About 500 residents in Kampung Sematang Tepi Laut and Kampung Tengku Laksamana, Kuala Kedah, Kedah face various problems  because of the access road to their village is badly damaged.

The road conditions not only affect their comfort but also could threaten the safety of the villagers if not repaired immediately.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)’s survey found that the 3km stretch of road in the area have broken surfaces and potholes and becomes muddy in the rainy season.

This situation not only affect the daily activities of the fishermen in the village but also children who commute to school.

The problem faced by the residents here since the last 10 years has been brought to the attention of the authorities by the residents but until now no action has been taken.

Hence CAP urges the Kedah government and the local authority to investigate the complaint of the damaged roads in both the villages and take immediate action to address it.

CAP is disappointed that although this problem faced by the villagers has been pending for a long time but until now has not received the attention of the responsible party.

Therefore, CAP requests the state government and local authorities to investigate this matter immediately because we are concerned of untoward incidents and further inconvenience to the villagers.

These basic facilities should be safe for road users. CAP got to know that many villages in rural areas in the State do not have good roads.

CAP requests the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development to intervene on this issue so that the residents can enjoy good facilities in the future.

Media Statement, 31 December 2016

Investigate Cause of Flash Flood in Ulu Legong

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) urges the Kedah State Government, Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) and Baling District Office to investigate the cause of flash floods that recently occurred in Ulu Legong.

The flash flood had seriously affected more than 15 families here wherein their belongings were destroyed or damaged.

Besides Kampung Ulu Legong, five other villages that were affected and faced emergency situation due to the flash flood which occurred two weeks ago were Kampung Siput, Kampung Batu 48, Kuala Kedua, Bukit Sebelah and Kampung Baru.

The affected villagers claimed that the flash flood was caused by logging activities nearby. The logging activity had caused the river water in the village to be polluted with mud and had turned red.

Similar floods have occurred previously but none as bad as the recent floods. Some villagers had suffered damages and destruction to their belongings amounting to RM2,000. 

CAP is concerned by this incident and hope that immediate action will be taken by the relevant parties to address it.

CAP believes that if the problem is left unresolved, the environment and lives of the residents in these six villages will be threatened more seriously in the future.

Strict law enforcement by the authorities is needed and severe penalties should be imposed on those who were found to have triggered and caused the flash flood.

CAP also requests the Forestry Department of Kedah to investigate the villagers’ claims that the flash flood here was caused by logging activities. The findings of the investigation must be made public so that the exact cause of the flash flood here is disclosed.

28 January 2016

Children more susceptible to environmental carcinogens

Children are more vulnerable to carcinogens than are adults. Children have many more years of life ahead of them after a toxic exposure in which to develop a tumour.

Malignant transformation is a slow process. Children's ability to detoxify environmental chemicals is not fully developed. They lack certain mechanisms possessed by adults that enhance the removal of toxic chemicals from the body.

Thus children's exposures to environmental carcinogens must be minimised.

There are many reasons why toxic chemicals are greater threats to children than to adults.

— Pound for pound, children breathe more air, drink more water and consume more food than adults. This higher rate of intake means that children will receive higher doses of whatever contaminants are present in the air, water or food.

(In the US, it has been estimated that children aged 1-5 eat 3-4 times more per unit of body weight than the average adult. Infants and children drink more than 2 1/2 times as much water daily as adults do as a percentage of body weight. And the air intake of a resting infant is twice that of an adult under the same conditions.)

— Children are also more susceptible to chemicals because of their smaller size. For example, a typical newborn weighs 1/20 of the weight of an adult male, but the infant's surface area is 1/8 as great. Therefore, the total area of skin that could be exposed to a chemical (by bathing in polluted water or rolling in dirt for instance) is 2 1/2 times as great per unit of body weight in the infant as in the adult.

— Children absorb a greater proportion of many substances from the intestinal tract or lung. For example, children take up approximately half of the lead that they swallow while adults absorb only about one-tenth.

— Children indulge in more hand-to-mouth activity than adults and transfer more foreign substances into their bodies through this route. Since children often play in the dirt, they are also closer to the source of many pollutants.

— Children's biology is different. Their immune system is less developed, and may be less protective. For some toxicants, the body has developed biochemical detoxifying mechanisms; in some instances, these are less developed in children.

— Cells that are developing (in children) are generally more vulnerable than cells that have completed development (in adults). This is particularly true for the central nervous system.


Drowsy driving as dangerous as drinking and driving

Similar to the way drinking and driving emerged as a road safety issue, impairment by fatigue, or drowsy driving is fast becoming a major concern worldwide. It can be just as deadly as drinking and driving, or unsafe speed.

According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), sleep and fatigue often leave no clues for investigators to trace. Unlike alcohol-related crashes, no blood, breath, or other test is currently available to determine levels of sleepiness at the time of a crash. This leaves investigators with little hard data on which to base a conclusion of fatigue or sleep as a cause or contributing factor.

Despite the data limitations, the TSB estimates about 5% of fatal crashes are firmly established as being caused by drowsy driving. Experts suggest the actual number may be as high as 20% to 40%. And that makes drowsy driving as dangerous as drinking and driving, which accounts for approximately 24% of all victims in vehicle fatalities.

Characteristics of fatigue-related crashes
• Usually occur during late night/early morning or late afternoon.
• A single vehicle, driver is alone and drives off the road (but also a factor in rear-end and head-on crashes).
• No skid marks, brake lights, horn sounded, or other evidence the driver tried to avoid the crash.
• The crash occurs on a high-speed road, usually a highway in non-urban areas where more long distance night time driving occurs.
• The crash is likely to be serious, usually due to the high speeds involved combined with delayed (if any) reaction time.
Although no driver is immune, 3 groups are at highest risk:

1. Younger people ages 16-29 years, especially males. A combination of lifestyle factors such as schoolwork demands, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities and late-night socialising.

2. Shift workers whose sleep is disrupted by working at night or working long or irregular hours.

3. People with untreated or unrecognised sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) or narcolepsy (sudden onset of brief attacks of daytime deep sleep, or micro-sleeps).

The Warning Signs

You’re becoming impaired by fatigue if you experience some of these characteristics:

• Yawning, daydreaming.
• Difficulty keeping your head up, eyes open, blurry vision.
• Feeling sluggish, hungry, thirsty.
• Droning or humming in the ears.
• Don’t notice a vehicle until it suddenly passes.
• Don’t recall driving the last few kilometres.
• Driving speed creeps up or down.
• Wandering over the centre-line, into another lane or shoulder.
What Drivers Can Do

The problem with fatigue is that it slowly develops and drivers often don’t realise they’re too tired to drive safely. Once fatigue sets in, there is little you can do about it except stop driving as soon as possible. Physical activity, loud music, opening a window or eating might provide a short boost of energy, but these really only mask fatigue. When drivers return to sit still and perform repetitive tasks such as driving, sleep returns quickly.

Plan to Drive Refreshed and Alert

• The only cure for sleepiness is sleep. Get enough sleep.
• Don’t drink even small amounts of alcohol when tired. Alcohol interacts with and adds to drowsiness.
• Avoid driving between midnight and 6am. Scheduling a trip at another time is a simple way to reduce risk, especially if the drive is long.
• As soon as you become sleepy, the key is to stop driving. Let a passenger drive or stop and get adequate sleep before continuing a trip.
• Take frequent breaks if driving for long periods.
• Medications may cause drowsiness. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking prescription or over-the­counter drugs.