personal capacity: I wish to comment on the press statement by Jagdeep
Singh Deo as reported in Berita Daily and many other newspapers on 24
AFTER two Category 5 hurricanes (Harvey and Irma) hit the US in October, followed by Maria hitting Puerto Rico, no one can deny that natural disasters are devastating.
With three hurricanes costing an estimated US$385bil, with less than half insured, the poor are suffering the most because they cannot afford to rebuild as the rich.
This year alone, monsoon floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have left millions homeless. This year will therefore break all records as Munich Re-insurance data suggests that 2016 natural disaster losses were only US$175bil, already 28.6% higher than the 30 years (1986-2015) annual average of US$126bil.
But how much of these natural disasters are man-made?
Despite US President Trump being sceptical of climate change, the US Global Change Research Program Climate Science Report published this month concludes that “it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”.
Carbon dioxide concentration already exceed 400 parts per million, last occurred about 3 million years ago, when both global average temperature and sea level were significantly higher than today. Roughly one third of carbon emission is due to residential heating/cooling, one third for transport and one third for industrial production.
Human activities on Mother Earth include over-consumption of natural resources, cutting down forests, polluting waters and excessive cultivation/development that caused desertification or soil erosion. You see this from warmer surface and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and declining tree and fish stock.
Oceans warming up
Hurricanes are caused by oceans warming up, building energy and vapour levels that create freak typhoons, tornados and massive downpours. At the same time, droughts are also occurring with more frequency for longer.
Scientists estimate that global average sea level has risen by about 7-8 inches since 1900, with almost half that rise occurring since 1993. Everyday, we hear new extreme events, such as unusually heavy rainfall, heatwaves, large forest fires, floods or landslides.
Climate warming is most observable in the water-stressed Middle East and the North Africa/Sahel region, where rapid population growth created desertification, food shortages, civil conflicts and ultimately, outward migration towards cooler climates, especially Europe. This hot region accounts for 60% of global war casualties since 2000, with 10 million outward refugees. About 90% of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers come from four regions with half under the age of 18 years.
A 2016 World Bank report estimated that these water-stressed countries’ GDP could be reduced by up to 6%, with dire consequences on stability. Without water, industries cannot function, food cannot be cultivated and health can deteriorate due to disease from water-shortage and drought.
European estimates suggest that each refugee costs roughly US$11,600 per person to maintain and there are already one million trying to enter Europe last year. The OECD has classified countries such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen as extreme fragile.
The world is already reaching a critical turning point. If the Paris Climate Accord can be implemented, with or without the United States, there is some chance of averting further global warming.
But closer home, we are already witnessing the effects of climate change on our daily lives.
In 1972, Hong Kong experienced a devastating landslide near Po Shan Road in Mid-Levels, which caused 67 deaths and collapse of two buildings. One cause was unstable ground following heavy rainfall from Typhoon Rose eleven months prior to the incident.
This tragedy in densely populated Hong Kong resulted in rigorous slope protection and inspection of drains to ensure that these slips do not occur again. I lived near Po Shan Road and admired how Hong Kong engineers regularly inspected the slope protection measures and that the drains were always clear.
In 1993, the collapse of Highland Towers in Kuala Lumpur was partly attributed to the clearing of the hilltop above Highland Towers, which led to soil erosion and the weakening of the foundations. By the time the residents detected cracks in the buildings, it was already too late. Some of my personal friends were among the 48 persons who were killed in that collapse.
Last weekend, Penang (where I live) had the worst rainstorm and floods because we were hit by the tail end of strong winds from Typhoon Damrey, one of the strongest to hit Vietnam in 16 years, leaving 61 people dead. Driving along Penang Bridge, I can see that the continued hilltop developments in Penang are leaving soiled scars on the previously pristine landscape, I am reminded of Highland Towers and Po Shan incidents. Natural disasters are acts of god, but the size of their impact on human lives are completely within our control.
Soil erosion does not happen overnight, and require responsible developers and conscientious governments, as well as concerned citizens, to be continually vigilant that maintenance of roads and drains, including soil inspections, are serious business with serious consequences.
Modern technology can provide drones and inbuilt sensors that can detect whether erosion is reaching critical levels. Regular maintenance of drains and checks on stability of the soil, especially where there has been recent clearing of trees in steep slopes, will forewarn us all of impending accidents.
