Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rubbish dumping woes in Laluan Puncak Jelapang left unresolved despite complaints - The Star

May 27, 2015

NUMEROUS complaints to the Ipoh City Council on three illegal dumpsites located at different rows of Laluan Puncak Jelapang have fallen on deaf ears.
Retiree Y.K.Chin said the problem was not new and has been going on for many years, and that each time he called the council, they would assure him that the matter was being looked into.
He said there were no houses situated at Laluan Puncak Jelapang 1, while there was one house each on Laluan Puncak Jelapang 2 and 3.
Chin, who is in his late 70s, said after his recent complaint to the council, he was happy when he saw two workers at the site but that his joy was shortlived because the workers only swept the dried leaves into heaps and left them at the road shoulder.
He said this was a futile exercise because when it rained, coupled with strong winds, the leaves were scattered again.
“However, the heaps of rubbish that include old beds, cupboards, mattresses, broken furniture, bottles and plastics were left untouched.
“The rubbish at the three illegal dumpsites have been accumulated over the years,” he told MetroPerak.
Chin said just last week when he went to take photographs of the dumpsites, he was swamped by mosquitoes, and bitten.
He said the area is very shady, and an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, as well as home to rodents and creepy crawlies.
He claimed snakes have entered his house twice, and the stench from the dumpsites were unbearable, especially when it rained or whenever the wind blew in his direction.
“The site has become so convenient for people to throw their unwanted waste because only two houses are situated there.
“I have caught some people coming in their cars, and lorries as well to dump rubbish at the site.
“I shouted at them, and told them to leave the place before I reported them to the authorities,” he said.
Chin said he hoped the council would do something about the illegal dumpsites, before the area becomes a permanent dumping ground.

Public still ignorant of waste separation rule beginning 1 Sept 2015 - The Malaysian Insider

27 May 2015

Effective September 1, Malaysian households in the states that have adopted the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act 2007 (Act 672) are set to see a whole new dimension in how they will be disposing of their household waste. 

