PRESS RELEASE: Destruction of Mangroves Continues in Pitas With Disregard for Sabah’s Laws

Kota Kinabalu, 11th January 2015: Sabah’s environmental laws which were put into place to safeguard the environment is being blatantly disregarded by the project proponents of the Pitas Shrimp Park which is also known as the Pitas Aquaculture Project. The project is a joint venture between Inno Fisheries Sdn Bhd which is under the Sabah Foundation and Sunlight Seafood (Sabah) Sdn Bhd.

“Environmental laws have been put into place as safeguards for the benefit and protection of all our futures and breaking these laws should be as serious as any other crime and not as something that can be ignored,” said Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) President Lanash Thanda.

According to the SEPA President the law is clear, they should be no development activities until the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is approved.

“As far as we are aware, this project has not had its EIA approved, is the project proponent above the law? This situation raises alarming questions with regards to other development projects. Does this mean that projects that are government linked do not have to follow the law? What has happened in this situation makes a mockery of the hard work and legal procedures that have been put in place for Sabah. Does this now mean that the people of Sabah cannot rely on the EIA system to safeguard the environment?” asked the SEPA President.

It has been reported that the project proponents were clearing land as early as April 2013 with commencement of earthworks for shrimp ponds but the first step of an EIA which is the Terms of Reference was only approved by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) in July 2013.

In January 2014, the project received EPD approval for only the development of infrastructure such as putting in water pipes and electricity in consideration for the needs for the local community however electricity has been available in the area since 1997, meanwhile the illegal work on the shrimp ponds still continued.

In addition, as the area is classified as mangrove swamp, a riparian zone of 100 meters must be maintained, however upon inspection of areas that have been cleared SEPA found that they were no riparian buffers.

This project was identified under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and Sabah Economic Development & Investment Authority (SEDIA) and began clearing mangrove areas months before the EIA review meeting was even held in June 2014. It was understood at the time of the review the project’s EIA, it was rejected due to serious environmental issues that had not been addressed adequately in the EIA.

“This project has been developed unsustainably from the beginning. A state authority such as the Sabah Foundation should have acted in a responsible and accountable manner. It could even be argued that this whole “project” is illegal from the start for not complying with the State Laws,” summarised Lanash.

The Malaysian transformation agenda is built on a platform of sustainability and inclusiveness to ensure for long term sustainability. Certification is also a large component of this programme and due to the illegal manner which this project has been carried out, no internationally recognised certification scheme will certify this project.

“Mangroves are crucial to our fisheries industry, wildlife and local community who rely on the sources of income derived from the natural resources available. You cannot rebuild a destroyed ecosystem such as this. And this project is 39 times the size of the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, so it is a sizeable area that has been destroyed to do an aquaculture project,” stated Lanash.

In addition, it is understood that shrimp aquaculture had a long history of devastating outbreaks of diseases throughout the nation including in Sabah since the 1990s.

SEPA also provided photographs taken as recently as August 2014 showing the continued clearing and destruction of the mangrove system against the wishes of some of the community of the area.

“This destruction must stop immediately and the project proponents must be answerable to laws of this State and remedial efforts be carried out immediately by them at their own cost,” concluded Lanash.

 

The pristine mangroves found in Pitas cannot be rebuilt once it is destroyed. How much more can we afford to lose?

The pristine mangroves found in Pitas cannot be rebuilt once it is destroyed. How much more can we afford to lose?

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PRESS RELEASE: SEPA Warns of Breakdown on Environmental Safeguards in Sabah

Kota Kinabalu, 12th October 2014: In a statement issued today, the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) warns that the ‘rule of law’ in Sabah is being disregarded and projects that are unsustainable are being fast tracked without following proper procedures.

“The recent floods in Sabah are a result of breakdown of Sabah’s environmental safeguards as we have seen how blatantly unsustainable development is taking place,” said SEPA President, Lanash Thanda.

Defining “unsustainable developments” as development that occurs at the expense of future generations, SEPA said the State Government must ensure that safeguards placed in terms of laws, regulations and policies be adhered too to ensure that future generations do not suffer from mistakes made today.

“Irresponsible planning, non-adherence to due process, disregard for the laws, and environmental degradation through exploitation of resources generates waste and pollution. Such practices are not sustainable in the long term and it is our children and our grandchildren and great grandchildren that will have to bear the burden. We cannot allow this to happen, we must do better and this is simple enough to do by following laws, regulations, policies and procedures that we already have, these are our environmental safeguards, we have them and we must use them,” said Lanash.

SEPA also stated that interference from interested parties to fast track and by pass environmental safeguards enshrined in legislation must stop and civil servants must be allowed to carry out there jobs without fear of political interference of any sort.

