Sunday, 22 October 2017

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


https://youtu.be/QB45Q2_mOG0
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.
https://youtu.be/yqtdkBsipCU

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

Related Links:

www.thestar.com.my/.../tanjung-bungah-landslide-penang-forum-highlighted-cases/
GEORGE TOWN: Landslides at hill slope projects in Tanjung Bungah have been highlighted to the state government since early this year, ..

Will fatal landslide spur state to protect hills?
Groups call for RCI to investigate tragedy
Missing supervisor transferred recently
DOSH and construction board to probe cause of landslide
Three bodies pulled out, 11 workers still buried in rubble

 

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



https://youtu.be/znzduuH8Soc

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

Related 

Sixth body pulled out from Penang landslide heap



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Friday, 20 October 2017

Datuk Shafie Apdal nabbed in MACC investigation




4

https://youtu.be/ivoRTxcYPIQ


KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has been arrested, a day before his 60th birthday and after nearly four hours of questioning by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Shafie, who was arrested at 9pm yesterday, is expected to be taken to the Kota Kinabalu High Court to be remanded today. MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrest.

The Parti Warisan Sabah president arrived at the MACC office at about 5.15pm yesterday, after flying in from Kuala Lumpur, to be questioned over projects implemented during his watch as Rural and Regional Development Minister between 2009 and 2015.

In a white shirt, Shafie Apdal was accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Shuryani Shuaib; Warisan vice-president Datuk Peter Anthony who was detained earlier and released on bail; and their lawyers Martin Tommy and Loretto Padua.

Before he left for the MACC office, Shafie told reporters at his Taman Gold View home: “We are willing to facilitate and when they called me, I flew back from Kuala Lumpur.

“It's a process of law and we need to give our cooperation. We are not going to obstruct and I know that MACC is just doing its job.”

He also said that he was saddened by the detention of his two siblings – Hamid and Yusof – in the investigation but reiterated that MACC was just doing its job.

Urging his supporters to remain calm and to continue the party’s work, Shafie and a relative led a short prayer before heading to the MACC office.

Earlier, a crowd of supporters gathered at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport to greet him.

Later, Shafie was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for overnight observation for having high blood pressure, said his lawyer and Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking.

MACC has so far arrested 10 people, including Shafie’s brothers, his nephew Warisan Youth chief Azis Jamman, Peter, Tenom Umno Youth chief Jamawi Jaafar and his Tawau counterpart Ariffin Kassim, Warisan media representative Armarjit Singh, Hamid’s son-in-law Manzur Hussein Awal Khan, a 52-year-old local contractor and a 40-year-old senior civil servant in Putrajaya, over the case.

Hamid, who was warded at Damai Specialist Hospital for health problems since Sunday has been released on MACC bail.

Magistrate Stephanie Sherron Abbie, granted Hamid bail at RM50,000 in two sureties.

MACC prosecuting officer Mohd Faliq Basirudin said Hamid’s remand was supposed to only end today but he was released earlier because the investigation on him was complete.

Stephanie went to Gleneagles Hospital later, for the release of Manzur, 37, who is also warded over health issues.

He was granted bail at RM30,000 in two sureties and ordered to report once a month to the MACC office.

Yusof is still in MACC custody.

 Source: by stephanie leeruben sario The Star


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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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Monday, 16 October 2017

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


https://youtu.be/n2vO-nsZxkY

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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Friday, 13 October 2017

China top paper warns officials against 'spiritual anaesthesia', the root of corruptions

The founder of modern China chairman Mao Zedong. 

BEIJING: China’s top newspaper warned Communist Party officials not to “pray to God and worship Buddha”, because communism is about atheism and superstition is at the root of many corrupt officials who fall from grace.

China officially guarantees freedom of religion for major belief systems like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, but party members are meant to be atheists and are especially banned from participating in what China calls superstitious practices like visiting soothsayers.

The party’s official People’s Daily yesterday said in a commentary it had not been uncommon over the past few years to see officials taken down for corruption to have also participated in “feudalistic superstitious activities”.

“In fact, some officials often go to monasteries, pray to God and worship Buddha,” it said.

“Some officials are obsessed with rubbing shoulders with masters, fraternising with them as brothers and becoming their lackeys and their money-trees.”

Chinese people, especially the country’s leaders, have a long tradition of putting their faith in soothsaying and geomancy, looking for answers in times of doubt, need and chaos.

The practice has grown more risky amid a sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption launched by President Xi Jinping upon assuming power in late 2012, in which dozens of senior officials have been imprisoned.

The People’s Daily pointed to the example of Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party chief in Sichuan who was jailed for 13 years in 2015 for bribery and abuse of power, who it said was an enthusiastic user of the traditional Chinese geomancy practice of feng shui.

“As an official, if you spend all your time fixating on crooked ways, sooner or later you’ll come to grief,” it said.

The People’s Daily said officials must remember Marx’s guiding words that “Communism begins from the outset with atheism”.

“Superstition is thought pollution and spiritual anaesthesia that cannot be underestimated and must be thoroughly purged,” it said. — Reuters


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