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Collaboratory update May 2022 | Malaysia

News and updates from our Malaysian colleagues

18 May 2022

Over the past few months our Malaysia Collaboratory team has held the tenth and eleventh instalments in their ‘Air Malaysia’ webinar series. The webinars are hosted on StreamYard and broadcast live via Facebook in order to reach as many local citizens as possible. Featuring topic presentations and Q&A sessions with guest speakers, the team aims to create environmental and water awareness and understanding amongst people and communities living in the Johor River Basin.

Stop River Pollution’, webinar number 10, focused on the role and importance of rivers in Malaysia, and changing water quality. Guest speaker Ts Dr Nur Syarmimi Zaidi, research fellow at IPASA, UTM, emphasised the difference of point source and nonpoint source river pollution. Nonpoint source pollution (NPS) refers to the diffuse contamination of water that does not originate from a single distinct source. Examples of this type of pollution include fertiliser and insecticide runoff from agricultural lands; oil, grease, and toxic chemical runoff from urban and industry sources; and sediment from construction and mining sites, or soil erosion. It is often the result of an accumulation of small amounts of these contaminants. She went on to stress that if pollution is not controlled, public health will be impacted due to the effects of polluted river water, and deterioration of biological systems and diversity.

For the eleventh webinar in the series, the Malaysia Collaboratory invited Professor Ir Ts Dr Shreeshivadasan Chelliapan, research fellow at IPASA, to talk on ‘Microplastic Pollution in Rivers: Causes & Effects’. Malaysia is one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste disposal, and concerted efforts are needed to maintain progress in the Malaysia Action Plan Towards Zero Consumption of Disposable Plastic 2018-2030: Towards a Sustainable Future. Professor Shree reiterated the ‘4R’ concept - reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse - and also highlighted the potential risks to human health from the process of making plastic, which uses components such as Phthalate and Bisphenol-A (BPA). 

Head to the Malaysia Collaboratory Facebook page to see past webinar recordings and hear first about future events.

Our Malaysian colleagues also hosted an online forum to celebrate this year’s World Water Day. Organised by the IPASA team, the webinar ‘Groundwater: Making The Invisible Visible’ featured Datuk Ir. P.Geol. Dr. Azuhan Mohamed, General Manager of Air Kelantan Sdn. Bhd.; and P.Geol. Ismail Hj. Tawnie, Director of Hydrogeological Research Center, NAHRIM. 

Maintaining regular communication with stakeholders is crucial to the Hub’s research. Following a series of ‘coffee talks’ with local communities and village leaders, and workshops with government bodies and water managers, the Malaysia Collaboratory facilitated an online co-creation workshop to gather stakeholders together. During the workshop government agencies, NGOs, and the local communities were all able to share multiple and diverse water values, discussing solution-based, equitable approaches to preserve and conserve the Johor River Basin. 

A flooded area in Kuantan, Pahang during the December 2021 Malaysian floods

Lastly, members of the Malaysia team have recently taken part in online events and appeared in local media. Professor Zulkifli Yusop recently took part in Knowledge Sharing, an online event programme hosted at UTM. At the beginning of 2022, Malaysia experienced some of the worst flooding in the country’s history - the floods affected eight states across the peninsula, with thousands forced to evacuate their homes, and many lives lost. The Knowledge Sharing session focused on flooding, with the speakers covering Pensive Flood Phenomenons, which occur when water levels rise quickly, but are slow to recede (after several days, for example). Professor Yusop was also featured in two Malaysian newspaper articles; one titled ‘Three hours of heavy rain could drown Kuala Lumpur’; and the other ‘Climate change starting to bite’. 

Dr Nor Eliza Alias was invited to talk about climate change at the Coffee House Talk: Speak up for nature event, where she covered the definition of global warming, global warming trends, causes and effects of climate change, and precautions, preventions, and adaptation measures. 

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