As cities are building more and more on hillsides subject to torrential rain, Penang should seek technical expertise from Hong Kong which has extensive expertise on the maintenance of steep hill slopes that are subject to typhoons and sudden rainfall.
Landslides are today used more in political terms than in real terms. The next time landslides happen, residents who watch daily the erosion of their natural environment will know who is really looking after their interests.
Becoming bald: A view of the clearing work seen at Bukit Relau which was visible from the Penang Bridge in November last year. GEORGE
Seeking solutions: Penang Forum member and soil expert Dr Kam Suan Pheng giving her views during the dialogue sessio
Speaking out: Penang Forum members protesting outside the CAP office in George Town. Don’t just make it about worker safety
https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0 Suspicious activity: A photo taken from Penang social activist Anil Netto’s blog showing an active
GEORGE TOWN: A non-governmental organisation has lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) against two Penang Island City Council (MBPP) councillors for alleged abuse of power.
Persatuan Surplus Pulau Pinang chairman Sophian Mohd Zain urged the commission to probe the matter thoroughly.
He said the first case involved councillor Sharuddin Shariff who lives in a public housing unit in Sungai Pinang despite receiving a monthly allowance of RM4,000 from the council.
“This is not right at all,” he said before lodging the report accompanied by former MBPP councillor Syazwani Mohd Amin.
Sophian also lodged another report against councillor Azrizal Tahir whom he alleged held two state-appointed posts.
He said Azrizal as a councillor should not have held the Village and Security Development Committee (JKKK) post and receive allowances from both positions.
When contacted, Azrizal urged the complainant not to trouble the MACC by asking them to probe cases with no basis.
He said those who lodge such reports should do their homework first.
“A press conference will be arranged to explain the matter soon,” he said briefly.
Source: Edmund Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGE TOWN: Two PKR’s Penang Island city councillors have denied any wrongdoings as alleged by two non-governmental organisations which lodged reports with the state anti-graft body.
One of them, a four-term councillor, said there were no rules or regulations to prevent a councillor from becoming a village development and security committee (JKKK) chairman.
“But under a state policy which was enforced last year, we were advised not to hold the two positions at the same time.
“I have since let go of my JKKK post. I urge the complainants to check with the district office first and not to hurl baseless allegations against us,” he said when contacted.
Earlier, two NGOs – Persatuan Kebajikan Surplus Pulau Pinang and Kota – lodged reports with the Penang MACC over the alleged wrongdoings of the two councillors in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah yesterday.
Persatuan Kebajikan Surplus chairman Sophian Mohd Zain claimed one councillor was the JKKK chairman of Permatang Damar Laut.
“A councillor receives allowance from the local government while a JKKK post is appointed by the state government. This is a conflict of interest.
“We hope the state government will clear the air in the name of CAT (Competency, Accountability and Transparency),” he said.
Also present was former councillor Noor Syazwani Md Amin, who was terminated from her post in April.
Sophian also claimed that a first-term councillor still had a People’s Housing Programme (PPR) flat in Sungai Pinang despite having an allowance of RM4,000.
The maximum eligible household monthly income for a PPR applicant is RM2,500.
A councillor is entitled up to RM1,200 in allowances for attending meetings and a RM300 mobile phone subsidy.
“How could he still be holding the key to a PPR flat for a RM100 monthly rental? The PPR flats are meant for the poor.
“The councillors are the policy makers in the local government while the PPR flats are under the purview of the council.
“I don’t think the council staff would dare to act against the councillors,” he added.
Sophian hoped the MACC would investigate the matter.
The said councillor could not be reached for comment.
Source: by Tan Sin Chow he Star
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.
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
GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today decided to appoint Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif as the new Penang Island City Council Mayor.
The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) president will replace outgoing Mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail whose contract ends on June 30 this year.
State Local Government, Traffic Management, and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the decision was made by the Exco today.
He thanked Patahiyah for her services to the state government in her various capacities over the years.
“The contract for Maimunah will be for two years beginning July 1 this year and will end on June 30, 2019,” he said in a press conference today.
Maimunah began her career as an officer in the Town Planning Department of the Council in 1995 and was promoted to the director of the same department in 2003.
In 2009 she was tapped to become the George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) general manager before her appointment as Council president in 2011.
The Council presidency will be assumed by Rozali Mohamud who served as the secretary for the municipality.
