Sunday, July 24, 2016

ICW team up with Lions Club of Perak Silver State, RT Jelapang and Kinta AA to help promote 3R

24 July 2016

Ipoh City Watch (ICW) participated in Ipoh Car Free day for the 5th time today. Over 3,000 people converged at Jln Raja DiHilir (Jln Tambun) in Ipoh since 7 am either to have a brisk walking, jogging, participate in Aerobic session or cycling.

For ICW, our objective has always been to make Ipoh the most liveable city in Malaysia. The recent recognition given by Lonely Planets which declared Ipoh as the only city in Malaysia and 6th city to visit in Asia, has encouraged more people to come forward to help promote cleanliness.

Today, ICW was joined by Lions Club of Perak Silver State, RT Jelapang and Kinta Athletics Association to promote 3R. Over 100 signatures were collected within 2 hours from the public. Apart from that we hold placard with messages to get the public to be responsible and to keep Ipoh clean.

Ipoh City Council mayor, Dato Zamri Man, was one of the participants who have always shown appreciation of what we did. He gave his words of encouragement as he cycled pass our booth which is next to the Japanese Garden.

Tuan Zakuan, Ipoh City Council Secretary and Tuan Zulqarnain Ahmad have also dropped by at our booth to pledge for recycling and to support our good cause.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Action Plans On Recycling - Ipoh Echo

16 Jul 2016

Kuala Lumpur has joined other states namely Selangor, Penang, Perak, Johor and Malacca, to ban the usage of biodegradable containers, especially polystyrene effective January 1, 2017. This does not augur well for the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) who has strongly objected to such a move as it will affect members of the industry.
During a forum on plastics jointly organised by Ipoh City Watch (ICW), MPMA (Perak Branch), Perak SWCorp, Ipoh City Council and Koperasi Alam Hijau Perak Berhad (KOHIJAU) held at a local hotel in Ipoh, Dato’ Rusnah Kassim who officiated the forum, has thrown a challenge to MPMA to prove two things; how plastics can be reduced from going to the landfills, illegal dumpsites and beaches and what solution MPMA can offer to help reduce the impact of plastics on our health and environment. At the moment, the Perak government stood firm on its decision to ban the use of polystyrene and plastic bags effective June 1, 2017.

As one of the four panelists during the forum entitled ‘The Impact of Plastics on the Sustainability of Environment: Should Plastics be banned?’ attended by about 200 participants, I put forward ICW’s points that we support the government’s move in banning the use of polystyrene and plastic bags. I made my points clear that by 2020, if nothing is done by us, Perak will generate 3 billion tonnes of garbage of which 450,000 tonnes or about 15% of the total garbage, come from plastics. As plastics take a few hundred years to degrade, it will have an impact on our environment. Plastics are also made from petroleum which is a non-renewable source of energy.

The general perception of the public is that chemicals used to make plastics can leach into the food after a prolonged used at certain temperatures although there is no concrete evidence to support this at the moment. Moreover, plastics such as polystyrene and plastic bags can be recycled as claimed. However, there is a lack of interest by the public to collect such items as recyclables due to its low resale value.
At the end of the forum, all four panelists concluded that MPMA (Perak Branch) should be given a chance to prove itself by finding a solution to the challenge thrown by Dato’ Rusnah Kassim.
Thus moving forward, ICW, using its recycling unit KOHIJAU has set up the Perak Action Team for a Sustainable Environment (PATSE) in collaboration with MPMA (Perak Branch), Perak SWCorp and Rukun Tetangga Jelapang. The main objective is to come out with action plans which will help educate, engage and excite the people to involve and embrace 3R (Reuse, Reduce & Recycle).
The team will go on a statewide campaign beginning with Kinta District. PATSE will also hold talks in schools and with any organisation keen to participate in the programme.
For further information, kindly visit or Whatsapp 013 533 0989.
Dr Richard Ng
Ipoh City Watch (ICW)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ipoh: City of many attractions - Star Metro Perak

