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

Malaysian Overseas FDI in Oil Palm:

SAM Calls to address negative impacts and unethical practices
Sahabat Alam Malaysia calls on the Malaysian Government to address the negative impacts and unethical practices of its overseas or outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) in the past few years.
Although the outflow of Malaysian investments abroad have been more than the inflow of investments into the country, serious concerns have arisen in relation to the impact of the palm oil industry in particular.

In the first quarter of 2012, the total overseas investment outflow totalled RM16.91 billion, more than double the inflow of RM7.48 billion. The Malaysian palm oil industry represents a modest position in terms of the total OFDI value. However, the industry’s adverse impacts are significant compared to any other sector that Malaysian companies invest in because of the development of plantation estates especially in tropical forests, community land and peatlands in overseas countries.
For several years, civil society organisations and government review committees in countries with Malaysian overseas investment in the palm oil sector have raised serious legal, environmental and social injustices.  
Recently, Sahabat Alam Malaysia commissioned Aidenvironment to conduct a study to assess the scale of Malaysian overseas FDI in oil palm plantation land bank, and to illustrate why global and local stakeholders question the industry’s good reputation.
This study has identified 50 Malaysian companies that have acquired over 200 plantation companies with a total overseas oil palm plantation land bank of 3.5 million hectares. The dominant recipient of Malaysian FDI in oil palm land bank is Indonesia (52%), followed by Papua New Guinea (PNG) (31%) whilst other third countries account for the remaining 17%.   
The focus of the report is on key sustainability concerns associated with Malaysian overseas FDI. More than a dozen case studies in the report have shown that Malaysian overseas oil palm investment commonly involves a variety of legal and unethical practices, including:
• Unauthorised occupation in protected forestland, and other forms of illegal logging;
• Land clearing and plantation development without approved Environmental Impact Assessments or other required permits, and misleading government authorities about this;
• Pursuing legal claims and occupation of customary rights land without free, prior and informed consent of indigenous        communities;
• Paying local villagers and plantation workers for hunting protected species, such as orang-utans.

Further, on 20 May 2014, a High Court in Papua New Guinea declared two large land development leases claimed by a Malaysian based company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) in the Collingwood Bay region of PNG, null and void. The Court had ordered the State to cancel the title deeds.[1] This is but one case out of many in countries like PNG, Indonesia and Liberia involving Malaysian based companies and local communities.

These malpractices have often resulted in intense conflicts between Malaysian investors and local stakeholders. This study found that the heads of state in Indonesia, PNG, Liberia and Congo (Br) with Malaysian palm oil FDI have declared investment moratoria in order to control overseas investment in forestry and/or agriculture development.
In essence, this does not augur well for Malaysia’s reputation and image in wanting to be a global leader in the palm oil sector.
SAM urges the Government to study this report carefully and recognise the negative impacts of these overseas investments on local communities and the environment.
Closer to home, Singapore may be a good example to emulate as it has proposed a new and unique legislation that would hold its citizens and businesses legally accountable for involvement in the recurrent transboundary haze problem.
SAM calls for strict mandatory regulations for Malaysian OFDI including having companies respect the rule of law in countries they operate in, refrain from engaging in activities that are against universal human rights principles and stop environmental degradation. Further, companies that violate these mandatory regulations must be punished severely to ensure no repeats by others.

Press Release – 20 June 2014

1.    The report can be accessed at www.foe-malaysia.org and www.aidenvironment.org/publications/
2.    If you require further clarification, kindly contact Eric Wakker at +6 012 366 1 200

[1] http://www.nst.com.my/node/3936; http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15957; Contested KLK Palm Oil Leases Declared Illegal by Papua New Guinea Court | Rainforest Action Network http://ran.org/contested-klk-palm-oil-leases-declared-illegal-papua-new-guinea-court#ixzz34m5m65ZQ

Address Water Supply Problem to Paddy Fields in Charok Sikin

CAP supports KEDA’s effort to rehabilitate idle land
The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) urges the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Kedah to assist the Kedah Regional Development Authority (KEDA) to overcome the problem of water supply to paddy fields in Kampung Charok Sikin, district of Baling here.

If the problem continues, the rehabilitation of idle land in the village may fail and hence further jeopardize the livelihood of farmers here.
CAP found in a survey here that nearly 30 hectares of paddy fields in the village did not have proper irrigation system and pump facility, often causing dryness of the paddy fields. In addition, the irrigation system constructed in this area has been abandoned, broken and filled with bushes. The irrigation water gates here are in poor condition because not properly maintained.
Recently a farmer, Mohd Amir Ayob, 34, had suffered a loss of around RM40,000 last season after two crops of paddy did not produce any yield due to lack of water in the paddy fields in the village.
Thus CAP requests the relevant authorities to provide pump facility and build a better irrigation system so that water from the nearby Sungai Ketil can be effectively channeled for use by farmers here.
CAP believes that with the provision of better facilities, idle land in the village will be rehabilitated completely and can indirectly help increase the income of some 100 people whose land has been affected.
CAP supports and lauds the project implemented by the Kedah Regional Development Authority (KEDA) under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development as it not only can overcome the problem of rural poverty but also can contribute to the food supply of the country.
In Kampung Lintang, Belantik in the district of Sik, Kedah, the villagers with the help of KEDA not only successfully rehabilitated idle land in the village, but also managed to grow and produce organic paddy/rice, gaining a lucrative income. CAP hopes such a project could be implemented widely not only in the interior of Kedah but also in other states where there is idle land.
Press Release – 22 April 2014

CAP and SAM disappointed over approval of DEIA of Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2 proposed reclamation project in Penang

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are disappointed that the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) of the proposed reclamation of Phase 2 of Seri Tanjung Pinang (STP2) at Tanjung Tokong, Penang has been approved by the Department of Environment.

The Board of Directors of Eastern & Oriental Berhad (E & O) had announced yesterday that its subsidiary, Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd, had on 11 April 2014 received the conditional approval letter dated 10 April 2014 from the DOE.  
Besides CAP and SAM, other civil society organizations in Penang had also raised their concerns and called for more in-depth study. Thus we are surprised that the DEIA review panel for this proposed reclamation project had decided to approve the report despite the many objections, issues and questions which remain unanswered
Among the issues raised by CAP and SAM were justification of the entire project, impact of the previous reclamation for STP1 which has caused sedimentation and erosion elsewhere, mitigation for significant loss of coastal zone and marine resources, undervaluation of environmental services provided by mudflats, seabed habitat and underestimation of impacts of dredging.
The least that the DEIA panel of reviewers should have done is request the EIA consultants to submit an addendum to the DEIA based on the comments submitted.  The additional information provided by the consultants should have been exhibited for members of the public to review and submit their comments.  
Now that the DEIA has been approved, the onus is on the Penang State Government to decide whether to approve the project.   Will the State consider the plight of the environment and affected people or will profit for a private company take precedence?  Who would pay the cost for loss of income of fishers, permanent destruction to the coastal zone and marine resources due to the project activities and subsequent impacts?
The loss to environmental services is monumental whilst public would have to suffer the consequences.  Hence, we call on the Penang State government to seriously consider the environmental and societal costs of this proposed project and thus not approve the STP2 project proposal.  

Press Release – 15 April 2014