Monday, February 27, 2012

SOLS 24/7 receives RM 1 million for Sabah Youth Development Centre

KUALA LUMPUR, 25 Feb 2012: East Malaysian youth facing a lack of education opportunities are being given an avenue of help, with the opening of the Borneo Youth Development Centre (YDC) in Sabah, this year.

Spearheaded by SOLS 24/7, rural and urban youth from Sabah and Sarawak will finally benefit from unique, holistic training programs thanks to the Berjaya Cares Foundation.

Berjaya Group Founder Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Vincent Tan presented the million ringgit cheque to SOLS 24/7 International Directors, Teacher Raj Ridvan Singh and Counselor Dhinu Singh at the Berjaya Founder’s Day event on Saturday.

The vision: An environmentally focused Youth Development Centre, in Sabah.

The SOLS 24/7 Sabah YDC is set to be the first fully environmentally focused ‘green’ school in the country.

Students at the SOLS 24/7 Sabah YDC will be trained in English, IT and ICT, Mathematics, Accounts, Job Employment and more.

“SOLS 24/7 will be exploring renewable energy efforts such as micro hydro, solar and biogas,” said Teacher Raj, adding that implementing such efforts would benefit the rural community and promote eco-tourism.

Micro hydro, which produces power from small streams and rivers, can be used to power machinery and generate electricity.

“Micro hydro is ideal for rural communities, it can replace kerosene, the use of fire wood, and can even help small businesses become sustainable,” Teacher Raj explained.

Meanwhile, biogas provides the added benefit of treating organic waste, production of energy, providing high quality fertilizer and contributes to a better farming community image.

Not only will SOLS 24/7 be encouraging a deeper awareness and responsibility for the environment in youth, but the YDC will also equip them with education and thinking skills.

“Once you give youth education, and the tool of effective communication, they will be able to become dynamic change makers in the community,” he said.

The SOLS 24/7 Borneo YDC project  also appeared in the New Straits Times (Feb 27, 2012): Preparing Youth With Life Skills- NST


Green Sabah says: SOLS 24/7 is a Non Governmental, Non Religious Organization that provides a unique Education program with boarding facilities for free to underprivileged youths. Their efforts are noble and with this financial support, hopefully SOLS 24/7 together with YDC can help the youths to improve themselves hence create deeper awareness to care for the environment. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hospitals launch Go Green Without Plastic Bags campaign

LET’S GO GREEN: Tambunan Hospital staff posing with Paul (centre).
TAMBUNAN: All government hospitals, including Tambunan Hospital, launched the ‘Go Green Without Plastic Bags Campaign’ simultaneously, with other hospitals throughout the state at the district hospital conference room yesterday.

The foremost objective of the campaign is to reduce and abolish the giving of plastic bags to the patients in all the Health Ministry’s facilities.

The activity also aimed to create awareness among the clients on the maintenance and rehabilitation of the environment by reducing the usage of plastic bags to ensure a better and healthier standard of living.

Tambunan Hospital director Dr Paul Molius said this in his opening address to some 100 people comprising hospital staff and patients seeking medical attention yesterday morning.

“The number of plastic bags used by the patients to take home their medicine had cost the ministry more than RM1 million in 2010,” he explained.

“The practice also had contributed indirectly to the plastic bag pollution or ‘White Pollution’ which is gaining seriousness in the nation,” he said.

“To overcome the problem, this approach is applied to avoid the quality of the environment in particular and the health of the Malaysians in general, being jeopardised due to the supply of the items (bags),” he said.

“With the campaign, the supply of plastic bags to the patients will be phased out and the patients are encouraged to bring their own bags when seeking medical attention in the near future,” he added.

Paul also said that the Pharmacy Unit would only consider giving plastic bags to the patients on a discretionary basis based on the requirement.

“The Pharmacy Unit used 200kg of plastic bags in 2009 and gave to an average of 200 to 280 patients a day,” he added.

“The public are also advised to bring along a small canvas bag, a rattan weaved basket or paper bag when collecting big amount of medicine from the Pharmacy Unit,” he said.

An awareness talk was delivered by Marian M Oming, a staff in the Pharmacy Unit at the campaign.

Read more:

Green Sabah says:  Health Ministry has made a wise decision to emphasize the 'Go Green Without Plastic Bags Campaign' in all government hospitals. Besides reducing the cost to provide plastic bags to the patients, they also create awareness on the environmental protection. Hope to see more government ministries to practice this campaign.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Environment to become fourth strategic pillar for BIMP-EAGA

 KOTA KINABALU, Jan 25 (Bernama) -- The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) ministers have adopted environment management as one of the strategic pillars for sub-regional cooperation in lieu of the global issues on climate change.

"The Philippines successfully pushed for the inclusion of environment as a  new strategic pillar in addition to the three major pillars of the sub-region," said the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairperson Luwalhati, Antonino in a statement, here today.

The other three strategic pillars of BIMP-EAGA are food basket/food security, ecotourism, and enhancing connectivity.

Antonino, who also serves as the Philippines Signing Minister for BIMP-EAGA, further stated that the new environment pillar will significantly lay the foundation for food security and ecological integrity in the sub-region.

The Working Group on Forestry and Environment had recently crafted a list of possible projects under this strategic pillar. An exploratory study on establishing a carbon trading bank for BIMP-EAGA countries, to be led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in partnership with MinDA, was also proposed. Other proposed projects include the setting up of a coordinating link between the major environment working group in BIMP-EAGA, such as the Heart of Borneo, Coral Triangle Initiative, and Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion.

Brunei Darussalam will also lead an integrated coastal resources management and development training workshop.

"We are advancing the country’s environmental priority programs and project for Mindanao through our watershed management program or the MindanaNOW (Nurturing our Waters), which we intend to expand across the sub-region," Antonino said.

MindaNOW is MinDA’s flagship environmental undertaking that pushes for the adoption of river basin and watershed as key platforms for planning. It seeks to provide an enabling mechanism for achieving environmental integrity and sustainable economic development.

Meanwhile, the Philippines will host the first BIMP-EAGA Equator Asia Air Access Forum and Airlines CEO Summit, spearheaded by the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and MinDA.

This activity slated for the first quarter, aims to gather top transport and tourism officials from the sub-regions, to look at the market potential of each identified travel points.

The Philippines identified Davao, Zamboanga, and Puerto Princesa aspriority travel points for air services, while Zamboanga-Muara (Brunei), Brooke’s Point-Labuan (Malaysia)-Muara and Davao/GenSan-Bitung were identified for the sea linkages.  