“In the past the people of Sabah could rely on the planning and environmental laws that are available in the State to eliminate environmental hazards, pollution, environmental impacts and corruption that would ultimately affect the people. However this system is now being eroded by being by-passed or fast tracked,” warned Lanash.

SEPA cited examples such as the 2,300 acres of the Aquaculture project in Pitas where pristine mangrove swamps were cleared before receiving approval for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as mandated by the State law. Another case in the city itself is the recent hill clearing/cutting for the new Court Complex on Jalan Sharrif Osman which is being carried out without following the necessary procedures. Even the Tanjung Aru Eco Development project is attempting to set the Terms of Reference for the Special Environmental Impact Assessment without having a finalised Masterplan.

“These three examples are only the tip of the iceberg and we cannot in good conscience allow such blatant disregard for the rule of law as ultimately it will affect the well being of communities and future development of Sabah,” stated Lanash.

SEPA points out that in the past year alone, the media have been filled with environmental incidences of flash floods, hill cutting, water issues, pollution, communities livelihoods affected, human-wildlife conflict. All these factors in some way or another can be contributed to development that has been conducted unsustainably and is linked to the breakdown of these environmental safeguards.

“The rule of law and its due process has to be respected and followed by all, to ensure that these environmental safeguards are maintained to protect the integrity of Sabah. No one person, group, agency or organisation should be allowed to intervene and override the existing due process,” concluded Lanash.

Ends

Pictures

Part of the 2,300 acres of the Aquaculture project in Pitas have been cleared before receiving approval for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as mandated by the State law.

Part of the 2,300 acres of the Aquaculture project in Pitas have been cleared before receiving approval for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as mandated by the State law.

Part of the 2,300 acres of the Aquaculture project in Pitas have been cleared before receiving approval for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as mandated by the State law.

Part of the 2,300 acres of the Aquaculture project in Pitas have been cleared before receiving approval for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as mandated by the State law.

The 2,300 acres of the Aquaculture project in Pitas where pristine mangrove swamps were cleared before receiving approval for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as mandated by the State law.

The 2,300 acres of the Aquaculture project in Pitas where pristine mangrove swamps were cleared before receiving approval for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as mandated by the State law.

Recent hill clearing/cutting for the new Court Complex on Jalan Sharrif Osman which is being carried out without following the necessary procedures.

Recent hill clearing/cutting for the new Court Complex on Jalan Sharrif Osman which is being carried out without following the necessary procedures.

Tanjung Aru Eco Development project is attempting to set the Terms of Reference for the Special Environmental Impact Assessment without having a finalised Masterplan.

Tanjung Aru Eco Development project is attempting to set the Terms of Reference for the Special Environmental Impact Assessment without having a finalised Masterplan.

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

Kota Kinabalu, 22nd September 2013: Since the Prime Minister launched the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) on the 16th of September 2013, Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) has been inundated with calls and emails asking about continued public access to the beach.

“People are understandably concerned, having already experienced losing public spaces to tourism like Pantai Dalit in Tuaran and climbing Mount Kinabalu before the accommodation was privatised and prices rose astronomically. Will Tanjung Aru Beach become a playground for only the rich?” asked Lanash Thanda the President of SEPA.

The number one question SEPA is being asked is if the public will continue to have access to the beach once the hotels are built according to Lanash.

It seems the only information the public has had access to is the concept map published in the local newspaper and a giant signboard that states “Returning Tanjung Aru to the people of Sabah: Rehabilitating the Beach, Regenerating the Park, Rejuvenating Tourism”.

“How can you ‘return’ something the public already understands they have? And does this mean that that Prince Phillip Park will be given more space?” Lanash said sharing just some questions that have been posed.

Most concerns she noted was raised based on the concept, which shows that that they will be 10 tourism projects that include brand name hotels, service apartments and a marina. They also seem to be different versions of the concept map with slightly different designs and one which includes a golf course.
“This is the era of public participation, SEPA urges that a Special EIA be conducted due to the sensitivity of this issue.” stated Lanash.

Knowing how important Tanjung Aru is for all the people of Sabah, the Government needs to be transparent on the project and SEPA has been informed that an office is in the process of being set up and once it is up, the public can get their answers.

To ensure public participation and transparency, Lanash urges the government to quicken the setting up of this office so the public concerns can be addressed.

We have been alerted by experts on water quality and hydrology that due to direct effluent discharge and high erosion factor something needs to be done to ensure the aesthetic beauty of Tanjung Aru is retained and that continued easy public access is ensured for the people of Sabah for future generations,” concluded Lanash.

Sabah Environmental Protection Association
SEPA

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PRESS RELEASE

Kota Kinabalu, 18th September 2013: It was the people of Sabah, the regular members of the public that rejected three attempts for the building of a coal fired power plant in Sabah clarified Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) President, Lanash Thanda.

