Stories, news, update from KePKAS

Book to raise awareness on river conservation

Kota Kinabalu: WWF-Malaysia launched a coffee table book entitled “When The Water Whispers”, in conjunction with World Water Day, here, Friday.

According to WWF Executive Director/CEO Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, the initiative is in line with the “Together Possible” motto, where WWF-Malaysia strives to work in unity with people to achieve lasting conservation solutions.

“Everyone uses and needs water; therefore water is and should be everyone’s business. WWF-Malaysia calls for a collective effort as everybody is accountable for the planet,” he said, adding it is their hope that the book and the photographs will start conversation for a better future for the State’s waterways.

“Changing perception on clean water and its better use requires a collective effort.

So, this WaterVoice Programme is our effort to involve civil society outreach in order to raise awareness, knowledge and capacity in river conservation that will motivate them to take actions.

“Wise use of water starts from home. By the same token, industry needs to play a major role to ensure that wastewater is treated before being discharged into the waterways. Government agencies need to enhance enforcement of the rules and regulations relating to the environment.

“Besides taking action on our part, we must also adopt a sense of urgency towards climate change.

Flash floods and prolonged droughts have already become the norm.

“And worse is yet to come with the impacts of rising temperature and extreme weather events.

“These changes will also affect water quality to the detriment of the aquatic ecosystem.

This is how the book provides the story on why water conservation must be addressed at the watershed level.”

WWF-Malaysia believes that engaging the participation of civil society is vital in conserving freshwater systems from an integrated watershed management perspective.

The book is part of a three-year project by WWF-Malaysia aimed at creating awareness among civil society on the importance of clean water.

It is one of the initiatives completed by the WWF-Malaysia Sabah Terrestrial Conservation Programme (STCP) Freshwater Team, with the support of HSBC Malaysia.

The 64-page book is a culmination of a year’s collection of photographs by Universiti Malaysia Sabah students and the community of the Upper Sugut, Ranau through a programme called WaterVoice.

The book launching was witnessed by HSBC Area Director of Malaysia, Ong Eng Mun, and Department of Drainage and Irrigation Sabah, Water Resources Management Department Assistant Directors Miklin Ationg and Prisca Thomas together with City Hall Innovation and Research Department Director Mas Farisan Salleh.

According to the Malaysia Second National Communication to the United Nation Framework of Convention and Climate Change (UNFCCC), it is forecast that rainfall in Sabah will increase by 6-11 per cent by 2050 coupled with extreme weather patterns and frequency.

Due to global warming, Malaysia has been witnessing more intense drier months corresponding with heavier rainfalls, resulting in floods and droughts over the past 10 years.

The year 2017 marks the 45th anniversary of WWF-Malaysia’s existence in Malaysia in stopping the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. – Neil Chan

Source: Daily Express

Shorter wait for govt dental appointments

Kota Kinabalu: The waiting period for dental appointments in government clinics has been cut short, thanks to more facilities established by the Health Department.

Its Director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi on Saturday said aggressive action had been taken to improve dental care in recent years as Sabah has been behind compared to the other states on such medical service.

“For many, many years, Sabah was kind of behind compared to other states in Malaysia…we have set up a lot more dental clinics, as well as set up mobile dental clinics.

“To date, Sabah has two mobile clinics that goes around to the community level, especially those in the rural areas,” said Rundi, adding that a dental clinic is also open at the Urban Transformation Centre here after office hours.

Dr Rundi was met after attending the opening of the Seventh Borneo Dental Congress, here, Saturday.

Also present were Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and Malaysia Dental Association Eastern Zone Chairman Dr James Chu Kok Weng.

However, she said the demand for dental care remains higher than the supply, adding that the issue remained unresolved due to the overwhelming number of patients.

Dr Rundi said “waiting time” for patients still exists, but pointed out it was better than previously where those trying to get their tooth filled, for example, had to wait for three months to get it done.

“There are just too many people but we are trying to balance this out. There are more people coming to the government facilities now. But we are also cooperating with the private dental care, as there are differences in prices (between the private and public sector),” she said.

It is also understood that the number of dentists against the Sabah population ratio stood around 1:3,000 people at present.