Green Sabah says: Its good to hear that the BIMP-EAGA ministry have decided to make environmental management one of their plans, this shows that they are not only concerned about the economic growth but also environmental protection as well.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Riparian reserves become bane of contention at colloquium

KOTA KINABALU: Oil Palm plantations and smallholders have been urged to understand the consequences of unlawfully encroaching and occupying riparian reserves.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said during a press conference held at the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium 2012 yesterday that legal means will be initiated against those who refuse to let off the riparian reserves.

He added the law clearly states that no one is allowed to plant on any riparian reserve and that if someone had ‘accidentally planted’ something, it was only proper for them to return the land to the State, being the rightful owner of the land.

“You need to make sure that you take steps to rehabilitate it,” he said.

He warned that ‘time’ will not be given and is not necessary to be given to encroachers of State property.

When asked how many plantations and smallholders have actually encroached riparian reserves in Sabah, Masidi called on members of the press attending the conference to go to the East Coast of Sabah and ply along the 560-kilometer long Kinabatangan river and see the actual situation for themselves.

“I’ve gone there and it is shocking,” he said, adding that the encroachers consisted of both large plantations and smallholders.

When asked why the government enforcement agencies are not taking legal actions against the perpetrators, Masidi replied that part of it was because the Land and Surveys Department is understaffed.
But the bulk of the problem is due to the general attitude of the people, he said.

“It is obvious in the Land Ordinance and other related enactments that a riparian reserve cannot be alienated but our problem is our attitude of ‘sikit-sikit boleh bah’ (encroaching a little bit is permissible). We ‘sikit-sikit’ right up to the river bank. That is the problem. We don’t take life seriously.”

He stressed that it would benefit everyone if oil palm plantations and smallholders would work with the Land and Surveys Department and follow the stipulated regulations by not encroaching on the riparian reserves.

“Of course, dealing with the village folks is a bit more difficult. Sometimes, you go there and they have machetes waiting for you. This is normal in Sabah. The village folks do not understand this and to them, once they plant the oil palm trees, the land is theirs,” he said.

He stressed that over time, there must be some progressive improvement in the government’s effort to reclaim the riparian reserves.

“It is for our own good. When we plant right up to the river banks, the river becomes a repository for the fertilisers and pesticides when they leach. We fish and garner our water source from the same river, so in short, we are killing ourselves. These waste then flows to the sea and affect the catches of our fishermen. ”
He added that actions as such were not detrimental to merely the wild animals but also the community and said that if the people loved themselves, they would look after these things.

Meanwhile, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said that those who have encroached into the riparian reserves have no right to be there and that they cannot refuse to return the reserves to its rightful owner.

“They cannot refuse because a riparian reserve is not included in their (land) title.”
He added that he had presented a paper which contained issues related to riparian reserves to the cabinet and stressed that his ministry wants things to improve based on the law.

“When you are given a piece of land, there are terms of alienation. There is also the riparian reserve and you cannot go beyond that…these are some of the things that I want highlighted and taken care of – taken into account seriously by the industry,” said Dompok.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu in his paper entitled ‘Harmonising Biodiversity Conservation and Development in Sabah’, also touched on the issue and said riparian reserves in Sabah are almost all gone and that there is now an absence of buffer zones between the rivers and the plantations.

Green Sabah says: Hope that the Oil Palm plantations and small holders will take this warning to heart and not be involved in encroaching or occupying riparian reserves. The Sabah State government ought to take serious actions towards those who knowingly take over the state owned land for their own profits as this can be likened to stealing or trespassing. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Over RM200,000 collected from No Plastic Bag Campaign

KOTA KINABALU: More than RM200,000 was collected from the fees charged on plastic bags at various outlets in the city from June 2010 until December 2012.

The actual figure of RM206,774.01 was accumulated from 225 outlets that participated in the campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags.

Participants consisted of 26 supermarkets, a clinic, nine schools, two institutions of higher learning, 50 pharmacies and seven associations.

Charges collected by the Environmental Action Centre (EAC) from June to December 2010 was RM43,690.05 and from January to December last year, it was RM163,083.95.
KFC Sabah recorded the highest amount collected with a total of RM100,532.60, said Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir.

He was speaking at a press conference on the campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags at the City Hall premises here yesterday.

Also present were the City Hall director general, who is also the Kota Kinabalu EAC chairman, Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, City Hall director of health and services, Robert Lipon, KFC Sabah operations manager, Godfrey Binting, Sabah EAC coordinator, Anzella Juwilin, as well as representatives of the participating supermarkets.
At the event, KFC Sabah also presented a cheque, for the amount they collected, to the Sabah EAC.

Abidin said, although a lot of money was collected from the campaign, it was not something they could be proud of because it showed that the campaign still did not get the full participation of the community.

“We will carry on with the campaign and urge more outlets to take part. The objective of the campaign is to reduce the use of plastic bags and to get people to become more environmentally aware,” he added.

The campaign was officially launched on 7 June 2010 by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun at the Sunny Supermarket in Tanjung Aru. Initially, it was enforced only on Mondays with the slogan “Bring Your Own Bag”. Customers would be charged 20 sen for each plastic bag they requested at participating outlets. The money is then given to the Sabah EAC for environmental programmes.

However, on 1 January 2011, the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operative and Consumerism launched a similar campaign to take effect every Saturday nationwide.

City Hall then decided to enforce the “Bring Your Own Bag” theme on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays to fill the gap between Saturday and Monday.

Meanwhile, Abidin said that the meeting with the supermarkets was meant to iron out any problems the outlets might have had during the campaign.

“Apparently, some customers became angry when they were charged 20 sen for the plastic bags and it impacted badly on business because they lost customers on those days that the campaign was enforced.

There were also complaints about the payment counters being narrow and late collections,” said the Mayor.
The City Hall intends to further promote the campaign and the Sabah EAC has promised to make collections on time.

“I sincerely hope that people in Kota Kinabalu will continue to support this campaign for the sake of our environment. I also thank all those who took part and supported the campaign,” said Abidin.


