Greater emphasis on sustainable development — Group of 16 NGOs

JANUARY 25 — Amid speculations and uncertainties, Malaysians know the 14th General Election (GE14) is on the way, as the parliamentary term is due to expire in August 2018. A group of non-governmental bodies have come together to call on political parties to recognise the environmental aspirations of the citizens of Malaysia by including their commitment to the environment in their Party Manifesto and ensuring that they are given high priority to safeguard sustainable development for current and future generations.

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Malaysia’s bauxite exports rise despite mining ban

Source:MalayMailOnline

An excavator fills a lorry with bauxite at the stockpile area at Kuantan port in this file picture. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 ― A year and a half after banning bauxite mining to force miners to meet environmental standards, Malaysia’s exports to main customer China are again growing, raising public anger over illegal mining.

Residents and politicians in the east coast bauxite mining region are calling for a total export ban of the aluminium raw material, but industry figures and analysts say shipments are likely to continue.

Malaysia halted bauxite mining in January last year, but allowed exports to continue to deplete vast stockpiles at ports where run-off after monsoon rains had polluted waters and led to a public outcry.

But 18 months later, the stockpiles are the same size as they were at the start of the ban, even asMalaysia has exported more than 9 million tonnes of bauxite to China, according to Chinese import data. Read more

A trade union activist now fights to save forests

Source: Star2

Environmental campaigner Margaret Chin at a Sabah river. Photos: The Star

Environmental campaigner Margaret Chin at a Sabah river. Photos: The Star

As the small boat traversed a river through a mangrove forest in the Pitas district of northern Sabah, the villager who was handling the outboard engine hastily pulled a raincoat over his head.

On board the vessel was Margaret Chin and a few friends who wanted to see the massive clearing of the mangrove for a shrimp farm (aquaculture) project. That was about two years ago, but the raincoat incident is etched in her memory.

“I asked him later why he covered his head,” recalled Chin. “He told me that he was afraid of the farm workers, that they would bully him if they knew he was from the area.”

Nearby villagers had been up in arms over the clearing of more than 900ha of mangroves which had been their fishing grounds.

She also remembers the sight of a barge straddling the river. It was used as a temporary bridge to enable tractors and lorries to get from one bank to another.

“It was an added insult to the villagers as the barge blocked their way to the fishing spots and where they collected crabs and shellfish,” Chin added. Read more

Villagers concerned with ‘return’ of bauxite mining in Kampung Jeram in Pahang

 

HAKAM Comment: What happened to the extended moratorium on bauxite mining of three months from the start of 2017 as announced by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in December 2016?

Source: The Malay Mail Online

An excavator fills a lorry with bauxite at the stockpile area at Kuantan port in this file picture. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

An excavator fills a lorry with bauxite at the stockpile area at Kuantan port in this file picture. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUANTAN, Feb 21 — The presence of two excavators in Kampung Jeram in Beserah here has left local residents in a quandary as they fear bauxite mining activities are taking place while the moratorium period is still on.

The People’s Movement to Stop Bauxite Pollution (Geram) chairman, Ali Akbar Othman said the villagers realised the existence of the machinery in the village yesterday evening and they were eager to get answers from the contractor today.

He said after discussing, the contractor claimed he received a letter of approval to load and clear the bauxite stockpile from the mine.

“However, a check at the site revealed several new digging sites. We also asked the contractor to show us the letter and permit which he claimed he had obtained but he said the documents are with the land owner.

“As such we want them to stop work and gave them until tomorrow to submit the documents to verify claims that approval from the authorities had been obtained,” he said when contacted here. Read more

Need for an enlightened judiciary — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

OF late we have heard a ratcheting up of proposals to fortify our body politic – by amending the Federal Constitution. The outgoing chief justice proposes that we amend the constitution to entrench the right to a clean and healthy environment. Several NGOs also clamour for the inclusion of the tenets of the Rukun Negara as a preamble to our constitution.

All very laudable. And certainly well-meant, of course. These beneficent add-ons cannot but help strengthen the protection of the environment, the rule of law, rights, preserve the integrity of institutions and keep unbridled power in check.

The objective is to ensure that new laws are shaped – and existing laws reshaped – to put into effect the thrust of these changes; and by which the country’s governance will be adjudged. And that the courts, as the final arbiter when there is a contestation between the citizenry and the executive, will implement these accordingly.

This is where the rub lies. There are already sufficient provisions in our laws – written laws passed by Parliament, the common law (pronounced by court decisions) and the custom or usage of our natives (the orang asal of Sarawak and Sabah; and the orang asli of Peninsular Malaysia) – to achieve the same objectives. Read more

Chief Justice moots making clean environment a stated right

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Chief Justice Federal Court of Malaysia Tun Arifin Zakaria speaks to reporters at the International Malaysia Law Conference 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, September 21, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Chief Justice Federal Court of Malaysia Tun Arifin Zakaria speaking to reporters at the International Malaysia Law Conference 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, September 21, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 13 ― The right to a clean environment should ideally be added to the liberties that Malaysians are expressly guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, said the Chief Justice of Malaysia said today.

