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on 17 Jul, 16:59

ENSEARCH KKEF: Young Environmentalist Internship Award 2018

The Environmental Management and Research Association of Malaysia (ENSEARCH) would like to  invite young Malaysians with a passion for environmental management excellence to apply for the ENSEARCH K. Kumarasivam Young Environmentalist Internship Award. This award began in 2004 and will provide the selected individual with the opportunity to be placed as an Intern in a reputable center of environmental management excellence abroad for a period of two weeks. It will cover all expenses related to travel, accommodation and an allowance for living expenses. The date of internship for this year round is expected to be in March 2019.

 


on 5 Jun, 22:33

Fate of Pulau Jerejak lies in Penangites’ hands

Fate of Pulau Jerejak lies in Penangites’ hands
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The Public Forum – Pulau Jerejak

Year: 2018

“Father told me that he would visit me once a week.”

Lim Boon Nya was only 7 when she was diagnosed for leprosy. A contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes and nerves, leprosy rampaged Malaya in the early 20th century.

Back in the old days in Penang, leprosy patients were often segregated in quarantine camps on Pulau Jerejak.

Lim was one of them.

“When I saw a boat pass by (Jerejak Island), I ran to the beach. I could see my father left in that boat and he didn’t bring me along to go home… Every day I cried“

Also sharing the same fate with Lim was Goh Sooi Seong. Unlike Lim, however, Goh was a teenager when she was forced to leave the only life she knew behind.

At the age of 17 when life was full of infinite possibilities to others, Goh was left with no option but sent away to Jerejak Island.

The Jerejak journey told by Lim and Goh resembles similar pattern: the initial grievances or confusion over the loss of their previous life, followed by rejection of life on Pulau Jerejak, to eventual acceptance of their new reality. They even managed to have good time on the island, from community activities such as movie screening and festival celebration, to simple chore such as raising chicken and growing vegetables for money.

In the public forum hosted by Penang’s Think City, it felt as though Lim and Goh were there themselves in UAB Building, Level 1 to share their life account on Pulau Jerejak. In reality, however, it was a presentation by Mike Gibby.

And the historian has the ability to transform his audiences backward in time.

The Forgotten Prime of Jerejak Island

Year: 1969

Mike introduced us to Camp A on Pulau Jerejak in year 1969. With faculties such as the main leprosy camp, leprosy hospital and Catholic Church, the southeast part of the island was easily the busiest part of the island.

Further south from the camp, we saw two young men in khaki uniform on watch duty. Recalling earlier presentation by environmentalist and co-founder of Penang Hills Watch (PHW), Rexy Prakash, we concluded they were prison guards for a maximum security prison nearby that detained inmates from the Riot 1969.

It was then Mike directed our attention to a Chinese tombstone sitting quietly near to them.

It was – and is – the tradition for the Chinese to practise the order of “Man on the Left, Woman on the Right”. Upon close inspection, sure enough the left ‘hill’ of the stone read “Mr. Lee You Fu” and on the right was “Madam Chen Jin”.

A mysterious Chinese tombstone that, according to its vague carvings, belonged to a couple from the Fujian Province of China.

Although this type of Chinese tombstone was not an uncommon sight – it is still widely available in Malaysian Chinese cemetery today – there was something odd about this particular tombstone.

“The date of death is missing”, remarked Mike, as if reading our minds.

He was right.

“So what happened here?” Mike led on, “Who were they? Did they die without proper burial? Or did they flee from an unknown danger on the island?”

The fact that none of us has the answer just added another layer of veil to the mystery of this forgotten island.

We were still pondering the question when the Secretary of the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT), Ben Wismen, took the stage and brought us fast forward into the future.

The Future We Chose To Be In

Year: 2030

Our sensory receptors were instantly sent overdrive.

The lush greenery with sunlight filtering through the tree canopy was replaced by bright neon lights with sharp colours. The music of birds chirping and wind gusting through the branches of trees were replaced by noise of agitated car honks and excited chattering crowd of people. Worst of all, the fragrance of a combination of fruits and flowers was replaced by thick exhaust fume deprived of oxygen.

Blocks upon blocks of buildings lined up the streets where the main leprosy camp used to be. Modern restaurants, souvenir shops, and shopping outlets. All of them packed with people. Perhaps the most puzzling part was the endless stream of traffics on the small island, leading to what looked like a commercial theme park ahead.