Green Sabah says: The No Plastic Bags Campaign is a good move to encourage the locals to reduce the use of plastic bags while shopping. Plastic bags are one of the contributors for massive landfills world wide, if we do not start controlling the use of these plastic bags, it is possible that our grand children's generation will be forced to live in landfills. I have noticed more people are carrying green bags while shopping nowadays, I've even seen some who brought their own Tupperware to restaurants for takeaways, which is a better alternative for their health and reduce the use of polystyrene. Hopefully more people will participate in this campaign.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

STIA wants gov’t to ease import of raw timber

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Timber Industries Association (STIA) has urged the State government to come up with effective actions to assist the industry based on its needs, instead of formation and announcement of policies which do not consist of firm implementation actions and the desired accomplishments.

Its President Datuk James Hwong in his Chinese New Year message noted that due to over logging in the past and the lack of sustainable forest management (SFM) program by the Government, the industry is currently faced with shortage of raw material and has to depend on other means to sustain the industry.

“Whilst we understand the importance of protecting the environment and support the forest sustainable management policy undertaken by the Government, the industry is appealing for the State Government to assist the industry by taking steps in easing importation of raw material from other countries in the form of a symbolic exemption of raw material importation fee and enhancing the timber planting program of fast growing species by providing land to willing timber industry players/operators in manageable scale, continue to monitor and upgrade basic infrastructure and support service, such as road and railway service, electricity and water supply to industrial zone and continue improvement of port facility to cut down high cost of doing business in Sabah,” he proposed.

While assuring that the association will continue to play an active role in the development of the timber industry in Sabah, he said the association hoped the Government could provide the necessary support and back-up plan for the industry to move forward during this difficult period of waiting for the SFM project to bear the desired result.

“As at 2010 Sabah’s total area for commercial forest is around 2.6 million, we believe strongly that opportunities and continued growth in timber related business is still abundant provided the State Government provide the relevant necessary support to the industry to ensure its continuous development,” he said.
Hwong reminded that the timber industry has benefited the economic development of the State for the last 35 to 40 years and shall continue to play a major role in the future.

“The timber industry is still one of the main contributors to the State economy in term of GDP and the Sabah Timber Industries Association (STIA) pledges to continue to extend support and full commitment to the aspiration of the Government in its endeavour to protect as well as develop the wood based processing industry in Sabah,” he said.

Besides this he also gave an account of the performance of the industry to date, where he noted that panel products such as plywood and veneer were still the highest products exported in terms of volume and value.
“In 2010 the timber industry contributed around 6% of Sabah’s total export which amounted to RM2,682 billion third largest contributor after petroleum and oil palm,” he added.

Sabah’s Export performance of major timber products for the period of Jan-Nov 2011, compared with the corresponding period of 2010 is illustrated as above.

Exports of sawn timber decreased in volume and value by 18.6% and 19.7% respectively compared with the corresponding period of 2010. The major markets for Sabah’s sawn timber comprised Thailand, Taiwan, China, South Africa, Japan, Peninsular Malaysia and Netherlands.

Plywood exports decreased by 14.7% in terms of volume and 5.4% in terms of value compared to the corresponding period of 2010. Japan stood as the biggest market destination for Sabah’s plywood followed by Peninsular Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Egypt, Mexico and USA.

The exports of veneer decreased by 49.4% in terms of volume and 42.8% in terms of value. Taiwan was the biggest buyer followed by Korea, Sarawak, Japan and Peninsular Malaysia.

Export moulded wood recorded a decreased by 25.8% in terms of volume, and 18.9% in terms of value. Japan topped the list followed by Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Maldives and Italy.

Export of Laminated board products showed a decrease of 13.9% in terms of volume and 5.1% in terms of value compared to corresponding period of 2010. Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia were the top buyers of Sabah’s Laminated Board.

For the year 2012 the log production is estimated at 2.5 million m3while the total installed processing capacity is around 7 million m3.


Green Sabah says: Strict implementations and actions should be enforced to prevent illegal logging activities from occuring within the states despite of the government policies. Sustainable forestry management and also controlled logging is important to ensure that the raw materials supply would go smoothly and yet does not cause irrecoverable damage to the environment.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Littering still a major problem in Sabah: Masidi

Sandakan: The environment must be the first priority when it comes to utilisation of natural resources.

"We in Sabah must play a crucial role to ensure that our activities especially the utilisation of natural resources such as forest activities, opening of land for agriculture activities, mining of minerals and others are done without degrading the environment and the natural resources," said Tourism, Culture and Enviroment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Pointing out that this was the State's bit towards addressing climate change, he said it was imperative to strike a balance between development and environmental protection through the application of sound environmental management principles such as the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment System.

"The other increasingly important tool in environmental management is environmental education," he said, when launching the 2nd Malaysian Environmental Education Conference at the Rainforest Discovery Centre here, Monday.

He said environmental education should be enhanced further and effectively implemented at all levels of society, its implementation to be tailor-made to specific target groups.

Apart from being blessed with an abundance of natural resources, Masidi said Sabah was also fortunate to have a policy on environmental education that was initiated under the Bornean Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation Programme (BBEC), which was approved by the State Cabinet in 2009.

He added the policy was targeted to instill environmental stewardship and sustainable lifestyle among the people in Sabah.

"Another milestone in the progress of environmental education in Sabah is the establishment of the Sabah Environmental Education Network (Seen) in March 2005," he said, adding Seen consists of 34 organisational members with the aim to enhance environmental education, communication and awareness efforts in Sabah through networking, cooperation and coordination.

Towards this end, he said environmental education's biggest challenge was changing people's attitude and perception.

"For example, littering is still one of the biggest environmental problems in Sabah and Malaysia in general," Masidi said, lamenting that many still left it to the authorities to address this matter.

"It is very sad that there are still people who are indifferent about cleanliness and are not willing to change their negative habits," he said, adding the government through its agencies and departments has organised various efforts to increase awareness.

Read more on:

Green Sabah says: Environmental education is very important. It is disheartening when people have the awareness on the importance of protecting our environment and natural resources, but lack of effort to apply it in their daily life. Same goes with littering problem. We must change such attitude and be more responsible towards our environment.

Use ‘gotong - royong’ in efforts to eradicate dengue, says Rosnah

KOTA KINABALU: The community cooperation (gotong-royong) carried out to ensure cleanliness is maintained among the community brings about major benefits, especially in the fight against dengue fever outbreak in the state.

Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, said that through community cooperation, she believes the continued efforts will bear positive results in line with the government’s ‘No Aedes, No Dengue’ effort.

“We call on all levels of leadership in the villages, districts and housing estates to maintain a culture of personal and environmental hygiene respectively all the time.

