Archive for the ‘Sabah Parks’ Category

In 1983 Borneo Divers began their dive trips to Sipadan, the secret oceanic paradise was discovered by Ron Holland of Borneo Divers. Subsequently, Ron Holland brought underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau and made a movie “Borneo: Ghost of the Sea Turtle” and documented Sipadan’s beauty and lush marine life, bringing the island international fame.

Sipadan is considered as one of the most beautiful scuba diving spots in the world. Sipadan is the only oceanic island in Malaysia where the huge pillar that forms the atoll functions as a shelter for many sea animals and fish. There are only a few places in the world that have such a concentration of sea turtles.

Sipadan ever since has been a money making machine for few dive operator in Semporna over the years. It is estimated that diving business in Sipadan is RM300 million a year.

Selected dive operators allowed to operate at Sipadan were given quotas on number of diver per company.

In the past before GE14, 12 operators were given a total of 120 permits per day. The number of permits given depended on the size of their operation.

Recently after Warisan took over the Sabah State Government, such quota and allowable number of divers and dive company to enter Sipadan has increased. 12 new additional operators have been given permits, each given 6 permits for Sipadan.

The number of permits for old operators were reduced now and the total of permits now per day for the whole of Sipadan is increased to 176. New operators each gets 6 permits per day.

The new operators have been offering their permit for sale to travel agents and to existing operators for (depending on season) RM800 – RM1,200 per permit. For example, the rate a new operator Peter Khoo is offering is Rm1,000.00 each permit/day, he doesn’t have resort, boats, dive equipments, just an Alibaba business. Considering that they pay to Sabah Parks RM140/person/day, the new operators are making lots of money as they do not have resorts, boats or dive equipments. They started business only on 1st May 2019. 4 of them have no MOCAT license. One is a RM2 company operating from Kota Kinabalu.

And what Shafie Apdal did was to reduce the number of permits of the existing dive companies and redistributed the permits to the new 12 operators.

So, there’s 12 new operators now, before this 12 came into the picture the total permits were 126 per day, now 176.

Who exactly makes such huge decision on permits for Sipadan diving? While some say it’s Sabah Parks, some say its Chief Minister, often people don’t realise that the lead agency in such decision making is Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN)

Why does a federal agency under the Prime Minister’s Department responsible for managing and coordinating the implementation of policies related to the security of Malaysia makes decision on who gets the quota to operate at Sipadan?

Shouldn’t they just stick to security and shouldn’t there be a special committee on quotas and who gets it lead by the Sabah State Government, since Sipadan and its wealth belongs to the state?

I’m told, and I find it weird that even the Sabah Minister of Tourism is not invited and is not part of the meeting on the quota decision making.

Why is our minister kept in the dark by MKN?

Some even start questioning, why some quotas given to West Malaysian. Shouldn’t it be given to or prioritize to Sabahan operators?

Anyway, more than one million tourists visited Sabah from January to May this year, the state government had set a target for four million tourist arrivals this year, compared to 3.8 million last year. Tourism is big business in Sabah!


The State Government has officially gazetted 898,762.76 hectares in the northern seas of Sabah as the TUN MUSTAPHA MARINE PARK.The move comes after more than 13 years of preparatory work led by Sabah Parks with government agencies, local communities, international partners and with support from non-governmental organisation i.e WWF-Malaysia.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun tweeted the new marine park, Thursday, as being the biggest in the country and the newest conservation initiative carried out by the State Government.

“Its done! Tun Mustapha Marine Park in northern Sabah is gazetted,” he said, accompanied by a photo of the state gazette dated May 19.

The park is located off Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas right up to the Straits of Balabac, where the Sulu Sea and South China Sea meet in the northern part of Sabah.

With the declaration, the size of protected marine parks in Sabah now stretches to about two million hectares.

“Efforts to gazette the park has been carried out through consultations with various parties with interest in the area,” he said.

The area covers 50 islands and includes the three main ones of Pulau Banggi, Pulau Balambangan and Pulau Malawali with more than 180,000 people living in the coastal areas and islands.

It was earlier reported that such a move was the only means of protecting sharks in the area due to the reluctance of the Federal Government to legislate a ban on shark hunting.