We were drenched in sweat under the unfiltered sunlight as we paced aimlessly on the melting tar road. It was then Ben revealed that back in 2007 the State Assembly approved Pulau Jerejak to be permanent forest reserve. However, that plan was overturned and massive development on the island was suddenly announced in 2016.

“The development includes a theme park, hotels, 1,200 residential units, and a mega bridge that would connect Pulau Jerejak with Penang Island.

In this future that we were in, the bridge construction had successfully wiped out the rich marine lives and replaced them with lifeless concretes. That explained the high influx of traffic we witnessed earlier. Once an essential green lung of Penang that absorbs carbon dioxide, we have managed to turn Pulau Jerejak into one of the sites that emits heat-trapping pollutants into the air. On the ground, over 130 species of plants and 24 species of land animals were also under threat to be endangered and extinction.

The historical site of leprosy hospitals, maximum security prisons, and many more will not be spared from the urbanization either. “This is because,” Ben explained, “Although the development only involves 15% of the island, that little land was exactly where the historically significant sites are located.”

The Crossroad Where Past, Present and Future Meets

Year: 2018

We were back to the public forum, at the time when our action (and inaction) will decide the future of Penang.

The public forum was part of the project helmed by Rexy Prakash. The aim was simple (but not easy) – to raise awareness about Penangites’ forgotten history of Pulau jerejak.

The crucial part, however, is what followed next.

What is our collective decision on what to do with Pulau Jerejak?

Do we watch by idly and let the future of our state decided by a selective ‘elite’ few? Or do we take active role in holding our government accountable to ensure we are developing towards a sustainable state?

Our decision is immensely important, not just for Pulau Jerejak, but because whatever it is, it speaks greatly of who we Penangites are.

Since You’re here…

In the public talk, Ben Wismen has outlined the action plans to preserve Jerejak Island.

Immediate action:

  • Preservation of present heritage assets (i.e. church building, graves, barracks).
  • Commission a master plan of development of Pulau Jerejak, placing special emphasis on its historical, social, cultural and environmental significance.
  • Restore access for public into Pulau Jerejak, and the hiking trails on the island.
  • Gazette the Pulau Jerejak Forest Reserve.
  • The State Government to engage the developer/investor, in collaboration with stakeholders and civil society, to design a development plan that is holistic and respects the significance of the island.

Mid-term action:

  • Review the proposed development plans, and ensure that it adheres to the master plan and respects the significance of the island.
  • Designate Pulau Jerejak as a Penang State Park, as proposed in the Penang Structure Plan (Item DS 55 L 6).
  • Commission a full biodiversity survey of Pulau Jerejak.

Long Term Action:

  • Declare Pulau Jerejak as a State Heritage Site, under the Penang State Heritage Enactment.
  • Propose for Pulau Jerejak as National Heritage Site, under the National Heritage Act.
  • Work towards joint inscription of Pulau Jerejak and Sungai Buloh as World Heritage Sites (in recognition of the function of these sites as leper colonies for Malaysia)
  • Sustained engagement between developers, other stakeholders and civil society to best develop Pulau Jerejak based on the accepted master plan.

If you are a Penangites, your stand will determine the direction Jerejak is steering to. So make sure your voice is heard. To know how, or for other enquiries, contact Rexy via rexyprakash@gmail.com.

This article would not be possible without input from Rexy Prakash. I would like to offer my most sincere gratitude to Rexy and his team for their effort to make Penang, and Malaysia, a better place for all of us.

This article was first published on ericthoo.com and Aliran.

on 14 May, 21:17

Climate Change: Penang Out of Time

Climate Change: Penang Out of Time
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1.

Symposium On Sustainable Penang. Malaysia. 16 January 2018.

 

“In time, Malaysians will catch up!”

One of the young panels announced confidently.

Promising ideas were offered by young panels in a symposium held in Komtar Tower, Auditorium A in Penang state of Malaysia. The topic was “Can Penang be made sustainable by 2030?”

One of them highlighted the importance of public transport in reducing or even eliminating the need for private cars. Another pointed at our public education system by urging for mandatory and extensive topic on climate change in school’s syllabus. Strong words such as “love for our nature” were even used to stress how fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship with nature was the key solution.

The discussion climbed to climax when moderator Dr. Lee Lik Meng, who is also a former professor from University Science Malaysia, challenged the youths on how to make the solutions possible by 2030. As one of the panels began answering, a particular phrase caught my attention. My internal alarm went off. And before I could ponder further, the phrase came again. And again. When it rang in my ears for the fourth time, I knew there was no mistake. Something was wrong.

2.

The 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC. Paris. 12 December 2015.

