Saturday, September 13, 2008

Endau-Rompin (Selai) Visit and Orang Asli Community Service

On the weekend of 19 to 20 July, MNSJ was lucky to have YB Tan Kok Hong (Exco for Environment and many other things) to accompany our entourage to first visit Kg. Kemidak to hand out some supplies for the Orang Asli of that kampung and the nearby Kg. Selai. The supplies were from the money collected for the 2006 great floods and some clothings mostly collected by Mr. Chern Boon Hong.

The journey started out early (7 am) for us from Johor Bahru and even earlier for members from Singapore. The destination for our convergence was Bekok, incidently the constituency of YB Tan and the ETA was 1030 am. The exact place was at the Johor National Parks Corporation (JNPC) office. MNSJ was short of 4-WD vehicles, which were necessary a few kilometers on the outskirts of Bekok. Lucky for us, with YB Tan in our entourage, most of the MCA members around Bekok with the Pajeros and Troopers came out in force!

We did good time and the Orang Asli Community Service at Kg. Kemidak's community hall cum JNPC office started on schedule. The health and dental services from the Segamat Health Department were there to give their services (thanks to YB Dr Robia Kosai and Dr Zaharah Mohd Salleh of Segamat Health Department). Both batins from the two villages were also there. After a couple of speeches from Haji Abu Bakar, the Director of JNPC and YB Tan, the assistance in the form of food and clothes were handed out the two Tok Batins.

After a few group photos, the group headed for Lubuk Tapah, Selai. YB Tan walked around the Lubuk Tapah facilities, fed the fishes and later have lunch with all participants. YB Tan and his entourage left after lunch and a short discussion with MNSJ and Haji Abu Bakar of JNPC.

Thanks to JNPC (especially Haji Abu Bakar and Mr. Chew), our stay in Lubuk Tapah was free of charge. We have an free and easy afternoon, some took a swim in Lubuk Tapah, while Dr. Ismid scouted for sampling areas for Vincent and Aweng to do samplings for their PhD dissertations. We cooked and ate a good dinner that night and more discussions of everything under the sun.

After a good breakfast the next morning, a group followed En Hamid to hike to the waterfalls upstream of Sg. Selai, while another group followed Dr. Ismid and myself with Vincent and Aweng to do their fish and macroinvertebrates samplings of Sg. Selai.

Some participants left early (around 12 noon) especially the Singaporeans to beat the traffic jam at the Causeway but the Dr Ismid's sampling group only left Lubuk Tapah around 2 pm but we have a durian feast in Bekok before heading home!

13 Sept. 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sg. Lukah Freshwater Wetlands, Ulu Sedili Kechil

Selamat Berpuasa to MNSJ Muslim members. Apologies for being quiet for a while and not adding new information in this MNSJ blog.

If you have been reading the MNS yahoogroups e mail, some of our members have visited the Sg. Lukah wetlands, which is located between Tanjung Balau and Jason Bay. The wetlands were inadvertently "discovered" by Vincent Chow (MNSJ advisor) and Dr. Ismid Said (MNSJ Council member), when both were doing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a biotech company wanting to develop the land, which includes the said wetlands.

The Sg. Lukah freshwater wetlands is the last vestige of non-peaty, freshwater swamps in Johor. Most of the surrounding areas were already drained and turned into oil palm plantations. Most were already logged as most of the access dirt/laterite roads were for logging purposes. These roads also changed the hydrology of the wetlands as their presence blocked the movement of the surface and groundwater movements of the water i.e. these road act as dams. Some of the larger trees are already dying probably due to excessive water-logging and other reasons.

Nevertheless, these wetlands need to be preserved for our future generations. Vincent and Dr. Ismid has collected some field data of the area. I myself visited the area once and measured the in situ and laboratory analysis of the water quality. The results of the analysis indicated the cleanest water ever measured in the pristine areas of Johor - the turbidity measured is at 0.93 NTU (the turbidity of distilled water was measured at 0.59 NTU). But short studies would not be enough. MNSJ needs to carry out a short scientific expedition to inventory the relevant scientific data specifically flora, fauna, stream ecology/fisheries, water quality and hydrology. The length of the study will be about a week to 10 days.

