Category Archives: Insight

Short features 500-1200 words

In Defence of Orang Asli Rights

On Sept 25, the court heard an injunction application to stop private entities from logging and farming in Temiar customary land in Kelantan. This is the latest hearing related to the first legal action taken by the Malaysian federal government on behalf of Orang Asli regarding land rights. SL Wong and Darshana Dinesh Kumar report.

CAN YOU imagine having to barricade your home to prevent its destruction? That is what forest-based indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak have had to resort to for almost 40 years.

In Peninsular Malaysia, the Temiar Orang Asli community were forced to do so for the first time in 2012. The Gua Musang, Kelantan, communities started setting up barricades after repeatedly failing to resolve land use conflicts with the state government, federal agencies and companies. 

(Photo: The Pos Simpor community at the July Kota Bharu High Court hearing of the Kelantan state government’s application to strike out the AG’s suit. Courtesy of Siti Kasim)

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The Lynas License Renewal: What Does It Mean?

ON 15 AUGUST 2019, Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) released a press statement announcing that they had renewed for 6 months the operating license of rare earths producer Lynas Malaysia. This renewal carries three conditions.

Each time Lynas’ license comes up for, or is renewed, it is a political hot potato. Supporters for and against renewals have protested on the streets to voice their environmental and economic concerns.

And it has become a sticking point as to whether or not the Pakatan Harapan government is keeping its pre-election promises.

To help you better understand the terms and context of this licence renewal, Macaranga dug into the licensing board’s statement as well as previous reports and documents related to Lynas.

(Photo: Lynas Advanced Material Plant, Kuantan, 15 Dec 2018. Credit: Save Malaysia Stop Lynas; Read AELB’s full statement here. Documents cited in this article are listed at the end of the article.)

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When Plastic Hits You In the Gut

WHILE he was undergoing a check-up, marine biologist Dr Yusof Shuaib Ibrahim had a question for his doctor: “Can you observe plastic in the human gut?”

The latter, consultant gastroenterologist Dr Lee Yeong Yeh, said no, but he had also been wondering about this. The two soon started a research project to look into this.

(Photo: What will Malaysian researchers find when they finish looking at the effects of microplastics on the human gut? Credit: Lee Yeong Yeh & Yusof Shuaib Ibrahim; annotated by Macaranga)

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Plastic Solutions: It’s Complicated

[ICCB 2019] TWO CORPORATE executives and two conservationists walked into a room. They initially appeared to cross swords. “If we continue with chemical components in our plastic, we will endanger our health,” declared Fabien Cousteau, ocean activist and filmmaker.

But is biodegradable plastic “the magic bullet?” countered Wee Ching Yun, Chairperson, sustainability sub-committee of the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association. “Will it eliminate all the pollution?”

(Photo: How can different segments of society tackle the plastic pollution crisis that is devastating marine wildlife? Credit: SL Wong)

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Gibbons Still Sing In Merapoh

[ICCB 2019] Gibbon adults in Merapoh, Pahang, are at “fairly good” levels, reveals the latest survey of these small apes. The status of juvenile gibbons however, is still unknown.

That gap in gibbon data causes concern, especially with deforestation in the area, says Adilah Suhailin binti Kamaruzaman, graduate student researcher at Universiti Sains Malaysia and leader of the Merapoh gibbon survey. Adilah presented her findings on 25 July at the International Congress for Conservation Biology, Kuala Lumpur.

(Photo: A Lar gibbon, also called white-handed gibbon, is one of the three species of gibbons found in Peninsular Malaysia. Credit: Gibbon Protection Society Malaysia/Infinim Creative Productions)

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How Do Turtles Like Their Sand?

[ICCB 2019] For newly hatched green turtles, life starts in the dark. Nine weeks ago, a turtle’s mother would have climbed onshore, dug a hole 50 cm deep, laid more than a hundred eggs inside, then sealed it with sand. Now, the hatchlings must escape from their buried nest and dash to sea.

But does it matter what type of sand hatchlings have to power through to make it to the surface?

(Photo: A green turtle hatchling peeks from inside its shell. Hatchlings have an attached yolk (red) which they absorb over the course of a week. Credit: Lyvia Chong/SEATRU)

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Marine Champion Honoured With Award

[ICCB 2019] The man who was a force behind Malaysia’s marine parks and the region’s Coral Triangle was honoured with an award at the International Congress on Conservation Biology (ICCB) 2019.

For his leadership in “translating principles of conservation biology into real-world conservation”, Kevin Hiew was awarded with the US-based Society for Conservation Biology (SCB)’s Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award.

Hiew, 73, is the first Malaysian to win this award.

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Where Might Oil Palm Go Next?

[ICCB 2019] In Southeast Asia, oil palm expansion threatens biodiversity and the work of conservationists. Knowing where oil palm might go next then, helps inform conservation, says Molly Hennekam, an applied ecologist at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

(Photo: A composite map of Southeast Asia showing Key Biodiversity Areas and areas of potential oil palm expansion. “Suitability” here refers only to ecological factors like climate and soil. Credit: Hennekam, Sarira, Koh)

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In the Murky Waters of Brunei Bay, Turtles Feed

[ICCB 2019] There were two key facts that turtle expert Juanita Joseph of the Borneo Marine Research Institute wished she had known about the murky waters of Brunei Bay. The first was that hundreds of green turtles fed in the bay; the second was that crocodiles swam in the same water.

Today, the turtles keep drawing Joseph back to the bay, and the crocodiles keep her out of the water — unless necessary.

(Photo: To catch turtles in Brunei Bay, Juanita Joseph used nets called ‘kabat’ to trap turtles at the mouth of estuaries. Joseph learned the method from local fishermen. Credit: Juanita Joseph)

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