15 July 2016 by Ivan Loh

IPOH’S inclusion into Lonely Planet’s list of top 10 Asian destinations to visit this year is not a fluke.
Indeed, to Ipoh folk, the recognition was fully deserved as the city, with its mix of modernisation from development and olden charm, has vast potential in attracting tourists from all over the globe.
The boom of modern hipster and boutique cafes and the olden-style kopitiams, against the backdrop of rising skyscrapers and colonial buildings – things are as quirky as they are interesting.
Kindergarten clerk Lily Lim, in her 30s, said there were plenty of places to visit, especially in the Old Town part of the city.
“The influx of tourists began in the last four to five years.
“There is so much more to see now, including the popular Yi Lai Hong (Concubine Lane) or Panglima Lane, there are also the Han Chin Soo Pet Soo (Han Chin Villa) exhibition centre, a three-dimensional interactive art funhouse and the recently opened Ho Yan Hor Museum,” she told MetroPerak.
“Apart from these tourist attractions, the food is definitely another thing visitors look forward to when they come here,” she said.
“The ever popular nga choi kai or bean sprout chicken, dim sum, pomelos, tau foo fah (soy bean curd dessert) are some of the well-known items here in Ipoh,” she added.
Lonely Planet has listed Ipoh, the only city from Malaysia, at number six on its inaugural Best in Asia 2016 list, which was topped by Hokkaido (Japan), followed by Shanghai (China), Jeonju (South Korea), Con Dao Islands (Vietnam) and Hong Kong.
Apart from the attractions at Old Town, marketing communications manager Joey Loh said there were other attractions such as the Chinese temples built at limestone hills – Sam Poh Tong, Perak Tong and Kek Lok Tong.
“There are other places near Ipoh that visitors could go to.
“Within travelling distance from Ipoh are white water rafting and eco-tourism destinations in Gopeng, Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah and other nearby attractions,” she said.
Loh also said that the street food offered in Ipoh was cheaper than those found in metropolitan cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
“Street food, cafes, restaurants and fine-dining eateries. We can be called a food paradise now,” she added.
Many netizens too agreed that Ipoh is a nice place to visit.
They commented on The Star Online’s Facebook posting of the article that they were proud that the city was recognised by Lonely Planet.
Cecilia Yap said: “Proud that I’m from Perak, plenty of yummy food, Love Ipoh kacang Putih and all the historical places!”
Mathavi Nadarajah Thevar said: “Macam tak percaya kan? Masa kita pergi banyak tempat yang berpotensi kan. Lagi seronok daripada KL.” (Unbelievable right? When we visited, there were lots of places with potential. More fun than KL.”)
Another social media user, Marcus Kho, said he liked the serenity of the city, which was surrounded by hills.
Meanwhile, Ipoh City Watch president Prof Dr Richard Ng said the announcement by Lonely Planet has put Ipoh on the world map ahead of Visit Perak Year 2017.
“We are definitely proud to hear that Ipoh has finally been given the due recognition by travellers around the world who have visited the historical city to be named as a destination for world travellers for the next 12 months,” he said.
“With that in mind, the local authorities and community leaders must work together to ensure that visitors would have a pleasant visit here,” he said.
“There needs to be a task force, consisting of the Ipoh City Council, police, welfare department, non-governmental organisations, the Ministry of Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNKK) and Consumer Association of Perak, to look into ways to capitalise on this recognition with Visit Perak Year looming,” he added.
Dr Ng said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city to showcase its attractions and to live up to its namesake as a food paradise.
“Cleanliness will be an issue and the city council needs to ensure all the food outlets be rated ‘A’ before year end.
“All these outlets must also ensure the toilets are clean, practice garbage separation at source, avoid using polystyrene and clean up their drains,” he said, adding that businesses must be monitored to ensure they would not charge exorbitant prices that could tarnish the city’s name.

