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Sunday, May 16. 2010
Some good news on the conservation front, the Kedah State Government has agreed to establish three new protected areas in the state. 26,000ha in Langkawi with half being limestone areas and 27,000ha in Ulu Muda hopefully including the newly discovered limestone hill there. The other area is Gunung Jerai and surrounding areas which is also significant although there is no limestone there. The MKS will write a letter praising the State Government for taking this bold action.
The MKS, with our partners in the Friends of Ulu Muda II coalition was also involved in a media trip to Ulu Muda in August to help raise awareness of the area. We were involved in guiding the press through the caves of Bukit Labu. Several articles and several 10min clips over 5 days have already appeared in the media. More will be out over the next few months.
MKS will also be leading a project with other concerned organizations to highlight the plight of the Kinta Valley limestone with the formation of the Friends of Kinta Valley Limestone (FKVL.) It is at a very early stage and we hope to have this coalition formed by the first quarter of 2010.
We will also be organizing several day trips to Baling in Kedah in November and December. Please check the back page of this newsletter for the details
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I sincerely hope that all members will continue with their commitment to preserve our majestic limestone and renew their subscription to the society. May the year 2010 bring happiness and joy to all friends of nature!
Friday, May 14. 2010
MKS has many activities planned for 2010. We just had our trip to Gua Kandu successfully conducted with over 20 participants. Most were new members which helped to increase membership numbers. More will be planned.
The first Friends of Kinta Valley Limestone (FKVL) was held in January 2010. To date, this loose coalition of NGOs is 7 strong and increasing. The NGOs agreeing to be part of FKVL includes WWF Malaysia and Sahabat Alam Malaysia. We hope to have a joint public statement prepared and published soon. A Facebook page has been created to garner support too. Search for Malaysian Karst Society at Facebook.com
Discussions were held with two prominent partners from Government to join us in establishing the Cave and Karst Database. With their support and assistance, we hope to see this project move towards implementation in the near future. Much work still needs to be done.
MKS has also engaged with the Perak State Government on the preservation and proper management of two of the states most neglected heritage sites. These are the Tambun Rock Art and the Gua Naga Mas Fossil. The reaction from the state has been very encouraging and we hope to move forward in this project towards an acceptable solution. Our hope is these sites are secured and managed for future generations.
The projects that MKS has been embarking on and the organizing of trips all needs to help of volunteers. That is why MKS is in need of more members who not only want to show support but we hope some would come forward to contribute their time. At the moment MKS is relying on a very small group of members to function. Therefore, please spread the word around and encourage friends and relatives to be members of MKS and be as active as possible. MKS needs your help. I hope to see you at our next function or activity.
Thank you.Hymeir Kamarudin,
Sunday, July 19. 2009
There is a need to get more members and the MKS committee has decided to increase the numbers of trips to attract more people to join and stay with MKS. At the same time, the objective of the trips are to help raise awareness among members and non-members regarding the importance of our cave and karst. We hope to have at least four trips a year to this end.
The International Union of Speleology (UIS) will be deciding at the International Speleological Congress 2009 (held every 4 years) whether to approve Malaysia's application to be a country member. If agreed at this Congress held in July in Texas, USA, Malaysia will join the more than 60 countries currently represented in the UIS. Membership in the UIS will allow Malaysia to benefit from and share the vast knowledge and experience of the other UIS members. It will be particularly helpful in our efforts to establish a database and introducing management initiatives.
The Gunung Jebak Puyuh quarrying project at Jengka Pahang that will result in the total loss of a large and biologically important limestone hill to produce cement is now at the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) stage. The project proponent, YTL Cement is now preparing the DEIA while several NGOs including MKS is working hard to try to stop this project. An article was recently published in The Star (June 22, 2009) written by yours truly.
The Perak State Government's announcement recently to move quarries (NST 3 July) is a positive move. MKS wrote a letter to the editor (published NST 7 July) in response and urged the state to not just move the quarries but to consider underground mining.
All the above articles are reproduced elsewhere in this newsletter.
