Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Conclusion of the 62nd MNS National AGM at BTRR hosted by MNS Miri

Dear Members,

Please allow me be the first to congratulate all members for turning our AGM the way we wanted it to turn out. Well Done!

All of the delegates I've spoken to, Council Members included were most impressed with the great facilities, good food, fabulous fieldtrips and breadth of issues covered at this AGM we hosted.

We have successfully pushed for the following Sarawak-related items at the AGM to be included in upcoming Council deliberations, actions and MNS work for the coming year:

(a) Action plan for Sarawak - discussion mooted by James Cherian, VC-MNS Selangor
(b) Reconsider Sime Darby's position as Corporate Member in light of potentially environmentally damaging 64,000 hectares of land for oil palm plantation - discussion mooted by MNS Miri
(c) MNS Green Points Audit (green kpi) for Corporate members in the effort to make corporate members more green. Thank you to member Yong Kah Hian, MNS Miri for raising this issue up many moons ago.

Thank you to Henry, Jeit and staff of BTRR for catering to all our whims and fancies while at BTRR and accomodating to all our requests. The staff must have had a busier than usual weekend. Thanks as well for letting us use every useful empty space at the resort to exhibit our "101 Birds" exhibition by Choo Tse Chien and friends.

Thank you to the following members for attending the AGM:
Sara Wong, Musa Musbah, Rosie Kassim, Anura Dason, Nurashikin Ikhwan, Samantha Kwan, Puteri Shariza Megat Khalid, Kumareson Paranthaman, Tisha Lin, Amer Matridi Abu Mansu Matridi, Lim Teck Huat, Wong Yuk Choi, Sim Wan Chee, Sim Yuh Thin, Clarissa Loke, Rabani Ayub (MNS Sabah), and Peter Pillai.

Many thanks as well to those who stayed on to participate in the AGM discussions as well as actively contributing to the ensuing late-nite sessions on "Ba Jawi" and "Action Plans for Sarawak".

Many thanks as well to all attendees who've donated their registration fee cash-back to the branch, $22.50 per attending member.

Special thanks go to the following people:
(a) Choo Tse Chien for carting all the artwork to Miri.-Peter Pillai and Rabani Ayub for leading the Lambir Pre-Trip Walk in Lambir NP the morning of the AGM.
(b) Peter Pillai and Amer for leading the Niah Day Trip post AGM. These two managed to raise another $250 for MNS Miri Branch!
(c) Rabani Ayub for leading the Bario Post AGM trip.

Thank you all again for a successful AGM. Without your support and unwavering commitment, we would not have been able to conclude our national AGM on a high note as we have done. To all those involved "Well Done!"

kindest regards,
Nazeri Abghani,
on behalf of MNS Miri

Thursday, September 24, 2009


This Hari Raya weekend, I put on my hiking shoes and trekked the longest trail in Similajau National Park to Golden Beach.

Seven of us left the Park HQ around 7:30am with the sounds of Black Hornbills calling overhead. We hiked through the forest, bypassing countless streams, streams that came in different sizes, widths, depths and colours. Fringed by lush vegetation, all of them ran happily towards the sea, as if they couldn’t wait to go home.

Some streams were shallow and clear, filled with boulders and fallen logs. Some went a little bit deeper and therefore cloudier so we couldn’t see all the way to the bottom. Some had white sandy beds, the water was crystal clear but had the colour of tea. Some were decorated in green mossy rocks; others were narrow, bubbling along and covered with abundant river ferns.

The bigger and deeper streams on the other hand had the colour of milky tea, they flowed slowly, almost still, making one wondered whether there were crocodiles lurking beneath, hmmmm . . . . . worry not though, the Park has put up footbridges which provided safe passages over these water channels so there's very hardly any need to wade across murky waters.

Even when a bridge was taken down by a fallen tree in one particularly heavy storm about a week ago, the Park quickly intstalled a temporary log bridge for hikers. We found out later that we were the first group of tourists testing out this bridge. A rope had been fastened from one end to the other to assist the hikers, but wow, crossing log bridge definitely counted as the most exciting part of our hike, requiring a huge dose of courage, concentration and balancing act from all of us!