“The Police, the Perak Anti-Drugs Agency and the Welfare Department must work hand-in-hand to keep ‘jaga kereta’ touts, who are usually drug addicts, at bay,” he added.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lonely Planet names Ipoh as the sixth hottest place to visit in Asia

Ipoh is undergoing a quiet renaissance. Until now, domestic tourists seldom lingered beyond a weekend sampling ayam tauge (chicken and beansprouts) and Ipoh's famous white coffee. Backpackers considered this pleasant, mid-sized city an overnight stop between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. These days, renewed enthusiasm for Ipoh's heritage is seeing old shophouses restored, while new cafes and craft shops are springing up...

Ipoh is undergoing a quiet renaissance. Until now, domestic tourists seldom lingered beyond a weekend sampling ayam tauge (chicken and beansprouts) and Ipoh's famous white coffee. Backpackers considered this pleasant, mid-sized city an overnight stop between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. These days, renewed enthusiasm for Ipoh's heritage is seeing old shop houses restored, while new cafes and craft shops are springing up within historic buildings. Meanwhile, the ribbon is being cut on brand-new accommodation, from hostels to luxury hotels.
The key to enjoying Ipoh is tackling it by neighbourhood. Its pavements seem designed to shred sandals while its sights sprawl over a large area. Start with the old town's charismatic lane ways and revived period buildings. Grab a trail map to seek out the best heritage structures and street art. South of here, Ipoh's Little India has glittering shops and some fine eateries.
East of the river in Ipoh's new town, a cluster of canteens serve up regional classics like ayam tauge and some of the creamiest beancurd pudding around. Just north of this foodie hub are the city's more upmarket hotels alongside the shiny Parade shopping mall. As Ipoh's confidence grows, it's an exciting place for an urban interlude, not to mention a convenient gateway for travel to the Cameron Highlands or Pulau Pangkor.

Lonely Planet has ranked Ipoh as the 6th best place in Asia to visit in the next 12 months. Describing Ipoh as Malaysia’s renaissance city whose ‘coffeehouses and heritage houses are staging a long overdue comeback’, Lonely Planet sings praises for Ipoh’s old and new charm and cuisine.
One of the draws of Ipoh, according to the Lonely Planet article, is the ‘colonial golden triangle’ which covers several of Ipoh’s colonial buildings that are still standing proudly west of the Kinta River. The Ipoh train station, described as the ‘Taj Mahal’ of commuter hubs for its white domes, as well as the 100 year old Town Hall, white Court House, and Birch Memorial Clock Tower were all built in colonial times.
Lonely Planet also highlighted Ipoh’s growing number of hipster caf├ęs, renewed love of Ipoh coffee (locals would approve of this, for sure), street art, temples and the racy history of Concubine Lane.
To an Ipoh native, the beauty of this old town is obvious and precious, and word has been spreading steadily to other parts of the country for a while now. Ipoh is already groaning under the weight of local day-trippers who head up there for the small town charm and delicious food. Ipoh is so popular among the locals that on weekends, you will have to queue up for quite a while if you want to enjoy some of Ipoh’s best meals.
With Lonely Planet’s highlight on Ipoh, those queues just got a little longer. Go soon  and beat the crowds.

Lonely Planet’s Best Places to visit in Asia

  1. Hokkaido, Japan
  2. Shanghai, China
  3. Jeonju, South Korea
  4. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
  5. Hong Kong, China
  6. Ipoh, Malaysia
  7. Pemuteran, Indonesia
  8. Trang Islands, Thailand
  9. Meghalaya, India
  10. Taitung, Taiwan

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ipoh gets listed in Lonely Planet - The Star

