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Water

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

A facebook friend posted a link on the new Penang policy on charging RM 0.24 per cubic meter of water, when the monthly usage of water exceeds 35 cubic meters. He questioned how can Penang claim to have lowest water tariff in Southeast Asia when in Selangor, the first 20 cubic meter of water you use is free?

This is my reply, in Chinese, but he eventually removed the post… =.=

Syabas:
Minimum RM6 per month
0-20: RM0.57
21-35: RM1.03
>35: RM 2.00

PBA:
Minimum RM2.5
0-20: RM0.22
20-40: RM0.42
40-60: RM0.52
60-200: RM 0.90
>200: RM 1.00

個人認為在 35cu 以上才徵收 RM0.24/cu 實在少得離譜… =.=  應該從 20cu 開始徵收…

雪州的水費“優待”並不是由 Syabas 提供的, Syabas 統計州民的用水記錄後, 再跟州政府埋單, 所以談不上"水費便宜"… 個人不贊同雪州此項計劃, 水供問題牽涉能源和自然生態… 社會問題應當通過社會方式解決, 不能犧牲能源及自然生態~

Syabas is water supplying company in Selangor while PBA is for Penang~  I personally think social issues (that poor people are too poor to pay for their water tariff and water shall be essential needs of everyone) should be solved by social means (A social assistance fund?). Water supply involves huge energy and environment issues and shall not be sacrificed for social issues. Hence, I’m all for Penang’s policy in charging a “Water Conservation Surcharge”, albeit too little… It is not easy to reaching 35cu/month usage, and RM 0.24/cu is too little…

Categories: Environment, Politics

Sabah Coal Power Plant

May 20, 2010 11 comments

Think this picture pretty sum up the Sabah coal power plant story. So the new power plant will be flanked by a wildlife reserve and a marine park, brilliant idea by our dear government huh? Whatever happen to the newly built Bakun Dam in Sarawak? Huh?

This website has pretty much summed up why a coal power plant should not be built here, and they are running a campaign to stop this from happening, by downloading one of the pictures, print it out in a post card and mail it to our dear “People’s Prime Minister”, who said that Rejang Park, Sibu is not a place a Prime Minister should be at (even though it is located in 1Malaysia)… Anyway, now, I need a freaking colour printer already!

All are really well done pictures that full of message, start to love this kind of straightforward messages, another such cute direct way of presentation would be the AIDS awareness campaign that was organized by PT Foundation

Oh you need some motivation?

  1. Of all place, why choose a place where tiger resides, especially since we know how dirty coal power is. On top of that, just how much the runoff will kill the sea adjacent to it?
  2. You really trust the Environment Impact Assessment conducted in Malaysia? Head over to the poor people in Bukit Koman, Raub, and read about their cyanide mining story if you feel like reading more!
  3. Is there no alternative? Isn’t our dear Prime Minister shouting that he wants to build a nuclear power plant because he wants to lead Malaysia into a freaking green technology advanced country. So can’t we think about clean alternative energy, instead of destructing forest and biodiversity and yet producing huge amount of greenhouse gases plus dirtying the eastern tip of one of the most beautiful state of Malaysia? By the way, Uranium mining, highly sophisticated protection and transport, and nuclear waste disposal are totally NOT GREEN at all.

Just some points to get you motivated, if you want to debate about the “Nation first, environment later”, let’s just say, how much shall and did we sacrifice already?

A website critic…

June 19, 2009 Leave a comment

OK, I love to criticize, very unfortunately.

I came across someone’s twitters regarding a Penang government website that dedicated to sort of create awareness towards global climate change.

I hope and positive that the website is on its alpha 1.0 and not its full version, because the current product (which is probably built on wordpress machine, which I have nothing against) would unfortunately be a waste of resources, even though it is most probably with good intention:

1. The interface is OK, but not attractive… and layout is cacat anyway…

2. The content sucks… Internet bombed us with tons of information and junks, and changed our behaviour of reading, that we are no longer reading but skimming and browsing. Putting a chunk of words would not help increasing awareness because people may just read one sentence and close the browser before going into next sentence! Marina Mahathir posted an interesting article on this phenomenon before, and challenged the reader to “Try and Read This All the Way to the End and Prove It Wrong!”

3. One significance of the film “An inconvenient truth” is that, it put a hardcore global warming issue into some easily understand layperson materials. As a public outreach website (a government website), it should try to capture the attention of the web users with say catchy slogans and lines for instance.

4. When you want your people to do something to reduce their contributions towards GHG emissions, one should put these actions (i.e. 20 Tips untuk rakyat Pulau Pinang), into marquee-ing big words or something like that, which could really catch attentions of the people, rather than putting them into a 1000 words essay.