The new approach in solid waste management will be implemented in stages in states and territories that have adopted the Act, namely Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Pahang, Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Perlis and Kedah.
All this while, households and business premises have been discarding recyclables and non-recyclables together, but come September 1 that will no longer be the case.
Instead, recyclable and non-recyclable waste will have to be separated at the point of origin if the waste is to be collected by solid waste management concessionaires. 
And no one living in the states that has agreed to implement the Act will be exempted from the duty of separating recyclable solid waste from non recyclable waste.
Though the Act is seen as an effort to be more environmental friendly, are the people ready for this?
The separation of waste, which is the foundation of the recycling process, has gone through extensive awareness campaigns since it was launched in 1996 and again in 2000.
Yet Malaysians remain in the dark over the new approach with only 10.5% of Malaysians practising recycling of waste.
"What is waste separation? I know nothing about the Act being implemented in September".
"Is it true that action will be taken on home and business owners if they don't separate the waste? It feels like a burden".
"Why there has not been any news on this new regulation? I have no qualms about following the new rule as recycling is already practised in my household".
These are among the responses received by Bernama recently when members of the public were asked on their preparedness to recycle in line with the implementation of the Act.
A random survey on housewives, business owners and passers-by generally indicated that the majority are unaware of the new ruling.
Some of the respondents were stunned, some were shocked and some questioned why there has been little information on the implementation of Act 672.
The owner of a tailoring outlet, KBM Collections, Zulkifli Ismail, 59, said there should be an aggressive publicity blitz through various channels on the new waste collection method, like how it was done for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). 
More needs to be done to create greater awareness on the matter as there are only three months before separating waste is made mandatory.
Surprisingly, though Malaysians are aware of recycling, the level of recycling done in the country is still low when compared with the developed nations, such as Japan and Germany.
A study carried out by the Solid Waste And Public Cleansing Management Corporation (SWCorp) found that public awareness on recycling was relatively high.
"The study conducted in 2009 revealed that 89% of the 55,000 respondents stated that they were aware of 3R practices. Unfortunately, they have not made it a culture," said SWCorp chief executive officer Datuk Ab Rahim Md Noor.
SWCorp is responsible for ensuring an efficient and integrated solid waste management service, as well as providing satisfaction to their consumers.
So where did things go wrong?
Associate Professor Dr Latifah Abd Manaf said various factors restricted the culturalisation of waste separation to the point that it is found unappealing to the society.
This includes recycling facilities in non-strategic areas, said the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Environmental Studies lecturer.
"The recycling bins are usually located in shopping malls and venues not near to housing areas. It is rare to see such bins in housing areas," she said.
This may prove to be a hassle for many, but she also said that the lack of awareness on the implementation of the Act could also be due to people's indifference towards cleanliness.
Meanwhile, Ab Rahim said having a third-world mentality also contributed to the problem.
As the head of SWCorp, he is set work with his employees to tackle the poor attitude that most Malaysians have regarding cleanliness.
"SWCorp has taken efforts to ensure cleanliness, however, the efforts have yet to yield results because the public mindset has not changed," Ab Rahim said.
Though reality is a bitter pill to swallow, it is hard to escape the fact that the community is still bound to a culture that does not care about environmental conservation.
Their mentality is that cleaning the filth is the sole responsibility of the authorities, though they should realise that as the biggest contributors of waste, the public should play a role in green initiatives.
Not only is the level of recycling low, but some show no shame in littering and polluting public areas.
"They think that it is all right because someone is paid to clean up the mess," said 61-year-old Fatimah Kolop who has worked 20 years as a cleaner.
She agreed that there were still many Malaysians who could not care less about cleanliness.
"There are times when I just finished sweeping, only to find trash piled up at the stairs shortly after. They only want their homes clean but they don't care about the area around them and this exposes them to diseases," she added.
Leptospirosis and dengue are among diseases that thrived in dirty environments, which prove the lack of concern for hygiene and cleanliness among Malaysians.
Maybe it is time for enforcement to be carried out to teach the people to be more responsible in managing the waste they produce.
This is why Act 672 is seen as one of the best methods to discipline the society and instil in them civic consciousness and a first-world mentality.
For this purpose, SWCorp will not only focus on action but will also approach the community through other methods.
This includes organising the Jelajah Mata Hati programme, 3R Marathon and Carnival, as well as interviews on television, radio and newspapers to reach out to the public.
Ab Rahim added that they would also embark on more aggressive publicity efforts.
The Mind Transformation Plan Towards a Clean and Beautiful Nation 2015-2020 was recently launched in view of how serious the cleanliness problem had become.
Six objectives and 24 strategies were outlined in the comprehensive plan to shape the people into making cleanliness a part of their culture.
This includes introducing the C4E strategy which stands for communicate, educate, engage, enforce and empower.
Notices will be issued to those who fail to separate their waste in the first three months after the Act is implemented, but action will be taken if they still refuse to do so as required under Act 672. – Bernama, May 27, 2015.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Making Ipoh A Liveable City - Ipoh Echo

16 May 2015

By Dr. Richard Ng

In April 2014, the US News ranked Ipoh as one of the nine best places to retire in the world. It also ranked Ipoh as the world’s third most affordable city after Hanoi and Chiang Mai. As President of Ipoh City Watch (ICW), I am most delighted to hear this flattering news coming from an established paper which is a recognised leader in preparing ranking for colleges, graduate schools, hospitals, mutual funds and cars.
The criteria used include the quality of fresh air, clean water, and relaxing lifestyles that help improve life quality and promote longevity. Ipoh is a small city with a population slightly over 700,000, not an overly crowded city with skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. The locals here speak English and are friendly, which makes it attractive for foreigners to stay.

However, that does not automatically make Ipoh the most liveable city in Malaysia, especially among Ipohites and Malaysians. The word “liveable” is very subjective and difficult to define. Not even a single publication can define accurately what liveable means. It varies from one city to another. It is about how people perceives a city as liveable.
The Economist rates 140 cities throughout the world. It includes 30 quantitative and qualitative factors across five broad categories namely, stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Melbourne has been declared as the most liveable city in the world. What makes Melbourne the most liveable city? Dr David Burney, the Commissioner of New York’s Department of Design and Construction, says liveability is about both hard and soft infrastructure; power, water, waste management, transport and adequate shelter, but also soft infrastructure elements, such as education, housing, the crime rate and the likes. “Soft infrastructure defines the modern liveable city,” he says.

