500 RESIDENTS OF JENIANG THREATENED BY FLASH FLOODS: CAP

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) calls for the Kedah Government and the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (JPS) to investigate and take immediate action to solve flash flood problems that is being faced by more than 500 residents of Kuala Muda district at Jeniang.

The problem involving Kampung Batu 8, 9 and 10 has been happening since 2014 but till now there has been no action taken by any parties in order to solve it.

A survey done by CAP has found that the situation at Sungai Perahu which is shallow, narrow and filled with shrubs is the cause of which this problem is occurring. When it rains, the water flow from the river is blocked and flows out to the houses of the residents.

Furthermore the river is not maintained well, the drainage system built in the village is broken and is overgrown with thick grass. 

CAP is saddened that eventhough the threat of the flood has been complained many times to the authorities in charge yet the problem is still going on till now. As a result of this incident there have been massive losses to the people because of the damage to the property and crops. 

Parents are also concerned about the safety of their children mainly those living close to the river as every time there is heavy rain strong currents hit the village.

CAP believes that is the cause of this problem is left the threat of flash floods will be more serious in the coming future. Thus CAP urges that the authorities involved take immediate action to overcome the problem.

Works to deepen river and clean the places that is stopping the flow of water also has to be done immediately. Meanwhile the drainage system which is not working has tp be restores and fixed by the authorities involved.

CAP calls for the Kedah Government to make a numeration record of the total damage of property and lasses which is being faced by the residents here as well as giving out alms to them to help lessen their burden of living which they have tried to support till now. 

 

Press Statement, 11 December 2018

Government must stand firm in asking Lynas to ship out all its radioactive and hazardous wastes

Sahabat Alam Malaysia and the Consumers Association of Penang support the decision of the government to ask the Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd to remove and dispose of its accumulated 451,464 metric tonnes of radioactive waste.

In our view the radioactive waste should be exported by Lynas to Australia because the raw materials that are processed into rare earth originates in Australia.

We also note that the government has asked Lynas to submit a plan to dispose its neutralisation underflow residue (NUF) scheduled waste totalling 1.113 million metric tonnes, accumulated over six years.

The regulations only allow a limit of 20 tonnes of scheduled waste to be stored on site for a maximum 180 days, according to Minister of Energy, Science, technology, Environment nd Climate Change, Ms. Yeo Bee Yin.  Lynas has applied for exemption for their scheduled waste.

SAM and CAP are of the view that this NUF scheduled waste is also hazardous and should also be shipped out of the country by Lynas.  There should be no exemption for Lynas.

In fact, our position all along has been that Lynas should not have been allowed in the first place to operate with its rare earth processing activities in Malaysia at all.  We have thus consistently called for the plant to be shut down.

The government’s decision is not ideal, as Lynas will still be allowed to operate if it fulfils the two conditions.  There can still be dangers linked for instance to the transporting, handling, operation and possible leakages of radioactive and other hazardous materials, even if there is satisfactory waste disposal.  And it is almost impossible for any safe storage or disposal of radioactive materials.

The health and safety of residents and workers in the plant and its vicinity come first.  The damage to the environment, including water and soil, must also be our major concern.  Income and jobs can be derived from safer activities.\The plant should therefore be closed down.  The government decision to allow it to continue if it deals with the radioactive and the scheduled wastes is the very bare minimum acceptable actions and should be considered as initial steps.

We also view with alarm the report of the executive committee on Lynas operations, that found an increase in contamination of heavy metals including nickel, chromium, lead and mercury in ground water.  These metals can cause cancer and other serious ailments such as Minamata disease (from mercury).   This is alarming also because 12.5% of households use the ground water for daily use, according to the report.

The dangers of radioactive waste are very serious, and the radioactivity will remain for billions of years.  Thus, the accumulated radioactive waste must be shipped out of the country.  The scheduled waste is also hazardous, which is why they are scheduled.  There are so far no plans on how the two types of wastes are being dealt with in terms of permanent safe storage or disposal.  It should be noted that the Prime Minister referred to the Bukit Merah case where 1 square km of land in Perak was lost to bury the wastes.

We also note that Lynas Corporation has threatened to take legal action against the government for setting the two conditions on waste disposal for renewal of its license to operate.  We congratulate Minister Yeo for rejecting this threat.  We call on the government to stand firm and not be intimidated by such threats, as the lives and health of the people and the safety of the environment should be its top most priority.

SAM and CAP therefore call on the government to demand that Lynas ship out both the radioactive and the scheduled waste from Malaysia, and that the plant stop its operations if it does not do so as soon as possible.