MKS is also a member of the Friends of Ulu Muda II established by a group of NGOs to promote the protection of the Ulu Muda area. See www.saveulumuda.wordpress.com for more information. MKS is involved because there is a newly discovered limestone area previously not known to science in Ulu Muda. Otherwise the area is a large contiguous forest of 160,000ha along Kedah's eastern borders with Thailand. Between 22-24 July, FOUM II is organising a press trip there to help raise awareness of the area to the Malaysian and international community. This trip is being funded by DANIDA.
There is still a lot that need to be done to ensure we have caves and karst areas in the future. Most of the committee members are volunteers and it sometimes takes time to respond to member's needs and to implement projects. Members with extra time and who want to volunteer are encouraged to step forward and help. The committee will be eternally grateful! I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Muslim members Selamat Hari Raya. Thanks.
Wednesday, February 25. 2009
Dear Fellow members,
Two years has passed since this committee took office. What have we got to show for the two years? First I have to say that there were several situations that were unexpected which made running the society very difficult. This contributed to the lack of funds and thus the need to cut back on expenses. Not having a full time staff helping to run the society put a lot of pressure on the committee. We all have our own rice bowl to think about thus made it difficult to find time for the society. Thankfully, we all persevered and managed to keep the society going. My thanks to all the committee members.
On the bright side, we managed to organize several trips to caving areas in Malaysia. This include the trips to Gunung Senyum Recreational Forest (at Jengka, Pahang), the Caves of the Chuping Hills (Perlis), Gua Kelawar and Gua Anak Tempurung (Perak). This will continue in the foreseeable future.
Our main project which is the National Cave and Karst Database Project is now being promoted among relevant government agencies to get their support and cooperation. As natural resources are managed by either State or Federal Governments, it is imperative to get work in partnership with them. The harder part is to obtain funding for the project.
Malaysia has been working in isolation of the formal world speleological community. In their recent delegates meeting last September, the International Union of Speleology ( its French acronym UIS) has agreed to table Malaysia's request to be a country member of the UIS. Malaysia's application will be tabled at the next UIS Congress in July 2009 for final approval. In early 2008, MKS made a formal application for Malaysia to be a Country Member of the UIS. The UIS is equivalent to the United Nations among the speleological community. It is hoped that Malaysia would be in the mainstream of Speleological research and management through its UIS membership.
On this note, MKS will strive to make this society the main mouth piece for speleology in the country and in turn attract more and more organizations and individuals as members of MKS. MKS is a membership organization and it is the members that will take it forward.
Lastly, I would like to urge all current members to help increase the society's membership. Thank you.
Saturday, September 20. 2008
Dear Fellow Members
Much as happened over the last few months. Gunung Jebak Puyuh, within the Gunung Senyum Recreational Forest in Jengka Pahang is being threatened by quarrying. MKS organised a quick trip there to visit the hill with TV3 in late August. As a result two very good reports appeared on the TV3 news over two days. An article on Jebak Puyuh with a side bar comments by MKS appeared in The Star newspaper in early August. We hope another article will appear soon on this.
The project proponent, YTL Cement is currently in the midst of putting together the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) required by the Pahang Department of Environment (DOE). MKS hope to be involved in the process of approving the DEIA. Fortunately, a DEIA will be made available for public comments so anybody can submit comments. We will get a copy of this document and will make it available to any interested parties. Thus far, theres has not been any positive response from YTL Cement to our letter although a short none committal email reply was received by MKS. MKS will continue to follow and take all reasonable action to try to stop the destruction of this valuable hill.
A visit to the recently discovered limestone in Ulu Muda Forest Reserve in Kedah was made in early August. An article on this trip appeared in the 5th September issue of the New Sunday Times.
In late August just before the start of the fasting month, a Single Rope Technic (SRT) basic training was held in Penang. A total of about 8 persons attended this training. Most were from Penang and 2 came all the way from Ipoh. There were interest from people from even Singapore and KL but they had to drop out but promised to try to attend the next session. More training will be held in the near future. Watch out for the announcement. If you are interested, do contact me directly.
