Stories, news, update from KePKAS

Fallen heroes remembered in sombre ceremony

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai attended a memorial service at the Petagas War Memorial here in remembrance of the 176 Sabahan guerrillas that lost their lives defending Sabah against the Japanese occupation in the Second World War.


The ceremony takes place on Jan 21 every year. Yee, representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, also performed the wreath-laying ceremony.


Prior to that, the attendees observed a 20-minute silence. The ceremony ended with the sounding of the Last Post and Rouse.


The memorial was built on the very spot where the 176 guerrillas were massacred.


Among the crowd was war survivor, Lee Min, 91, from Menggatal. His eldest son, Lee Yaw Koo, 61, said his father would make it a point to pay homage to his fallen comrades each year despite his health conditions.


Meanwhile, Datuk Fung Khyam Shen, 82, from Singapore, whose elder brother Fung Khung Shen was among those killed in the massacre, said the sacrifices of the fallen guerrillas should be remembered and appreciated.


“Khung Shen was one of the first to be killed by the Japanese with seven others.


“I can forgive them but I just can’t forget…I still feel bitter and my family is very sad about the tragedy,” said Fung who lived in Sabah, then known as North Borneo, during the war.


Source: New Sabah Times

Environment to become fourth strategic pillar for BIMP-EAGA

The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) ministers have adopted environment management as one of the strategic pillars for sub-regional cooperation in lieu of the global issues on climate change. “The Philippines successfully pushed for the inclusion of environment as a new strategic pillar in addition to the three major pillars of the sub-region,” said the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairperson Luwalhati, Antonino in a statement, here yesterday.


The other three strategic pillars of BIMP-EAGA are food basket/food security, ecotourism, and enhancing connectivity.


Antonino, who also serves as the Philippines Signing Minister for BIMP-EAGA, further stated that the new environment pillar will significantly lay the foundation for food security and ecological integrity in the sub-region.


The Working Group on Forestry and Environment had recently crafted a list of possible projects under this strategic pillar.


An exploratory study on establishing a carbon trading bank for BIMP-EAGA countries, to be led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in partnership with MinDA, was also proposed.


Other proposed projects include the setting up of a coordinating link between the major environment working group in BIMP-EAGA, such as the Heart of Borneo, Coral Triangle Initiative, and Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion.


Brunei Darussalam will also lead an integrated coastal resources management and development training workshop.


“We are advancing the country’s environmental priority programs and projects for Mindanao through our watershed management program or the MindanaNOW (Nurturing our Waters), which we intend to expand across the sub-region,” Antonino said.


MindaNOW is MinDA’s flagship environmental undertaking that pushes for the adoption of river basin and watershed as key platforms for planning. It seeks to provide an enabling mechanism for achieving environmental integrity and sustainable economic development.


Meanwhile, the Philippines will host the first BIMP-EAGA Equator Asia Air Access Forum and Airlines CEO Summit, spearheaded by the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and MinDA.


This activity slated for the first quarter, aims to gather top transport and tourism officials from the sub-regions, to look at the market potential of each identified travel points.


The Philippines identified Davao, Zamboanga, and Puerto Princesa as priority travel points for air services, while Zamboanga-Muara (Brunei), Brooke’s Point-Labuan (Malaysia)-Muara and Davao/GenSan-Bitung were identified for the sea linkages.


Source: New Sabah Times

Sembulan River beautification project progressing well

The RM45 million project to beautify the Sembulan River in the state capital is progressing well despite minor delay in the first of the three-part parcels. The delayed phase one costing RM24 million was currently at 90 per cent completion as of December 31 with the contractor expecting to fully complete and hand over the project to the City Hall by March or earlier.


The main contractor, Architect Shim Sie Hong, said all building works, comprising two power substations, three cover bin centres, police kios, two ticketing booths and other public amenities, were all fully completed.


“Only a few floor lights and special LED lighting and the boardwalk steps are currently in progress. All lighting installations will be completed by the end of January and the testing and commissioning will be carried out the following month,” he said.