“This will give rise to confidence and belief that continued efforts in combating the spread of dengue fever will yield positive results to ensure that there will be no aedes and no dengue in our state in general,” she said.
She said this in her speech at the ‘Grand Gotong Royong’ programme at Kampung Kawang, Papar, near here.

According to her, based on her ministry’s statistics, the spread of dengue fever had gone up around December last year and it was a cause of concern to all parties.

Rosnah, who is also MP for Papar, said the Aedes mosquitoes, which thrive in the ditches, reservoirs, rubbish, bottles, discarded tyres and unattended water tanks, contribute to the spread of the disease in the community.

“This will not only attract attention as where the larvae continue to reproduce even in dirty environment can bring about spread of other diseases.

“We hope through community work which is our social responsibility will not only held at Kg. Kawang but also to the other villages in the Papar parliamentary constituency,” she said.

In the meantime, she said, the organization of such programs could help further strengthen mutual understanding and unity among the leaders of all levels of society.

“With the strong unity in all aspects of life among the people at the grassroots level, with the attitude of continued cooperation and tolerance, political stability and harmony will continue to be enhanced and thus assist in the implementation and success of the government’s development plans from time to time,” she added

Also present at the function were Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing, Datuk Ghulam Haidar Khan Bahadar, who is also ADUN for Kawang and Papar District Officer, Iman Ali.


Green Sabah Says: Gotong Royong is a term that is rarely heard of nowadays, its a good communal effort to bring neighbors together to improve cleanliness of our surroundings and prevent the outbreak of dengue fever. It could be done in with your school mates, colleagues, neighbors, friends, anyone at all. Not only does joint effort makes the work complete sooner, but also strengthen the unity and improve relationships between each other.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RM38m Tg Aru to UMS walk and cycle path soon

Kota Kinabalu: A RM38 million pedestrian cum cycle path stretching 23.5km from Tanjung Aru to Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) will be constructed soon as part of the City's Environment Project.

He said this during the flag-raising ceremony in conjunction with the 12th anniversary of Kota Kinabalu's city status at Padang Merdeka, Thursday, which also marked his first year as Mayor.

"Tenders for the project will be called this April.

Construction will begin by middle of this year," said Madingkir.

The project will be divided into four parcels with Parcel One being a 5.2km long cycle-way from Sabah Port to Likas Bay.

The Parcel One, which will take about 12 months to complete, will include a bicycle shared path, bridge, covered bicycle parking, lighting and signages, children playground, benches, rubbish bin, transit seating and bicycle rack.

Parcel Two will entail a 12.6km route stretching from Tanjung Aru to Sembulan and Parcel Three, a 4.5km route within the city's Central Business District.

Upon completion, Parcel Three will also have amenities such as public toilet, shower, lockers and barriers.
And Parcel Four will be a 3km route ending at Tun Mustapha Building or UMS.

Among other projects lined up for this year, he said, are the Sembulan River Park Phase Two and Three construction and that this will include cleaning works on the river.

The construction of a bus terminal at Jalan Kepayan will also begin, among other upgrades, to the City Bus service.

Madingkir said works on clearing and cleaning the city gutters had already begun in January to avoid flash floods.

He said City Hall's 5K Programme, which has been conducted in pilot township, Menggatal, will also be extended to other townships.

The programme is aimed at developing townships with five core objectives, namely, cleanliness, beautification, safety, orderliness and wellbeing.

Madingkir said campaigns such as the Anti-Litter and the Reduce Plastic Bags will also be continued consistently.

"Even if we can't ban plastic at the moment, we urge everyone to keep Saturday, Sunday and Monday to reduce the use of plastic bags.

"Even so, the public could still purchase the bags for 20 sen each," he said, adding the public could bring their own bags to do shopping on the said days.

And, he said, City Hall is also considering to adopt the public's requests, to permanently ban plastic for the said three days.

Madingkir, who has also been Mayor for a year now, said City Hall's goals are based on the National Transformation Agenda, Government Transformation Programme (GTP), National Key Economic Area (NKEA), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and the Tenth Malaysia Plan (2011-2015).

He said these have been used by City Hall as a guideline to provide the city's half a million population the best service and to further boost the City Hall Strategic Plan 2011-2015.

"In the short period of 2011, City Hall has succeeded in rolling out programmes such as the 5K programme in Menggatal.

"Beautification of main roads, along Jalan Lintas, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Telipok township area, Jalan Kolam flyover flat area and area close to the State Mosque near Jalan Sembulan," Madingkir said, adding that the programme will be continued in the years to come.

He said 2011 also saw upgrades and beautification done on all roundabouts in the city, first phase of Sembulan River Park being constructed and lay-by for taxis and buses.

"City Hall is always faced with high expectations from the public and taxpayers for their services.
"This year we will continue focusing on the Strategic Plan. And we will also intensify actions in rolling out programmes in the plan," he said.

He said City Hall is spending around RM95,000 to maintain the city's cleanliness every month and the figure adds up to RM19 million a year when it comes to solid waste management.

He also expressed concern that vandalism is becoming more rampant of late and viewed it seriously.
"Manhole and drain covers and concrete slabs are sometimes gone.

Let's just use communal bins, City Hall needs to spend about RM1,800 every time a bin is replaced.
"In a month, about 20 communal bins are being vandalised," he said.

Among present at the flag raising ceremony was visiting Korean Mayor from Yongin City, Kim Hak Kyu, City branch Puspanita Chairwoman, Datin Florence Malangkig, City Hall Director-General, Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, City Hall Board of Advisors and a delegation from Yongin City.

The event earlier saw a parade by participating contingents from City Hall's Enforcement, Service and Health, Corporate Affairs, Engineering, Financial, City Planning, Human Resource, Law, Evaluation and other departments.

It included institutes of higher learning, secondary and primary schools, private sector, school clubs and associations.

There were also cultural performances presented to the VIPS and a prize giving ceremony to the winning marching contingents, namely, SK Sri Gaya, SMK Perempuan Likas and City Hall's Health and City Service Department.


Green Sabah says: The anti-litter and reduce plastic bags campaign should be better promoted in the states so that more people will be able to take part in it. Currently the 'No plastic bags on Saturday, Sundays and Mondays' seemed to be doing quite well and I've noticed more people carrying recycle bags while shopping these days. 