The 9.8km forest trail to Golden Beach followed the coastline closely. The sounds of the crashing waves accompanied us most of the way. Sometimes through the dense vegetation we could catch a glimpse or two of the lovely coastlines and sandy beaches. The temptation to stop and explore these places was great but we had to press on.

The forest along the trail was mainly lowland mixed dipterocarp dotted with pockets of kerangas trees. Selunsur trees were sighted lining some of the river banks. They were easily recognisable from the others by their smooth and orange coloured tree trunks. Fungi were abundant too. One of our greatest finds must be the dramatic looking stinkhorn fungus (Phallus indusiatus) with veil-like netting hanging down its hollow stem.

En route to Golden Beach, we stopped by the 2 turtle beaches at KM6 and KM7. There were reports of Green Turtles nesting on these beaches. We couldn’t find any turtle tracks, perhaps the nesting season was well over.

We reached Golden Beach, another 3km hike further on after 1pm. The beach is so named because of its golden sand, which appeared to have a high content of small and transparent quartz crystals that sparkled under sunrays. Unfortunately, most of the rocky shoreline was submerged under high water, so we didn’t get to explore that part of the scenic rock formation here. That we have to leave it for another day.

We did managed to check out sections of the sandstone cliff by the beach and found a small cave full of bats!

Despite the gently undulating terrains, Golden Beach was still a demanding trek due to the distance and dense roots which we had to step over, concentrating on not tripping over.

As dusk approached, the last of the group members finally crossed the suspension bridge over Likau River, and limped into Park HQ.

We were mighty glad to make it back to Park HQ just before nightfall. Congratulations to all for another great hike and looking forward to another outing to Similajau National Park!

In the midst of giant trees.

Delicate moves across murky waters.

A row of slender selunsur lining up a section of a meandering stream.

A subdued view of Golden Beach, the coarse grain sands here have a high ratio of silica content. The rocky crags harbour a myriad of interesting life of the intertidal zones.

Write-up and pictures by Sara Wong, MNS Miri Branch, Sep 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

Ruby-cheeked sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis borneana. This male was sighted at Lambir Hills being visibly stressed at it's own reflection. It kept coming back to the same perch fronting a reflective glass window of a restaurant nestled down a slope of a hill.

Olive-backed in the garden

Olive-backed sunbird Cinnyris jugularis. An almost ubiquitous sunbird species in the lowland gardens. Males sport a resplendent metallic-black-purplish-blue forehead and throat. Metallic bluish moustache is sometimes visible when flashed. Females lack the metallic colors with the same olive back and yellow underparts. They sometimes forage together and are quite approachable when busy feeding. Their rising song in the morning is unmistakable in many gardens and roadsides with flowering trees.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Scarlet in the garden

Scarlet-backed flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum. The male's fiery red scarlet feathers well made up for his shortish protrusion of a tail feather. His visits are regular like clock-work, skittish but gets comfy quite fast once he starts feeding of the mistletoe flowers. The female is drab grey olive but with a touch of scarlet by the side of the rump.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Three new waders for Kuala Baram



Three new waders for Kuala Baram this season:
1) Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica baueri
2) Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata orientalis
3) Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dams a curse from Hell, say Orang Ulu

by Joseph Tawie
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 21:18

KUCHING - The Orang Ulu communities of Kayan, Penan and Kenyah have stressed their opposition to the Sarawak Government’s plan to proceed with the construction of the Baram and Murum dams, explaining that they will virtually drown almost all their properties, lands, fruit trees, graveyards and cultural heritage.

In Baram, some 20,000 people from 30 or more longhouses and villages along the Baram River valley, locally known as Telang Usan, will be affected and displaced by the dam, said Philip Jau of Long Laput when he and four other Orang Ulu representatives met the press at a hotel in Kuching today.

About 38,900 hectares (389 sq km) of forest and land, the bulk of it is native customary land consisting of temuda, cultivated lands, gardens, villages, churches, graveyards, community forests and sites of historical significance will be submerged.

Not moving an inch
“Our YBs (elected representatives) say that the dam is a blessing from God, but we say it is a curse from Hell,” he said, and insisted that they would not move an inch from their present villages and longhouses.