5. Since this is a state government effort, one should put up a more localized headline issue that can easily connect with Penang people, for example, “Worst flash flood ever in Penang: find out how it is related to Global warming”… Leave hardcore facts as supplement information, put the message out big and loud, to me this website failed to convey any interesting information out to the viewers!

OK, there are a lot more to write, but I shall stop here, and hope that the state government doesn’t put up this website just for the sake of putting it up! I mean, the governments websites are usually bad enough that make your eye sore, if the government think that by putting up a website like this and then it can claim itself “eco-savvy” and “aware of global climate change and hence working over it”, then Penangites may want to sue their government for wasting taxpayers’ money!

However, it is still good to see that a state government actually bother to set aside a wee bit of resources over global warming issues. A baby’s first step is always laudable. But the government should bear in mind that many “mitigation methods” are interlinked with its own policy and governance, for examples:

a. Poor public transport that inevitably increases fuel consumption in private transportations.

b. Poor road planning that would do nothing to safeguard cyclists.

c. Top-down approach or not, If the government doesn’t take the initiative to reduce electricity consumption by say increase air conditioner’s temperature, there is no point then asking people to do so!

d. Large ignorance over the water consumptions, which is one often forgotten but precious environmental resource.

Categories: Environment, Random, Tech

Stray dogs in Pulau Ketam…

May 4, 2009 Leave a comment

I think the veteran blogger cum great photographer cum the dog-saver TV Smith has covered every aspect of the story here

And if you are lazy, and just want to read the main mesej, read this

Basically in an island called Pulau Ketam, in the state of Selangor, lies a chinese fishing village. The stray dogs were roaming everywhere on the island, and to some extent affected the live of the villagers.

The villagers captured them, and sent them to one mangrove island nearby…

Stray dog is domesticated dog, who perhaps knows nothing about surviving in the wild. The fact that mangrove is not these domesticated dogs natural habitat, which means the dogs would not know how to catch and feed in the mangrove, even though mangrove probably has abundant foods.

TV Smith observed that the hungry dogs cannibalize on those which did not manage to survive. Some of them tried swimming to nearby kelong, but would only be chased and died in the middle of swimming.

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Scrawny dog…

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Photos by TV Smith. Read even more here

Seriously, I do not have pet, I don’t think I’ve enough love (and effort lah) to spare… And I definitely think that people who could not manage their pets properly, should just keep off the dogs and cats and whatnot. By manage, I mean treating them as, well, pets, feed them properly, and control their population by perhaps neutering them etc. (Errr, the same is applicable to babies, I mean humans as well. 😛 )

Captive animals could not stay well in wild condition, so please think before adopting a (wild) animal as your pet. And no, it won’t give you good karma by “releasing” captive animals into the wild (like, bullfrog, the American one especially.), you are just either killing them softly… or worse, you would introduce invasive animals into the nature environment, killing off the native species…

Categories: Environment, Life, Welfare

Cyanide

May 3, 2009 1 comment

I first know of this cyanide mining in Bukit Koman thing from this blog entry, whose writer is residing KL but come from Bukit Koman.

Yes, cyanide!

Just in case you are lazy to read that wikipedia entry, I’ll summarize some here:

Many cyanide-containing compounds are highly toxic […] Cyanides have been used as poison many times throughout history. Its most infamous application was the use of hydrogen cyanide by the Nazi regime in Germany for mass murder in some gas chambers during the Holocaust.

And as I study marine biology, the most “noble” thing about cyanide to me is definitely:

Cyanide fishing is an illegal form of fishing common in South East Asia, which usually uses the sodium cyanide.

In humans [and fish], the [cyanide anion] blocks the oxygen-transporting protein haemoglobin […] oxygen is prevented from reaching the cells, and an effect similar to carbon monoxide poisoning results [which lead to unconsciousness].

Coral polyps, young fish and spawn are most vulnerable; adult fish can take somewhat higher doses.

And yeah, cyanide is used in gold/silver mining:

Gold and silver cyanides are among the very few soluble forms of these metals, and cyanides are thus used in mining.

Bukit Koman, located in Raub Pahang, was once famous for gold mining. Like many tin mines in the silver state, gold mining slowed down after 1960s and you only see a chinese new village lying on Bukit Koman.

In 2007, without acknowledging the villagers, the state government of Pahang approved a gold cyanide mining project, to Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn Bhd. The company is held by, well an MCA veteran’s son and one of its shareholder is allegedly His Royal Highness Sultan of Pahang’s daughter.

The mining site is said to be just 2m away from the nearest house.

State environment department said there’s nothing wrong with the mining project, even though it smells badly.

Police detained the people who brought foreign environmentalists into the mining site.