” The area is rich in various marine life and located within the coral triangle covering waters within Luzon Island in the Philippines, Bali in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

” The triangle area has over 500 species of corals that is the habitat of numerous marine life. This includes 243 invertebrate species, 550 fish species, four species of turtles, dugongs, crocodiles and sharks,” he said.

As an open marine park, the Tun Mustapha Marine Park will be managed through a collaboration between various bodies involving both government and non-governmental organisations, as well as local communities, said Masidi.

Towards this end, he said the areas are divided into six zones, involving a conservation zone, community-use-zone, multi-use zone, commercial fishing zone, special fish management zone and aquaculture zone, adding that the park was gazetted under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category Six.

This involves protected areas being set up to conserve ecosystems and habitats, together with associated cultural values and traditional natural resource management systems.

The marine park was first proposed in 2000, with the State Government approving its establishment on March 5, 2003.

The gazetting of the park had undergone various stages like public hearings from 2012 to 2015 as well as public consultations on the park zoning from 2012 to 2013.

The framework of management plan was drafted in July 2012 and was completed along with its gazetting plans, with the government planning to launch the new marine park in June this year.

Tun Mustapha Park is evidence of Musa Aman’s commitment to the Coral Triangle Initiative and contribution towards meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Target of at least 10% marine areas protected and managed.

The recent Sabah Quake has left a very damaging effect on Sabah and her people in all forms. The physical, psychological, spiritual trauma felt by Sabahans and friends of Sabah is one that cannot be erased so easily. As someone who has called Sabah my home for many years, I believe I speak for many that the Sabah Quake is a reminder of how insignificant we are to a land that had provided so much for so many. Clearly, life as we live it must take into account natures very living presence that is in as much of a position as human beings are in determining both life and death.

However, what I foresee to be the greatest burden befallen those effected by the quake is an economical one.The quake took 18 lives and left almost 20 people wounded and hurt. Over a hundred climbers were left stranded on the mountain, without other viable exit routes. Numerous homes and building in approximately 18 districts suffered structurally and more than 80 aftershocks recorded by the Meteorological Department, many more will soon be reported.

The point that I am making here is simple; There is a great need for funds designated to restoration works in Sabah. The local mountain guides (national heroes in my eyes) and affected local residents need to be taken care of till Mount Kinabalu is once again ready for climbers. In its current state, no climbers would even dare think of weathering Akinabalu and if climbers are no longer coming, an entire community that depends on this industry to make a living will be severely effected.

Recently in a conversation with Sabah Chief Minister, Musa Aman, I was told that he had appealed to several high ranking officers from PETRONAS ( a government endorsed oil and Gas conglomerate) to assist with the Sabah Quake victims. A verbal agreement was made between Aman and PETRONAS in which this special fund would serve as their CSR for Sabah. This has yet to take place, but for this assistance to make truly help, it needs to come in soon. Similarly, other successful companies and conglomerates need to come forward in a similar fashion. Anyone who has benefited from Sabah needs to pump resources back to the state immediately.

We can never blame anyone for the Sabah quake. Nature is unpredictable as it is beautiful and what happens within the realm of the natural is completely out of our hands. But what we can take complete control of are the aftermaths, the rehabilitation and and the recovery. If we fail to assist and support where it is needed, then blame is inevitable. Conglomerates, such as PETRONAS who have had the support of so many, need to take time from their busy schedule to realize that those servicing the Mount Kinabalu, a cherished and honored world heritage site, are in need of help. Help needs to come sooner rather than later, through swift action and not as lip service.

this piece was out today in the Sunday Daily Express forum

Cynicism often creates blind spots which distort vision. Of late Sabah political scenario seems to be hugely afflicted by this malady which is going undiagnosed. Heart-warming developments emerging from various parts of Sabah are being clouded by the dust of allegations of corruption and malfeasance of gargantuan proportions in governance.

It was reported widely that Switzerland’s Attorney General has opened a criminal investigation into the country’s largest bank, UBS AG, over suspected money laundering of about S$38 trillion which includes US90 million of timber corruption proceeds from Sabah. The case against UBS was opened on August 29, following a criminal complaint by the Bruno Manser Fund over the bank’s close ties with Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman. The existence of the investigation was confirmed on August 29 by the Office of the Attorney General in the Swiss capital, Bern.

