Penang landslide tragedy, plea went unheeded, no one listened !


Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang
social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active stone quarry about
500m directly behind the site of the landslide.

GEORGE TOWN: As the landslide tragedy takes its toll with three workers killed and 11 others feared dead, DAP state assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu said there are still 10 other development projects pending, but his plea to save the hills has been constantly ignored.

Some of the projects will be near hillsides and more are planned along the coastline. A few are projected to be 50 to 60 storeys high, said the Tanjung Bungah assemblyman.

“I objected to each one. I always use the words Saya membantah sekeras-kerasnya (I strongly object) and some city councillors laughed at me and said the approval authority ‘menyokong sepenuh-penuhya’ (fully supports).

“Now see what has happened,” Teh told The Star.

He was referring to the one-stop centre at the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), which is in charge of approving property development plans on the island.

Teh, who rushed to the scene of the landslide shortly after it happened at about 8.30am yesterday, did not hide his discontent over the spurt of development projects in his constituency.

“Not all those development applications have been approved yet.

“But after the general election, I expect a mushrooming of approvals,” he added.

Tanjung Bungah is one of the few residential areas on the island with a low population density.

The Lembah Permai area, locally called Hillside or Vale of Tempe, is a coveted location for its semi-detached, terraced and bungalow homes.

But in recent years, developers have been submitting plans for high-rises that rival even the height of Komtar, in the area’s unoccupied hills and seaside.

Yesterday’s landslide happened at a construction site near Lorong Lembah Permai 3.

Tens of thousands of tonnes of laterite earth slipped down from a height of about 35m, burying the workers.

Firemen told reporters that the search operation had to be carried out slowly because the slope was unstable.

Teh said he objected to the project’s planning permission about two years ago because the original hill slope had a steepness of 30 to 40 degrees.

“I apologise to my voters in Tanjung Bungah. I objected to the construction, but my words were only taken as a personal view by the MBPP and state government.

“I also apologise to the family members of the victims buried by the landslide,” he said.

Asked about a stone quarry located some 500m further uphill from where the landslide occurred, Teh said that it was active, with rock blasting going on two to three times a week.

“I am against that too, but it was allowed to continue,” he added.

Source: The Star


Another call to stop all hill-slope development immediately


Why must it take a tragedy to happen in Penang before the Penang state and local governments wake up to the dangers of rampant and unsustainable development especially on hill slopes? Or will they wake up?

Two years ago, in December 2015, the Penang Forum, alarmed by such negative developments, organised a half-day event titled “Save Our Hills” in which engineering, planning and legal experts gave presentations on the dangers of hill-slope development. (The presentations are available on Penang Forum’s website.)

It then called on the government to review and stop further hill-slope projects. Very sadly, the call fell on deaf ears and the consequences are painfully evident today after an estimate of perhaps 15 lives are lost in a landslide at a hill-slope project in Tanjung Bungah.

Penang Forum then started Penang Hills Watch (PHW), a citizens’ initiative to provide the state government, information on hill cuttings that it collects from the public. In January 2017, the PHW met with the state government; the present site where this tragedy happened was the first case that PHW highlighted to the state government. (Please visit the PHW website.) Photos of construction and hill cutting on this site were presented to the state government – to which it responded that the “earthwork is being monitored.”

The chief minister of Penang, in the Safety Guidelines for Hillside Development, said: “Penang Local Governments (MPPP and MPSP) are to strengthen their Geotechnical unit, which processes and approves applications for hill site developments, followed by strict enforcement. A monitoring team will be established to ensure compliance in construction and monitoring performance of slopes.”

The question is what happened then? Did the state and local governments follow through their own guidelines? Or was there gross negligence?

Such senseless tragedy could have been avoided. Penang Forum calls for an independent Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate what went wrong and how such incidents can be avoided in the future. All parties beginning from the State Planning Committee that gave approval for all hill-slope projects, to the One-Stop-Committee of the Penang Island City Council that also approved the project, to the engineers who are supposed to monitor the projects, to the developers and contractors who carried out the project should be investigated and held responsible.

In the meantime, Penang Forum once again calls on the authorities to:

    • stop all hill-slope projects with immediate effect;
    • immediately amend the 2009 guidelines on ‘special projects’ to explicitly prohibit all development on hill lands, except if it is for essential public services;
    • rehabilitate all existing exposed and barren slopes and spaces to prevent further soil erosion;
    • undertake stern enforcement, effective and deterrent punishment on those who clear land illegally or do not abide by conditions imposed to prevent soil-erosion;
    • monitor frequently and effectively all hill slopes by the local authorities;
  • publicly declare and give warning on all hill slopes and areas that are not safe.