Villagers formed ad hoc Action Committee Against the Use of Cyanide in the mining operations. Chief minister said, “Sugar will cause diabetes, so why not we don’t eat sugar?”

While the lawsuit against the mining company is pending, Chong Sow Pin, a founding member and treasurer of the committee, found dead on Tuesday at his orchard some 8km from the village.

Chong sent his wife to live in KL, because both of them were quite ill, perhaps because of the “poisonous air” produced by the cyanide. He himself chose to stay in Bukit Koman, and would occasionally stay in his orchard for some fresh air… How ironic, my friends from elsewhere of the country would complain about the bad air in KL…

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300 over people went for Chong’s funeral, the Bukit Koman village has about 400 inhabitants…

The Member of Parliament of Raub, Ng Yen Yen, who is right now a Tourism Minister, could not be seen attending to the cyanide mining issues…

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When people go against development, because it would mean cutting down the trees, the “green lungs” or it would be unsustainable, the authority usually shot back by saying, “We have to sacrifice for development…”

Can people’s life and health be sacrificed for the development?

Categories: Environment, Politics

Tropical conservation biology…

April 15, 2009 2 comments

Warning: This is going to be a long read, feel free to skip this post…

I so happen to read through the project details about the module, Tropical conservation biology today… I was utterly shocked by the imbalance of the project!

Now as an introduction, Tropical conservation biology is a level 4000 module, i.e. a module that most year 4 biology students will be taking. And the modules content is basically… duh, Tropical conservation biology lah what else…

The students have to work on a group project. Each group of them had to represent a certain key player, in a development project in Palau Keris, Xanadu State Government, they are:

  1. Developer
  2. State government (which is called Xanadu State government, one wonder if this country is a Federation, and imagine India has an India state, Malaysia has a Malaysia state…)
  3. Village Council A
  4. Village Council B
  5. An NGO
  6. University of Xanadu

There was a showdown today, for each key players to present for 20 minutes, in front of the President, Prime Minister, Minister Mentor and Senior Minister. Politically speaking, it means stakeholders of a local project are meeting together and trying to win the central government’s heart in favour of them…

Information about the island:

  • There are only 2 villages on the island. They are unhappy with each other, total population is… 700!
  • Size unknown, but shouldn’t be big judging from the total population, maximum 40% of Tioman Island in my opinion…
  • Distance from mainland and main city UNKNOWN, judging from the total population, it should be VERY FAR away!
  • P. Keris is UNDEVELOPED, with only craftsmen and fishermen living happily on the island

OK, I’ll include 3 “recreational” islands around the region as a “control”…

  • Bali, 5.6k KMSQ, 3m++ population
  • Langkawi, 528 KMSQ,  45k population
  • Tioman, 124 KMSQ, 3k population

 

Now, here goes the story… I shall write in point form:

  1. The project is “to build the ultimate romantic and eco-friendly resort island – Palau Keris”. The project is FULLY supported by Xanadu State Government.
  2. Village A and B to be relocated. School, shopping mall, hospital (!) Cultural heritage centre to be built “to resolve conflict between villages”.
    My comment:
    – Look, why are A and B unfriendly towards each other? Because A headhunting B? Because A loves to steal B’s ikan?
    – How does a shopping mall and a HOSPITAL sustain themselves, with only 700 population? Is there any developer willing to lose money by doing so?! OK let’s just say the shopping mall is actually few small kedai… the hospital is clinic…
  3. Resorts! Different grades and a cosmetic surgery hospital!
    My comment:
    Great! But you know what, the shareholders of developer company must be really rich and really really love gambling! Go do your feasibility study first OK?
  4. Mountain climbing and diving and nature trails, no complain!
  5. North-south four-lane road!
    My comment:
    – Seriously!!!!! I could borrow you my Simcity 4! Deluxe edition some more! In the game, people are told to build bigger and better road, only when there’s big congestion problems (i.e. the road’s usage is way over it’s carrying capacity)!
    – Just for your information, Langkawi and Tioman have no four-lane road, Bali has 1 four-lane expressway!
    – If there’s a North-South expressway in Tioman, driver needs only less than 30 minutes with 90km/hr to jump into northern sea from south
    – There is no developer, not even when he/she is tidak siuman (in unsound mind), would want to build a highway to support 700 villagers + about 5000 tourists (that’s if you are lucky…)! At least not in the VERY BEGINNING phase of development!
  6. New INTERNATIONAL airport and runway to be built on reclaimed land!!!
    My comment:
    – Sir, you mean you are building a HKIA??!!! The Chek Lap Kok Airport cost USD$20b, and enjoys annual passenger movements of 48 millions! HK’s size is 1.1k KMSQ with 7 millions human beings!
  7. Build series of man-made islands, with bungalows and etc, Similar to THE PALM AND THE WORLD in DUBAI!!!
    My comment:
    – And the residents taking helicopters daily to mainland! 😀
    – Palm Deira is 30km away from Dubai IA, and probably less than that from City center… and yes, they are connected through roads…

 

Seriously, how do you expect students who are representing developers and to some extent the Xanadu state government going to defend themselves with these CRAZY developments?! Heck I can’t even think of an argument that can nicely justify the need of four-lane road and International airport! And the information sheet also disclosed that:

The development would break even in less than 10 years, and score a net profit of USD50 billion, and then estimated USD20 billion per year for its net income!