He will be replaced by Rosnani Mahmod who served as the Urban Services director for the Council previously.
Rozali will be sworn in as the Council president next Monday (June 3) while Maimunah will assume the Mayorship the following day on June 4.
Aaron Ngui email@example.com
THE Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) see 10 new faces among the list of councillors who sworn in Jan 5 and 6 for the 2017 term.State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the lineup for the 24 MBPP and 23 MPSP councillors is effective Jan 1 till Dec 31.
He said three of the five new faces in MBPP are from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), namely writer Khoo Salma Nasution, 53, (Penang Forum), insurance and corporate risk consultant Shung Yin Ni, 31, (Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce) and marketing officer Noor Syazwani Md Amin, 30, (Persatuan Peniaga Melayu Pasar Malam Pulau Pinang).
The other two are senior marketing manager Tan Chiew Choon, 45, and businessman Shahrudin Mohamed Sahriff, 47, both from PKR.
Chiew Choon had served as a councillor before with the MBPP between 2013 and 2015. He was not retained the following term.
The five replace Eric Lim Seng Keat (NGO), Dr Lim Mah Hui (NGO), Mohamed Yusoff Mohamed Noor (NGO), Felix Ooi Keat Hin (PKR) and Shahul Hameed M. K. Mohamed Ishack (PKR).
The 19 councillors who were retained are Goh Choon Keong, Gooi Seong Kin, Grace Teoh Koon Gee, Harvindar Singh, Joseph Ng Soon Siang, D. R. Kala, Chris Lee Chun Kit, Ong Ah Teong, Syerleena Abdul Rashid, Wong Yuee Harng, J. Francis, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, Nur Zarina Zakaria, A. Kumaresan, Ahmad Razaaim Azimi, Ahmad Azrizal Tahir, Mhd Nasir Yahya, Saiful Azwan Abd Malik and Gan Ay Ling.
MPSP also has five new faces including lawyer Thomas Loh Wei Pheng, 33, (DAP), special officer Woo Sze Zeng, 34, (DAP), company director Dr Seow Kweng Tian, 37, (PKR), entrepreneur Fadzil Abdullah, 60, (Amanah) and clerk Hamizah Abdul Manab, 26, (NGO).
They replace Siti Nur Shazreen Mohd Jilani (DAP), Tan Chong Hee (DAP), Goh Choon Aik (PKR), Alias Wan Chek (PKR), Mohd Suzuki Ahmad (Amanah) and Ahmad Tarmizi Abdullah (NGO), whose terms were not extended.
Chow said one more vacancy in the lineup for MPSP will be decided in the next state exco meeting.
The other 18 MPSP councillors are P. David Marshel, Heng Yeh Shiuan, H’ng Mooi Lye, K. Kumar, Mohamad Shaipol Ismail, M. Satees, Tan Chee Teong, Tan Cheong Heng, Zulkifli Ibrahim, Mohd Sharmizan Mohamad Nor, Zaini Awang, Ong Jing Cheng, Anuar Yussoff, Dr Amar Pritpal Abdullah, Shuhada Abdul Rahim, Zulkiply Ishak, Dr Tiun Ling Ta and Wong Chee Keet.
Shung, who is from a corporate background, said she hoped to assist in providing a better environment for business undertakings in Penang.
Shahrudin said the appointment would encourage him to step up efforts to serve the people better.
The Jelutong PKR branch deputy chief said he hoped to take on his role as a councillor more efficiently through various state initiatives and policies.
Dr Seow hopes to resolve issues related to public transportation and community welfare.
He said that he hoped to resolve traffic congestion, plant more trees and maintain cleanliness.
“I hope to be able to introduce more community-based activities as a councillor,” said Dr Seow, who is a PhD holder.
Speaking at a press conference in Komtar yesterday, Chow said the allowances for the councillors would remain at RM2,500 each.
“They are also eligible for allowances for attending meetings up to RM1,200, which is about RM100 for every meeting they attend. There is also a RM300 mobile phone allowance,” he added.
Also present was Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
By Chong Kah YuanIntan Amalina The Star/ANN
MARKETING officer Noor Syazwani Md Amin is eagerly waiting to serve the people as one of Penang Island City Council’s (MBPP) five new councillors.
The 30-year-old, who is with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Penggerak Komuniti Muda Pulau Pinang (Peka), said one of the issues close to her heart is the flood woes in the state.