Lastly, the proposal for what we think is MKS' main project is ready. This project, The Establishment of a Cave and Karst Database for Malaysia, will help put MKS as THE organisation to contact for any information on caves and karst in Malaysia. We plan to collect data from secondary sources and from the field over an initial five year project period. After five years, it will be a matter of constantly updating the data. The database will help us indentify gaps in research and thus will spawn follow-up projects for many years to come. We hope to start seeking funds for this very important project soon.
There are many projects that MKS would like to do. All requires money and time. As you can see, there is much to do and MKS could use having more people volunteering their time to “get things done”. Let us know if you have the time to help conserve and better manage our caves and karst resources.
Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to wish our members, Selamat Hari Raya, Happy Deepavali, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Saturday, August 2. 2008
Dear Fellow Members
The MKS 6th AGM was held a few weeks ago marking one year since this Committee was elected into office. This may be a good time to reflect on the last year and also to think about the future of MKS.
In the past one year, MKS has been able to gain some recognition, at least among its fellow environmental NGOs when it was accepted as a member of MENGO or the Malaysian Environmental Non Governmental Organization. Membership in MENGO allows MKS to network and cooperate with other environmental NGOs for mutual benefit. An advantage for a small young organization like MKS.
The past Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Dato Seri Azmi Khalid was also introduced to MKS when yours truly met the Minister at his office in Putrajaya. We discussed several projects of national interest, specifically the Cave and Karst Database Project, the Kinta Valley Project and the Wang Mu Streamway Expedition. The latter project was brought up as it is located in the Minister's home state of Perlis. I also took the opportunity to introduce MKS to him. He indicated that his Ministry would be very supportive of our work and promised to assist us in any way possible. He mentioned that he may not be the Minister after the election but promised to help in his personal capacity.
The formation of the MKS Technical Advisory Group (TAG) with 8 members occurred last year. Currently with 8 members and the President as the Coordinator, it had its first meeting last year. It is hoped that TAG can help strengthen MKS's technical capacity.
Another group of limestone hills is threatened by quarrying. This time its Gunung Senyum and Gunung Jabak Puyuh at the Jengka Triangle in Pahang (see the Trips Section if you'd like to visit these two hills). MKS with support from other fellow Malaysian conservation organizations wrote to YTL's CEO to record our objection to this plan. We have not heard from YTL although they said that Tan Sri Francis Yeoh has read the letter.
As for the immediate future, MKS will be taking advantage of the change in governments in several states particularly Perak where we hope to engage with the State Government especially regarding the ongoing rampant quarrying activities that is resulting in the destruction of Ipoh's scenic limestone hills.
We also hope to obtain new funding sources to diversify MKS's income. This is very important as we are already 5 years old and it is really time start ensuring the long term sustainability of our society well into the future. To this end, several projects will be actively marketed for funding.
It goes without saying that there is much to be done with the limited resources available to MKS. This society is crucial to the future of Malaysian Cave and Karst and we are hopeful that MKS will eventually play an important role in the conservation, better management and increased awareness of the importance of our cave and karst.
Monday, June 30. 2008
Dear Fellow Members,
By the time you receive this newsletter, representatives of MKS would have met the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Dato’ Sri Azmi Khalid at his office at Putrajaya. This is by far the most senior government official that MKS has had the privilege to meet. Apart from introducing MKS to the Minister, we hope to enlighten him on why it is crucial that Malaysia’s Caves and Karst be properly managed and conserved. At the moment limestone is not even accorded the same status as other important biomes like for example wetlands. This is all down to lack of awareness. We hope the Minister can help us in that regard.
We will also be telling him of our main project, the Establishment of a Cave and Karst Database and we hope to get both moral and financial support from the ministry as this project is of national importance. Fortunately, Dato’ Sri hails from Perlis where Limestone makes up a large part of the local landscape.
There is a real need to form a core group of people from among the MKS membership who are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skill to conduct proper exploration and survey (mapping) of caves. With the establishment of the Cave and Karst Database, we need to have volunteers going out into the field to help get the necessary information. Among the most important things about this data collection is making sure that the data being collected are correct and accurate while ensuring the caves and karst areas are minimally impacted.