The area visited is the located at the lower end of Sg. Lukah but Dr. Ismid and his team found the access road to the upstream part of Sg. Lukah through the oil palm plantations near FELDA Lok Heng/Sg. Mas. I have discussed with Dr. Ismid that part of the expedition would include a boat or kayak journey from the upper Sg. Lukah to the lower end of Sg. Lukah where most of the photos in this blog were taken.

This short scientific study is suggested some time after the fasting month (mid October?). Although the studies would be carried out by MNSJ members (or newly recruited members :-) ) with relevant scientific backgrounds, other non-scientific members are always welcome to visit and volunteer and assist the scientists.

The findings would be presented to the Johor State Government for purpose of the gazzetement of the wetlands. MNSJ also need to acquire some initial funding from the State Government for the said study.

I will keep all MNSJ members informed in our MNSJ yahoo groups e mail.

6 September 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Activities in the Month of July

Dr.Lum is organizing a Community Service for the Orang Asli of Selai, near Bekok on 19 and 20 of July. The arrangement is to drive from Johor Bahru early in the morning (7 am) so the program can start around 10 am. The services to be given to the Orang Asli will be medical and dental services with used clothes to distributed too. So, please go through your stash of old clothes, choose the more presentable ones, wash them and bring along to the Selai event. You can ask your neighbors to donate too and if you yourself not coming to Selai, please give me or other MNSJ Committee members a call or e-mail us so we can pick the donated clothes from your place (my HP: 019-351-9866).

We will stay overnight at the chalets in the Endau-Rompin National Park (Selai) and will be having a night walk (weather permitting), while early the next morning we will do some fish samplings or bird watching.

The next weekend (26 to 27 July), Mr. Vincent Chow is organizing MNSJ's Annual trip to Pulau Tinggi. One of the main event will be hunting for durians in the dusuns on the hillsides of the island. So bring a sturdy pair of shoes as those hillsides were slippery when it rained before the hunt last year. We will be visiting the bird islands and possible snorkeling in one of the small islands nearby.

Both events can be a family event, so I hope to see you all at least at one of the above events next month.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Annual General Meeting of MNS Johor, 2008

Dear MNSJ Members,

Apologies for being unorthodox about the notice of this year Annual General Meeting of MNSJ. But as long as the notice is effective and reaches members (including the silent ones :-) ), then it is good enough.

Date: 29 June 2008

Time: 3 pm

Place: M Suites Hotel
16 Jalan Skudai Straits View, 80200 JOHOR BAHRU

Malaysian and Singaporean members, please come and join us for the all important annual meeting. Let's know each other better and we can discuss what we can do for the future of Nature and the Environment in Johor.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

World Migratory Birds Day 2008, Parit Jawa

It is a great start for MNSJ to be working with other State and Federal agencies under the auspices of YB Tan Kok Hong. World Migratory Birds Day (WMBD 2008) this year was celebrated on 10 and 11 May all over the world. In Malaysia, MNSJ and MNS Miri celebrated the event in their own localities. In Johor, the event was celebrated in Parit Jawa, Muar. The event was a collaboration of Johor Tourism Action Council (chair) PERHILITAN (Wildlife Department) (co-chair), Forestry Department, Johor National Parks Services (PTNJ), Majlis Perbandaran Muar, JKKK (Village's Development and Security Committee) of Parit Jawa and local villages in the vicinity. MNSJ acted as the Secretariat and the technical adviser.

The choice of Parit Jawa or more specifically Pantai Leka of Kuala Sg. Parit Jawa is due to its location as a stopover of the birds of the East Australasia Migratory Route. There are various species of large and small birds but the prima donna is the Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus) or Burung Botak in Malay. These large birds, numbering around 40 presently, feed in the mudflats of Pantai Leka during low tide and nest in tall trees especially pulai trees (Alstonia angustiloba) inland. For example, there are around 4 to 5 trees in Taman Emas, Batu Pahat where up to 7 nests can be seen per tree (maybe Vince can download some photos of the nests later). Some birders quipped that these Lesser Adjutants are no longer migratory but are now considered as "permanent residents".

The inaugural WMBD 2008 started with an initial meeting with YB Tan Kok Hong at his office on 23 April (present: MSNJ, PERHILITAN and PTNJ) followed by a working meeting chaired by En Azlan Jalil of the Johor Tourism Action Council at JOTIC Building (present: MNSJ, PERHILITAN, Forestry Department, and PTNJ). Another working meeting was held at Parit Jawa Youth Center on 28 April. The meeting was attended by representatives of the various State and Federal agencies at the district levels as well as the JKKK Head for Parit Jawa, Mr. Teo Puay Boon, the heads of the local villages (ketua kampung) and Majlis Perbandaran Muar. The final meeting was carried out on 8 May just before the event - I had to give this meeting a miss as I was attending a course in NIOSH Bangi during the week.