Sources: Penang Forum 

Sahabat Alam Malaysia

Consumers Association of Penang 

Residents associations and management committees of Penang

Consumers & Residents tell state govt, ‘We told you so’

 

GEORGE TOWN: The Tanjung Bungah Residents’ Association (TBRA) is demanding for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on all hill slope developments in Penang, following a landslide at a construction site this morning that buried nearly 18 people.

TBRA chair Meenakshi Raman said the RCI would be a form of audit on all risky hill slope projects in the state, to prevent any tragedies from happening again.

She also said the TBRA had repeatedly appealed to the Penang government to put an end to hill slope developments as it would have a domino effect on flash floods in the state.

“We were called ‘irrational’ by the Penang government when we appealed for hill slope developments to stop. Who’s irrational now?

“Today’s incident is a grave and grim warning to the authorities to take heed of Mother Nature’s warning,” Meenakshi said when contacted today.

In the 8.50am incident, a 10m-high hill slope came crashing down next to a construction site not far from the Tunku Abdul Rahman College in Tanjung Bungah.

At the time of writing, two survivors were rescued, while two more bodies were retrieved from the mud and rubble. Although their identities are not yet known, they are believed to be foreign workers.

Meenakshi said during last month’s flash floods, TBRA and other residents’ associations made a collective appeal to the state government to end all excess developments and hill clearing in the state.

TBRA, concerned groups, and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) had also previously called on the Penang government to amend existing guidelines concerning hill slopes.

Meanwhile, SAM president S M Mohamed Idris said the NGO had written to the Penang government “several times” urging them to stop hillside developments.

“We have warned that hill slopes are fragile ecosystems and cannot be touched.

“And now, we are really shocked that the lives of many have been sacrificed. We support TBRA’s call for an urgent RCI,” he said when contacted.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Toray sets up new unit in Penang


Toray Malaysia Systems Solution Sdn Bhd
managing director Peter Chan (second right) speaking at a press
conference on Oct 17 after the official opening of Toray Malaysia
Systems Solution Sdn Bhd at the Setia SPICE Convention Centre in Penang.
Among those who were also present were Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P.
Ramasamy (middle) and Toray IS Division, Japan general manager Akihiro
Tada (first left)

 

Toray Malaysia Systems provides IT services

GEORGE TOWN: Toray Group (Malaysia), wholly-owned by Toray Industries Inc, Japan and one of the pioneers of Penang’s industrialisation programme, has expanded its business operations in Penang with the establishment of yet another company, namely Toray Malaysia Systems Solution Sdn Bhd (TMS).

TMS was established on May 2 with a RM5mil investment injected from Toray Japan.

It has offices at two locations in Penang, namely its head office at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre (Spice) and in Prai.

TMS managing director Peter Chan said the company, which is certified with MSC status by MDEC, provides global business services to its group of companies in Malaysia and abroad.

He said the company currently employs some 50 people and expects to increase the number to 100 within the next two to three years.

Chan said TMS provides full suite of information technology (IT) solutions and support for all aspects of business operations, ranging from planning and development to operation of information systems.

“These IT services include systems study, design, development, integration, deployment and maintenance, network infrastructure installation, IT helpdesk, systems administration support as well as IT consulting and IT research and development, according to customers’ stringent needs,” he added.

Chan said TMS is under the direct supervision of Toray Japan Information Systems Division.

“Backed by many years of information systems development experiences, technical know-how and skillful dedicated staff, TMS is set to contribute to Toray’s global business expansion as well as other related clients in Malaysia and the region.

“The head office at TMS Spice is equipped with the latest network infrastructure and IoT (Internet of Things) technology. It is designed to ensure that employees work in a conducive, healthy, happy, flexible working environment,” he said at TMS’ official opening at the Setia Spice Convention Centre recently.

Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy, who was guest of honour at the event, said Penang recorded a total of RM5.3bil approved manufacturing investments from Japan from 2008 to 2016.

“I am also pleased to note that after the US and EU countries, Japanese investors make up the largest investments in Penang, making Japanese companies among the top FDI contributors to the Penang economy,” he added.

Source : The Star


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Call for action on flooding solution


Some representatives of the 24 residents associations and management corporations showing messages urging the state to resolve the flood issues in Penang. — Photos: ASRI ABDUL GHANI /The Star
Meenakshi (right) speaking on the group’s concerns at the press conference.

Irked residents to hold meeting with state representatives on Oct 29

FRUSTRATED by the never-ending flood problems in Penang, a group has got together to arrange a meeting with state representatives on Oct 29.