13 July 2016 by T. Avineshwaran

Ipoh's old world charm and booming hipster cafes has impressed the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, Lonely Planet, after the city was listed as one of the best Asian destinations to visit in 2016.
In their pick of where to go in the next 12 months, Lonely Planet listed Hokkaido, Japan at first place, followed by Shanghai, China and Jeonju, South Korea.
Ipoh is the only city in Malaysia to be listed, at sixth place.
According to the website, the lesser-known food capital has new flair thanks to a crop of boutique cafes that have sprung up in its historic quarter.
"At the heart of Ipoh’s renaissance is other worldly concept hotel Sekeping Kong Heng, replete with glass attic rooms and wall-free rooftop quarters.
"Art-cafes like Roquette, Burps & Giggles and Everyday Lifeshop have appeared nearby, among creaky kedai kopi (coffee shops) and elegant colonial buildings.
"But food pilgrims still clamour for Ipoh’s old favourites: Lou Wong’s chicken with crisp beansprouts, and tau fu fah (tofu pudding) at Funny Mountain," said the website's description.
It also mentioned wild escapes, like birdwatching by bicycle through Kinta Nature Park or whitewater rafting near Gopeng are a must visit for tourists.
"Also, clifftop temples and fragrant Gaharu Tea Valley nearby, Ipoh’s revival seems sure to tempt new crowds," concluded Lonely Planet.

The other tourist spots listed by Lonely Planet are Con Dao Islands in Vietnam; Hong Kong, Pemuteran in Indonesia; Trang islands inThailand; Meghalaya in India and Taitung in Taiwan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Federal Government strengthens efforts to tackle plastic waste

Media Release by Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment, Australia

The Australian Government is taking further steps to tackle the detrimental impact of plastics on our environment.

Last December, Commonwealth, state and territory Environment Ministers announced plans to achieve a voluntary phase out of microbeads by no later than July 2018.

“Today I am pleased to announce that the Federal Government is taking a stronger stance on this important environmental issue,” Minister Hunt said.

“We will continue to work with companies towards a voluntary phase out of microbeads. However, if by 1 July 2017 it is clear that the voluntary phase out will not achieve what is effectively a widespread ban on microbeads, the Federal Government will take action to implement a ban in law.”

“We are also committing $60,000 of priority funding under the National Environment Science Programme (NESP) to kick-start research into the major sources of marine plastic waste and determine the most cost-effective options to reduce its volume.”

“I am aware of concerns about biodegradable plastics being used as a substitute for regular microbeads. Some companies are instead using natural alternative products due to concerns that biodegradable plastic microbeads do not break down in water.”

“The NESP will undertake research into this and I look forward to hearing about their findings.”
“I will discuss the Federal Government’s announcement at the Ministerial Roundtable being held at Taronga Zoo in Sydney today.”

The Ministerial roundtable brings together State and Commonwealth governments, representatives from industry, retailers, environment groups and scientific experts. The roundtable will review the experiences of Australian jurisdictions who have implemented plastic shopping bag bans.

“Like microbeads, plastic shopping bags have a devastating impact on the environment,” Minister Hunt said.
“Australians consume billions of plastic shopping bags each year, which are often only used for a few minutes before being thrown away.”

Many are made from non-renewable fossil fuels, which break down into smaller pieces of plastic and can exist in the environment for hundreds of years.

Plastic bags and plastic fragments easily make their way across our land as litter, eventually entering our waterways and oceans with harmful effects on our wildlife and marine life.

It is estimated that around eight million tonnes of plastics enter the world’s oceans every year.

“I’m looking forward to discussing options at the Ministerial Roundtable on how best to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags,” Minister Hunt said.

“What’s most important to me is that we get the best possible outcome for the environment.”

“I would like to thank the New South Wales Government for the significant role they have played in examining options for how best to deal with the problem of plastic bags.”
New South Wales Environment Minister Mark Speakman welcomed the Federal Government’s stance on microbeads.

“The NSW Government is proud to have been the first state to have led the push for a national ban on microbeads,” Mr Speakman said.

“We’re so fortunate to enjoy rich aquatic ecosystems in Australia, and yet personal care products can cause significant damage to our marine life, and scientists are also worried that this may have implications further up the food chain.”

DoSomething founder Jon Dee has played a major role in campaigning for companies and retailers to phase out microbeads from their products and shelves. He has also led the National Plastic Bag campaign since 2002 and co-organised Australia’s first ban on single use plastic shopping bags in the Tasmanian town of Coles Bay.
He has also played a leading role in the phaseout of single use plastic bags in South Australia and Tasmania and will be speaking at today’s Ministerial Roundtable.

