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Fri 04 Aug 2006

Sipadan: construction terminated, coral recovering, Sabah Parks revamp

Category : malaysia

"Diving haven saved, clubhouse project terminated immediately." By Muguntan Vanar. The Star Online, 03 Aug 2006.

KOTA KINABALU: Finally, firm action is being taken to protect the rich, yet fragile, marine eco-system of the diving haven of Pulau Sipadan.

The contract for the controversial RM4.5mil clubhouse project on Sipadan has been terminated with immediate effect, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said after a state Cabinet meeting yesterday. He also ordered a management revamp of Sabah Parks, the state government agency that oversees all gazetted parks and islands, including Sipadan and Mount Kinabalu.

Musa said the Sipadan project would be reviewed under a totally new concept, and "I will take charge of it." "We will obtain the approval of the Prime Minister on a revised project for Sipadan," he said.

He said the state Cabinet decided on restructuring Sabah Parks management because of its poor handling of the Sipadan project. It also bungled the project involving the construction of a rest house on Mount Kinabalu, a World Heritage.

Contractor Kumpulan Surati Sdn Bhd undertook the Sipadan project, including the building of a sewage facility. But it came under severe criticism when a barge ran aground, scraping off coral reefs on a patch the size of two tennis courts on May 14. The contractor apologised and was ordered to clean up the building material that fell into the sea.

Musa halted work on the project but later said that the Cabinet had decided to allow the project to continue, but scaled down and using environmentally friendly materials. He came under fire from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Musa said the new development concept would involve only the building of toilets and a small rest area for divers.

On the other controversial issue of logging in the Malua and Ulu Segama forest reserves that has been bequeathed as Malaysia’s biodiversity gift to the world, Musa said logging would be phased out by end of 2007. Apart from Malua (33,969ha) and Ulu Segama (202,586ha) forest reserves, Musa said, logging would also be phased out in Kelompang forest reserve (3,768ha). All three reserves surround Danum Valley.

© 1995-2005 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

"Damaged reefs slowly but surely recovering." By Tan Cheng Li. The Star, 28 Jul 2006.

"PETALING JAYA: The Sipadan coral reefs which were damaged by a barge carrying construction material in mid-May are slowly but surely recovering.

Marine biologist Dr Nicolas Pilcher said the reefs, where only the coral tips had been scraped off by the vessel, have grown. The director of Kota Kinabalu-based Marine Research Foundation, which was appointed by Sabah Parks to restore the reef, said the damage was minimal and nowhere near the extent reported in the press.

"There was no one complete destruction zone but several scattered small patches. This is good news for the reef. Chances of recovery are better as the adjacent healthy reef will help replenish the damaged areas," he said.

Over the month of June, Dr Pilcher and his staff were at Sipadan assessing the reef regeneration and also removing coral and rock rubble that prevented young coral from getting a firm foothold on the substrate.

The next phase of restoration work will see the creation of artificial reefs. Ceramic structures, made in the United States and designed to resemble the underwater landscape, will be placed in the worst-afflicted sites to promote coral regeneration.

"We envision that the structures will be completely covered with corals within six months to a year. This will help stabilise the reef in the larger damaged areas and fix the reef faster," he said.  "The potential of recovery is good because Sipadan has one of the best and healthiest reefs in the country."

Posted at 1:15AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Fri 04 Aug 2006

"We must take care of what God has given us."

Category : malaysia

"We must take care of what God has given us." Comment by Soo Ewe Jin. The Star Online, 30 Jul 2006.

WE have said it many times before: very few countries on Earth are blessed with the natural resources that Malaysia has. People in land-locked countries dream of our beaches and our getaway islands. Those in barren flat lands look at our lush majestic mountains and wonder why we don't seem to take care of them. And those who hardly have a drop of rain will wonder how a country like ours, with rain all year round, has to struggle with water shortages and flash floods.

The Prime Minister [of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi] said it well when he spoke out on the general quality of the environment in Malaysia on Wednesday. Malaysians, he said, should learn to appreciate the environment as it is a gift from God. "God gave us such a beautiful gift. Why are we destroying it?" he asked.

He wondered why our rivers are polluted and our waterfalls seem to dry up. When he mentioned the long-gone waterfalls in Penang, many of us will surely sigh along with him. Anyone who has gone camping on the beaches of Penang and then hiked inland to enjoy the fresh water of the falls will know what he is talking about.

On the rivers that run through the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Abdullah remarked that "if you throw a crocodile into the river, the crocodile will die." It is a sad indictment of the situation because so many great cities not only blossomed along the banks of great rivers, but know how to take good care of them.

We can expect all the relevant people to rise up like a chorus line to echo the PM's sentiments, but what is the point?

Such remarks have been made before, but the moment the spotlight is not trained on this issue, the people will go about their merry ways. Projects will continue to be approved in environmentally sensitive spots. People will continue to throw rubbish into the rivers. And if the next pristine diving spot is discovered, you can be sure that the comforts of modern life must be instantly brought there. The construction mayhem at Sipadan, one of the world's top 10 dive sites, is a classic example.

But surely we do not need our Prime Minister to micro-manage issues like this. Surely we do not need him to go on a helicopter ride to show the scars of the lands caused by hillslope development. The Prime Minister has a right to show his concern and express his anger on the state of the environment. But it is the people at the state level, and on the ground, who should hang their heads in shame.

Everything in life is connected. We are but mere trustees of what God has blessed us with. It is time we make ourselves worthy of the task at hand.

© 1995-2005 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Posted at 12:58AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news