In this historic moment, 195 nations stood together and signed an agreement that could potentially change the course of our history. It would later known as the Paris Agreement. World leaders vowed to keep temperature in year 2050 from increased more than 2 degrees Celsius above where they were before we started powering our economy with coal.

The target ‘two degree Celsius’ was chosen for a very specific reason. Breach the 2 degrees Celsius target, and we break our Earth’s capability to recover. That means the damage we inflicted on our planet will be irreversible and any chance of survival will be out of the window. So far, the temperature has increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius and we have already experienced some of the worse natural disasters ever. Allowing the temperature to warm more than twice that amount will unquestionably have perilous consequences.

In fact, renowned journalist Naomi Klein pointed out that a report published by the World Bank warned that “we’re on track for a 4 degrees Celsius warmer world [by century’s end] marked by extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.” And the report cautioned that, “There is also no certainty that (human) adaptation to a 4 degrees Celsius world is possible.”

Indeed, we have to act, and we have to act now. With only less than 3 decades away from exceeding the 2 degrees Celsius mark, time is the last thing we can afford to waste.

3.

In auditorium A, the particular phrase rang again in my ears.

“In time, the syllabus in our public education will improve!”

My internal alarm went off again. It was like siren wailed in my ears.

“In time, the city design in Penang will be ideal for the use of public transport!”

Siren thundering in my ears.

“In time, our nation’s legislation will improve and meet the actual needs of the world!”

Someone was having a drum concert on my eardrum.

“In time, Malaysians will catch up!”

One of the young panels announced confidently.

I swear I was almost deaf.

4.

Penang, Malaysia. 4 November 2017.

Penang was making headlines in mainstream media after nearly 2 years the Paris Agreement was signed. The state was experiencing the worst flood to date that displaced around 2,000 victims. That was, however, only the beginning of much worse to come.

Four degrees of warming will also raise global sea levels by 1 or possibly even 2 meters. Island will be drown and coastal areas will be inundated. Penang island will be no exemption.

And let’s not forget about the brutal heat waves that can kill tens of thousands of people. Coupled it with the dramatic yield losses of crops it brings, in a time when demand surges due to population growth, the consequence will be dire. If our ancestors came to Malaya as war or economic refugees, our children will be fleeing Malaysia as climate refugees. Assuming if they survived the raging wildfires, fisheries collapses, widespread disruptions to water suppliers, and globetrotting diseases in the future.

To drive home the point that we are simply running out of time, plenty of mainstream analysts now confirmed that based on our current emissions trajectory, we are headed for even more than 4 degrees of warming. International Energy Agency (IEA) put that number at 6 degrees Celsius.

Fooling ourselves into thinking we can do things slowly, and the change can be gradual and unpainful, is the first thing we should stop doing.

5.

Back in the symposium, it dawned on me that our nation still has much work to be done. After all, the baseless optimistic from one of the young panels that everything will be magically solved in the future sounded suspiciously like we are, yet again, postponing the problem for the next generation to solve – Something we know to do only too well.

As the discussion on stage drawing to an end, I collected my belongings and was ready to leave in a not-so-bright mood.

That was when another panel countered, “No, the future is now! We have to start making difference! Start from today!”

I can’t stop the big smile on my face. Perhaps there is still hope for us after all.

And of course the panel who made the bold remark was a woman.

 

This article was first published on Aliran, later shared by Penang Green Council on Facebook.

on 21 Apr, 19:56

Malaysian Organic food consumption Public Survey, UCSI university

Dear Sir / Madam,

RE: Malaysian Organic food consumption Public Survey, UCSI university

Good day. I am Lim, a postgraduate student of Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) at UCSI University in Malaysia.

I am currently conducting a Public Survey for my doctoral research project on Malaysian organic food consumption behaviour and their sustainability values perceptions. As your organisation is involved in the health food and sustainable development industry, your participation will be highly valued for this survey.

This survey will only take 10 minutes of your precious time.  Participant anonymity is strictly adhered to and only aggregate data will be used.  Executive Summary of survey results will be provided for those who are interested.  Our aim is to reach 1,000 respondents.  It will be of great help for us if your organisation could forward and circulate among your employees and business associates to participate in this survey.

