Category Archives: Remarks

Opinions by experts and practitioners in environmental matters.

Now or Never for Malaysian Coral Reefs

Lack of action and funding ring the death knell for coral reefs in the face of warming seas, warns marine ecologist Sebastian Szereday.

CORAL REEFS are the ocean’s most biodiverse ecosystems and provide food, coastal protection and income for many Malaysians.

However, the current threats to coral reefs are acute, and as a coral reef ecologist, I am deeply concerned about the lack of action, management and funding for their conservation. Besides local damage, climate change has become the grim reaper of coral reefs. 

(Photo: Mass coral bleaching can result in nothing but dead coral rubble. | Pic by Atkinson Tan for Coralku)

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Plastics in the Body A Worrying Trend

Microplastics are now found in more parts of the human body, writes Professor Dr Lee Yeong Yeh, whose team confirmed the presence of plastics in Malaysians’ bowels. What does this mean?

THIS YEAR, scientists found plastic in the human placenta. This discovery highlights the extent to which plastic permeates our bodies. It should make us very concerned.

By now, it is quite common knowledge that microplastics – smaller than a papaya seed – are ubiquitous in the human food chain, especially seafood and drinking water. This has been shown in many studies, including those in Malaysia.

(Photo: Plastic is entering human bodies when we consume water and seafood. Marine plastic pollution must be tackled, beach cleanups being one way. | Pic by SL Wong)

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Pewarisan Balu Perumal

Adakah antara kamu seorang yang bijak dan pandai? Dia harus membuktikannya dengan kelakuannya yang baik, dan melalui kebajikan yang diamalkannya dengan kerendahan hati dan kebijaksanaan. Alkitab, Yakobus 3: 13

Ditulis oleh Ginny Ng SL dengan Chin Sing Yun, Dylan Ong, Joanna Tang and Surin Suksuwan. Diterjemah oleh Noorainie Awang Anak.

PADA saat saya menerima berita mengenai pemergian Balu Perumal pada 6 Ogos 2021, saya seperti terkedu, tidak percaya. Saya jarang berkomunikasi dengannya, hanya sekali-sekala ketika mengikuti persidangan dan mesyuarat-mesyuarat yang mana kami mempunyai kepentingan bersama.

Saya terus terbayang bagaimana keluarganya dan juga dunia pemuliharaan telah kehilangan seseorang yang amat berharga, seorang pejuang mereka.

Balu adalah seorang pengiat pemuliharaan sepanjang hayatnya, pakar botani, mentor, guru, ketua keluarga, dan juga seorang sahabat.

(Gambar: Seorang pengiat pemuliharaan yang tulin, Balu Perumal [1966–2021] digambarkan pada awal 2000-an meninjau apa yang sekarang ialah Taman Negeri Selangor | Foto oleh Dylan Ong)

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Empower the Dewan to Safeguard Forest Reserves

Despite widespread protests, the Selangor government has excised parts of the Kuala Langat North forest reserve on 12 August 2021. This is a wake-up call to give the Dewan Undangan Negeri the power to stop excision, argues forestry consultant Teckwyn Lim.

The recent degazettement of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve is a black mark on our democracy. The Selangor state executive council (Exco) headed by Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari gave the middle-finger to the Dewan and to the Rakyat.

It appears that the weak hands of the Exco can be twisted by powerful commercial and political interests. It is thus now time that the Dewan amends the forestry laws to limit the Exco’s power to excise forest reserves.

(Photo: A screenshot of the gazette published on 12 August 2021 announcing the Selangor Exco’s decision to excise parts of the Kuala Langat North forest reserve | Pic by YH Law)

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The Living Legacy of Balu

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation of wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. The Bible, James 3: 13

Written by Ginny Ng SL with Chin Sing Yun, Dylan Ong, Joanna Tang and Surin Suksuwan

WHEN I received news of Balu Perumal’s untimely passing on 6 August, I was in disbelief. I had not had regular contact with him, only occasionally catching up during conferences and meetings of common interest.