Associate Professor Carolyn Whitzman of Melbourne University defines liveable as a place with affordable and appropriate housing, with easy access to jobs, mobility options and adequate services. She added that the concept comes from the 20-minute neighbourhood in Oregon USA where appropriate services and jobs can be reached by walking, cycling or taking public transport for a maximum of 20 minutes. By that criterion, Melbourne will be divided into inner city and suburb; where jobs and services are good but there is no cheap housing in the inner city and there are slightly more affordable housing but not near jobs and services.
Ipoh can become the most liveable city in Malaysia. And ICW can help make that happen with the full cooperation of the local government, other government agencies and of course the people of Ipoh. We will focus on the cleanliness, safety and health, good transportation system including public transport system and roads, availability of jobs and business opportunities, gender sensitivity, making cost of living affordable and a haven for food.

Ipoh City Watch is currently embarking on a Community Recycling Project in collaboration with Rukun Tetangga Jelapang and Perak SWCorp to educate and explain to the public on the importance of recycling so as to reduce illegal dumping.
The project, launched on April 4, has started to bear fruit when after 6 weeks or 3 collections, a total of 956kg recyclables have been collected and salvaged from dumping grounds. This is 15.3% of the total estimated garbage of 6250kg produced by the residents. The national rate for recycling is at 11% at the moment.
We will continue to engage the general public and government agencies to ensure we achieve our mission of making Ipoh as the most liveable city in Malaysia. We stand by our slogan ‘Our Community, Our Responsibility’.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

ICW organize the first Heritage Walk to educate Ipohites the rich history of Ipoh

By Mr. G. Ram Naidu

Heritage is more than simply the things we preserve from the past and, Ipoh, especially old town is rich in its own heritage.  Almost every other building and street has its own history to tell.  A random check revealed that tourists and outstation visitors are more keen to discover our city’s heritage compared to the Ipohites.

Ipoh City Watch (ICW) President Dr. Richard Ng decided to change this perception by giving youths in Ipoh an opportunity to know the city’s historical past which would invariably make them love their city even more.  Thus ICW organised its inaugural heritage trail on 11.04.15 with the participation of 50 students from Cosmopoint college.  

 “Ipoh City is our Responsibility, its youths are the future leaders and what better way than this to inculcate the love of the past” said Mr. G. Ram Naidu who is ICW’s organising chairman for the event.

 “Our objective besides the above is also to inculcate a sense of belonging among the youths to ensure they understand the importance of the history  of Ipoh.   We hope they can share the experience to their friends both within and outside Ipoh and perhaps to the world.  This is very much in line with our objective of making Ipoh the most liveable city in Malaysia.  Many challenging events for youths are also in the pipeline”  he added. 

The World’s 9 Most Affordable Places to Retire - US News

By  April 16, 2014

These cities boast a low cost of living, a foreigner-friendly vibe and plenty of retirement amenities.