“We have seen how the people of Sg Asap suffer after they have been moved out of their villages and longhouses in Belaga because of the Bakun dam. Their lives are worse than they were before,” he said.

Jau declared: “We will fight to the end, and there are so many ways to fight them (government); one is through the elections and another is through the court and yet another is through the United Nations.”

“Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak talks about 1Malaysia with the people given preference and yet we the Orang Ulu have been sidelined, our plight and our problems ignored.

“What the state government is doing to the Orang Ulu is contrary to the wishes of the prime minister,” he added.

A 55-year-old tua kampong, Panai Irang of Long Sepatai Akar, Baram, said that he and his Penan people could not live in water and if the dam was to be built, they would perish together with the water.

Signature campaigns
Speaking in Penan, he said: “Our greatest worry is that the dam is going to flood our villages, our properties and our land on which we have planted fruit trees and we have learnt to cultivate on land to survive. That is why we don’t want the dam to be built.

“Not only the Penans are worried, but also other communities like the Kayans, Kenyahs and others,” he said, pointing out that this was the message his people wanted to convey to the authorities.

Expressing similar sentiments was Johannes Luhat of Kpg Long San, who said that they had initiated a signature campaign among the Orang Ulu communities against the dam project.

“So far we have collected more than 200 signatures. More are coming as we have sent our men to the ground,” he said, adding that after the signatures had been collected, they would submit a petition bearing those signatures to both the State and Federal governments.

Luhat made it very clear that they were not anti-development. “Sure we want development such as roads, hospitals, schools, rural electrification projects, but not a project such as the Baram dam which will destroy our lives and livelihood.”

Like their counterparts from Baram, two representatives from Belaga, Bujang Jalong and Suie Along also expressed their opposition against the construction of the Murum dam in their area.

Lives have turned for the worst
Suie said: “Both of us are representing some 1,000 Penans of Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu, Long Malim and Long Ubain villages along the Sungai Peleiran-Murum.

“We come to Kuching not to ‘makan angin’ (leisure) but with a heavy heart, full of worry and sadness and to tell the world of our plight after the construction of Murum dam has started,” he said.

Suie said that all their villages, longhouses, lands, gardens, properties and graveyards as well as their hunting grounds would be destroyed and flooded by the dam.

“We are then forced to move out from our villages to an unknown area,” he said, adding that they were aware that the government had failed to provide better living to those who had been affected by the Bakun and Batang Ai dams.

The people of Sg Asap faced serious social, economic and a host of other problems, he said.

The Penan Talun, Long Belangan have been suffering and their lives are worst now than they were in their previous villages.

“We know the impact will be on our livelihood, our community and on our generation,” he said, expressing the hope that the government should cease immediately the construction of the dam.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


16 September 2009

As Malaysia commemorates its 46th anniversary, 15 indigenous Sarawakians have been detained by Kuching police for trying to send a memorandum of protest to the Sarawak Chief Minister. Among those arrested are Mark Bujang (BRIMAS), Raymond Abin (BRIMAS) and Hellan Empaing (WADESA), all leaders of the Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia) as well as representatives from the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan communities of Sarawak.

The contingent, consisting of 6 Penan, 4 Iban, 2 Kayan and 3 Kenyah are all representatives of communities who will be affected by two major dams which are being built in their areas. They had prepared a memorandum on the issue and were delivering it to Wisma Bapa Malaysia, the office of the Chief Minister. While waiting for endorsement of the document, they were arrested by local police. They are currently being held in the Kampung Gita Police Station in Petra Jaya, Kuching, Sarawak. It is uncertain whether they are being charged, or what reasons are being given for their detention.

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia strongly condemns the detention of its members who were attempting to deliver a memorandum on behalf of the indigenous peoples of the Baram and Murum areas of Sarawak. The memorandum protested the State Government’s actions to build hydro electric dams in these areas without the free, prior and informed consent of the communities affected and without due regards to the status of the native lands involved. The actions of the State Government are in clear contradiction to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Malaysia strongly supports.

We also condemn the use of arrest to intimidate and silence the voices of the communities who are questioning the construction of large dams on the area. This demonstrates the unwillingness of the State Government to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in projects that affect them.