The group of 24 residents associations and management corporations believes that the blame game between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan politicians should be stopped as the floods have caused a lot of hardship to the people.

Spokesperson Meenakshi Raman said the group would have experts share data collected on floods in their respective areas at the briefing.

“We want to make a collective call to the state government to take the flood and hill erosion issues very seriously,” she said at a press conference at the Consumers Association of Penang in Jalan Masjid Negeri yesterday.

Meenakshi said the state representatives could use the data gathered at the briefing titled ‘Penang Flood: Call for Action’ and discuss the matter during the upcoming state assembly in November.

The briefing is open to the public and the venue and time will be announced later.

“Flood mitigation alone is inadequate. We want comprehensive action and a stop to unsafe overdevelopment at hill slopes,” said Meenakshi.

Representatives of residents groups from Bandar Baru Ayer Itam attended the press conference to voice their dissatisfaction over the repeated flooding in the township, especially in Lebuhraya Thean Tek, Jalan Thean Tek and Lintang Thean Tek.

The groups are from Tanjung Court Condominium, Desa Delima (Tower Blocks), Sri Impian, Fortune Court, Treasure Ville and Desa Baiduri.

Tanjung Court Condominium residents ad-hoc group representative K. Suthakar said Lebuhraya Thean Tek in Bandar Baru Ayer Itam would be badly hit by floods every time there was heavy rain.

“The state government keeps saying that the Federal Government doesn’t give them enough money.

“Will the flooding problems go on for five or 10 more years? How long is this going to continue? We are suffering,” he said.

He urged MPs to attend the briefing as well so that they could bring up the flood issue in Parliament.

Later, the group showed photos of landslides that happened during the Sept 15 flooding at Fettes Park, Solok Tembaga and Sungai Ara.

They urged Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to focus on resolving the flood issues.

Penang Opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid said it was a good initiative to hold the briefing as there was a need to better understand the concerns of the people.

“I can only confirm attendance after the venue and time have been fixed,” she said.

Meanwhile, PKR Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin said she would attend the briefing.

Source: by Intan Amalina Mohd Ali The Star

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Chinese Scientists Make Breakthrough in Replacing WiFi With LiFi


CHANGCHUN, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) — Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in creating full-color emissive carbon dots (F-CDs), which brings them one step closer to developing a faster wireless communication channel that could be available in just six years.

Light Fidelity, known as LiFi, uses visible light from LED bulbs to transfer data much faster than radio wave-based WiFi.

While most current research uses rare earth materials to provide the light for LiFi to transmit data, a team of Chinese scientists have created an alternative — F-CDs, a fluorescent carbon nanomaterial that proves to be safer and faster.

“Many researchers around the world are still working on this. We were the first to successfully create it using cost-effective raw materials such as urea with simple processing,” said Qu Songnan, an associate researcher at Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which leads the research.

Qu said rare earth has a long lifespan which reduces the speed of LiFi transmission. However, F-CDs enjoy the advantage of faster data transmission speeds.

In previous studies, carbon dots were limited to the emission of lights such as blue and green. The new nanomaterial that Qu’s team has developed can emit all light visible to the human eye, which is a breakthrough in the field of fluorescent carbon nanomaterial.

Qu said this is significant for the development of LiFi, which he expects to enter the market in just six years.

A 2015 test by a Chinese government ministry showed that LiFi can reach speeds of 50 gigabytes per second, at which a movie download can be completed in just 0.3 seconds

Source: Xinhua

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IJM hill clearing & Trehaus construction damaged nearby houses since 2014 must be mitigated quickly!


Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project.
Approximate Coordinates : 5°20’38.47″N,100°16’52.82″E
Reported  in August 2016. Photos taken in November 2016 and 2014 by Penang Forum
PHW Report
Clearing and construction for a condo and semi-detached housing
project, Trehaus, reported in http://anilnetto.com/ 26 Aug 2016. Photo
taken in 2014 …
Click for map:

https://hillclearinginpenang.ushahidi.io/views/map

Sources: Penang Hills Watch (PHW) | Penang Forum

Behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1 is an IJM Trehaus Project.

Two invalid pipe culverts formed sinkholes at BJ Cove houses

The following plan clearly shows an underground pipe culvert from the IJM Trehaus site that converged  directly, vertically at BJ Cove houses from another underground  pipe culvert at nearby pond were burst, caused house cracks, floods, formed sinkholes (by two pipe culverts converged in red) and damaged  to  BJ Cove houses in 2015 due to blockages of waters whenever rains and because of lack of drainage systems.  The sinkhole was caused by soil erosion due to waters under the ground.
Therefore, damages to houses were caused by severe soil erosion due to water movement under the road and buildings.