The Bruno Manser Fund accuses “Musa Aman and his nominees” of laundering more than US$90 million of corruption proceeds from the tropical timber business in Sabah, Borneo, through a number of UBS bank accounts in Hong Kong. The Bruno Manser Fund alleges that Musa Aman “has personally benefited from the large-scale logging” of these rainforests near the Danum Valley. The Swiss government reportedly said that it was ready to freeze Musa’s accounts in Switzerland if the Malaysian authority made a request for legal assistance.

These allegations however sounds very Dan Brown, singling in on the conspiracy theories.

One such positive development comes from this whole accusation. Sabah Forestry Department director Sam Manan is an internationally celebrated forest scientist. In his current assignment as adviser on forestry to Sabah chief minister Musa Aman, Sam has been focusing on good forest practices in the state. And he has an interesting story to tell. Despite being hit by accusations of rampant illegal logging of its forest, the state is all set to post an increase of about 20 percent of Sabah’s total land area under the totally protected area (TPAS) reserves reaching 1.3 million hectares exceeding even the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) standard of 10%. By all yardsticks, this is not only unprecedented but phenomenal too.

How has this miracle become possible? Sam explains it very succinctly, “Perseverance and desire at the top.” Musa Aman has been consistent in his approach to reduce the dependence on timber revenue soon than later, ever since taking over the state as chief minister in 2003 and this was his agenda. The forest revenue is about RM150 million a year today as opposed to RM500 million to RM1 billion in the past. His objective is simple: to ensure that the forests are given a chance to recover.

And according to Sam, the money Bruno Manser Fund is alleging about is a US$90 million “nest egg” purportedly derived from widescale illegal logging activities in Sabah. This amount of US$90 million , if indeed true, would mean that not less that one million m3 of timber have been illegally felled. That represents plundering of at least 20,000 hectres (50,000 acres) of well-stocked forest. This scale of logging would then represent 50% of the timber produced from natural forest in 2011 or about 30% of Sabah’s timber production in 2010.

Sounds rather ridiculous and far fetched this whole US90 million story.

If anything, a badly logged well-stocked forest of 20,000ha would have been easily detected by satellites and attracted the attention of NGOs, environmentalists and the communities living nearby. Besides, the enormity of the alleged extent of illegal felling [1 million m3] could not have escaped the attention of the world. So, no way could such acts be committed and passed without notice. Also, if 50% of the annual production of timber from Sabah was alleged to be illegal, world markets especially sensitive ones like Europe, North America and Japan would have long ago stopped buying timber from Sabah. This enormous economic and financial implication would have been so harmful to the state as a whole and the state budget could have gone topsy-turvy.

Musa Aman worked overtime with the forestry to improve on good forest practices and continue to attract the attention of certifying bodies and NGOs, who want to be partners and to assist Sabah in obtaining veritable and certifiable good governance. Under his leadership, SFM [sustainable forest management] had improved by leaps and bounds. Short-term licences that caused tremendous damage to the environment were being drastically phased out and Sabah’s forest management credibility is now at its highest.Sabah now has an open-book philosophy whereby, logging and forest management areas are all open to third party and NGO scrutiny. Currently at least 800,000ha of Sabah’s forests are partially or fully certified under various internationally recognised system such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), MTCS (Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme) and PEFC (Pan European Forest Scheme). This included the 250,000ha of fully certified and 150,000ha of partially certified forest areas under the Sabah Foundation.

In fact, many more forest areas are being earmarked for certification as Sabah has set 2014 as the year for all long-term licensed areas to be fully certified.The process of certification means independent third party is on the ground auditing to assess credibility. Musa has created model forest centre and ensured that the forest in Sabah will never be “raped” like in the past by unscrupulous people. At the same time, there has been a consistent effort to educate everyone involve in the timber industry about good forest practices without disturbing the forest.This endeavor, carried out silently, is about to bear fruits now, an indication that Sabah’s forest are well run. And the spill-over effect is evident by the wildlife corridor linking Maliau Basin, Imbak Canyon to Danum/Ulu Segama and the re-classification of Ulu Segama (130,000ha) to total protected status.