I had to make the event my family event as my wife, Rokiah Hanum, had to pick our daughter Hanis from her UiTM Melaka campus in Alor Gajah. Well, all of us converged in Muar and stayed overnight at the Traders Hotel. Later, my wife and I drove to Parit Jawa to check on the venue and met with Mr. Teo and Vincent to finalize on the winners of the photography contest. Vincent, Evelyn and Margaret Yeo from Singapore stayed at the local motel, Marina Lodging. If Parit Jawa is publicized well enough it could sustain the local economy with respect to accommodation, food, tour operations etc.

It rained heavily during the night, so the morning started out cool and cloudy. It drizzled once in a while but nothing to worry about except for the pools of water in certain places in the children's playground where the event was supposed to take place.

YB Hoo Seong Chang was already there when I arrived around 8:40 am and later Datuk Ab Ghaffar Thambi, the Deputy Secretary-General (TKSU) of the Ministry of Tourism, who would be officiating the event in place of the Minister, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman. And who popped in a bit later? YB Dr. Robia Kosai, the State Assemblywoman for Sg. Balang, walked in dressed in her bright red baju kurung.

The event started with the recitation of the doa (prayer) by the local imam, followed by my speech (apologies for those who were there. Despite the nice words from Harban - I was not totally prepared. I did not read the latest itinerary indicating that I had to give a speech!), followed by a speech from YB Hoo and Datuk Ab Ghaffar, who also officiated the event after his speech. The kompang band beat their chorus after the officiation plus the zapin dances from the school children from SK Seri Menanti. Man! Those kids looked regal in their costumes. The cash envelopes for the photograph contest were handed out by Datuk Ab Ghaffar afterwards.

The tide was just coming in when the event was going on, therefore it was the best possible time for the event and about 10 to 15 Burung Botak could be seen in the vicinity. Sie Tho and others set up their digiscope so the VIPs and the visitors could see the birds up close.

The VIPs and visitors also visited the booths set up by PERHILITAN and Forestry Department. Vincent put up his posters in the VIP stand after the officiation. The photographers from Johor Bahru displayed their posters nearby. Mansor Poh also set up his private booth.

All in all the inaugural WMBD 2008 went well. Later we sat down for an assam pedas lunch at a nearby stall (Mak Pon's stall - arguably the best stall in the locality) and discussed how we can do better next year. Vincent roped in the photographers from Johor Bahru to organize the photograph event next year - they suggested the contest should start six months before the event with bigger prizes of course!

To all who participated in the event - thanks from the bottom of my heart. A leader is nothing without loyal and trustworthy followers, who are also his friends! Thanks to Vincent, Harban, Sietho, Jee and family; Simon Siow, Evelyn and Margaret Yeo from Singapore; Mr and Mrs. Ho from Johor Bahru, En Azlan Jalil and Miss Ayu Ahmad from JTAC, Puan Ramlah of PERHILITAN, Mr. Teo Puay Boon of Parit Jawa. Apologies if I forgot anyone's name. Insyaallah, next year we will try to do a better event - if possible by then the officiating should coincide with the announcement indicating Kuala Sg. Parit Jawa as a bird sanctuary. We have one year to work hard!


Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Environment - Sungai Pulai

The article below was extracted from Dr. Mac's Blog.


Sungai Pulai is an important, estuarine river in Johor. The term “estuarine” river is used because of the relatively very little freshwater inflows. The freshwater inflows are mostly from Sg. Pulai itself, which begins from Gunung Pulai and flows through Kangkar Pulai. Other small, freshwater streams include Sg. Gelang Patah and Sg. Ulu Choh. Most freshwater from Gunung Pulai is also diverted via reservoirs and large diameter pipes to Singapore.

Due to the estuarine conditions, the water quality is basically influenced by the tidal flows and ebbs from the Selat Tebrau.