3 locations proposed for Coal Power Plant

Lanash was responding to media articles, which quoted the Deputy Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid stating that the proposed coal plant in Sabah had been prevented by “an NGO leader”.

“Mahdzir is new to this Ministry and seems unfamiliar with what occurred in Sabah for the last few years, although he spent time here as a teacher in the 1980s, the people Sabah are the ones who were against the coal fired power plant,” stated Lanash.

The first proposed site was in Silam, Lahad Datu, where the EIA was not approved and grassroots movement led by the esteemed Wong Tack past president of SEPA. This site was rejected by the State Assembly on the grounds of potential harm it would bring to the community and to the nearby environmentally sensitive areas.

The second site was in Seguntor, Sandakan, where the local community took the lead. Once again in 2008, the State Assemble rejected the proposed coal plant due to strong objection from the community and the environmentally sensitive area.
Finally for the third and final time it was mooted by the Prime Minister on December 2008 and to be sited at the Dent Peninsular, Lahad Datu, close to the site of the now infamous Lahad Datu invasion.

In November 2009, GreenSURF, a coalition of individuals and NGOs was formed to lead in the fight against the proposed coal fired plant. In August 2010 the Detailed EIA was rejected, this was due to the hundreds of letters objecting to the proposed coal plant that were sent to the Department of Environment.

In a press statement announcing the rejection of the third attempt of the proposed coal power plant issued by the Chief Minister of Sabah’s office on the 16th of February 2011, it stated that, “The Prime Minister understands that while we need to build up our power supply in Sabah, it can’t be done at the expense of the people’s welfare and the environment,”.

“So, even the Prime Minister says he understands, why are we wasting our time revisiting or even entertaining this idea of another coal fired power plant in Sabah?” asked Lanash.

According to Lanash, enough time, money and effort had been spent on this issue and we must move forward with the Green Energy agenda not take two steps backwards by looking at dirty sources of energy like coal.

“Datuk Mahdzir should be concentrating on improving and expanding Green Energy resources. Sabah has plenty of these and we are more than happy to sit down with him to discuss such options,” concluded the SEPA President.

Sabah Environmental Protection Association
(SEPA)

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28 JUNE 2013: PRESS RELEASE

KOTA KINABALU: To Earth With Love is organizing a workshop to teach the public on how to manage their household waste with Effective Microorganism (EM) technique. The workshop will be held twice every month from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm at Luyang Composting Centre next to the Luyang Community Hall. Member of public who interested are welcome to come and learn.

This Sunday (30 June 2013) 3.00 pm, the Luyang Community Group is hosting a workshop on how to process a grass waste to compos fertilizer. Public can see on how such neglected waste can be process as a natural fertilizer for small farm and house hold use.

Starred Photos19

Please go to To Earth With Love Facebook Page for more information about the schedule of the workshop. Practitioners of composting waste gladly share their experience and the benefit of managing the household food waste. The workshop will be consisted three sets of skills which are making E-MAS, Mud Balls and Bokashi.

https://www.facebook.com/ToEarthWithLove

EM Naturally Active is a non-chemical solution for use in the home and garden. This concept consists of a range of products for use in and around the home including the garden, for pets, aquariums, swimming pools, making compost from kitchen waste and household cleaning. It boosts the immune system of soil, plants, water, pets and yourself.

Bokashi is a method that uses a mix of microorganisms to cover food waste to decrease smell. It derives from the practice of Japanese farmers centuries ago of covering food waste with rich, local soil that contained the microorganisms that would ferment the waste. After a few weeks, they would bury the waste that weeks later, would become soil.

EM Mudballs are made of dried mud into which EM Bokashi and Activated EM1 have been kneaded. They are used to clean up bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and oceans where there are concentrated deposits of sludge and slime.

To Earth With Love is a collaboration effort between Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA), Young Malaysia Movement (YMM) Sabah and Sabah Banking Employees’ Union (SBEU). Many community awareness projects were organized since it started 2 years ago to spread the importance of making sure our environment clean to sustain for future.

Participation from various group such as religious, community and schools has participated and incorporated the know how to their own activities and lifestyle. It is hope that more to join the effort and make sure our environment is still good for our future generation.

Sabah Environmental Protection Association
(SEPA)

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8 APRIL 2013

KOTA KINABALU, 8th April 2013: Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA)’s new President, Lanash Thanda expressed deep regret that the repeated warnings were not heeded by the quarry company and government agencies resulting in the incident on Saturday which saw boulders crashing down to the village under Kukusan Hill in Tawau.

“Since 2012, SEPA’s past President, Wong Tack had repeatedly highlighted this issue and went down to the ground with SEPA member, Gary Yap to check the situation of this quarry that was allowed to be carried out after the Kukusan Forest was downgraded from being a Class I Forest Reserve to Class II,” stated Lanash who was recently elected to the new committee for 2013.