As The Duke of Cambridge Prince William and Lady Catherine Middleton prepares for a visit to Danum Valley on the 15th of September, a testament to their longstanding interest in conservation, we should perhaps see this as an indication that the rumours of deforestation and illegal logging is not true. Why would Musa allow the Royal couple into Sabah if the home to some of the last remaining areas of tropical rainforest in South East Asia were indeed in dire straits?

In fact, Sabah has been uniquely placed in Malaysia’s context. Given its good forest practices, pressure on forest is intense. Timber revenue was a major source of livelihood in absence of industrialisation. Perhaps Sabah stands out as a paradox in the Malaysia Shining story. Still the state has been consistently growing at the rate of over 8 percent, one of the highest in the country. There is no doubt that much of this growth comes from the state spending on social welfare schemes and building up of infrastructure.

By economic standards, Sabah virtually offers an inverted model of growth inconsistent with the overall growth narrative. Musa aman has been making all-out efforts to inject buoyancy in rural market by improving agriculture and tourism. Perhaps he seems to be aware of his handicap that the timber from the forest is getting too scarce and priced to be given for industrial growth. That is why he has been insisting on reducing the dependence on timber to save the forest for future generations. Similarly he turns to be an environmentalist when it comes to allotment of mining rights in and around Maliau Basin. Sabah is firm that no mining activities should take place in first class forest reserves and protected areas such as the Maliau Basin in the south central part of the state. “No mining can be allowed in Maliau Basin,” he told Datuk Lim Keng Yaik when requested him to open coal mining to give fillip to growth. And then the Sabah government’s decision to bar any development on the seafront totalling 1,555ha from Tanjung Aru to Likas Bay through the Land Ordinance (Amendment) 2012 Bill, approved by the state assembly in July 2012, was a significant and bold move, and motivated by the need to protect the marine ecosystem.

On the face of it, Sabah appears to be posting a growth which is not sustainable if one believes in prescriptions of neoliberal economists. But there are enough straws in the wind to suggest that Sabah is on the cusp of defying this theory and evolve a new model which may be far more inclusive and environment-friendly than the existing models. If Musa Aman’s growth story proves to be true, this innovative model is bound to fuel an intense political and economic debate in the country.

So the allegations are therefore baseless and made with bad intention to discredit the sacrifices made by Musa Aman’s state government to achieve good forest governance and SFM [sustainable forest management] in the shortest time possible, despite the economic financial and social challenges.





This is my second climb to  Mount Kinabalu. See here the climb I did last year.

Before I started the climb to Mount Kinabalu, I stayed overnight in Kampong Kibbas, Ranau with a good friend of mine Emit Mandadi.

Next day after breakfast, gathered my bag together with my friend Emit drove to the base of the Mount Kinabalu and arrived at Timpohon Gate at around 8.30am where we actually started our climb together with my guide Biling Bin Sanan a very nice Dusun gentleman.

When I reached about 3Km stopped at the “Pondok Mempening” hut and ate my packed lunch as it was almost noon. Couldn’t finish the packed lunch but I manage to feed the balance food to the many squirrels which were so friendly and one even came up to my hands and got its share of food. It was a nice feeling. The lunch pack consisted of 1 fried chicken, a few sets of sandwiches and 2 boiled eggs.

Reached Laban Rata Km6 by 1pm. It was cold and misty and it started to rain. My accommodation was in Gunting Lagadan.

There was no hot shower in Gunting Lagadan and boy it was really cold taking shower in the evening before dinner at Laban Rata. By 9.30pm I was aready tucking myself into the bunk as had to be up by 1.30am the next day for the remaining 3km to Low’s Peak.

My aim now was to get to Low’s Peak and back to Laban Rata for breakfast and then back to the base of Mount Kinabalu (Timpohan Gate) on the very same day.

So did I make it????

HELL YES!!!! *grin* Yes, I made it again to the Rooftop Of South East Asia, the summit, Low’s Peak 13345 feet above sea, at exactly 5.12 am on the 29th of November 2010. Exactly 1 year 1 month from my previous climb.

What an INCREDIBLE experience, just like the last time…so much emotions, but, was a little confuse this time, don’t know why. So much things was going on in my mind.