He added the landscaping works were also 90 per cent completed while the riverside boardwalk paving, timber deck and road paver were almost fully completed.


The phase one was initially scheduled for completion on November 17 last year but extension was granted due to traffic and business operation on site and unforeseen underground infrastructure.


Meanwhile, Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir who visited the project site yesterday, said he was happy with the current progress and the second and third parts were expected to be called for tenders between April and May.


The whole project is scheduled for completion early next year.


Abidin said the City Hall was also studying options for treating the smelly river water and had proposed relocation schemes for the villagers along the river.


The relocation has yet to be finalised but some of the families have agreed to move, he said.


Source: Borneo Post

Sabah ethnic game to be shot into TV show

Pentas Wayang Production which produced a television drama series, Kopi O, will now be producing an entertainment game show called ‘Siok Bah’. Shooting will begin on January 17. Its executive producer, Jamawi Jaafar, yesterday said the game show is an ethnic game found in the state.


“However, participation is limited to youths from Tenom and Keningau only,” he told The Borneo Post here.


Jamawi, who is also Asiarasa Entertainment managing director, said this TV programme has 13 episodes where each episode has three groups competing and there are three people in each group.


He said the programme is directed by popular director, T.S. Jeffrey and Alex Raja Lawak and will broadcast on RTM TV2.


He said filming locations would be held at the Sabah Murut Cultural Centre in Pulong, Tenom, and shooting will be done during the day.


“The ethnic game consists of de-husking coconuts, banana eating, magunatip, lansaran and other folk games available in the state.”


Jamawi said among the purpose of this game show is to promote the interior areas, especially Tenom as a tourist destination in the state.


Interested youths can contact production manager Karim Ghullam at 0198603721.


He said each series will take 30 minutes and the public are encouraged to attend and support the competing groups.


Meanwhile, Jamawi advised participants of the game show programme to attend a briefing at the Sabah Murut Cultural Centre, Kampung Pulong, Tenom, on January 17.


“Briefing will commence at 8.30am before the shooting starts. All participants are also required to wear track pants and shoes while shirts for the programme will be provided by the producer.


After the briefing, shooting for several episodes will be initiated for participants who are ready for the day,” he said.


Source: Borneo Post (by Johan Aziz)

Rhino breeding facility urgently needed

There is now an urgent need to establish the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary (BRS) breeding facility. The facility, expected to cost around RM8 million is needed badly, and while the government has agreed to its establishment in 2008, it has not been built yet, Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) Executive Director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne said this to reporters visiting the interim facility on Thursday.


“I hope the capture of Puntung would prompt the government of Malaysia with renewed interest because we are in need of this proper long term breeding facility,” said Payne.


Puntung is a young Sumatran rhino that was captured on December 18, 2011, within the reserve itself and was moved to the interim facility next to the sole male rhino in captive, Tam, on Dec 25, last year.


“A tentative estimate of her age is 10 to 12 years old. She is feeding well and putting on weight,” he said.


Payne added that the capture of Puntung haD raised their hopes for survival of the species.


“What I can say at this stage is that we have a potentially fertile male, Tam, and a potentially fertile female, Puntung. So we are now presented with a potential that wasn’t there before, several years ago. If nothing else, it gives us something like the confidence element, not only for BORA but also the government, and that is something worth pursuing,” said Payne.


Without the facilities established, mating for Puntung and the sole male captive rhino on site, Tam, would have to take place in a small paddock between the night stall and the forest paddock, which Payne described, as tiny and not ideal.


“It is about 18 by 20 meters,” he said.


He explained that the ideal mating facility for the rhinos would be a bigger area so that they can run around, and with trees so that the female can hide if the male gets too aggressive.


The area would also be preferably flat so there is no risk for the rhinos to fall down into gullies, said Payne.


“But we don’t have this at this site now.”


Young Sumatran rhino males are particularly aggressive with females, often injuring them during the courtship.


“Having to continue to depend on temporary facilities financed by the Yayasan Sime Darby and WWF Germany, instead of having the long-term breeding facility as planned, is hampering the smooth running of the programme,” he said.


