Monday, October 22, 2012

Let’s grow plants together

Original Article in Mandarin by: Teng Kok Liang

Green scenery always makes people feel refreshed. It is wrong to think that living in high rise building prohibits us from keeping plants. On the contrary, there are many indoor plants that we can grow to keep our environment green and beautiful.

Penang Green Expo 2012 which was held in September 2012 displayed a variety of indoor plants. The Expo also provided an opportunity to learn more about choosing the correct species for planting and decorating the home.

For clean and fresh air, the Cactus, Chlorophytum or Scindaprus tops the list as natural purifiers. These plants should not be underestimated as they can help lower the hazardous substances released from electronic appliances and at the same time help purify air pollutants.

An alternate choice is the Sansevieria and Boston fern. These plants contain natural plant anion that absorbs Benzene and Trichloroethylene from the air to restore good air quality.

For spacious homes, Yellow Palm and Corn Plant is a good choice to help remove hazardous substances and impurities from the air.

The above recommended plants need a combination of the right flowerpot, the right soil and the right fertilizers to achieve the best environmental results. Using correct biodegradable flowerpot, the right soil and non-chemical fertilizer with the certification of Baba Inside makes the environmental friendly home garden authentic.

We also need to identify the right place for the right plant at home. For example, Sansevieria is suitable to be planted in the toilet as it needs little sunlight. The leaves can absorb moisture and odor from the air as well as act as a natural deodorant.  However, moving the plant for direct sunlight at regular intervals makes the plant robust.

Some plants may also be placed in the balcony, roof top or corridor. To avoid accidents, make sure the plants are not blocking the passage and can withstand strong wind.

Plants are not only good to look at - it also provides us a cleaner and greener environment. The Penang State Government has made a lot of effort in promoting green projects in the state and Penang Local Government Committee Chairman Chow Kon Yeow has written a reply to the State Assembly stated that in year 2011, the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) has planted a total of 4313 trees in the Island, Province Wellesley Municipal Council (MPSP) has planted a total of 8734 trees in Province Wellesley and the Penang State Forestry Department has planted a total of 8988 trees in the state.

The Penang State Forestry Department also provided 5770 tree saplings to government departments, private companies, JKKKs and NGOs to encourage trees planting and promote greener environment.

The authorities at Municipal Council of Penang (MPPP) spearheaded a Greening Project at three locations. Since 2010, a total of 150 trees were planted along the divider of Carnarvon Street; another 101 trees along the 550meter long divider in Weld Quay in year 2011; and this year, 280 trees were planted along the 1.4km divider in Dato Keramat Road.

Those who travel along Jalan Masjid Negeri, Jalan Scotland and Jalan Utama enjoy the cooling effects of the shady trees. We need to thank our forefathers who had the foresight to preserve these century-old trees. Penang, the Pearl of the Orient is not only proud of her heritage buildings in George Town but also these trees which have witnessed the progress of this city in leading the way towards a cleaner, greener and environmental friendly Malaysia.

We can improve our environment from home. Let’s grow plants together!

*BABA Inside is a guarantee standard for organic vegetables, ornamental plants, organic fertilizer, soil, biodegradable flowerpots and other green products. This certification meets the standard of production and identification of organic products.

For details:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Moving Forward with GBI

Green Building Index

In keeping pace with the demands of modern living, designers and builders equally reflect their concerns about the environment through incorporating a voluntary green rating scheme which is managed by a board of registered architects and engineers. The Green Building Index has a total of 290 buildings as at June 2012 and nine townships registered for certification throughout the nation. 

According to the Northern Chapter President of Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) and also Penang Green Council committee member, Mr. Lawrence Lim, Penang currently has 30 buildings applying for certification while 10 buildings are on provisionary certification.

“Penang was the first state in Malaysia to embrace the Green Building Index,” he added. Among the more notable developments that have applied for the GBI are The Light Project by IJM, The Setia Greens by SP Setia, Brooke Residence and Penaga Hotel, a heritage hotel in George Town. 