As for the vandalism of public facilities such as communal bins, man hole covers and others are an despicable act that reflected the uncivilized mentality of the vandals. Not only does vandalism cost the taxpayers and government money and effort to replace the damaged items, it is also dangerous in some ways.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Insight into human-crocodile conflicts by satellite tagging

KINABATANGAN: A satellite tagging project has been started, to tag selected male crocodiles in 10 main rivers of Sabah, as part of an on-going project to gain insight into human-crocodile conflicts.

 So far, two Kinabatangan river crocodiles have been tagged by the Sabah Wildlife Department, through its Wildlife Rescue Unit and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), the latest being a 3.6 metre saltwater crocodile named Lais, on January 27.     
DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said most human-crocodile conflicts involved large males of the species.
By tagging these animals, long term seasonal movements can be established, which would then help determine how lack of food may be forcing them to consider humans as a source of protein, he added.     
"We plan to focus on 10 main rivers in Sabah and fit satellite tags on the male crocodiles in each of these rivers.  
"We will also carry out surveys and collect samples to identify patterns of gene flow between the rivers and also to get an overall picture of fertility within the population," said Goossens who is also leader of the Kinabatangan Crocodile Programme, in a Press release issued today.   
The 10 rivers are Klias, Padas, Paitan, Sugud, Labuk, Kinabatangan, Segama, Kalumpang, Kalabakan and Serudon, with emphasis on two rivers with different degrees of human pressure -- the Kinabatangan and Paitan.    
Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu attributed the recent successful tagging of the crocodile in the Kinabatangan river to both the Wildlife Rescue Unit and DGFC's hard work.   
Ambu said the Wildlife Rescue Unit, funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Le Meridien Hotel, has been extremely active since its creation.    
DGFC Manager Mark Rampangajouw said a camera set up in the cage had allowed the project team to catch good shots of the crocodile as it took the bait and moved into the trap.    
The satellite tagging project is currently funded by the Chester Zoo in Chestershire, UK and DGFC. -- BERNAMA

Green Sabah says: Crocodiles would normally attack humans when they felt threatened or when the lack of food has driven them to see humans as a source of food. Due to the damages to their natural habitat, pollution of rivers, overfishing and such issues caused by human activities, the coexistence between wildlife and humans are disrupted. Hopefully by using satellite tagging, it can help identify ways to prevent them from attacking humans in the near future.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Malaysia dumps 1.3-billion-ringgit Sabah coal-fired plant

Najib walks the green talk and wants environment protected;
A gas power station is likely to be built in energy hungry Sandakan
 By Nurhafizah Yusof
<i>A gas-fired power plant</i>A gas-fired power plant
Malaysia has scrapped plans for a controversial 1.3-billion-ringgit ($422m) 300-megawatt coal-fired power station in the east coast of Sabah fearing it could destroy its exotic jungles, wildlife, corals and other marine life, Sabah chief minister Musa Aman announced today. 

The federal and state governments would now look at “alternative energy such as gas to meet Sabah’s electricity needs,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Kota Kinabalu.

“Prime minister Najib Razak understands that we can’t have power supply at the expense of the people’s welfare and environment,” Musa said, adding that Najib has ordered Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the national electricity company, and Petronas, the national oil company, to consider liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate electricity particularly for people and industries in the east coast which is short of power.
Industry sources said a gas-fired power plant would most likely be sited in energy hungry Sandakan, north of Lahad Datu.

State officials said the decision to dump the coal plant was expected. The Sabah government rejected it in 2008 when Tenaga proposed to site it in Silam on the doorstep of the protected forests of Lahad Datu’s Danum Valley, home of the endangered Sumatran rhinoceros.

Last August the department of environment rejected the company’s environmental impact assessment of its new 69-hectare site in an oil palm estate of the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) at Lahad Datu’s Sinakut.
But it was Najib’s visit to Maliau Basin on January 29 that finally killed the coal plant. Accompanied by Musa, Najib was deeply touched by the “lost world” that he saw. He pledged to conserve Maliau Basin, which has buried coal and gold, as a world heritage site.

He is the first Malaysian prime minister to visit the untouched 58,400-hectare basin of virgin forests, about the size of Singapore. He opened the Maliau Basin Studies Centre and launched a 10-year study of the stability of altered forest ecosystems (SAFE), the world’s biggest ecological experiment to find out whether forest ecosystems changed by logging and oil palm cultivation are stable enough to support biodiversity.

Musa said Najib understands that Sabah’s greatest asset is its pristine natural environment which attracts more than two million tourists to exotic wild animals such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, orang utans, proboscis monkeys, wild plants and marine life.

The coal power station on the doorstep of Darvel Bay would have threatened the Coral Triangle there which has about a third of the world’s coral reefs and fish, according to environmentalists.

“While Sabah has to increase power supply for its development, it cannot do it at the risk of endangering our natural environment,” Musa said. “As a responsible government, our priority is to protect the environment for the well-being of the people."

Musa said the Barisan Nasional government under Najib listens to the people. “I know there have been objections to the proposed coal power plant,” he said. “Today is proof that such objections have not fallen on deaf ears. The BN government under Najib has the political will to take the higher road and not bring coal to Sabah"

Green Sabah Says: It is a good decision from the Sabah State Government to stop the Sabah Coal Fired Plant in order to prevent pollution and damages to the environment. The people of Sabah are grateful for the move and I'm sure there will be better alternatives that we can use to help resolve the electricity shortage woes in the state.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Endangered wildlife can have easier migration

KOTA KINABALU: A move is under way to connect the country's largest wildlife forest reserve, Tabin, with adjacent fragmented forests through wildlife corridors in Sabah's east coast Lahad Datu.

The move will facilitate the migration of critically-endangered wildlife through the newly established Segama Corridor Conservation Area.

Conservationists hope it would eventually lead to a narrow but continuous corridor from Tabin to Kulamba Wildlife Reserve, another important refuge for endangered species on the northern side of the Dent peninsular in Lahad Datu.

The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and the German-based conservation non-governmental organisation Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF) signed an agreement to improve a wildlife corridor between the isolated Tabin reserve with adjacent conservation areas recently.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve is one of the last areas on the Borneo island where large wildlife still coexist, including the Bornean Rhino, Bornean Elephant, Orang Utan, Banteng and Sun Bear.

“Connecting forest fragments is an integral part of our strategy to secure wildlife habitat in the long term,” Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said.

He said it was necessary for the department to be active in promoting the reforestation work throughout areas with wildlife as corridors and forest patches are much needed for wildlife connectivity.