One of the greatest advantages of retiring overseas can be a dramatically reduced cost of living. Indeed, if your retirement budget is modest, your best options for enjoying a rich, full, comfortable retirement are not, I would argue, to be found in the U.S. … but elsewhere.
If your nest egg is small, but you don’t want to give up on the retirement lifestyle you’ve spent your entire working life dreaming about (who does?), here are nine places worth a close look.
Nha Trang, Vietnam
Monthly budget: $650
All things considered, Nha Trang, Vietnam, has one of the lowest costs of living of any city in Southeast Asia or the world.
The city has been actively welcoming westerners to its shores since the 1920s and has a foreigner-friendly vibe that helps even nervous new expats feel comfortable. Life here can be as adventurous or as laid-back as you like. The beach, the ocean and the bay all offer water diversion, and the mountains and rural landscapes invite exploration.
English is widely spoken and understood, and the locals are gracious, industrious, curious and friendly. The food is delicious and varied, and the weather is comfortable year-round without extreme variations.
Local doctors can treat uncomplicated ailments at a cost of about $10 a visit. There’s also a modern hospital here, opened in 2010, that receives strong reviews from expats and is similarly affordable. Dental care is good and affordable by any standard. A cleaning or filling runs about $5.
Chiang Rai, Thailand
Monthly budget: $750
With a population of fewer than 100,000, Chiang Rai offers an intimacy that cannot be found in a large city. Although there are internationally accredited hospitals here, as well as some large shopping complexes just outside the city center, a small-town ambience prevails.
Chiang Rai is in a natural setting. Thick, cool forests, majestic waterfalls, elephant camps, hot springs and some of the most diverse hill-tribe villages in the world are located just a short distance outside the city.
Most expats move to Chiang Rai after living in Chiang Mai. Here they tout the cleaner air, lighter traffic, friendlier population and lower cost of living. And unlike better-known Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is not overrun by tourists and expats.  
Chiang Rai has largely escaped the breakneck pace of “development at any cost” prevalent in much of Southeast Asia. Rental prices are extremely low, and you get a lot of house for your money.
Ipoh, Malaysia
Monthly budget: $897

Ipoh is an increasingly popular retirement haven among Malaysians, who claim its fresh air, clean water and relaxing lifestyle not only improve the quality of life but also promote longevity. Foreign retirees are beginning to take note.
Despite having a population of more than half a million, Ipoh feels like a small town. You can expect first-world health care and a modern infrastructure but no overcrowded city center packed with skyscrapers and high-rises. Friendly locals speak English, making it easy to assimilate, and lenient immigration policies make Malaysia an easy country to live in full or part time.
Dumaguete, Philippines
Monthly budget: $1,000
In addition to its welcoming, friendly, English-speaking people, Dumaguete boasts a warm, tropical climate and lots of opportunity for outdoor adventures, including world-class diving and snorkeling and whale and dolphin watching.
Dumaguete sits right along the ocean, with attractive beaches to the north and south of town. This is also a university city, meaning an abundance of inexpensive restaurants that cater to “starving” college students. Foreigners have the opportunity to make friends with educated professors and aspiring students, take classes and enjoy cultural opportunities not typically found elsewhere in the Philippines, including theater, ballet, art shows and libraries.
Medical and dental care is good, with a new hospital under construction and international-standard health care available in nearby Cebu.
The Americas
Cayo, Belize
Monthly budget: $1,100
Despite the growing numbers of expats here, the real estate market in Cayo, for sales and especially rentals, is still priced for Belizeans, which helps keep the cost of living very low.
Belize is a retirement, tax and offshore haven. A place of stunning landscapes and abundant natural resources, this is a sunny country where the folks speak English and value their freedom and privacy. On the other hand, this is a small country where the infrastructure is most kindly described as “developing.” 
Loja, Ecuador
Monthly budget: $1,100
Ecuador has acquired a reputation as one of the best options in the world for retirees on a budget, but little Loja is still off the world’s radar. In Loja, you’ll experience life in the real Ecuador, off the beaten path.
The climate here is pleasant, the health care great and the people friendly. Expats who settle in Loja say they enjoy becoming a part of the local community.
If you want to live among other expats or you’re not interested in learning another language, Loja isn’t for you. However, if you’re up for an adventure, this charming town has a great deal to offer.
Granada, Nicaragua
Monthly budget: $1,300
With two long coastlines, two big lakes, volcanoes, highlands, rain forests and rivers, geographically, Nicaragua has it all. And it’s all less discovered and more affordable than Nicaragua’s better-known neighbor to the south, Costa Rica.
Granada is the center of foreign retiree interest in this country and home to an established expat retiree community, making it an easy place to settle in. The capital, Managua, is less than 45 minutes away with its international-class Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas, opened in May 2004 and said to be the best private hospital in Central America.
Tralee, Ireland
Monthly budget: $1,500
Other cities and towns in Ireland, Dublin in particular, continue to move in a more European direction. You see the same brands, franchises and shop fronts as in any European city, with little of the town’s own heritage and character shining through.
In Tralee, the majority of people you find working in shops, restaurants, bars and tourist sites are locals. As a result, this town offers a more authentic Emerald Isle experience. And thanks to the recession of recent years, the cost of living and of real estate is temptingly low.
Carcassonne, France
Monthly budget: $1,750
In general, France is not a place to choose if you are hoping to make a massive cut to your cost of living. That said, this area, the “other South of France,” is far more affordable than its flashier counterpart while offering the best of French country living.