Below are the links for the online survey (in both English and Bahasa Malaysia versions), as well as Letter of Request from UCSI university for your reference:

Survey (English): https://goo.gl/forms/w1V24IyKXBi4EvzI3

Survey (BM): https://goo.gl/forms/bgU9RLI29Ue64jM73

University Letter: https://goo.gl/forms/G5sSg99EVKtAy6tS2

If you wish to know more or sponsor part of the research expenses, please do not hesitate to contact me via email :1001644236@student.ucsiuniversity.edu.my. Sponsors will be provided with comprehensive report at the end of the research project subject to the approval of the university.

We hope to have a favourable response from your organisation and we highly appreciate your kind participation and support for this research on sustainability and healthy lifestyle.

Hope to hear from you soon, thank you in advance!

Best regard,

EH Lim

(UCSI DBA student)

on 17 Apr, 13:37

GE 14 Open Letter to All Political Parties, by NGOs concerned about the environment

GE 14 Open Letter to All Political Parties, by NGOs concerned about the environment
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To: Presidents of all political parties in Malaysia

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by 193 countries, including Malaysia, in September 2015 at the United Nations Summit encompass environmental, social and economic dimensions. These are now considered as universal goals for development and indicators of a country’s well-being.

We believe that environmental conservation deserves a greater emphasis in your aspirations for our country. Sustainable development should be a goal that ensures a win-win in the environmental, social and economic dimensions. By informing voters of your aspirations and plans for sustainable development in Malaysia, you allow them to make informed decisions with their votes. We, the undersigned, urge you to recognise the environmental aspirations of the citizens of Malaysia, especially the youth [refer to i] by: a) including these aspirations in your Party Manifesto; and b) ensuring they are given high priority to ensure sustainable development for current and future generations. We appeal to you to inform the voters how you will work towards realising those aspirations for the benefits of the people and, more specifically, what would you do in the first 100 days, if you are elected to form the government.

Malaysia is recognised as one of the top twelve countries in the world for mega- biodiversity. We are blessed with tropical rainforest, mangroves, peatland, montane forests, which ranks Malaysia the 4th in the world for most tree species [refer to ii] . Our surrounding seas are important parts of the Coral Triangle, which contains more than 75% of the world’s known coral species [refer to iii]. Our biodiversity is certainly one of the reasons why many tourists come to Malaysia.

As we all know, humans cannot survive without nature. While development is meant to increase our standards of living and grow our economy, unsustainable development inadvertently destroys the environment. The environment that provides services we take for granted such as our clean air, fresh water, food, and protection against extreme weather. In the end we are left worse than expected and this does not need to be the case. We must aim to achieve development in a sustainable way to balance our aspirations for economic growth without compromising our natural capital (environmental assets, social systems, cultural resources). Only then can we ensure higher standards of living for current and future generations.

In the absence of sustainable development and without proper protection of nature, the risks of flash flood, air pollution, landslides, shortage of water supply, and expanding urban heat islands will increase. We have already seen some of these happening and the frequency and intensity will get worse due to the pressures of increasing populations and changing climate. Not forgetting the role forests, wetlands and oceans play in providing food, nutrients and recreational space for humans, regulating the climate and buffering against extreme weather.

This Open Letter has been prepared in a neutral and non-partisan manner on behalf of our supporters – your constituents. They expect us to engage with the political system to advocate sustainable development and to urge you to make this a priority above party politics. By informing the voters your aspirations and plans for sustainable development in Malaysia, you allow them to make informed decisions with their votes.

We thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Biji-biji Initiative
Civil Society Organisations for Sustainable Development Goals (CSO-SDG) Alliance
Ecocentric Transitions
EcoKnights Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM)
Friends of Sarawak Museum
Hunger Hurts
Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) Spiral
Malaysian Nature Society
#PowerShiftMsia
Reef Check Malaysia
Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
Sabah Environmental Trust
Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society
Sarawak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Sarawak Eco Warriors
Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES)
Wetlands International Malaysia
WWF-Malaysia

i According to the National Youth Survey 2007, “the environment” ranked 3rd as the 1st concern among youth surveyed. http://www.merdeka.org/v2/download/Microsoft%20Word%20- %20National%20Youth%20Survey%202007%20-%20Exec%20Summary–%20Final.pdf
ii http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10549811.2017.1310049?journalCode=wjsf20
iii http://www.coraltriangle.org/biodiversity/Biodiversity-CoralTriangle-MarineConservation-Culture-Fisheries.html

Please see attachment of a survey on voter concerns when it comes to the environment:

Media release: Poll shows voters most concern with pollution of rivers and seas

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MESYM.com is a crowd-sourced platform and a living database for environmental movements in Malaysia. There are many good actions being done out there. Our goal is to bring them together. We connect the green dots.