“At present, there is an increase of reforestation work within wildlife landscapes in Sabah and we want them to be successful not only for the benefit of wildlife but also local communities who live close to these areas,” said Laurentius.

“To save endangered wildlife suffering from habitat fragmentation, we need to establish a network of protected areas of a sufficient size and quality.

“This will prevent inbreeding of currently separated sub-populations and help to maintain healthy population.”

RFF director Robert Risch said the outcome of their efforts would be a connected conservation area of more than 200,000ha, nearly twice as big as Tabin is today.

Leipzig Zoo from Germany and private donors financially support this reforestation project.


Green Sabah says:  Today with the help of NGO’s, not-for profit organizations and governments world-wide there is a stronger movement taking place, with a deeper understanding of habitat conservation with the aim of protecting delicate habitats and preserving biodiversity on a global scale. The commitment and actions of volunteering association is paramount in ensuring generations that follow understand the importance of conserving natural resources.

Malua Biobank as orangutan conservation

KOTA KINABALU: Results from recent ground and aerial surveys of 34,000 ha of lowland rainforest known as the Malua Biobank in Sabah, reveal the area will be one of the most important refuges for orang-utan in Borneo. 

   Sabah Forestry Department’s Malua Wildlife Unit leader Hadrin Lias led the surveys, and says the orangutan population is benefiting from current conservation activities in Malua Biobank.

  Logging in Malua ceased in 2007 and since then the habitat for orang-utan has remained undisturbed and the area is regularly patrolled.

    Dr Marc Ancrenaz, an international expert on orang-utan, assisted and trained the Malua Wildlife Unit to undertake the surveys and believes that the Malua Biobank supports one of the highest, if not the highest, density of this sub-species (Pongo pygmaeus morio) of orang-utan anywhere in the world.

    “Malua Biobank is critically important for the survival of this subspecies, though all three sub-species of orang-utan in Borneo are endangered due to extensive habitat loss,” Dr Ancrenaz said.

    “For orang-utan to survive in Borneo, it is vitally important to preserve large contiguous blocks of lowland rainforest such as Malua Biobank and the nearby Danum Valley Conservation Area.

      Orang-utan density was shown to be particularly high in eastern Malua. The individuals in this part of the reserve are physically and genetically isolated from the rest of the population due to the presence of the Malua River which cuts across the reserve, which orang-utans are unable to cross.

   In an effort to connect populations, the second of two suspended orang-utan bridges across the Malua River has now been constructed and remote cameras will be installed to record any wildlife movements across the bridges.

       The new orang-utan bridge consists of a lattice of chains that provides the orang-utan hand and footholds to cross the river, mimicking the function of overhanging tree branches in areas where large trees are now absent.

     The orang-utan projects have been possible with financial assistance from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, which has been very supportive of a number of conservation projects in Malua Biobank.

     Malua Biobank is a pioneering public-private partnership to deploy private sector capital for the restoration and protection of endangered lowland rainforest. The Malua Biobank is a unique joint venture between the Sabah Forestry Department, the Sabah Foundation and the EcoProducts Fund.

   Darius Sarshar, director of New Forests Asia, the company that manages the Malua Biobank, says the recent orang-utan survey results reinforce the significance of the Biobank for threatened species preservation, making it all the more important to secure its future.

    “The purchase of Malua Biodiversity Conservation Certificates by companies or individuals assists the conservation and the restoration of suitable habitat within the Malua Forest for species like the orangutan,” he said.

     The Malua Biobank is currently offering certificates to business, industry and individuals interested in saving the endangered orang-utan as well as other threatened species such as the banteng, pygmy elephants and sun bears that call the Malua Biobank home.

Green Sabah Says: Hopefully with the Malua Biodiversity Conservation Certificates that can be purchased will be able to help improve the conservation and restorations of the habitat for the endangered animal species.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Foreign marauders pillage Sabah mangroves – Sam Mannan

KOTA KINABALU: There are syndicates in a neighboring country which send illegal loggers in small boats to fell and strip mangroves in the remote swamp forests of northern Sabah and smuggle them out to their home country, according to State Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan.

“These marauders can be armed and dangerous,” Sam said, adding that wildlife poaching continues to be a menace despite constant surveillance by the department and other enforcement bodies.

“But poaching activities are perceived to be less so than before and also not forgetting, the constant threat of illegal logging which, despite being under control, can flare up again the minute our guards are down,” he said during the handover of firearms to forestry enforcement officers at the department’s headquarters here yesterday.

Sam, who handed over the shotguns and handguns to the selected enforcement officers, said they have been given the weapons to protect themselves and act as a deterrent in the course of discharging their duties.

He said the selected officers have been granted licenses by the police to carry and use firearms under strict terms and conditions.

“The necessary permits and licenses were subsequently approved by the Inspector General of Police, hence the purchase of appropriate weapons for protection,” he said.

Sam said forestry field officers had on numerous occasions while carrying out their duties came under physical attack, including buildings and vehicles belonging to the department.

He cited the brazen raid on the Ulu Segama-Malua District Forestry Office Base Camp in 2009 by a group of poachers, during which time the District Forestry Officer, Indra P. Sunjoto was lucky to come out alive.

In early 2010, forestry workers involved in forest restoration and the destruction of illegal oil palm at Ulu Kalumpang Forest Reserve were shot at, he said, adding that in both cases the departmental staff were like sitting ducks as they were not in a position to defend themselves against the marauders who were armed with weapons.

Sam reminded his enforcement officers that the weapons are strictly used for protection and serves as a deterrent.

“The firearms are to be used only as a last resort and being lethal instruments they are to be handled with care and respect, strictly on the basis of the license/permit conditions.”

Green Sabah Says: Its a shame that companies from some of our neighboring countries would send their people to illegally strip our mangroves, poaching our wildlife and smuggle them back to their home countries. We hoped that our enforcement officers will do their best to stop these marauders from destroying our mangroves and harm the natural habitats of wildlife species in our states.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Musa Aman, conservationist par excellence

Musa Aman, conservationist par excellence

<b>A heart for conservation</b>: Sabah chief minister Musa Aman and Lorna Casselton, foreign secretary of the Royal Society.A heart for conservation: Sabah chief minister Musa Aman and Lorna Casselton, foreign secretary of the Royal Society.
Sabah’s forests, gold and minerals would have disappeared if not for Musa
The message to Sabahans is clear: Musa Aman is the only man who can protect Sabah’s last virgin forests, wildlife and bio-diversity and keep global warming in check. He is the chief minister who has stopped logging in the Ulu Segama Malua and Maliau basin and created a forest buffer three times the size of Singapore to protect Danum valley from logging, mining and opening up land for agriculture. Without him, the forests and minerals such as gold there in the east coast of Sabah would have disappeared. Oil palms would have replaced the rainforest.
“We have to congratulate Sabah under Musa Aman for preserving the forests,” said Lorna Casselton, the foreign secretary of Britain’s Royal Society. “If they cut the forests, they can make billions of dollars; but they aren’t and that is so important.”