The Health Ministry, in a response to a viral message on dental fee hikes in February, noted that dental treatments like filling, scaling and polishing will cost RM2 while tooth extraction RM1.

The Federal Government presently subsidises a substantial amount on dental services with services like scaling and polishing should cost RM55 at present.

Treatment procedure charges as stated in the Fees (Medical) Order 1982 were not revised for 35 years.

Earlier, Masidi said Sabah has what it takes to be the choice of foreigners in dental tourism, citing the modern technologies and the strategic location of the State in the region, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

“The facilities and equipment are at par with those of developed nations and at the same time affordable,” he said.

More than 400 dentists, as well as those in the field of dentistry are attending the congress here.

The three-day Borneo Dental Congress here will end on Sunday.

The congress, which is held alternately between Sabah and Sarawak, has already generated interest from experts from Australia, Brunei and Singapore since its inception seven years ago. – Jason Santos

Source: Daily Express

Sabah International Fishing meet April 25-30

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Anglers Association (SAA) will again be organising the annual Sabah International Fishing Tournament this year from April 25- 30.

“The tournament venue will again be in Pulau Layang Layang. So far SAA has received confirmation from more than 100 participants and as in previous years, the anglers come from several countries including Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong and China,” said SAA President Datuk Wilfred Lingham.

“Although the closing date for entry to Pulau Layang Layang was on March 18, the tournament is still open for anglers who want to fish in local fishing grounds such as Semarang, ‘Karang-Karang’, ‘takat 360′ and Mantanani as well as around Kudat waters.

“We know that the cost to go to Pulau Layang Layang can be quite expensive. Thus by keeping registration open, anglers who want to participate but do not want to spend too much can still join in the tournament.

“They can still register with SAA and depart on April 27. The closing date for them would be on April 24 at 4pm,” Lingham said on Tuesday.

It was learnt that the number of foreign angler participation had been increasing each year with about 60 per cent of the Layang Layang bound anglers being made up of foreign anglers, the majority hailing from China and Brunei.

Similar to the previous years’ tournament, anglers participating in SIFT will have to adhere to the rules and regulations set by SAA and the National Security Council.

This includes fish species which are not allowed to be landed according to the Fisheries Regulations (Control of Endangered Species) Act 1999 (Amendment 2008). These include the Giant Wrasse (Ikan Mameng), all sharks, rays and bill-fishes.

“If hooked they must be released immediately. For those who manage to hook a billfish, they can submit photographic proof or video of the catch as the fish must also be realised immediately in accordance to the International Game Fishing Association’s (IGFA) rules.”

The prizes have been increased from six to 10 this year with a total of RM70,000 in cash and kind including trophies and medals.

All participants will also receive a tournament T-shirt and certificate. They will also be entitled to a lucky draw which will be held during the prize presentation ceremony.

The tournament would not be held without the continuous support of the Sabah Tourism Board, Sri Pelancongan Sabah and Sutera Harbour Resort Golf Marina Spa and Country Club as the venue provider, he said.

“We would also like to record our gratitude to Parex Group and Davco, Pure Fishing, the State Fisheries Department, ComNav2 (Mawilla2) Operational Command Area and the Royal Malaysian Navy for their support to SAA and SIFT,” he said.

He added that the winning fishes will as usual be auctioned off to the public at 1pm on April 30.

“Those interested to buy formalin free fish can come and participate in the auction on that day,” he said, adding that this is part of SAA’s effort to promote awareness about formalin free fish.

Inquiries about the tournament can be directed to the SIFT 2017 secretariat at +60138509788 or +60168276762. – Neil Chan

Source: Daily Express

Hilton adds to Sabah’s prestige

Kota Kinabalu: The grand opening of the ninth Hilton property in Malaysia – the 305-room Hilton Hotel Kota Kinabalu – is timely as Sabah continues to grow as a popular tourist destination.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the State Government is confident the presence of this well-established hotel chain would complement economic growth, especially in the tourism sector in Sabah, and the city in particular.

He said the State Government welcomed the establishment of this reputable hotel that adds to Kota Kinabalu’s landscape, which is a milestone for Hilton Hotels and Resorts, and a testimony of the confidence that investors have in Sabah.