“For the sake of the marine life who mistake plastic bags and plastic microbeads for food, we must act decisively and nationally on these issues,” said Jon Dee.

“When it comes to plastic microbeads and plastic bags, we need an outcome where we achieve the best possible result for the environment.”

“Given that we also have billions of plastic microbeads ending up in our waterways, we welcome Minister Hunt’s announcement that if the voluntary phase out is not working by 1 July 2017, the Federal Government will take action to implement a ban in law. This is a very welcome move.”

Monday, July 11, 2016

‘Polystyrene not the real culprit’ - The Star - Central

7 Jul 2016 by Bavani

KUALA Lumpur folk have six months to say goodbye to their tapau (takeaway) boxes. The ubiquitous clam shell containers made from polystyrene will be banned in the Federal Territories with effect from Jan 1, 2017.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor made the announcement recently saying that only biodegradable products can be used in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan next year.
The ruling was introduced in Pasar Raja Bot in Chow Kit last month, and will be extended to include night markets, restaurants, food trucks, shopping malls, hypermarkets and hawker centres in the next few months. (see graph).
The exercise will be carried out in four phases to encourage residents and traders to wean themselves off plastic foam products until the Federal Territories Biodegradable Product Usage By-Law is enacted.
Tengku Adnan’s reasoning is that plastic is harmful to the environment as it would take 100 to 500 years to degrade.

So restaurant owners, petty traders, roadside stalls and even manufactures of plastic foam will no longer be allowed to use and make these products any longer.

Did KL jump the gun?
In a nutshell, Kuala Lumpur has joined other states namely Selangor, Penang, Perak, Johor and Malacca, which are also starting to encourage the usage of biodegradable containers.
The move, however, has not gone down well with plastic manufacturers.
“People need to get the facts right,’’ said the Malaysian Plastic Manufac-turers Association president Datuk Lim Kok Boon.
“Consumers are easily influenced by things they see and read from the Internet and have this knee-jerk reaction to things they do not understand,’’ said Lim.
Lim explained that many developing cities in China and even the US had similarly jumped on the bandwagon to ban polystyrene in the name of environmental protection and public health, but decided to revert when they understood the topic better.
“China decided to revert to allow polystyrene after banning polystyrene for 14 years.
“So did New York. And sadly this is perpetuated by the media,’’ he added.
Green Concept Technology Sdn Bhd, Director (Business Development) Sri Umeswaran Shekar also pointed out the misconception of polystyrene being unsafe.
“Worldwide authorities such as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have determined that polystyrene is safe for use in contact with food,’’ said Umeswaran.
He said the usual reasons given to ban polystyrene products were overly simplistic and did not touch the root of the problem.
“They ban and think they are doing the right thing, but a lot of wrong information is attached to the reasons for doing so,’’ he said.
“Part of the myth is that polystyrene cannot be recycled.
“Now that is wrong since we are in the business of doing just that,’’ Umeswaran added.

Are the alternatives better?
So we know the Government is committed in eradicating the use of polystyrene and is currently working with several companies to offer cheaper alternatives.
However, the question that needs to be asked is whether banning one type of product and replacing it with another is the solution to the problem?
“When you ban something, there must be a reason for it. You have to ask yourself the rationale behind the ban,’’ said environment and waste management specialist Dr Theng Lee Chong.
Theng, who holds a PhD in Waste Management from Fukuoka University, Japan, invites people to look at polystyrene from a waste management perspective.
He said many manufacturers of biodegradable products like to think they are eco-friendly.
“We have heard of many big brands who have attempted to “greenwash” themselves by offering alternatives to polystyrene.
“There is not a single product that is able to replace polystyrene and be environment-friendly too,’’ said Theng.
He said paper boxes (biodegradable) could be five to six times heavier and therefore the waste stream could increase from 300,000 tonnes per year to 1.5 to 1.8 million tonnes per year.
“Multiple researches have shown that environmental impacts from paper is actually higher based on LCA (life cycle assessment) approach. And most paper boxes, when contaminated, is still not fully degradable,’’ he said.