“Despite the premium, all terrace houses under the Setia Green project are sold,” said Khoo Teik Chong indicating an increased price of about 10% - 15% as compared to non-GBI certified buildings.

The terrace houses were sold between RM900,000 and RM1 million when it was first launched by SP Setia two years ago and is now worth about RM1.6 million. 

Khoo, the General Manager of SP Setia also mentioned that the sPICE project in Bayan Baru is GBI compliant as well. 

Architectural designs that are ecologically friendly maximizes the use of natural ventilation and natural lighting to save on electricity usage while minimizing environmental impacts. Features include fittings that save energy and resources like cool roofing, solar energy panels, water efficiency gadgets, rainwater harvesting devices and proper waste management.

There are four categories of classification for the GBI – Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. These ratings depend on the number of points awarded to the building after inspection. Developers are also encouraged to build green buildings. 

 “We encourage GBI by giving incentives. But, to achieve GBI needs additional costs, so developers target commercial buildings mostly,” replied Wong Hon Wai, the State Housing Exco through a text reply when asked if developers of Low-Cost and Low-Medium Cost flats would be required to obtain GBI certifications in the future. 

However, IJM General Manager, Toh Chin Leong says that the incentives given to their counterparts in Singapore are much more attractive as direct rebates are given to the developers for using green building materials like reconstructed wood, low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and specially prepared glass. 

Paying to Save the Environment 

Toh also emphasized the need to step-up efforts to educate the public on saving the environment. 

“Building green buildings are one thing, but maintaining them is another,” he said, referring to landed property owners who eventually opt to cement their compound for more parking space. He also says that the government could also make it a policy to make Green Buildings compulsory for all future buildings.

Justifying the need to pay to save the environment is contradictory. However, green is the new buzzword for this century. It serves as a reminder for us to take care of our surroundings and to live as harmoniously as possible with the environment. Co-existence and balance between nature and development is our only way to sustainable living. 

Article Published in Penang Green Council webpage.

Press Statement by Chow Kon Yeow on Cheah Chin Lee

YB Chow Kon Yeow
Level 52 Komtar
10503 Penang

11 October, 2012

In support of the family of the late Cheah Chin Lee (died in police custody):
Police Yet to Inform Courts of Chin Lee’s Death
It is now close to two months after Cheah Chin Lee died in the Police’s custody. I am here today with Chin Lee’s family members who are still waiting for answers. Sadly, despite numerous promises made to the family, the Police have been unable to show any progress for the family to have faith in their efforts.

The family’s lawyer wrote to the Magistrates Court of George Town, Penang to enquire about initiating inquest proceedings and received a reply from the court registrar on 25 September, 2012 saying that the courts have not received a Sudden Death Report regarding Chin Lee’s death on 13 August.

Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code requires, “when any person dies while in the custody of the police or in a mental hospital or prison, the officer who had the custody of that person or was in charge of that mental hospital or prison, as the case may be, shall immediately give intimation of such death to the nearest Magistrate, and the Magistrate or some other Magistrate shall, in the case of a death in the custody of the police, and in other cases may, if he thinks expedient, hold an inquiry into the cause of death.”

I would like to emphasise that it is the statutory duty of the Police to inform the courts of a death of a person in their care and that this is required to be done immediately. It is now close to two months since Chin Lee’s death and I would like to ask if the Police are deliberately delaying the matter. What excuses do the police have for the family this time? If the police cannot even do something as simple as following a statutory procedure, how can the police claim to be conducting an “independent” investigation over the death of a person who was in their care?

I hereby urge the Penang CPO Abd Rahim Hanafi to take responsibility and explain the delay over this matter. I do not expect more empty promises to be made, but instead in the soonest possible submit the Sudden Death Report to the Magistrates Court as required under S334 of the CPC. The Police must not be seen to hinder the family’s quest for the truth behind Chin Lee’s death.

Change | For a Better Malaysia.
Chow Kon Yeow
Penang State DAP Chairperson