, edited the first copy before sending it to the UK-based Austin Macauley Publishers,” the veteran journalist told Bernama.

The Bernama freelance reporter’s first foray into environmental reporting was in 1980’s when he participated in a scientific expedition in the now world renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area in Lahad Datu, Sabah, involving local and foreign researchers, including the Royal Society, UK.

In 2013, Emin, 69, who hails from Kampung Bayangan, Keningau, Sabah,  spent 10 days in the deep jungle of MBCA with local researchers who were carrying out resource and wildlife survey.

“It was at Maliau Basin that I felt a deep urge to write an environmental-based documentary fiction, especially after some expedition participants related to me many mysterious events that took place around the area.

“So I got an idea to start writing GGoB using MBCA as a central theme and also based on my own experiences working alongside scientists and researchers.

“From my own observation, the findings from the field work are very important as it could be used to communicate using facts and information about the stature of Sabah’s protected forest.

“On top of that, I was also very motivated by the tremendous and commendable efforts undertaken by the Sabah Forestry Department with the strong support of the previous state government to protect the state’s natural heritage.

“Moving forward, I hope the current government will have strong commitment to protect our pristine and undisturbed forest as well as to continue and encourage more research activities and international research collaboration,” he said.

As at November 2016, Sabah’s Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) was 1,874,061 hectares or 25.46 percent of the state total land area.

In 1997, the Sabah State Assembly elevated the Maliau Basin Conservation Area into Class 1 Protection Forest Reserve and increased its size from 39,000 to 58,000  hectares to include the outer northern and eastern escarpments and Lake Linumunsut, the largest lake in Sabah.

According to record, Maliau Basin was spotted in 1947, when a British pilot flying from the West Coast of Sabah to Tawau in the east coast, nearly crashed into the steep cliffs rising over 915 meters above the jungle floor.


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German’s 1,700km run mission for rainforests

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: A retired German civil engineer will embark on a 1,700km run to raise awareness on saving one of the very few remaining rainforests.

Hailing from Nürnburg, Germany, Andreas Bussinger, 28, will start his mission from The Tip of Borneo, Kudat to Pontianak, Indonesia at about 4am on July 15 (Sunday).

He said the run is a collaboration with Lightup Borneo, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), with the mission to raise awareness on promoting electricity and lighting as well as clean energy in Borneo’s vast interior filled with remote villages as well as raising RM50,000 for the NGO.

“A run across Borneo has never been done before and therefore setting myself for the mammoth task of running over 1,500km through Borneo will be a new ‘record’.

“The unpredictable here is I can experience blazing hot sun for one moment and complete wash of rain next.

“This is not an easy endeavour, with mosquitoes, steep hill climbs as well as temperature and humidity close to 100 per cent, but I am prepared for blood, sweat and tears,” he told a press conference at Lightup Borneo HQ, here, Wednesday.

Andreas said he is not a professional runner and has never run over 20km at one go in his life but with his strong will, dream and vision, he is prepared to go great length with determination.

“I have been training every day for two hours for the past few months and I plan to run in the wee hours and late evening to avoid the hot sun,” he explained.

Prior to this, Andreas along with his wife, Kim Min Jong, 32, and their two children had set off from Germany to Peninsular Malaysia in a Mercedes-Benz 310D campervan before setting foot on Borneo.

by Locksley Ng.

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Malaysia ready to implement resolutions to prevent disasters

Thursday, July 5th, 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail delivers her speech during the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Bernama pic

ULAANBAATAR: Malaysia is ready to implement all the resolutions agreed under the Ulaanbaatar Declaration as well as the 2018-2020 Action Plan formulated during the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR).

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said both initiatives are important as it will also spur Malaysia’s very own preparation to face and prevent disasters in the future to ensure sustained development in the country.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the initiatives are important to effectively tackle new challenges brought about by climate change.

Speaking at the eighth AMCDRR which was participated by over 3,000 delegates from Asia Pacific countries, Dr Wan Azizah said the conference provide opportunities for Malaysian delegates to enhance cooperation, strengthen network between participating countries as part of efforts to reduce the occurrences of disasters.