The Wang Mu Streamway Expedition is going ahead as scheduled from 25 – 29 February 2008 as we just got permission from the Perlis State Park authorities. However, they have indicated that they won’t be providing any funds for this expedition. Nevertheless, we are still hopeful at obtaining some funds from other sources.
If you need any information pertaining any of the matters mentioned above, please feel free to contact our office.
Monday, June 30. 2008
Dear Fellow Members,
There has been many changes in the MKS over the past few months. Our long time office staff, Ghee Hong, has left us and now our new Executive Officer is Jasmin Saw. The office layout has been changed to reflect this change too. Over the last few months, we have seen the post of Secretary falling vacant twice. Our elected Secretary Kenny had to resign and was replaced by Dr Loo who subsequently had to resign too. Thankfully, now Robert has accepted the post of Secretary. We have a full team again and is rearing to move forward again.
The society has two new projects. One is the preservation and management of the Tambun Rock Drawings. These ancient works of art has been neglected for far too long and the society wants to take positive action with all relevent parties to see to their preservation. This national heritage deserves to be taken care of. At the same time, we hope that they can become a major tourist attraction for Perak and specifically for Ipoh.
The other project involves the exploration and mapping of a cave system called the Wang Mu Streamway located within the Perlis State Park. This cave system has been surveyed to a length of 1.9km long and this project intends to try to push several unexplored leads with the hope of making this system the longest in Peninsular Malaysia. To achieve this, this project has to explore and map at least another 1.8km of passages. This cave system is another important national heritage as it is among the many natural caves in Perlis that was previously mined for tin. This activity is unique to Perlis as no where else in the world was tin mined so extensively in natural caves. This expedition will be held during the coming Perlis dry season between December and March.
The society will be starting the Cave and Karst Database project very soon and will be needing volunteers to help with the collection of data. We are hoping to get funding for this project but nevertheless, we are confident we can start on a small scale before the end of this year. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Muslim friends Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. To our Hindu friends Happy Deepavali. I hope to see you all involved in our society. See you next time!
Monday, June 30. 2008
Dear Fellow Members,
First and foremost, on behalf of MKS, a big Thank you to our past president Mr Philip Leong and his committee members over the last four years who has worked tirelessly to get MKS to its current position. In that time, MKS under Philip has been able to build up a good base for the future. It is now time for MKS to play a more prominent role in the conservation and management of Malaysia’s cave and karst resources.
The new Executive Committee has met three times now and we have been able to put together a program that we feel will help MKS achieve this. The components of the program is summarized below.
MKS has to be a scientific and information based organization. This means MKS must establish itself as THE source of information and expertise in our field. We have to gather, store and use this information to achieve our goals. Where needed, we may have to establish field projects to gather primary information. With this information and expertise, we have to position MKS as THE organization when it comes to caves and karst in Malaysia. We hope that MKS will then be able to earn the credibility that is needed if we want to be taken seriously and be respected among Malaysia’s cave and karst stakeholders.
MKS has about 120 members at the moment and we intend to increase this to at least 300 members. Although we hope to attract people from all walks of life, we plan to actively recruit members among the scientific and academic fraternity, particularly among those who are active and passionate about cave and karst. We will continue to raise awareness of MKS and its goals. This is be done using all available media and medium necessary. We will continue organizing trips to caves and karst areas to help raise awareness of the society among members and the general public.
We want to be the National representative at International level for Cave and Karst. Malaysia’s karst biodiversity is rich but Malaysia is not formally represented at any international forum at the moment. Locally, MKS will be positioned as the central body that regulates and control all activities related to cave and karst.
We want to diversify MKS’ income source to ensure longer term sustainability of the society. As you can see, we have a lot of work to do in the coming months. To this end we have identified two major projects which we hope to see initiated. Projects needs money which means we need to seek funding for these projects. These are the Kinta Valley Limestone Project and the Establishment of a Malaysian Cave and Karst Database. In a way, the former project would be synergistic with the latter project. Please feel free to contact us if you need any information on these projects or on anything regarding MKS.
Lastly, I would like to appeal to members to contribute in helping MKS achieve our vision. This could be in monetary aid or simply contributing your time. MKS is our society and any help is certainly welcomed. Thank you and hope to see you all soon. Ciao.
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