We call upon the Sarawak State Government to immediately release all fifteen Sarawakians and engage in a proper consultative process with the affected communities.

We also call for the respect of the constitutional native land rights of these communities. It is also in violation of the right to peaceful assembly, guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Yours truly,
Adrian Lasimbang
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where is Ba Jawi?

Map appropriated from BMF. Areas marked by dark-thick lines is Samling's Sela'an Linau Forest Management Unit (56,000 ha). Ba Jawi is located south of the still pending 1998 court case involving Penan NCR land that was dealienated for logging by the State.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Miri Branch September Update

Dear Members,

Apologies to all for a late update this month ... things are piling up as usual! There's another whole pile of events coming up in Sep and October too!


1. Reefcheck Presentation at Committee Meeting, 29th July
Committee members were feted with a presentation of a Reefcheck initiatives by Peter Hayes and branch members involved with the project. The Reefcheck project members has agreed to adopt Community Outreach as another important facet to their activities.

2. NiteWalk at Lambir Hills 31st July
Peter, Musa, Jia Jiun and family had a great time roaming around in the dark at Lambir. Several new and interesting sounds were heard that might be worth further investigations by more trips in the dark of Lambir.

Photo by Musa Musbah

3. Tusan Fossil Hunt and Changes in Sea Level 01st August

Participants were Miri branch members as well as Curtin University students. Charlie and Maarten did another great service to geology and our general understanding of sea level changes. There were a few fossils to collect too.

4. Turtle Monitoring Trip Pulau Talang-talang, 3-6th August
Aidil, King King and Nazeri participated in a Turtle Monitoring Program on Talang-talang island near Kuching for four days. This is in collaboration with Salco as part of an exposure trip for a potential similar program in Similajau.

5. Lambir Hills Trek to Tengkorong Waterfalls, 8th August
The trekking team had to back out due to strong winds in the middle of their trek.

6. Lambir Hills Trek to Tengkorong Waterfalls, 15th August 2nd attempt.
Sara and Jaap made it to the waterfall and back in record time ... even the leeches didn't have time enough time to latch on.

7. Pantu Buri Birdwatching, 15th August
Steve, Marijke, Musa and Nazeri explored a new site for birdwatching. And what a rewarding site it was. Further visits were later made by Steve, Saw Sian, Musa and Rosie 15th August to reveal a further interesting array of birds over one small area. This will definitely be one of our new favorite birding site.

8. Julan Falls Trek 17-22th August
Sara and Grace came back from this trek organised by MNS Selangor with tall stories on waterfalls, leeches and wildboar! We are waiting for a write-up and pictures! We may have also found a new place to hang-out over long weekends other than Bario, yep you guessed it: Long Akah!

9. Bario revisit 29-31st August
Two families had a frolicking funtime trekking in and around Bario, youngest trekker was 3 years old!!!

10. Maliau Basin Trekking 29th Aug - 03rd September
Sara, Mike and two friends from Kuching did Maliau Basin, the trek comes highly recommended with plenty of wildlife to see along the trails and campsites. All thumbs up!

11. Campout Kuala Baram Sandbar 5-6th September
Musa, Nazeri, Mike and JJ braved the knee-deep mud, a downpour and armies of mozzies and sandflies for great views for sunset, sunrise, Caspian Tern, Whimbrel, Gull-billed Tern and Malaysian Plover alongside with other waders liek Terek Sandpiper, Greenshank, Egrets, Lesser Sandpover, Greater Sandplover and Pacific Golden Plover. The sun got a wee bit too hot by 10am, we left the sandbars 15min short of 11 just as the tide was rising.


1. Similajau Trekking over Hari Raya over long break 20-22nd September
Sara is organising a group outing to trek Golden Beach during the raya break. There'll be trekking, birdwatching and river cruise looking for crocodiles. Accomodation option is limited, please book a place with Sara early if you are interested.

Drive in Chalet: $75/chalet can fit 4-6 person

Hostel :$15/bed or $40/room which can accomodate 4 persons.
Other costs are on shared basis.

We need to arrange car-pooling, so call early!