 

Press Statement, 7 December 2018

Rehab – best left to hands of experts  

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is shocked at the manner in which procedures to move a pair of gibbons  led to a three day stand-off.

While there are local, regional, and federal laws that  prohibit the public from having  a wild animal in their possession, even while temporarily caring for it with the intention of release, wildlife rehabilitators or care centers are permitted to keep wildlife for rehabilitation.

Perhilitan should understand that rehabilitators have the necessary equipment, caging, and environment required by different species. They are trained to recognize and deal with injuries, illnesses, parasites and other conditions. They can administer appropriate medications, manage wounds, and stabilize an animal that is in shock. Not all veterinarians have experience with wild animals. A rehabilitator will know an appropriate veterinarian for consultation.

At the same time rehabilitators can care for an animal while preserving its wildness. An animal that has lost its normal or innate fear of humans will not survive in the wild. Releasing a tame wild animal is signing its death sentence.  And this is why rehabilitation centre comes in handy.

In this case the  rehabilitation centre is  run by a professional and who happens to be a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Primate Specialist on Small Apes (SSA) and a member of the Captive Working Party. Besides she has already rescued gibbons before and now has 6 under her care which when first came were in deplorable condition.  With her expertise and professional care they are responding well and when they are fully ready, they will be released into the wild in the future .

The question we put to Perhilitan is are their wildlife centres better off than private rehabilitation facilities?  Is their facility at Sungkai  better off than this private rehabilitation centre?  Pictures forwarded to SAM from wildlife lovers depict their rescue sites in deplorable state. Gibbons here do not have a free run in their rescue site but instead are locked in cages.

It goes without saying that good husbandry and management are the key to successful treatment. To   provide the best care and treatment for wildlife casualties, there need to be advances in techniques, practices and facilities. This does require that the facilities are operated in conjunction with high quality animal management systems based on a good understanding of the needs of wild animal species. This is particularly important in light of changes in legislation with the implementation  of the  Animal Welfare Act 2015.

In view of the deplorable state of Perhilitan’s wildlife facilities, it is high time an audit be conducted into the  rescue facilities operated by Perhilitan.  A good solution is for Perhilitan to cooperate with established wildlife facilities run  by professionals  instead of going against them.

The field of wildlife rehabilitation is a discipline with its own body of literature, training and certification. In the best interests of wildlife, SAM  urges Perhilitan  to have the gibbons’  well-being as their  first priority by  entrusting them into the capable hands of a trained, experienced, permitted rehabilitator.

 

Letter to Editor, 28 November 2018

SAM Questions Selangor’s Commitment to Protect Permanent Reserved Forests

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) objects to the proposal by the Selangor State Authority to excise two more Permanent Reserved Forests (PRF) in the state of Selangor.

The PRFs proposed to be excised are part of Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve (HS Sungai Buloh) in Petaling District covering 1.2418 hectares and part of Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve (HS Bukit Lagong) in Gombak District covering 28.3 hectares.

HS Sungai Buloh is significant because it is the oldest Permanent Reserved Forest in Malaysia.  Since its establishment on 14 January 1898, from time to time, a large portion of the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve (original area covered 6,590ha) had been excised and sacrificed for development.

At present HS Sungai Buloh has been reduced to a mere 25ha only.  Hence it is desirable for the area covering HS Sungai Buloh is maintained as a natural heritage protection area.

Maintaining the existing hectarage of HS Sungai Buloh and HS Bukit Lagong and all other PRF in the Klang Valley is of paramount importance because the forests here play a role in balancing the physical development with natural surroundings.

Because physical development mainly change in land use for urbanization is very rapid in the Klang Valley whilst green lungs and zones are shrinking fast, the green house gas emissions are gradually increasing, causing impacts to quality of life of people here.

Several road accidents in the past and wildlife-human conflicts in this areas indicate that the PRF in Klang Valley especially outside the Titiwangsa Range “Central Forest Spine” forest complex which has become “forest island” is still a habitat especially for totally protected wildlife.

The proposal to excise part of HS Sungai Buloh and part of HS Bukit Lagong contravenes and not in congruence with one of the main strategies of the Selangor Forestry Department to maintain existing PRF and increase its area.

The proposal to excise part of HS Sungai Buloh and part of HS Bukit Lagong also contravenes the goals and targets of the Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department to achieve 5 million hectares of PRF cover in Peninsular Malaysia.