My immediate thought was how his family and the conservation world will now be poorer because of his absence. For Balu was a lifelong conservationist, botanist, mentor, teacher, family man, and friend.

(Photo: A conservationist to the core, Balu Perumal [1966–2021] is pictured in the early 2000s surveying what is now the Selangor State Park | Pic by Dylan Ong)

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A Response to Macaranga’s Article on Forest Management in Peninsular Malaysia

Our story on evaluating forest management has received insightful feedback from Macaranga reader Surin Suksuwan with many suggestions for improvement. Here is his unedited commentary in full.

FIRST OF all, I would like to congratulate the Macaranga team for continuing to break new grounds in environmental journalism in Malaysia.

The article on Forest Management in Peninsular Malaysia is a commendable effort as it attempts to help the general reader make better sense of the often confusing forestry statistics and what they actually mean in more simple terms.

Already, there is a healthy amount of positive feedback received by the Macaranga team as can be seen from the Comments section.

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Are we serious about sustainability?

New research by KPMG shows that the quality of sustainability reports by public listed companies in Malaysia is unlikely to meet investors’ need to assess environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risk. Phang Oy Cheng explains why companies should do more.

IN 2020, KPMG reported that 99 of the top 100 public listed companies in Malaysia publish sustainability reports – a statistic on par with global standards.

But KPMG’s latest research shows that while our compliance to reporting requirements is very good, the quality of those reports with regards to material environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues is wanting.

(Photo: Malaysian sustainability reporting needs to improve | pic of Kuala Lumpur central business district by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash)

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Loving Malayan Tigers 3000

It’s often cited that Malayan tigers numbered 3,000 in the 1950s. Could that be possible? Biologist Quek Yew Aun examines the evidence for this number.

The Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) is a definitive part of our Malaysian identity. Its presence adorns key icons synonymous to Malaysia, including the national coat of arms and the masthead of a prominent local bank. Even our national football team is nicknamed ‘Harimau Malaya’.

Sadly, the species itself is critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List.

How close a species is to extinction is indicated by the number of individuals remaining in the wild. And wild Malayan tigers have been declining in the past few decades due to factors such as poaching and habitat loss.

However, determining the exact number of Malayan tigers in the wild has always been a challenge.

(Photo: A Malayan tiger in Zoo Negara, 2012. Wild tigers in Malaysia inch closer to extinction but recent concerted conservation efforts bring hope. – Pic by YH Law.)

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Geopark Not Just Another Label for Kinabalu

Though already a World Heritage Site, Kinabalu needs geopark status to conserve oft overlooked natural values, argues geologist Felix Tongkul.

MOUNT Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest mountain, is now being assessed for UNESCO Global Geopark status. The proposed geopark encompasses not just the mountain, but the park in which it sits as well as the surrounding districts of Kota Belud, Kota Marudu and Ranau, an area of 4,750 square kilometres.

Kinabalu Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

Why is there a need for more recognition for Kinabalu Park from UNESCO? Is the Global Geopark status more superior to the World Heritage Site status? What is so interesting about geoparks? These are valid questions I often hear from my friends.

(Photo: Mount Kinabalu is the only glacial landscape in the tropical region. Glacial erosion from melting ice 10,000 years ago formed these parallel grooves. – Pic by Felix Tongkul.)

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Locals Make Terrapin Conservation Successful

When floods hit Kemaman, terrapin conservationist Chen Pelf Nyok raised funds to help her local partners who had supported conservation.

In early January, floods hit Kemaman, Terengganu, the district where Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS), the organization I lead, is based.

Many villages were flooded. My husband asked if we should begin raising funds to help the villagers who were our project partners.

I said no.

(Photo: Flood devastated Kemaman, Terengganu, in early January 2021. Pic from Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia.)

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