Ecological and Socio Economic Importance

Sungai Pulai is the largest mangrove system in Johor State. With its associated seagrass beds, intertidal mudflats and inland freshwater riverine forests (G. Pulai), the site represents one of the best examples of a lowland tropical river basin, supporting a rich biodiversity dependent on mangroves. Sg. Pulai estuary is designated as Ramsar site no. 1288.

There are also other seagrass areas outside the Ramsar site including the Tanjung Adang sites and especially the Pulau Merambong seagrass site, which is the largest seagrass area in Peninsular Malaysia at 36 hectares. These seagrass sites support a unique ecosystem that include seahorses and dugong (sea cow), a relative of the Florida manatee.

The mangroves are also important as the breeding grounds of fishes. The destruction of the mangroves as well as the deterioration of the water quality of the Sg. Pulai estuary would directly affect the fish catches of the fishermen in the area especially the coastal fishermen.

Several zones near the Gelang Patah area are also designated as the aquaculture zones, which mostly use the cage culture and the pond culture methods. The deterioration of the water quality in the Sg. Pulai estuary would also affect the aquaculture industry directly.

Increased sea traffic also increased the wave action in the Sg. Pulai estuary and in the Selat Tebrau. Effect of increased erosion can be seen at Tanjung Piai National Park.

Large Development in the Sg. Pulai Watershed

The two major developments that were already completed are the Port of Tanjung Pelepas and the coal-powered 1200 MW power plant at Tanjung Bin, which is operated by Malakoff.

Two new proposed large developments include the Asia Petroleum Hub (APH), which will construct a man-made island in the estuary, and Seaport Worldwide Sdn. Bhd. proposed 2,255 acres of Petrochemical and Maritime Industries next to the Tg. Bin Power Plant.
The later project has submitted a Comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment report to the DOE while APH just submitted a preliminary EIA (PEIA) although the launch has already being officiated by the Prime Minister. Both CEIA and PEIA need only the DOE, Johor to approve with comments from the various relevant agencies in the state.

Course of Actions Needed to Protect Sg. Pulai

The EIA reports (both PEIA and CEIA) were only reported to the DOE, Johor with the assistance of both Federal and State Agencies such as DID, Fisheries Dept., Forestry Dept etc. but without any inputs from the expert panel members such as in a Detailed EIA (DEIA) reporting process, which is controlled by the DOE HQ. There are also no provisions for the comments from the public, whereby the DEIA reports are publicly displayed in the state libraries and DOE offices for two weeks. The display of the DEIA reports in those said places are announced in the newspapers, usually Utusan Malaysia and New Straits Times (NST).

The expert panel members are experts in the various disciplines of science and engineering related to the environment and independently appointed by the DOE HQ from the various organizations such as the public and private universities, the government agencies and even independent consultants. At least one NGO panel member would be also appointed such as from FOMCA, WWF, MNS etc. The DEIA process is therefore a more comprehensive process whereby all angles and problems are looked into as the impacts from such large projects would be large and long-termed.

The consultants for the newly proposed projects in the Sg. Pulai watershed also used very minute technical discrepancies to allow them to submit a PEIA or CEIA. For example, only reclamation of an area facing the sea (coast) needs a DEIA but not for an area in a RIVER, although Sg. Pulai estuary is more like a BAY than a river! The area of reclamation needs to be 50 hectares or larger too.

In the case of the proposed Seaport Petrochemical and Maritime Industries, the area would be taking in various kinds of heavy industries that would all need EIA reports. So, it is better to go ahead with a DEIA process to begin with.

Cumulative Impacts of All Projects to Sg. Pulai

Detailed EIA (EIA) reports are necessary as the impacts from the various industries would be accumulative i.e. additive or even worse negatively synergistic. Although each project indicates there would not be any negative impacts to Sg. Pulai, but in the long run when all the projects became reality, the impacts would be cumulative and cause great harm to the ecosystem.

Therefore, the process needed for the proposed Iskandar Development Region (IDR) within and without Sg. Pulai watershed would be a macro detailed EIA (macro DEIA), whereby ALL the impacts from the proposed industries and population growth would be considered at the same time. Each individual projects still have to carry out the DEIA if necessary. Only then the ecosystems within the Sg. Pulai region as well as IDR would be protected for the future generations.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Welcome to MNS Johor Blogsite !

This blog aims to provide the latest information on activities, happenings and issues faced by MNS Johor and its members. The blog can also be a platform for constructive discussion and provide a venue for budding MNS columnists to share their thoughts and views.