“I live in the flood-prone Jalan P. Ramlee, so I definitely hope it’s one of the issues that can be solved for the sake of the people.
“There will be the flood mitigation projects which are going to be carried out. So, hopefully I can make use of that for the community, especially those staying in Sungai Pinang, Jelutong and Jalan P. Ramlee,” she said when met after the MBPP councillors’ swearing-in ceremony for the 2017 term at the City Hall in George Town, Penang, yesterday.
Noor Syazwani said her priority is always about placing the people first.
“Helping people excites me.
“Hopefully, I can give my best because I’m still new,” she added.
She is among 24 MBPP councillors, who took their oath at the City Hall yesterday.
Three of the five new faces are from NGOs. They are writer Khoo Salma Nasution, 53, (Penang Forum), insurance and corporate risk consultant Shung Yin Ni, 31, (Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce) and Noor Syazwani.
The other two are senior marketing manager Tan Chiew Choon, 45, and businessman Shahrudin Mohamed Shariff, 47, both from PKR.
Meanwhile, Shung said she hoped to enhance conduciveness of Penang as an excellent business centre with her appointment in the MBPP.
“This is so that when the economy blooms, everyone gets to benefit from it.
“I would also like to emphasise on sustainable development, which does not only mean taking care of the environment but also the needs of the people. Therefore, I hope to find a balance,” she added.
The five replace Eric Lim Seng Keat (NGO), Dr Lim Mah Hui (NGO), Mohamed Yusoff Mohamed Noor (NGO), Felix Ooi Keat Hin (PKR) and Shahul Hameed M.K. Mohamed Ishack (PKR).
The 19 councillors retained are Goh Choon Keong, Gooi Seong Kin, Grace Teoh Koon Gee, Harvindar Singh, Joseph Ng Soon Siang, D.R. Kala, Chris Lee Chun Kit, Ong Ah Teong, Syerleena Abdul Rashid, Wong Yuee Harng, J. Francis, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, Nur Zarina Zakaria, A. Kumaresan, Ahmad Razaaim Azimi, Ahmad Azrizal Tahir, Mhd Nasir Yahya, Saiful Azwan Abd Malik and Gan Ay Ling.
The new MBPP lineup comprises 10 from DAP, eight from PKR, two from Amanah and four from NGOs.
The tenure for the councillors is from Jan 1 until Dec 31.
In her speech, MBPP mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail congratulated all the appointed councillors.
State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the role of a councillor is very extensive.
“Apart from representing the general public and local community, a member of the council is also an intermediate between the community and local authority,” he said in his speech.
Chow also congratulated the council on its success in getting various awards and victories at state, national and international levels.
The achievements include being the Earth City Hour Challenge 2016 finalist.
MBPP also received the Tourism Promotion Organisation for Asia Pacific (TPO) Tourism Industry Leader Award in Tourism Promotion for Asia Pacific Forum 2016.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was also present, said MBPP’s success not only depended solely on a credible and effective management, but also the support, commitment and team work from all councillors, officers and staff.
He said MBPP practised prudent spending and governance based on the principles of CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) that successfully recorded an excellent financial performance with budget surplus in the financial statements for three consecutive years, which is RM47.57mil for 2013, RM177.95mil for 2014 and RM146.04mil for 2015.
“The success of the council in maintaining good financial performance enables efforts to improve the provision of public facilities.
“MBPP will implement several development projects at a cost of RM5.2mil.
“Among the proposed projects to improve the comfort of the people, include the construction of a public market in Batu Ferringhi,” he added.
By Cavina Lim The Star/ANN
GEORGE TOWN: An outspoken author of over a dozen history books is among five new faces appointed as Penang Island City (MBPP) councillors.
Khoo Salma Nasution represents Penang Forum and is taking over from her equally vocal counterpart Dr Lim Mah Hui, who opted out of being re-appointed this year after serving six terms.
Penang Forum is a loose coalition of non-political civil society groups, often critical of the state government’s plans and policies.
The city’s councillors are appointed yearly and comprise a small number of NGO representatives, including one from Penang Forum.
During his term, Dr Lim vociferously highlighted governance issues to the point of incurring the annoyance of the state administration.
Khoo planned to keep public pressure on MBPP and wished that more seats were allotted to NGOs.
She is eager to see what committees are in the council and hoped to play a role especially in fostering sustainable development, transport planning, environmental issues and heritage conservation.