Anyway, slowly made my way up, right to the Peak. It certainly was NOT an easy climb compared with the climb I made last year as it was raining all the way. Gripping on to the wet rope in the dark was quite a challange! It was only on my descent that I realised just how far I could have fallen if I had slipped. Additionally, the rain did not make my descent any easier as the rocks were darn slippery and I really had to watch my footing and balance.

My mountain guide Billing was such a great chap and a great motivator always telling me ‘dekat sudah bah’. These mountain guides really know their way on the mountain and know exactly where to step for an easier climb.

My verdict this time? Mount Kinabalu isn’t there to be conquered. If anything, she is there to be respected. The climb wasn’t just all physical. In fact, it was more mental than anything. My climb showed me that hey, anything is possible if I just put your mind to it.

Mount Kinabalu –ah! anything more beautiful, taking it altogether, I have never seen and I say this the 2nd time. There could only be one such mountain in the world, and as a landmark it is priceless. I knew that I could not mistake that and this is from my HEART.

In conclusion… INCREDIBLE, FANTASTIC, MAGIC… and hard but manageable, just like the first climb.

Strange, just like the last time, even after 3 days my heart is still calling for the mountain! It’s an energy of many dimensions and I confirm it again.

I  really appreciate now the great work Sabah Parks is putting in to keep this priceless mountain as it is. Well done Sabah Parks! Thanks to Thomas Yussof my friend from Sabah Parks.

And one last word…”Please don’t allow others to hijack Mount Kinabalu as it truly belongs to the DUSUNS!”


Wednesday, 28th July, 2010

Masidi: Perm Sec not under MACC probe

Barnard Yaang

Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun denied that his Permanent Secretary was hauled in by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) for questioning recently.

He said he has no knowledge of the so-called MACC probe on Suzannah Liaw when asked to comment on the Malaysia Today web portal alleging that she was being investigated for graft.

” I can confirm to you no such thing happened,” he said, adding he was surprised that people kept asking him whether the allegation was true.

Instead, he said the issue was a result of a misunderstanding over Liaw’s insurance claim. He said Liaw sustained broken legs about two years ago in an accident following which she submitted claims for injuries from the insurance company.

The State Government, he said, has an insurance scheme for its employees and that the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and Sabah Parks where Liaw served as member of the board of directors in both entities also provide insurance coverage.

However, the people misconstrued Liaw’s insurance claims as claiming money from the Government. He said Liaw is permitted to make insurance claims, as she is entitled to it.

He explained that the compensation payment from the insurance company was only paid to her after almost two years because the company requires time to ascertain the authenticity of the claims.

Maisdi said people have become vicious in passing rumours that hurt other people for no apparent reason.

“I hope this serves as a good lesson to remind us that if you dont stop all the nonsense in our society, we would be sinking into low morality,” he said.

He suggested the very same people who were jealous of Liaw for the insurance claims break their legs so that they could make similar claims from the insurance companies.

See full story here

Sorry folks for the long drought. Really busy the past week preparing for my pilgrimage to Mount Kinabalu.

Yes, I made it to the Rooftop Of South East Asia, the summit, Low’s Peak 13345 feet above sea, at exactly 5.12 am on the 28th of October 2009. What an INCREDIBLE experience…I never felt so much emotion in my life…

Mount Kinabalu –ah! anything more beautiful, taking it altogether, I have never seen. Even the geology in me was put into good use, Mt Kinabalu in geological terms is a young mountain, a massive granodiorite with much sedimentary and ultrabasic and basic igneous rocks seen everywhere.The peak of the most varied form rose high into the air, partly covered with driving clouds. It was sharp and it glittered — a glorious spectacle. There could only be one such mountain in the world, and as a landmark it was priceless. I knew that I could not mistake that.

In conclusion… INCREDIBLE, FANTASTIC, MAGIC… and hard but manageable… but you need to be prepared when you are over 50.

Strange, even after 3 days my heart is still calling for the mountain! It’s an energy of many dimensions.

Anyway, I will like to take this opportunity to thank the one person who made this pilgrimage possible – Rosdiana Wasimin of Tanjung Aru Tours And Travel, Sabah, thank you Rose!

I shall blog about my journey another time but for now I want you to listen to this song “Speed of Sound” by Coldplay