Sarawak water cuts: El Nino or deforestation?

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Some 18,000 people in eight divisions of Sarawak, including Kuching, are facing water shortages due to a current drought.

This dry spell is caused by the El Nino phenomenon, says Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister George Chan.

How convenient to put all the blame on “El Nino”.

I spoke to an environmentalist and he said El Nino could be just one of the factors.

Given the size of Sarawak and its low population density, he said one would expect that there would be enough water in the state. Moreover, he said, even in the driest season, rivers do not dry up in Sarawak and water still flows into the sea. But he pointed out there is inadequate infrastructure and inadequate planning for water supply and distribution.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems, he said, is the mismanagement of water catchment areas.

He recalled how when he visited Miri in 1995, he found that the area had lost all its water catchment areas. The Lambir national park had been given up for logging, he said. Water had to be transferred from one water catchment area to another. Things over there could have changed by now.

A Sarawak-based academic pointed out that the haze began to hit Sarawak in a big way from 1997. That was also around the time the companies moved into massive oil palm cultivation. Companies began clearing forests and water catchment areas. That could explain some of the burning going on.

Also, a new phenomenon emerged later. After forests were completely cleared (instead of practising sustainable forest management), timber companies soon opened up tree (mainly acacia) plantations, but that did not restore the loss in biodiversity.

It’s a big no-no in the Malaysian media to point any fingers at large timber and oil palm corporations; however, it is okay to blame “farmers” for open burning.

All these factors are not discussed in the wake of the water rationing. Instead, the blame is pinned solely on El Nino, thus absolving the state government, which is supposed to protect water catchment areas and forest cover – and the corporations that destroy them – from any responsibility.

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LBJ

This George Chan is like all BN politicians. He talk…. Dont blame god for the dry spell. Sarawak has screwed its environment no thanks to the greedy plundering State Govt. Now the people suffer.

Well. People of Sarawak. Are you ready to change the govt? Else, you will suffer drought and all natural disasters because the BN govt is destroying the habitat.

R.Prem Kumar

This dry spell is caused by the El Nino phenomenon, says Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister George Chan.

Has the Hon’ble George Chan any vital statistics from the state authorities to substantiate his claim?

francis ngu

Sarawak has its hands full of disasters right now – record temperatures in mid-30s, state-wide drought and water-shortages, smoke-haze, the new-season flu, Penans groups near-starvation. The drought and water shortage may be the worst in living memory and crop failures and rising prices may follow later. The EIAs, if any, were hidden from public view, but the full environment impact is laid bare by Nature for all to see. The vast tropical rain forests which acted as a massive sponge holding monsoonal rainwater in their root-system has been critically compromised, explaining why upriver water catchment is drying out when El… Read more »

amoker

That is what i wrote when I saw the statement by the careless minister. I was there after the flood hit upper and middle Baram. The water is murky and full of log debris. When i journey down, the loggers told me that they are not going after even those logs that are 2 fist big. The draugh in the rest of Sarawak is a natural reaction when the trees are not around. Easy to blame El nino loh. .. but it is more of their own greed. If sarawakian continue to vote UMNO in , their state will continue… Read more »

julian

these clowns … are great at pointing fingers at others but dont realise that when anyone point a finger at anyone 3 other fingers point at him/her self

Loh Yeow Boo - Penang

Caused by El Umno……

SamG

MY recent visit to Universiti Malaysia Sabah-Kampus Antarabangsa Labuan (UMS-KAL) caught me by surprise. The whole island just lacks the basic water supply infrastructure to support a University campus or an Offshore International Financial Center. While many choose to ignore, yet another major crisis has hit the Labuan and espcially the Universiti Malaysia Sabah – Labuan International Campus. (UMS-KAL) I am trying to garner as much support as possible for the UMS-KAL, so that the Education and other relevant Ministries can provide the necessary funds for upgrading and maintenance. I plead with the federal government to take some emergency measures… Read more »