What is degradable?
Theng also draws attention to the lack of specification or standards to define what is “degradable” in Malaysia.
“Products are termed degradable, but how many percent really is degradable is a question; because in many cases, in order to bring down the costing, the products dependability is put lower to suit the market demand.
“Manufacturers are known to use the word “degradable” on their products for marketing purpose, but often, their claims of recyclability and degradability are deceptive and misleading to the consumers,’’ Dr Theng said.
The Waste Management Association of Malaysia’s (WMAM) Communications and Marketing chairman Mohd Radhi Cheah concurs with Theng.
“Although the Government feels they are championing a good cause by banning polystyrene, many fail to see that the alternatives are no better to the environment.
“Some have encouraged the use of paper since it decomposes in a matter of weeks, but the environmental impact paper has on nature is more detrimental than plastic,’’ he said, adding that plastic, which is a by-product of petroleum, is more prevalent in our lives than we think.
Hence, he said, a complete ban was not advisable and a better management of the substance to preserve the environment is needed.
Theng, however, feels that rather than replacing polystyrene with something else, consumers should be reducing their dependence on it.
“Reduction is always good and is the first priority of 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle). But I am against the replacement of one material with another,’’ Theng said.
Both Theng and Mohd Radhi agree that there must be proper planning by the Government before they enforce any policy, as in many cases the decisions are always business driven and is beyond scientific support.

Dispelling the myth on polystyrene
As a man of science, Theng also wants to clear the air over the misleading information on polystyrene.
“Let’s look at the numbers first.
“I have been to over 50 different landfills in Malaysia and to be honest, I did not see polystyrene containers lying around like the way it has been pictured in the media.
“It is misleading when people say there are mountains of polystyrene rotting in the landfills. That is simply not true.
“When you look at the percentage of composition of organic and recyclable waste, organic waste is highest at 44.5%.
Plastic is at 13.2%, but if you break it down further, polystyrene is only 1% to 2% of the total.”
“In terms of weight, it is less than 300,000 tonnes per day; which is small compared to other categories,’’ he said.
Theng said diapers are 10 times more toxic to the environment – 12% more than polystyrene.
So why put the blame solely on polystyrene?
Environmentalists’ thoughts
“It is a nuisance to the environment. No question about that,’’ said Matthias Gelber, referring to the white foam plastic.
Gelber, who is often referred to as the Green Man, is a popular green activist who advocates sustainable ways of living in Malaysia.
“Society and industries need to shift away to more sustainable materials; it is the way of the future,’’ he stressed.
Environmental Protection Society Malaysia vice-president Randolph Geremiah also believes that Kuala Lumpur would fare better without the white foams and he was not in favour of recycling polystyrene either.
“It is going to be difficult (to recycle polystyrene). Even if manufacturers have the facilities and technology to do it, you still need someone to collect them (used polystyrene).
“Unlike steel or paper, there is very little value on these foam packs,’’ added Geremiah.
“Banning polystyrene may reduce it, but replacing it with paper boxes will still contribute to carbon emissions, energy being used to produce and transport it,’’ said Theng.
He also predicts that once the ban takes effect, instead of polystyrene, people are just going to throw more paper boxes instead.
“They are just transferring one problem to another,’’ he said, adding that Malaysians need to upgrade the level of their mindset to be more civic conscious.
Lim concurred, saying: “People need to start recycling, separating their waste at source, managing their rubbish better and simply stop littering.’’
And ironically, it is not like there is no awareness.
“According to studies carried out by Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Corporation (SWCorp), 70% of people know that recycling is good, but they simply don’t practise it,’’ said SWCorp Federal Territory director Hazilah Gumri.
“It is really an attitude problem.’’
On the polystyrene ban, this quote from Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Ada E. Yonath who visited Malaysia for a talk on waste management several years ago sums it up perfectly: “Politicians are very far from science.’’