In addition the proposed excision of part of HS Sungai Buloh and part of HS Bukit Lagong is not in line with the Federal Government’s recommendation during the 2019 budget presentation for all State governments to take up efforts to conserve existing natural protected areas and to increase new protected areas.

In fact the State Government was very avid and committed in ensuring its natural heritage and green legacy is always preserved when former Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali stated that Selangor should not feel comfortable with the current hectarage of PRF despite more than 30% of the land area of the State is under forest cover and that it needs to be expanded.

Thus SAM hopes that the Selangor State Authority reconsiders its proposal to excise part of the said forest reserves or any other forest reserves in the Klang Valley.

 

Media Statement, 26 November 2018

Smokers: 1 Million Under 10 Years, Majority Of 4.7 Million Start Before 18

CAP Fully supports the ban on cigarette sale and smoking in eaterie

More than one million of the smokers in Malaysia are under the age of 10, and they emit about 4,000 noxious and cancerous chemicals present in tobacco.

Most of the 4.7 million smokers in the country start smoking before the age of 18, according to the Health Ministry.

Over 60 chemicals present in cigarette smoke can cause cancer (e.g. formaldehyde) and six others interfere with normal cell development (e.g. nicotine and carbon monoxide).

It is unfortunate, 80% of Malaysians who do not smoke are exposed through these free floating chemicals exhaled into the environment.

The Consumers Association Penang president S.M. Mohd Idris disclosed this while welcoming the Government’s ban on all forms of smoking in public places like restaurants.

“More than 80% of the Malaysians who do not smoke have a right to not be exposed to tobacco smoke. They must be protected against being exposed to cancerous smoke in the air.

“It’s ironic that taxpayers pay billions for a clean environment, it’s unfair for tobacco companies to make billions at the expense of the smokers,” he added.

CAP, he said: “Fully supports the ban on cigarette sale and smoking in eateries.”

However, CAP is disappointed with Chinese, Indian, and Indian Muslim restaurants from all over the country upset with Putrajaya’s decision to enforce a blanket ban on smoking in their outlets.

CAP would like to point out that the objective to patronise an eatery is to eat, not to smoke. “Non-smokers do not have to tolerate the 4,000 noxious chemicals found in tobacco smoke.”

Courtesy of Choice should never been introduced because passive smokers include elderly, women, children and infants are equally exposed to smoke-related diseases as smokers themselves.

Smoke does not respect physical boundaries because if it does, smoke from Indonesian forest fires would not have bothered Malaysia as the smoke will be contained within the Indonesian’s borders.

This campaign by restaurant and coffee shop owners in empowering smokers tramples on the rights of non-smokers (passive smokers), Idris added.

Consumers should be aware of who you are patronising with your hard-earned money, only to be profited by eateries, over your health and safety.

The Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association president Datuk Ho Su Mong said that the government should fight smoking habit through other means.

“He has conveniently forgotten that the ‘other means’ of fighting smoking habit is to ban smoking at eateries and the government is doing just that.

“There is no doubt that restaurant owners had worked hard to build their business through their blood and sweat. Are they implying that the humble traders and hawkers are not working hard? Does working hard give them a license to do what they want to do?”

Based on the fact that nicotine found in tobacco is highly addictive (comparative to cocaine and heroin) and is classified under Group C poison, it does not make any sense for eateries to sell cigarettes at all.

Mohd Idris said there is a ruling that smokers have to smoke 10 feet away from an eatery. “It is the responsibility of the eatery owner to abide by the regulation. The eatery owners argued that it is going to endanger their customers’ lives as they may have to stand in the street to smoke.”

Before the Chinese New Year of 2018, a cigarette company approached retailers (including coffee shop owners) to ask them to promote a particular brand through “Sell More, Win More” campaign.

This is not an isolated case and retailers benefitted from lucky draws and gifts given to them by certain tobacco companies. If this is the case retailers can no longer claim that they want to profit from the sale of cigarettes (in the normal sense) as they have a bigger agenda in the whole issue.

Eatery owners had in the past argued that tight control on cigarettes will cause a spike in the sale of illegal cigarettes. It is an argument that does not make sense.

They are merely parroting the tobacco industry. CAP wonders why eateries are more concerned about cigarette smuggling than their food quality and prices.

Authorities should step up raids to get rid of the menace of illegal cigarettes. CAP proposed those caught selling smuggled products should have their assets and properties confiscated besides given mandatory jail sentence.

CAP reaffirms its stand that all forms of smoking and vaping should be banned eateries. Eateries should not be allowed to sell cigarettes because it contains a Class C poison (nicotine).

 

Press Statement, 22 November 2018