SEPA had challenged the validity of the quarry, which damaged the environment of the Forest Reserve and endangered the community living at the foothill of the Reserve.

“We deeply regret seeing that once again the needs of development outweighed the wellbeing of not only the environment but also people living in the surrounding area,” said Lanash at a Press Conference held at the SEPA office in Kota Kinabalu.

In September 2012, the company Hap Seng who runs the quarry issued a statement that claimed that the quarry was compliant with the terms of approvals from the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Department of Environment (DOE).

“If the company did comply, this shows that the standard requirement for carrying out quarrying was flawed as it resulted in injury of people in the surrounding area and now the government has said it would relocate all the people living within the area,” pointed out Lanash.

SEPA proposed that the quarry be closed for a thorough investigation which should look into two aspects aspect; firstly on the blasting that has been allowed within the Forest Reserve and secondly on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) particularly on environmental and safety standards that were approved.

“We need to ask if the company had taken into consideration the proximity of the Kampung Tanjung Batu Tengah (Besi Buruk), was this issue identified in the mitigating measures, and if not why not?” asked the SEPA President.

There have been many incidents that show that development has priority over the environment and the safety of people. Like many other issues that SEPA have highlighted over the years certain developments are accidents waiting to happen.

“It was very fortunate that this incident did not result in deaths of the residents of the village but we must learn from our mistakes and we have to move forward by having more stringent measures and standards,” concluded Lanash.

Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA)

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UPDATE 17 MARCH 2013:

Attention to SEPA Member

Please do informed;

1. You’re eligible to attend the AGM that to be held on 23/3/2013 (Saturday) 2.00 pm at Karamusing Room that located next to the open area outside. Please do come earlier to get your attendance checked before the meeting started. Please refer the attached photo for the venue.

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2. The nomination of office bearers are.

Nomination for President
Lanash Thanda

Nomination for V.President
Harjinder Kler

Nomination for Secretary
Julia Hwang

Nomination for Treasurer
Irwin Wong

Nomination for Urban Researcher
Alice Mathew

Nomination for Rural Researcher
Nasiri Salbiah

Nomination for Legal Advisor
Chang Chiew Kok @ Jefferi

Nomination for Committee Member
Paul Chang Tuck Yuen
Catherine Chu
Lim Su Yan
Joannie Jomitol
Ng Keam Kee
Elwis Ong Keh Hiung

Election Nomination Submission Form for reference

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_IqwNzP7TzJS0ZubFFDZm8tMlk/edit

3. SEPA Account Report. Please click the link below to view the statement. The 2012 SEPA Account report to be release in few days due to delay in auditing process.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_IqwNzP7TzJMnJfYjM3U19wR0E/edit

4. SEPA 2012 AGM minutes.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_IqwNzP7TzJUWNCbWJONVRKVVU/edit?usp=sharing

For more information, Please contact SEPA Secretary Paul at 0165213117 or reply this email.

Thank You
SEPA

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UPDATE 8 March 2013: Attention to SEPA Members,

Refer to the AGM Notice sent on 20th Feb 2013,

1. The membership renewal and new members recruitment as of 6pm 8/3/13 is closed
2. The nominations for the election of office bearers for 2013-2015 and motion as of 6pm 8/3/13 is closed

Thank You
SEPA

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Dear Members,

Notice is hereby given to all members that the ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of SABAH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ASSOCIATION will be held on Saturday, the 23rd of March, 2013 at 2.00pm, Karamusing Ballroom, 88300, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to conduct the following businesses:

AGENDA

1. President to call the meeting.
2. To confirm minutes of the AGM 2012.
3. Report by the Secretary, activities and success stories during the year 2012.
4. Presentation of the account and financial report by the Treasurer (2011 and 2012).
5. Motions for adoption (If any).
6. Appointment of the Election Chairperson and election of the Office Bearers for Term 2013-2015.
7. Incoming President Speech.
8. Appointment of the Auditors and Trustee.

Please note that:

1. The Executive Committee in a meeting held on the 18th February has unanimously agreed to extend the membership renewal and new member recruitment till the 8th of March 2013, 4 pm to be eligible to attend and participate in the meeting.

2. For renewal of membership, contact SEPA Secretary Paul at 0165213117 OR SEPA representatives Jefferi at 0168491997 before 4pm on the 8th March.

3. All nominations for the election of office bearers for 2013-2015 and motion (if any) shall be emailed to the Secretary at info@sepa.my before 4pm, on the 8th March 2013 or contact the above numbers. The nomination form will be available on the SEPA website at www.sepa.my .

4. Only members with updated memberships of the society will be eligible to attend and participate in the meeting according to the laws of the society. No proxy attendance or voting will be allowed.

Chang Tuck Yuen
Secretary
SABAH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ASSOCIATION

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Download:
Nomination Election Form

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