“I feel there is not enough awareness on these. I want to see what I can do about making people more conscious of them, not just individuals but at an institutional level,” she said.
The former journalist of The Star who did a 20-year research into Penang’s history and development to write her books, believes that the council needs environmental goals and key performance indicators to monitor Penang’s green progress.
“We need to collect more information about how Penang is doing to track our environmental and heritage conservation efforts,” she said.
Khoo was in Komtar yesterday when Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and state exco member Chow Kon Yeow announced the appointments of the new councillors.
Dr Lim said he was glad that the state government accepted Penang Forum’s nomination of Khoo.
“Her decades of study on Penang’s growth will help the council manage development while preserving our cultural and heritage values,” he said.
Dr Lim added that he declined his re-appointment because he felt “the change in Penang that we want doesn’t seem to be happening”.
Other new faces are Tan Chiew Choon (PKR), Shahrudin Mohamed Sahriff (PKR), Shung Yin Ni (NGO) and Noor Syazwani Mohd Amin (NGO).
THERE are three levels of government in most countries – a federal government, state government and local authorities.
Although Malaysia is generally seen as a democratic country, only the federal government and the state governments are elected.
In other words, members of parliament are elected and they elect the prime minister. State assemblymen are also elected and they in turn elect the mentris besar or chief ministers.
However, the local authorities are not elected. The mayors or presidents and councillors are appointed by the state government.
It is time to bring back elected local governments.
There were elected local governments in the past. As early as 1951, when Malaya was a colony of England, elections were held to elect councillors in George Town.
For example, Goh Guan Hoe, more popularly known as G. H. Goh, a lawyer and an MCA leader, was chosen as the president of George Town in 1956. Although he was often addressed as “mayor”, technically, he was the president of the municipality.
George Town was declared a city by Queen Elizabeth II on Jan 1, 1957. By that time, the Labour Party was in control of the municipality and D. S. Ramanathan, a leader of the Labour Party, was elected as the first mayor of George Town.
Since then, local government in Penang Island has gone through considerable changes. Local government elections were suspended in the 1960s. The reason given by the federal government was Indonesia’s declaration of “Ganyang Malaysia”.
The City Council of George Town was amalgamated with the rest of the island to form a municipality of Penang Island. The local authority of the island became a municipality.
Since then, the president and councillors have been appointed by the state government. It is fair to believe that the appointments were the prerogative of the chief minister of Penang.
There has been a tendency to appoint government officers as mayors or presidents of the local authorities. For example, the mayor and president of Penang Island and Seberang Perai were government officers.
There are good reasons for appointing senior government officers largely because they have the experience and expertise in the working of the local authorities.
On the other hand, this practice is not ideal. Senior government officers have been trained to abide by the General Orders and are expected to look to the chief minister or mentri besar as their superior.
Hence they tend to implement what their superior officers want. Since they have been appointed by the chief minister or mentri besar, it is difficult for them to ignore his preferences.
There were days when presidents of local councils were appointed from among the politicians of the ruling party. For example, the president of Penang Island Municipal Council, Tan Gim Hua, was a leader of Gerakan.
Unfortunately, there have been no books written about the days of Penang Island Municipal Council when Tan was the president of the Penang Island Municipality.
It is not necessary to appoint only government officers as mayors or presidents of the local authorities. Hopefully, in the near future, chief ministers or mentris besar will take the trouble to appoint other prominent personalities to be local council presidents or mayors.
Better still, the federal government should review the Local Government Act. It has been long overdue to bring back local government elections.
Meanwhile, it may be interesting if the Penang state government appoints non-government officers to be the heads of local councils.
For instance, Dr Lim Mah Hui is a good example. He has just announced that he would resign as a councillor of the Penang Island City Council. He is a suitable person to be appointed a mayor of Penang Island.
He is familiar with Penang Island as he was a lecturer in Universiti Sains Malaysia and was a local councillor in Penang Island for six years. He spent a considerable amount of time in the disbursement of funds at international level.
Although he is rich enough to buy an expensive car to go around Penang Island, he has made good use of a bicycle as a mode of transport.
Being vocal and full of ideas, it will be interesting and good for the residents of the city to appoint Dr Lim as the mayor of the island.
By Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee who is interested in urban planning, housing and urban governance. He is also a friend of Dr Lim. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org