Orchid Development Consortium should be a public listed company right? Seriously, I would sell all my shares the next day this project blueprint is unveiled…

Wikipedia reveals that:

In 2006, the number of tourists visiting Singapore reached a record number of 9.7 million as compared to 8.9 million in 2005.

Visitors spent an estimated S$12.4 billion compared to 10.8 billion in Year 2005.

You do the math OK?

 

I know it is never easy to come out with a “fair” and super realistic and super logical scenario. This project is VERY INTERESTING, and clearly from what I heard from students, it was FUN! But you should at least balance the scenario a little bit, so as to reduce the difficulty for the students representing development side, shouldn’t you?

If the project is to highlight the mindset of all factions in a Conservation/Ecotourism conflicts, it failed miserably in bringing out the developer’s story. It seems to me that, TPTB is trying to make every single development non-eco-friendly, to test the students how aware they are, to the damages all these development brought by. To the students representing University and NGO and probably even village council, they can just happily go through every single point and criticise for how bad they are. Yeah, fragmentation, habitat destruction, habitat degradation, threatening indigenous value and whatnot. But for the developers? Well, it seems like they are just stucked with these, rather horrendously illogical development projects…

A developer talks about cost-efficiency, amount of money that it could fork out, the risk of the development projects, the benefit of such projects, and of late, upholding the image of the company. Developers are interested in the amount of loan they could receive, the interest rates, the public relations, marketings, bureaucracy and etc. The project scenario, to me, could not bring out the developer’s concern. The idealism in this project scenario that the Rome can be built within a day, is unfortunately working very hard against the developers.

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty… But it seems TPTB decided that the developers are proven guilty, now they are just desperately trying to prove themselves innocent in the Appeal court…

 

Before I end this SUPER cheong hei essay (dissertation, who knows 😛 ), I would also want to highlight another set of imbalance:

Developers have problems with everyone, State governments too, but you can always say state government is also a facilitator/middle-person. Village council fears developers, bitching with another village council. NGO and University are aligned to village councils, against developers, but love and hate with state government…

The scope for developers & State government (to a lesser extent) is TREMENDOUSLY huge, but yet they are the most constrained within this project…

 

I hope TPTB, the Central government people could see through and take into consideration of the imperfection of the project and do justice to the students. But still, kudos to TPTB for designing such an interesting project! 🙂

Categories: Environment, Teaching

Adoring Mongabay

March 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Mongabay.com is my favourite blog/news site for some conservations and environmental issues…

The editor of the site is Rhett Butler, which according to him, was a major in math and economics but was fascinated the rainforest of Borneo and (kind of) henceforth started the website.

Originally the site was based around a text on tropical rainforests that I developed four year period (1996-2000), but today the site has expanded to other topics.

 
(Shamelessly copied from mongabay.com site, photo taken by Rhett Butler)

The site summarizes the bloody long news stories, scientific papers and reports into a post. And it often comes with nice pictures, graphs and sidenotes…

Even more adorably, it started an open access journal “Tropical Conservation Science”, which means free papers!!!! OK, there are a number of free journals out there, but still it is definitely fascinating to have one that is published by a website!

The chief benefit of publishing in an open access format is that papers are freely accessible to the public, allowing wide dissemination of research.
This point was confirmed by Gunther Eysenbach of the University of Toronto in a 2006 paper published in PLoS Biology, an open access journal. Analyzing citations in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from June-December 2004, Eysenbach found "open access articles are more immediately recognized and cited by peers than non-open access articles published in the same journal." He suggested that "open access is likely to benefit science by accelerating dissemination and uptake of research findings." [Eysenbach G (2006) Citation Advantage of Open Access Articles. PLoS Biol 4(5): e157 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040157]

When sometimes you can’t find some papers because NUS did not subscribe to it… and when sometimes you just feel so bloody hell lazy to add that “.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg” behind that URL, open access is definitely the coolest thing ever exists on earth…

Is Rhett Butler a full time editor? He didn’t say anything about it~

Categories: Blog, Environment