On July 27 in Kota Kinabalu, Musa witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Royal Society and the Danum Valley management committee for five more years of rainforest research and training. The event marked the 25th year of the South-East Asia Rainforest Research Programme (SEARRP) which began in Danum in 1985, making it the longest-running research project in the society’s 350-year history.

The research has evolved from the mere description of Sabah’s pristine forests to the effects of logging, rehabilitation of logged forests and climate change as forests are turned into plantations. The next five years will focus on the changing rainforest landscape and its effects on climate.

Helped by Canadians, the 43,800-hectare Danum Valley, about twice the size of Penang island, was identified for conservation in 1969 when the forestry department carried out its first forest inventory. It formed part of the Sabah Foundation forest concession the next year and ironically was marked out as part of a commercial forest reserve of Ulu Segama although it was to be conserved, according to Sam Mannan, director of Sabah forestry.

The Foundation was set up to help Sabah’s socio-economic and educational development by providing social and educational aid such as free school uniforms, scholarships and study loans to the people.
But no governments ever saw the need to give Danum protection against logging until Musa became the Sabah Foundation’s director in 1995. Musa stopped logging in Danum after creating a 250,000-hectare forest buffer around it a year earlier and adopted sustainable forest management.
<b>Sam Mannan</b>: Musa makes decisions for the good of Sabahans.Sam Mannan: Musa makes decisions for the good of Sabahans.
However, damage to the Ulu Segama forest reserves was already done by Musa’s predecessors who “hacked off” about 4,000 hectares there, according to Mannan who referred to that period as the “Dark Ages”.
That robbed Danum of a big northern buffer. The result was that acid rain fell on Danum two years ago at the height of a haze over Borneo. Scientists are trying to assess the long term effect of chemical fertilizers used on plantations around Danum.

Mannan regretted that those who could have protected Danum and Ulu Segama Malua at that time refused to do so “for reasons only known to them” and allowed “bad logging”. Forests were turned into oil palm plantations.
The task thus fell on Musa’s shoulder. His strong leadership amid stable politics has allowed him to make unpopular decisions that are critical in conserving about 300,000 hectares of virgin forests, gold, coal and minerals in the Danum Valley and Ulu Segama Malua forest complex.

Under Musa, according to Mannan, “professionals are finally allowed to practise their profession for good governance that allows good sense to prevail,” adding that he has allowed innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in managing Sabah’s scarce natural resources.

He cited an example when he stopped an attempt to log 20,000 hectares of the Danum’s buffer forests that would have fetched 4 billion ringgit ($1.2 billion).

“The only reason we have been able to do this is because of Musa’s strong political leadership,” Mannan said. “I don’t mind to tell you that I have carte blanche from the chief minister to reject directly and forcefully any attempt to re-introduce the policy of random madness.”

Mannan made an impassioned plea to Musa: “Don’t retire yet. We need many more years of your leadership to achieve excellence.”

To the Royal Society, he said: “Never fear. Musa Aman is here to keep the wolves from swallowing Little Red Riding Hood.”

Speaking later, Musa noted with pride that Danum has become one of the world’s top three rainforest research centres. The others are La Selva in Costa Rica and Panama. About 50 Malaysians, mostly Sabahans, have obtained their doctorate and master’s degrees for their research on Danum. They have produced 330 studies. Many of them hold senior posts in state and federal agencies and NGOs. – Insight Sabah
(With reporting by Oliver Majaham. Pictures by Flanegan Bainon)

Green Sabah says: Luckily for Chief Minister Musa Aman for stopping the logging activities in Maliau Basin, Ulu Segama and Danum Valley in order to help conserving our forests. We are grateful that our leaders have the foresight to forgo profits in order to preserve nature and it is hoped that Musa Aman will continue his efforts in achieving excellence in his leadership and environmental conservation.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