Tun Arifin Zakaria said the judiciary’s duty is to safeguard and uphold constitutional guarantees, which he said must include the “right to a clean environment” for the present and future generations.

“While our Federal Constitution does not specifically provide for such a right, it is implicit in Article 5, which guarantees the right to life,” he said in his speech at the opening of the 2017 legal year.

To back his view that there is an inferred right to clean environment  in the Federal Constitution, Arifin cited the broad and liberal interpretation given to the word “life” by then Court of Appeal judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram in a 1996 case.

Gopal had in Tan Teck Seng v Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Pendidikan and Anor defined “life” in Article 5(1)’s right to life as covering all integral aspects of life, including “the right to live in a reasonably healthy and pollution free environment”.

“Notwithstanding this generous and accurate analysis of the definition to be accorded to the word ‘life’, it would be ideal if our Federal Constitution is amended to expressly include a right to a clean and healthy environment as is found in numerous other modern constitutions,” Arifin added. Read more

Government extends bauxite mining ban for another three months

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Earlier this month when raising a petition seeking Parliament’s intervention on the issue, PKR’s Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said an estimated 44 companies are exporting some 15 million tonnes of bauxite out of Pahang to China each month. — Reuters pic

Earlier this year when raising a petition seeking Parliament’s intervention on the issue, PKR’s Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said an estimated 44 companies are exporting some 15 million tonnes of bauxite out of Pahang to China each month. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 — Malaysia today extended a moratorium on bauxite mining by three months, from the start of 2017, to allow remaining stockpiles of the aluminium-making commodity to be cleared.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar also said that high stockpiles, nearly a year after the ban was first imposed, suggested illegal mining may have been carried out.

“There’s an indication that there is illegal mining going on, otherwise there would be no heap (of bauxite),” Wan Junaidi told a press conference.

About 2.95 million tonnes of stockpiles remain around Kuantan, the capital of the key bauxite producing state of Pahang, he said. Kuantan had 3.6 million tonnes of stocks in April. Read more

Evoking the true ‘Mahatma’ spirit

Source: The Star

Gurdial: ‘Will a defiance of Gandhi’s sustained pronouncements on preserving Mother Earth lead to the sixth extinction?’ Pic from the Star.

Gurdial: ‘Will a defiance of Gandhi’s sustained pronouncements on preserving Mother Earth lead to the sixth extinction?’ Pic from the Star.

“I HAVE derived my politics from ethics…It is because I swear by ethics that I find myself in politics,” said Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Sadly, that is not a statement many state leaders or politicians anywhere in the world can make. Not even the candidates vying for the presidency of one of the superpower nations.

When I grilled a couple of journalists and some people-in-the-street types on any Malaysian they thought could echo Gandhi’s words, the consistent answer was – Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, the Member of Parliament for Sungai Siput.

Asked to identify one trait of Gandhi, most people pick his non-violent stance, satyagraha. That’s not surprising; after all even the United Nations declared his birthday Oct 2 as its International Day of Nonviolence.

But Gandhi was more than this, says Universiti Malaya’s former professor of law Gurdial Singh Nijar, who points out: known as Mahatma (great soul), Gandhi also had plenty to say about the environment, corruption, discrimination and education. Read more

Top UN official: Environmental protection in war more urgent than ever

Source: UNEP

Ambassador Marie G. Jacobsson Honored at Fourth Annual Al-Moumin Award and Distinguished Lecture on Environmental Peacebuilding

Fires at oil refinery, Pancevo, Serbia. Pic taken from UNEP.

Fires at oil refinery, Pancevo, Serbia. Pic taken from UNEP.

Washington, DC, 3 November 2016 – In a year dominated by the tragedy of war, there is no more urgent time to address the need to protect the environment in armed conflicts, Ambassador Marie G. Jacobsson said today at the Fourth Annual Al-Moumin Lecture on Environmental Peacebuilding.

Dr. Jacobsson, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict and recipient of this year’s prestigious Al-Moumin Award, said that while states and international organizations have taken steps to prevent environmental harm before and after armed conflict, they have been unwilling to commit to further legally binding rules during armed conflict.

“Many of us remember the shocking images of environmental destruction during times of war, such as the Agent Orange in Vietnam or the burning oil wells in in Kuwait,” Dr. Jacobsson said. “I witnessed the long-lasting effects of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands earlier this year, and the effects of remnants of war at sea for the small islands States in the Pacific.

“The environment is a vital tool for building sustainable peace and respect for human rights. The need to protect it in the context of armed conflict is more urgent today than ever before.” Read more

Malaysia to ratify global climate change pact this year

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 ― Malaysia will ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change before December, a minister said.

Local daily The Star quoted Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar saying that he would be attending a United Nations (UN) programme in New York tomorrow, to renew Malaysia’s pledge to combat climate change.

“Malaysia is saying that when we ratify, we are going to give some kind of assurance to the UN that we can perform it.

“But we are now in position to ratify the Paris agreement. I believe we will be one of the 55 countries. Not this trip, but the Prime Minister has already agreed and we can commit before December 2016,” Wan Junaidi reportedly told the daily.

Malaysia is one of the 195 countries that adopted The Paris Agreement, an international legally binding treaty for post-2020 climate action. Read more