Defining Most Livable City

We locals are smugly satisfied every time Melbourne is named the world's most liveable city, but what does that really mean?  What work is going on behind the scenes to make Melbourne 'liveable'?  And how will we retain our liveability crown in the face of growing population pressure and resource challenges? Life-long Melburnian Zoe Nikakis explores the issues.

The idea of ‘liveability’ seems to have been around for a while. Every time an index is released pronouncing Melbourne one of the most liveable cities in the world, its people pat themselves on the back while simultaneously bemoaning the inadequate transport system, the rising cost of living and the expense of housing.

It’s a mystery. Is Melbourne really such a liveable city? How does it compare internationally? What will we need to do in the future to maintain our ‘most ‘liveable’ credentials? What is liveability, anyway?
As part of the University’s third Festival of Ideas, thought leaders from around the world joined local experts to look at these questions.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. It assigns each city a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Festival of Ideas guest Dr David Burney, the Commissioner of New York’s Department of Design and Construction, says liveability is about both hard and soft infrastructure: power, water, waste management, transport and adequate shelter, but also soft infrastructure elements such as education, housing, the crime rate and the like.
“Soft infrastructure defines the modern liveable city,” he says.

Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning Associate Professor Carolyn Whitzman says her favourite definition of liveability comes from the American Association of Retired Persons: that a liveable place has affordable and appropriate housing, with easy access to jobs, mobility options and adequate services.

Professor Rob Adams, Director of City Design for the City of Melbourne, says liveability is about choice and access.
“A city feels liveable if its citizens have choices – the choice to walk instead of drive for example. Walkability is probably one of the basic indicators of a liveable city.”

By all these measures, surely Melbourne is indeed liveable – it is certainly walkable, with functioning hard infrastructure.
There are however, still problems to be addressed.

Associate Professor Whitzman says there is a great concept that comes from Portland (Oregon) in the USA of the 20-minute neighbourhood, where “appropriate services and jobs can be reached by walking, cycling, or taking public transport for a maximum of 20 minutes.”

“By that criterion there is concern Melbourne is becoming two cities: the inner city and suburbs, where jobs and services are good but there isn’t any cheap housing, and out of the city, where there is slightly more affordable housing but it’s not near jobs and services.

And in Melbourne they’re kind of the same thing, Associate Professor Whitzman says, because the biggest job growth in Australia is in education, health and the social services sector.

“If you create local primary schools, bulk billing health centres, and community centres, you’re creating much-needed services as well as jobs.”

Associate Professor Whitzman says projected population growth means we also need to look at how to use our roads more efficiently.

“We’re reaching the point where a car for each family is no longer a viable alternative, because everyone driving around is going to lead to more congestion.”

It’s important that as we think about liveability in the city in future we remember how far the city has come.
Professor Adams says Melbourne’s current high rankings across several liveability indexes is the result of sustained hard work and thought in the past couple of decades about what the city centre should be like.

“We’ve transformed the city from being monofunctional – the Central Business District – to multifunctional, making it a central activities district,” he says.

“Melbourne has been through a process of change. One of the ways we did that was to think about the infrastructure we’ve got and use it differently.

“We’re bringing people to live in the city, transforming and re-using buildings to work with what we’ve got but converting existing buildings into apartments.

“A lot changed in a very short period in terms of the way the city was perceived, became more walkable, had a greater population, became more vibrant.”

We shouldn’t be congratulating ourselves just yet though. Dr Burney says the world is in the midst of one of the most serious public health crises in our history that involves our built environment.