Underground Pipe Culverts from IJM Trehaus site on the left and nearby pond on the right

The following is an underground pipe culvert from the IJM Trehaus site behind BJ Cove houses at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1:

IJM constructing an underground pipe Culvert in 2014 to BJ Cove Houses
IJM constructing an underground pipe Culvert in to BJ Cove Houses
IJM Underground Pipe Culvert to BJ Cove Houses

IJM Underground Pipe Culvert to BJ Cove Houses
Waters gushing down from IJM Trehaus site to BJ Cove houses:
Waters flow from IJM Trehaus to BJ Cove houses

 

Waters gushing down from IJM Trehaus site to BJ Cove houses

Waters from IJM site stucked at behind BJ Cove houses

The nearby pond besides IJM Trehaus site:

Serious Drainage Issues

The Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID or JPS) has just started
constructing the drain from the pond to divert the waters:
A drain under construction by JPS to divert waters from the nearby pond but show no sign to divert waters from IJM Site
Drain water flow under construction by JPS to divert waters from the nearby pond
We are concerned as to how IJM is going to resolve the pipe culvert from their side as JPS has confirmed IJM failure to comply with sediment control plan (ESCP).
Letters fromThe Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID or JPS)

Clearly, the underground pipe culverts leaked and waters seeped through the cracks as it did not happen immediately but over a period of time!

 
Despite the underground pipe culverts declared invalid by JPS and the Penang City  Council’s (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang, i.e. MBPP) has issued stop work orders directing the developers, Worldwide Venture Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of IJM Land to rectify the damages within 1 and 2 weeks time since 2015 (as per the attached  letters below), multiple wall cracks, slabs collapsed, PBA water pipes burst, leakage charges, damaging ceiling, electrical DB board, and tiles fallen, broken/popped up,  are still pending settlement and remedial works to be carried out by parties responsible for the damages since 2014 !!

Letters from Penang City Council’s (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang)

 

Letters from Developers: Worldwide Venture Sdn Bhd, an subsidiary of IJM Land:
 

 

Damaged houses

 Damages appeared after IJM began construction works in 2014, like hill clearing, rock-blasting, piling and digging culvert at Trehaus site. As a result, waters seepage through multiple cracks on the ground, walls, tiles fallen from roofs and popped up from the ground due to vibration from rock-blasting and piling for the building.

Pictures showing floods, sinkholes at Lintang Bukit Jambul 1, 11900 Penang,  damaged to BJ Cove houses, cracks, waters leakages seeped through the cracks, slabs collapsed, ceilings & tiles broken & fallen, electrical DB board explosion, etc caused by severe soil erosion due to water movement under the road and buildings. The underground pipe leaked and waters seeped through the cracks!

 

Sinkhole at BJ Cove house no. 20

IJM converted the sinkhole into a manhole waters from their underground pipe culvert at Trehaus

Sinkhole at house 20 is covered up by IJM’s underground pipe culvert from  IJM Trehaus

IJM converting the sinkhole at BJ Cove no. 20

 

 

 

We demand immediate enforcement & Actions:

 

1. The parties responsible must quickly without further delays, to settle the claims and start the remedial works to the damaged houses, as both JPS has declared underground pipe culverts invalid and  MBPP has  issued stop work orders directed the developers, Worldwide Venture Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of IJM Land to rectify the damages within 1 and 2 weeks time since 2015!

 

2. Divert waters from the two invalid underground pipe culverts, which it deems as illegal from IJM Trehaus site and the nearby ponds must be close and grout as a long term solution to the problems.

 

3. Beef up the enforcement and accountability not just in government agencies but also in professional bodies, like the Board Of Engineers Malaysia (BEM),  the Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), etc to  uphold the professional ethics, integrity and standards, to ensure public safety of buildings and people life.

 

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Boast to end floods rings hollow – Nation

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Bitcoin must not in your retirement financial planning portfolio


Bitcoin investments have undeniably become a trend among savvy investors in search of the golden goose, but one financial planner is against the use of it as part of the financial planning portfolio for retirement.

Max Growth Wealth Education Sdn Bhd managing director Nicholas Chu said one should not use bitcoin as part of the retirement portfolio and the public must be well aware of the risk in bitcoin trading before getting in.

“It is not asset-backed, it is very unsecure. It is, basically, you want to participate in the future changes. It’s not a proper financial planning way. It is just an experimental thing that you want to go through in this era, but it is not a proper investment product,” he told SunBiz.

“I definitely don’t agree if they use this for their financial planning. But for those who are able to try new ventures, they can go ahead provided they have extra money. If this doesn’t affect their existing financial planning, then I’ll leave it to them. We need to tell them the pros and cons of this investment. It’s up to the clients to do the final decision,” he said.