8 things you should know about the Borneo Sumatran rhino

The smallest of all
The Borneo Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrison) is a sub-species of the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). It is the smallest of five living species, standing at about 145cm (4 feet 9 inches) and measuring 3m and 17cm (10 feet 5 inches) in length. It weighs between 500kg and 1,000kg. It can live up to about 30 years.
Puntung, a young female Borneo Sumatran rhino which is thought to be between 20 and 30 years old.
 Puntung, a young female Borneo Sumatran rhino which is thought to be between 20 and 30 years old.
Unique to Borneo
The Sumatran rhinos are found in Indonesia's Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, southern Thailand and on Borneo island. But the Borneon sub-species lives only on Borneo island. It is one of three species with two horns and is the only one in Asia. Two other Asian rhino species, the Indian and the Javan, have one horn. The White and Black African rhinos have two horns. The Sumatran rhino and its Borneon cousin have a front horn of between 25cm and 79cm long and a smaller one which is shorter than 10cm.
They have reddish brown hair which gives them the nickname of "hairy rhino".
Facing extinction
Puntung, the female rhino, waiting to mate with Tam.
Puntung, the female rhino, waiting to mate with Tam.
Man is their greatest enemy
Rhino horns can fetch up to half a million dollars each.Rhino horns can fetch up to half a million dollars each.
Rhinos are herbivores, eating plants and fruits. They have few predators: big cats, crocodiles, wild dogs and hyena prey on young rhinos. But man is their biggest enemy and is blamed for the drastic drop in their numbers. They are poached relentlessly for their horns which are wrongly thought to be an aphrodisiac and life-saving medicine in traditional Chinese herbal remedies. They are often used to treat fever and convulsion. But scientists say that rhino horns, which contain keratin, a protein found in human skin, hair and nails, do not have any such medicinal cures. Britain's Independent newspaper reported in August that the price of a single rhino horn reached half a million dollars, with its value per kilo exceeding that of cocaine. Poaching of the mammals has reached new peaks.
Logging and turning forest into oil palms are also blamed for the destruction of rhinos.
Rhinos can no longer breed in the wild
Finding a mate in the wild is tough.Finding a mate in the wild is tough.
Because of their dwindling numbers, the Borneo Sumatran rhinos have little chance of breeding in the wild. Many of them are also too old to mate.
Tam, the male rhino, has been waiting
Tam, ever ready to mate.Tam, ever ready to mate.
Tam is said to be a middle-aged Borneo Sumatran rhino. His exact age is not known but wildlife officials say he may be older than 20 years, about the same age of Puntung or older. It is the right age to mate, they say. His first mate was too old to reproduce. She was among another female and eight male rhinos which were caught between 1984 and 1994 for a captive breeding programme in Sabah that was scuttled by non-government groups. She is the only survivor. The rest have died.
Failed captive breeding programme
Sumatran rhinos in the Cincinnati zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio.Sumatran rhinos in the Cincinnati zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio.
An attempt in 1984 to breed the Borneo Sumatran rhinos in captivity under a scheme brokered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) failed. The Sabah government abandoned the programme after Malaysian NGOs said they feared the rhinos would end up in American zoos.
An offshoot of the programme was that the Sabah government created the 1,225-sq-km Tabin Wildlife Reserve which now houses a 20-hectare fenced Borneo Rhino Sanctuary which is making a last ditch attempt to breed rhinos in captivity.
A 438-sq-km Danum Valley Conservation Area adjacent to Tabin was also created.
The Borneo Rhino Sanctuary
In 2009 the Sabah government and the Sime Darby Foundation announced the setting up of a sanctuary to protect the few remaining Borneo Sumatran rhinos and other wild animals such as the pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, clouded leopards, wild cattles and hornbills. It occupies 4,500 hectares in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, with Sime Darby pledging to fund it to the tune of 7.3m ringgit ($2.3m). About 20 hectares of the fenced up area is now known as the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary and attempt is now made to breed rhinos there. Oil palm companies, the WWF in Malaysia and Germany and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have pledged to save the Borneo rhinos. The sanctuary is seen as a last ditch attempt to breed rhinos in captivity to save them from extinction.


Green Sabah says: This is a good information from Insight Sabah regarding the 8 things we should know about Sumatran Rhinos and why we should conserve them. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WWF on marine conservation

WWF- Malaysia is assessing turtles in northeast Semporna within the Priority Conservation Area (PCA) to establish a marine conservation plan in the coral triangle of the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion (SSME).
WWF is working with the tourism and fishery industries to establish a mechanism on managing the ecosystem and this includes the conservation of sea turtles.

“We are gearing towards efforts to protect the sea turtles. The first step we took was to provide training and appoint honorary wildlife wardens among people working in the tourism industry and from the local community,” said Robecca Jumin, manager of the SSME.

At the state-level, she said WWF is working closely with the fish dealers to urge them to form a trader group so that they can promote good practices to ensure the sustainability of the industry.
“We are hoping to work with the government agencies to establish a concerted management mechanism for the whole of Semporna because at the moment, all the different agencies work by themselves,” said Robecca when speaking to New Sabah Times.
It is estimated that the Semporna PCA is capable of generating over RM123 million a year as the seas there support livelihoods through fisheries; collection of sea cucumber, abalone and giant clams; cultivation of seaweed; and is the backbone of a major tourism industry, estimated to have a net value of RM34.3 million a year.

Robecca said the SSME project was initiated by WWF in late 1999, and adopted by Malaysian, Philippines and Indonesia governments in 2004 before becoming a full-fledged tri-national programme in 2006.
The coral triangle has been identified as one of the 500 important marine ecologies in the world and the three governments have been working together to facilitate the establishment of a conservation programme, she said.

Robecca, who is in charge of all marine works in Sabah said in Malaysia, the Fisheries Department was appointed as the lead agency while WWF-Malaysia assumed the role as an implementer to carry out the conservation plan.

“We began by setting up our office in Kudat in 2006, to work with the government to establish the Tun Mustapha Park, and in late 2007, our office in Semporna was set up where we worked on the conservation of the coral reefs, mangrove, sea grass, seaweed and the marine species including the sea turtles to facilitate sustainable development and resource exportation such as fish,” stated Robecca.
According to her, the first phase of the project since they started in 2007 was to establish the status of the eco-system before they could really engage and establish actual collaboration on the ground. Each phase consists of three years.

“Firstly, we need to establish collaboration with the tourism industry and local community to conserve the turtles. Secondly, to work with the tourism industry on anti-fish bombing and carry out patrolling in the northeast islands off Semporna because this is where all the turtle nesting beaches are found,” said Robecca.

WWF also works with the local community in the town area and the islanders to raise awareness on the importance of resource management especially on how their lifestyle can affect the environment such as throwing plastic bags indiscriminately into the sea.

It is also working with tour operators and the locals to establish a collaborative environment monitoring team to look at changes in the climate and ecosystem so that remedial measures can be taken to minimise the impact.

Meanwhile, Robecca believes that the community here doesn’t hunt for sea turtles as most of the people are Muslims and therefore do not consume the meat for religious reasons. However, they do collect the eggs.
“I think we are lucky in that sense as they only consume the eggs but that still affects the turtle population because out of 1,000 eggs only one will be lucky enough to survive and reach adulthood,” she stated.
“In fact poaching turtle eggs is threatening the turtle population not only here but throughout the region,” she said.

Based on their studies, most of the turtles’ nesting activities happen on the northeast islands of Semporna such as Mataking, Pom-Pom and Pandanan as these areas have less human population unlike in Mabul, which is densely populated due to the presence of resort operators there.

She said the sea turtles will only return to the islands when they are sexually matured, which is usually when they reach 30 years old, and when they need to lay eggs.

“We don’t have documentation on where the turtles go during the time from juvenile to adulthood and we describe this as the ‘lost years’ because when they go into the sea they go into a ‘swimming frenzy’, during which they swim as fast as they can, and even go around the world when they reach adulthood,” said Robecca adding that the sea turtle is a solitary animal.

Green Sabah says:Sea turtles are also slowly going extinct,  we can do our part by refusing to purchase turtle eggs and report turtle egg sales to the authorities. Cases where turtle eggs are stolen, sold and consumed has greatly reduce the amount of turtles that hatches. Awareness to conserve our sea turtles are also much needed and we hoped WWF will continue to help out in this effort. Keep up the good job.