“The relationship between public health and city design has a very long history,” he says.
“In the early 20th century, the important problems were infectious diseases like Tuberculosis and Yellow Fever, which were endemic to cities and were responsible for most of the fatalities. It wasn’t immunisation that fixed it: it was changes to the built environment, the creation of parks and potable water sources, the proper handling of waste, tenement laws that decreased the population density, and zoning changes which brought in light and air.

“In our time, the greatest public health crisis is obesity and its related health problems, like stroke and heart disease. Changes to the built environment could again be the answer to this problem. As architects and planners, we’ve really been part of the problem.

“People are taking in too much energy through food, and have a sedentary lifestyle, which is largely the result of the way we arrange our environment.

“It’s a world epidemic. In the US there are even drive-in pharmacies.

“We need to meet this challenge to promote more physical activity in the built environment by thinking about the ways changes and engaging in Active Design of the built environment to promote health, and making cities more walkable, by providing more parks and playgrounds, also fixes air quality and fuel consumption.
“Improving health is actually improving liveability as well.”< /p>

There are other problems to be dealt with locally. Australia’s population will double in the next 40 to 50 years, and, Professor Adams says, we can’t go on as we have been in terms of infrastructure.
“Globally and in Melbourne, we cannot continue to use the infrastructure, and the processes for procuring that infrastructure, that we have in the past. We don’t have the time,” he says.

“Australian capital cities will retain their high liveability ranking only through the process of transformation, by moving away from the traditional large new build infrastructure projects towards greater utilisation of our existing infrastructure.
“We have to build up, not out.

“We need to set aside our mindsets around infrastructure and ask ourselves, where do we want to build, and where do we not want to build? Where do we want to put infrastructure so it can link to other infrastructure?
“We can now simulate what our environments are going to look like in the future. Design a good street and you’ll get a good city.”

Dr Burney says people are moving to dense urban areas because they’re increasingly recognising the benefits, and can get all the services they need in a more dense and immediate environment.

In Melbourne, there is also a pervasive cultural idea that everyone wants their own house with a patch of grass or garden, as opposed to an apartment: an idea that Professor Whitzman says is no longer true.

“There’s this stereotype that all Melburnians think they need a quarter-acre block, but I don’t necessarily think Melburnians think that any more,” she says.

“The apartments and townhouses in the inner suburbs are selling extremely well, people are voting with their feet and there’s huge, unmet demand for family-friendly multi-household housing such as apartments with courtyards.”
Despite this demand though, Professor Whitzman says it’s important families who live in apartments and townhouses have access to green spaces, be it through green roofs, public gardens, or courtyards, such as you find in other cities around the world.
“There’s no evidence that Melburnians are different from the rest of the world, and no reason we can’t work it out.”
Professor Whitzman says it’s more an issue of practical barriers, public transport, services and infrastructure.
“The planning system hasn’t caught up to reality yet, including Plan Melbourne,” she says.

“Plan Melbourne talks about people moving to active transport, like walking, cycling, public transport, but the vision expressed isn’t really different from the last plan for Melbourne.

“It’s the implementation of this new plan and the infrastructure priorities which are in direct opposition to the vision. There’s a disconnect between the vision of well-connected neighborhoods, stopping sprawl and the implementation strategies.

“In rich and poor countries around the entire world, there are almost no examples of the idea that a new road will solve any congestion problems.”

Read more:

Ipoh ranked among world's best places to retire - The Sun

24 April 2014
PETALING JAYA: It is rather interesting to note that Ipoh has been named as one of the nine best places to retire in the world.
It is also the world's third most affordable, after Vietnam and Thailand.
This was revealed in US News, a recognised leader in college, graduate school, hospital, mutual fund and car rankings.
It said Ipoh is an increasingly popular retirement haven among Malaysians, who claim its fresh air, clean water and relaxing lifestyle not only improves the quality of life but also promotes longevity.
Foreign retirees are beginning to take note.
Despite having a population of more than half a million, Ipoh feels like a small town. You can expect first-world healthcare and a modern infrastructure but no overcrowded city centre packed with skyscrapers and high-rises.
Friendly locals speak English, making it easy to assimilate, and lenient immigration policies make Malaysia an easy country to live in full or part time.