Chu cautioned on the uncertainties of bitcoin trading, which is driven by market forces.
“It is beyond anybody’s control, all the participants contribute to the bitcoin value. From that, I can say that there are a lot of uncertainties in the future,” he said.

Nonetheless, with the setting up of a few bitcoin exchanges, Chu noted that there will be demand and supply with tradeable markets available.

Bitcoin was the best-performing currency in 2015 and 2016, with a rise of 35.8% and 126.2% respectively.

Year to date, bitcoin prices have leaped more than three times. It stood at US$2,840 (RM12,140) as at 5pm last Friday.

Bitcoins are by the far the most popular cryptocurrency, which exists almost wholly in the digital realm and has no asset backing it. Bitcoin generation, known as mining, while open to anyone with a “mining application” on their computer, needs a great deal of computing power to solve complex algorithms which are later verified with the entire bitcoin network.

Colbert Low, founder of bitcoinmalaysia.com, said the recent spike in bitcoin prices could be partly due to the legalisation of bitcoin by the Japanese government.

He is unsure if the sharp rise in bitcoin prices will create a price bubble, but stressed that one cannot judge its price movement based on the “old economic theory”.

“This is a new economy based on a different model. It’s very hard to say,” Low opined, noting that there has been a growing number of retail outlets that accept bitcoin.

He foresees the usage of bitcoin propagating, especially in different types of payment methods.

However, Low opined that there will not be any “big movement” in the local market if the regulators do not regulate bitcoin.

“Our new Bank Negara governor is forward thinking and he is very much into fintech, technology and innovation. So there would definitely be improvement,” Low said.

The positive development of blockchain will be a catalyst for the growth of bitcoin, he added.

“Blockchain is a real thing that will change the way the IP system is architectured. We need to go down to a deeper level to see how blockchain can change the current problem and solve it.

“There are a lot of projects right now, over 500 companies are looking at this (blockchain) right now. Even IBM, HP and Microsoft are looking at it.”

Blockchain refers to distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, secure from tampering and revision. Bitcoin is just an application or software that runs on blockchain technology.

“If you look at blockchain technology, government agencies like the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are looking at it. This is the best way to secure your data,” Low said, noting that the usage of bitcoin will help reduce operating cost.

Currently, there are about 16 million bitcoins in the market and the number is capped at 21 million.

Bank Negara has said that it does not regulate the cryptocurrency and advised the public to be cautious of the risks associated with the usage of such digital currency.

Source: By Lee Weng Khuen sunbiz@thesundaily.com

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The stalled building defects causing delays of relocation ..


Not ready: (Clockwise from top) The front view of the Batu Ferringhi market in Penang, exposed electrical sockets and cracked floor in the badminton court, and a leaking pipe in the washroom.

 
Defects causing delay of move to RM9mil Batu Ferringhi market

The scheduled relocation of traders to the RM9mil Batu Ferringhi market on Aug 14 is postponed to a later date until shortcomings such as leakage in the washrooms and cracks on the floor are fixed.

Lim checking on the condition of the market.- Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

SENIOR officers of the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) were left red-faced after Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng spotted several defects in the almost completed RM9mil Batu Ferringhi market during a site visit.

Lim, who was irked with the shortcomings, asked his officers to collect back copies of his text speech given earlier to reporters.

“Before I came in, I went to the washroom. I thought it would be ready.

“But the male washroom was locked and I had to use the unoccupied ladies washroom instead.

“If the market is considered ready (by the council), then it is unacceptable,” he said.

Washroom with missing taps
A leaking pipe pipe in the washroom

It is learnt that the ladies washroom was leaking and some of the taps had yet to be fixed.

Lim, who was walking to the dining area, was stopped by several traders who requested the council delay their relocation into the market which was earlier scheduled on Aug 14.

Speaking to newsmen, Lim said another date would be set.

“We cannot fix a date now until we are satisfied that the shortcomings have been rectified,” he said.

MBPP mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif said she would hold discussions with the market contractor and architect.

“Cracks have also appeared on the floor of the badminton courts,” she said.

Maimunah said the council had issued the Certificate of Practical Completion (CPC) for the market but not the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC).

The market was scheduled for completion by the end of last year.

There are 16 hawker stalls, 28 wet and dry market units, a multipurpose hall, a library, three badminton courts, playground, bicycle path, shower rooms and 90 parking bays.

Source: The Star/ANN by Intan Amalina Mohd Ali

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Errant hill clearing by developers causes of flood, sinkholes, seepages damaged houses!

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