“Global climate conditions are uncertain and Malaysia too faces challenges on how to minimise the risk of disasters. As an example, an earthquake happened at Mount Kinabalu (a few years ago) and now mild aftershocks are being felt regularly in Ranau,” Dr Wan Azizah who is head of delegation spoke to the Malaysian media after the conference which ended today.

Malaysia can also share its training expertise with other countries as in terms of training capability, the country is second best after Singapore.

By Manan Samad.

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Environment needs our full attention

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

TODAY, the full Cabinet is formed. The Government can now move as a full team.

The focus so far has been mainly on economic issues: the national debt; zero-rating the Goods and Services Tax; reviewing overpriced projects; uncovering the wrongdoing at 1Malaysia Development Bhd and other scandals; and the future of government-linked companies.

The environment now deserves the spotlight. It affects people’s lives directly. We need improved policies. Otherwise, quality of life will drop.

The two new ministers in charge of the environment have enormous tasks ahead of them. Their ministries cover pollution and toxics, land and water, forest, biodiversity, energy, climate change and more.

All these are affected by the pattern of economic activities. But they also impact on the economy.

Indeed, the environment and na­­tural resources are the foundation of the economy and they set the parameters of how much economic growth can be sustained.

There is a popular mantra that “we will have economic growth without adversely affecting the environment, and will pursue sustainable development”. This must be really done, rather than be mere rhetoric while it is business as usual.

The following should be among the priorities of the environment-­related ministers.

First, take on climate change se­­riously. The Pakatan Harapan mani­festo mentions setting up a council for climate change mitigation and adaptation. This should be formed, be action-oriented, with clear goals, strategies and implementation plans.

The council should be backed up by a Climate Change Centre dedica­ted to achieving goals on mitigation (reducing emissions in energy, transport, industry, construction, land use and forest) and adaptation (building resilience to storms, increased rain, floods, water shortage, sea water rise, etc).

We also need to strengthen Malaysia’s role in climate change negotiations at the United Nations Climate Convention.

Up to a few years ago, Malaysia was a leading player. This leadership role should be restored, as this is the most important negotiation taking place in the world today.

Second, we need to urgently tac­kle the related issues of forest and soil conservation, river management, flood prevention and mitigation, and ensuring enough water supply, in an integrated manner.

Forests and trees are the foundation of ecology, water supply and management and biodiversity. The chopping of forests, especially in hills, either for logging or commercial projects, should be stopped or drastically reduced as it has gone too far.

The recent ban on logging in Sabah because it causes floods was a good start. Just as good is the campaign by the Penang government to get Kedah, Penang and Perlis to plan with the Federal Government to forever stop all logging in the Ulu Muda forest area, with Kedah getting some resources for revenue loss.

The Ulu Muda forest is the main source of water for these three states, and nothing can be more vital than ensuring they continue to get the water.

No commercial activity can be more important than conserving that forest.

The environment ministers must work towards protecting the country’s forests and soils.

The trees and plants enable rainwater to seep into the ground and flow to reservoirs, and prevent soil erosion and water surges in rivers that would otherwise result in floods downstream, in the villages and towns.

Flood prevention must also include turning our urban areas into “sponge cities”, with steps taken to significantly increase rainwater to penetrate underground rather than be swept into overflowing rivers, thus causing flash floods.

Among the necessary measures are increasing fields and parks, planting trees, and making pavements and roads permeable, so that water can be absorbed into the ground rather than running off.

The rainwater can also be collected in large storage tanks underground for later use, as done in other countries, including Singa­pore.

Yes, all these green measures and infrastructure cost money. But it would be money well spent.

There has been too much emphasis on highways and concrete buildings. We now need billions of ringgit allocated for rehabilitating da­maged hillsides and forests, conserving watersheds, and building green infrastructure, to prevent floods and to conserve, save and store water.

We have a few years to stop and reverse the disastrous trend of worsening floods and insufficient and unsteady water supply. These problems are now at critical levels in many states. They should be tackled systematically and not as in the past, in an ad hoc manner, where there is action only when a crisis happens.

The third priority is the control of pollution and toxic products, che­micals and wastes.

Air pollution is now a major killer. Water pollution in rivers and seas is growing.

