Monthly Archives: June 2013

Reef balls to create diving haven off Similajau park

BINTULU: A collaboration between Malaysia LNG Group of Companies and Sarawak Forestry hopes to turn the waters of Similajau National Park into a diving haven in 10 years, following the deployment of 1,500 reef balls within the next three years.

Under the Biodiversity, Environment and Conservation (Beacon) Project, a total of 250 reef balls will be dropped into the sea off the coast of the park beginning today in an effort to provide sanctuary for marine life, as well as to deter trawlers from fishing in an area identified as a ‘turtle highway’.

Sarawak Forestry’s Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation unit deputy general manager Oswald Braken Tisen told reporters that peak landing season is between May to August, but the numbers at Similajau are low.

“The landings are very few. Most are concentrated on Talang-Talang and Satang islands. We hope to set up a turtle hatchery here if the numbers increase,” he said, adding that they will have sufficient cause if there is at least one nesting per night.

The Beacon Project was launched on April 12 this year. The planning and implementation work were carried out by the Beacon Taskforce and Technical Working Committee, both made up of MLNG and Sarawak Forestry staff.

Since the implementation of reef balls in the Sematan and Telaga Air area in 1999, the number of dead adult turtles found along the beaches there decreased from 70-100 (before 1998) to 20 annually.

The reef balls act to discourage illegal trawling activities by destroying fishing nets.

At the same time, it gives the marine ecosystem and diversity to rebuild and recover by encouraging growth of coral reef acting as a refuge, nursery and breeding ground for fish.

Reef balls have been used by over 80 countries for various purposes such as reef rehabilitation/restoration, anchor, scuba diving sites, research sites, beach erosion control and a tool for mangrove replanting. – BP


Defend government policies with clear conscience — CM

BINTULU: Civil servants must fully understand government policies to be able to explain them to the public and perform their duties well.

Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said this at the opening the High Performance Team (HPT) seminar 2013 at ParkCity Everly Hotel here yesterday.

Over 150 heads of departments from the state civil service, statutory bodies and government-linked companies as well as representatives from Federal departments are taking part in the three-day seminar which ends today.

Taib noted that getting the people understand government policies could be very complicated especially to the young generation on environmental issues.

He assured that the state government had always tried to strike a balance between conserving the environment and its development policies.

“Civil servants must understand all the policies thoroughly, so that you can defend the government policies with clear conscience and not just because you earn wages from us.”

Taib said the effect of propaganda by certain groups against government policies and projects through the internet during the last general elections on urban youths was alarming.

He added as internet access penetrated the rural area, there would be a danger that the situation could spread to the rural population.
“We have to take measures and plan how to win the battle against false propaganda from putting pressure on the government.

Taib stressed that free flow of information was vital in development and as Malaysians become more literate it was inevitable that they would have more access to the internet.

However, he said the right information must be disseminated to the youth and apart from putting up better websites the government should engage them in discussions on policies especially at grassroots level.

He pointed out going to the ground to get feedback from the people would increase participation from more stakeholders.

The chief minister also made it clear that state government policies were not formulated just to satisfy its critics but were carefully thought out plans that would benefit the people and preserve the environment for the future.

“We preserve all these things for our younger generations because we will pass some of the debts of development today to the younger generations.

“We are quite conscious of all these things, and that’s why our policies are quite balanced,” said Taib. -BP

Dams can reverse rural-urban drift

Construction of hydroelectric dams a catalyst for rural transformation — Chief Minister
BINTULU: The construction of hydro electric dams can reverse the rural-urban drift and transform the basic infrastructure of the interior of the state.

Pointing this out, Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the population in the interior were mostly children under 12 years old and very old people who could not be very productive.

Citing Ulu Baram as an example, he said most of the young people had drifted to Miri and other urban centres in search for jobs.

Taib added he was very concerned about the situation as this was also happening in other rural areas.

“Ulu Baram, Ulu Kapit will never be developed if not for the construction of the dams, in fact these areas are already losing their population, I’m not going to allow this kind of thing to happen forever, we have to reverse the trend.”

Thus, he pointed out that dams were built not only for the sake of producing electricity but also for the spin-off impact of creating jobs, enhancing local industries like eco-tourism and development of basic infrastructure in the interior rural areas.

“If we don’t have any dams, I don’t think there is justification to have a road to Belaga, road to anyway in the interior,” said Taib when officiating at the High Performance Team 2013 gathering at ParkCity Everly Hotel here yesterday.

He disclosed that the state government planned to build two new towns in the interior of the state within the next 20 to 30 years to cater for the expected population increase there.

However, he cautioned that development programmes also presented challenges for the government because the state was very stringent in environmental management.

He added that the success of development projects could not totally put an end to all problems.

“When we talk about dam, the problem of resettlement will become most dominant.”

The issue had been exploited and sensationalised by some organisations he said.

Taib said some international NGOs were against the government’s efforts to develop the interior of the state through construction of dams despite its policies which safeguard the environment and the interests of the affected people.

The chief minister noted that some NGOs were responsible while some just tried to stir up issues in order to get maximum support in their own country or internationally.

If they were to succeed in stopping the development of rural areas through construction of the dams, the very people they claim to fight for would be deprived of a better life, said Taib. – BP