2. MNS 62nd National AGM at BTRR, Lambir 25-27th September
Twenty of our members are participating in this event together with members from MNS branches all over the country.

25th September
1100 Arrival of delegates
1300 Lunch at BTRR

Optional activities for members:
a) 1400 Explore BTRR trails,
b) 1500 Birdwatching at BTRR Session 1

1900 Dinner at BTRR
2000 Presentation by Miri Branch

26th September
0630 Breakfast

Optional Activities for Members:
a) 0800 Walk in Lambir Hill NP with Peter Pillai, Miri members to meet at Lambir Hills NP. Meet at Lambir Hills NP Canteen 0800AM. Innoue, Pantu, Latak and back
b) 0800 Birdwatching around BTRR Session 2,

1100 Check-in BTRR
1200 Lunch at BTRR
1300 Start Briefing and Registration
1330 AGM Registration
1400 Commencement of AGM
1600 Tea break
1630 Continue AGM
1800 End AGM
1930 Dinner
2030 Presentation on Ba Jawi
2100 Discussions on Sarawak

Ba Jawi, photo by Jungle Jim

27th September
0630 Breakfast

Optional Activities for Members:-
a) 0800 Day Trip to Niah Caves National Park with Peter Pillai and Amer.
b) 0800 Birdwatching at BTRR session3

1200 Check-out from BTRR

Available packages:
AGM only (26th with lunch and tea) $45/pp
2D/1N (26th-27th) AGM package in Engkabang Room $280/pp twin sharing
3D/2N(25th-27th) AGM package in Engakang Room $485/pp twin sharing
3D/2N (25th-27th) AGM package in Hostel $177/pp including all meals
2D/1N (26-27th) AGM package in Hotel $103/pp including all meals.

Please email if are you interested to attend. Activities planned over the 3days are FOC.

3. Kuching Mini Birdrace 04th October
The Mini Bird Race 2009 will be held in the Highlands of Penrissen Range. Located as the world's oldest and second largest tropical rainforest, Penrissen Range sits more than 1,000 metres above sea level in between Kalimantan and Sarawak . A total of 163 species of birds have so far been sighted in this area including endermic species plus other interesting birds.

Checkout the details and contact numbers :

4. Borneo Bird Festival 10-15th October
There is a new event, the first of its kind - The Borneo Bird Festival (BBF) 2009 will be unveiled on 10th Ocotber 2009 at the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.

The BBF aims to promote bird conservation and raise awareness. Slotted for 6 days, the event will be launched on 10th October. Activities will include a Conference, Workshops on Photography Techniques, Wildlife Art & Sketching, Bird Race, Guided Walks, Bird Tours, local students programmes and activities, children's colouring competition and games, night walks and exhibitions.

Find out more details at this url:

5. MoonCake Fest at Curtin (astronomy) 1st or 2nd week October
Actual dates to be firmed up by Ernyza and Aju.

6. Birdwatching Walkabout on Campus (Curtin) 1st or 2nd week October.
Actual dates to be firmed up by Aju.

1. A warm wlecome to all our new members, we look forward to seeing you in one of our events one of these days.

2. Keep updated with Branch activities via our blog (http://mnsmiri.blogspot.com/) and Facebook (search for "MNS Miri"). If you've articles, write-ups and pictures to share on our blog, please email mnsmiri@yahoo.com

3. Membership renewal. The following members's subsription is about to expire (Oct 2009):

Adrienne Marcus Raja
Bejay Ugon
Jia Jiun Law
Masatoshe Sone
Nurhazwani Abdul Munaf
Terry Justin Dit
Elisabet Wee Siew Siew
Yong Kah Hian
Karim Madoya
Sim Yuh Thin
Lim Teck Huat
Mary Foley

Members, please take time to renew your membership. If you need assistance, please contact us, we'll make it as painless and hassle free as much as we can. Your Society needs your continued support.

Thank you. Till next month.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Damming Up Sarawak

Planned and in progress dams in Sarawak to power up the State's economy and bring purportedly massive development to the people of Sarawak, to some of them at least. Along with these, there will be dislocation of native peoples, lost of wildlife and and destruction of rainforest. Map by Google, overlay by David Tryse.

Full article by Kara Moses at www.mongabay.com