Even though there is no guarantee that the programme would work, Payne said that based on past lessons/experiences by other establishments such as the Cincinnati Zoo, excellent health care and a good diet should help to improve chances of success.


“We are not sure it will work…but I want to add that Cincinnati Zoo has been successful in its captive rhinos breeding programme and has produced three babies, the oldest of which has been sent back to Indonesia and is now a breeding bull in Indonesia.”


He added that Sabah will not emulate the Cincinnati experience and planned to keep the situation as natural as possible for the rhinos here.


“The more natural, the better.”


There are probably less than 150 Sumatran rhinos surviving in Sumatra (Indonesia) and less than 40 in Borneo, most of which are in Sabah.


But in reality, their plight is even worse that this number indicates, said Payne.

“On Borneo, possibly only five or so breeding female rhinos remain in existence, probably all in Sabah,” he said.

He added that the numbers of rhinos are so low, and their forest habitat is so dense, that it is not possible to get a reliable estimate of exactly how many remain, but steadily decreasing signs of rhinos over the past 40 years show that their numbers continue to decline, despite the existence of protected forest areas such as the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

“Sumatran rhinos are so rare that loss of the rainforest habitat is no longer a threat to their survival – there is plenty of rhino habitat with no rhinos. Oil palm plantations do not pose a threat to the species.”

The threat to the species is their extremely low numbers, the probability that most wild rhinos are old and infertile and their inadequate breeding rate to sustain their survival, he said.

Payne opined that the species got so endangered due to a combination over the past millennium of loss of most of their prime habitat in the lowlands of Southeast Asia and chronic hunting for their horn, used in traditional Chinese medicine.

He believed that it is worth saving the species from extinction because it is already known that with specific actions, the species might still be saved.

He also said that the opportunity to save the species is still available now, but opined that the chance will be lost within a decade or so from now.

He said that among the things that need to be done now and for the future to prevent the extinction of the species are the prevention of any killings or trappings of the rhinos and to bring them together to increase the chances of breeding.

In a nutshell, the BRS is a programme of the Sabah Government, located in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, which commenced in 2009 and which aims to prevent the extinction of the Sumatran rhinos, particularly through increasing the number of rhino births.

The sanctuary will be developed on a 20-hectare site of fenced, managed facilities at the reserve.

To date, core funding for development and operation of the BRS programme has come primarily from the Sime Darby Foundation with a substantial commitment of RM5 million for three years from 2009 to 2012.

As of January 2012, the foundation has spent almost RM3.5 million on the programme. Other assistance is from the federal and State governments with extra help from WWF-Germany.

Payne also suggested that anyone can help in sustaining the species by supporting the concept of the BRS programme.

“Owners, shareholders, managers and staff of plantations adjacent to forests where rhinos occur have an important role to play in maximizing security against unauthorised entry of people to the forest edge, and ensuring that their own workers and contract workers do not hunt or set traps in the forest.

This is vital – both Puntung and Tam have their feet damaged due to snare traps set in the forest. Probably other rhinos have died from wounds and infection caused by snare traps,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Sumatran rhinos is the smallest of the world’s five rhino species, weighing between 500 and 600 kilograms, up to 1.3 meters tall with two horns and thick, brown hairy skin.

It is amongst the most endangered species in the world, and needs urgent and sustained action to prevent its extinction.

It is listed as a totally protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

The penalty for killing a Sumatran rhino in Sabah is a mandatory jail sentence of not less than six months and not more than five years, while unlicensed possession of any rhino part is subject to a fine of RM50,000 or jail of up to five years or both.

This rhino is the last remnant of an evolutionary line of hairy rhinos which started to evolve some 20 million years ago.

“It is a solitary animal that feeds mainly on rainforest leaves and spends the hot hours of the day bathing in mud wallows. And apart from one female in Cincinnati Zoo, all known breeding female rhinos of this species exist only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo,” said Payne.

Source: Borneo Post (by Jenne Lajiun)