Plastics have now been recognised as the source of very serious environmental and health pro­blems, and some countries and states are banning or taxing plastic bags, containers and wastes.

Some state governments (like Penang and Selangor) have started taking measures to reduce the use of plastics. Action at the federal level is needed as well.

The environment-related ministers should also examine existing laws and regulations with a view to strengthening them and even esta­blishing new ones where necessary. Among them are the Environmental Quality Act and the accompanying rules on environmental impact assessments.

How adequate are they? How effective is the EQA enforcement and how satisfactory has the EIA process been? It’s time for reviews and reforms.

There are many more environment issues, such as energy (the need to switch to renewables); replacing polluting technologies with environmentally sound technologies; protecting the marine environment and wetlands; conserving biodiversity, fauna and flora; and replacing chemical-based agriculture with sustainable agriculture.

By Martin Khor


No more TAED: City Hall to retake possession of Tg Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park to be retained and upgraded.

KOTA KINABALU: The land title for the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project will be transferred back to the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) for new upgrading works for Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park, said Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong.

As far as he is concerned, Junz said there would be “no more TAED”.

The 345-hectare TAED project has currently been put on hold by City Hall pending a directive from the new State Government.

Junz said the Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park would be retained and upgraded and will remain as an open space for the good of the public.

He said the State Cabinet would discuss about TAED as soon as possible, adding that the project would be put on hold until further announcement.

As the Tanjung Aru assemblyman, Junz said his stand on TAED is firm and clear since his time in the opposition and has remained firm till now.

“That is to ensure that the TAED will not go on and to make 101 percent sure that the natural beauty of Tanjung Aru Beach is retained.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai said City Hall had cleaned up Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park within five days upon obtaining the green light from the State Government.

He said both the beach and the park had been left neglected for a year which resulted in clogged drains and uncut grass.

“The situation has improved significantly after cleaning up work by City Hall,” he said.

He said City Hall would continue to monitor the cleanliness at the beach and park for tourists and locals to enjoy the natural beauty of Tanjung Aru Beach.

Yeo revealed that Tanjung Aru Eco Development Sdn Bhd had taken over the Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park a year ago for the TAED project. During that period, all the hawkers’ stalls had been moved to Tanjung Lipat to make way for the buildings at Tanjung Aru Beach to be demolished. After the election, the TAED project was put on hold until further notice.

He said City Hall returned to clean up the beach on June 17 following the instruction from the Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Christina Liew.

by Chok Sim Yee.

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Deadly pest threat

Monday, June 25th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Observe quarantine restrictions and import regulations on fruits and plants or risk having them confiscated or penalties for importers.

Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong has advised the public to comply with the Plant Quarantine Regulations, citing examples in the past where indiscriminate importation brought into Sabah pests and diseases that threatened agriculture.

He was referring to the confiscation of three boxes of fresh lychee fruits from Guangzhou, China, at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

“We should learn from the past experience and take precautionary measure to protect our agriculture industry as well as our rich biodiversity of flora and fauna”, said Wong in a statement yesterday.

He cited for example the cocoa industry decimated by an imported pest that reduced Sabah’s cocoa hectarage from 400,000 hectares in the 1990s to about 5,000ha at present.

Cocoa, once known as ‘the golden crop’ that made Sabah and world-renowned cocoa producer, was abandoned by planters because they could not cope with the destruction caused by cocoa pod borers (or conopormopha cramerella) that was believed brought in through illegal plant import from a neighbouring country in the early 1980s.

Another example of the danger of indiscriminate plant imports is the demise of the famous ‘limau manis Beaufort’, a local citrus fruit that was synonymous to the town of Beaufort. Its end was believed to have been caused by a disease caused by a pest, candidatus liberobacter asisticvcum, suspected to have been brought in from China in the late 80s through smuggled fruits.

The minister said even Sabah’s rice-growing industry has not been spared from being attacked. The so-called ‘golden apple snail’ that destroys rice crop was believed to have been introduced into Sabah via import of aquarium ornamental plants.

“The importation of any plants, plant products and agriculture regulated articles are permitted but must apply an import permit from the Department of Agriculture Sabah before the items can enter Sabah from Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, Labuan and abroad,” he said.


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