“Let me assure Hilton Hotels and Resorts that you have made the right decision to invest in Kota Kinabalu.

I also commend Pekah Hotels for rescuing this project, which was abandoned for a couple of years.

“This hotel has all the attributes for success with its strategic location in the city and latest facilities that create ease for both business and leisure travellers whereby its grand ballroom can accommodate 900 people which will also provide an alternative to those seeking space within the city to hold their events.

“To grow our economy, we do not only need infrastructure development, but also complementary services such as reputable hotels,” he said, at its official opening, Saturday.

He hoped the hotel would contribute to the State’s long-term goal to establish Sabah as the world’s destination of choice in terms of nature diversity, rich cultures as well as business and investments.

“I wish to take this opportunity to call on hotels and resorts in Sabah to create their own niche and to offer something different to guests. Make use of feedback that guests send you to update your services and to cater to the needs of your target market.

“I also wish to see hotel and resort operators in Sabah raising the bar on standards so that your guests will return not only to Sabah, but to your hotel or resort.

“Sabah is known for its biodiversity, clean environment and nature based destinations, and thus, I am urging the resort and hotel operators to be mindful of the need to implement policies that support this,” Musa said.

He said Sabah does not only need infrastructure development to boost its economic growth but also complementary services such reputable hotels.

“Tourism will continue to feature as part of Sabah’s economic development. With our strong presence in the global tourism market, the government remains committed in further developing the sector along with private entities.

“Sabah has a variety of tourism products that cater to the needs of tourists, from nature destinations to rich cultural heritage, a diversity of food, and shopping options. There is always something for everyone who visits our State.

“As reported recently, Sabah recorded its best year ever in 2016 with 3.43 million tourist arrivals with an estimated RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts.  This surpassed the best record in 2013 with 3.38 million tourist arrivals,” he said.

Musa said there was an increase of international tourist arrivals year last year of 15.4 per cent compared to 2015 and the statistics showed that China remains the main contributor with a 33.2 per cent market share.

He said aggressive efforts to market Sabah by working with the right partners including the private sector are showing encouraging results that was hoped for.

“We also made the right decision over a decade ago when we decided to focus on tourism as one of our engines of growth in the State Development Agenda. This was followed by the attention given by the Federal Government on tourism as outlined in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

“Today we see spin offs from this sector, ranging from those who have become entrepreneurs by offering services including delivery of food items, to quality jobs that enhance skills of locals.

“We are also seeing a rise in interest among airlines to offer direct flights from regional destinations into Kota Kinabalu International Airport, due to strong market support,” Musa said.

With the Hilton Kinabalu now in operation, the city is served with no less than eight top class hotels and resorts within a five-kilometre radius that translates into several thousand high-end rooms.

They include Gayana Resort and YTL Resort (both on Pulau Gaya), Le Meridien, Hyatt Regency, Shangrila Tanjung Aru Resort, Pacific Sutera, Magellan and the upcoming Mercure. All of them have one thing in common – they are a stone’s throw from the city’s famed seafront.

There are more top hotel accommodations in the pipeline as they are in various stages of completion. – Hayati Dzulkifli

Source: Daily Express

Tawau Cultural Fest listed in Sabah Tourism Calendar

Tawau: The Tawau International Cultural Festival will be included in the Sabah Tourism Calendar.

The announcement was made by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, saying he believed events like this are important as agents that promote unity among the multi-racial communities here.

“The Government agrees to include the Tawau International Cultural Festival into the annual Sabah Tourism Calendar as it is one of the most anticipated programmes by residents in the district,” he said during the launching of the sixth edition of the festival here on Sunday.

Musa noted the event was considered international as it reflects and displays the unique culture of the people in Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

He was confident the successful organising of the festival each year has prepared a good platform to unite the people, and the encouragement of kinship between cultures.

“Aside from leveraging the cultures of our ancestors, the festival had also proved able to enhance ties among each other,” he said.

Some 50,000 people turned up for the Tawau International Cultural Festival involving 28 ethnic groups and three invited nations – Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia – who performed at the event, including the appearance of local artistes like Salma, Hafiz and comedian Zero during its closing. – Lagatah Toyos

Source: Daily Express