Archive for January, 2010

SLDB, Nuclear Malaysia Sign Memorandum On Agarwood Industry

Posted on January 30, 2010. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods |

(Bernama) — The Malaysian Nuclear Agency (Nuclear Malaysia), an agency under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, and Sabah Land Development Berhad (SLDB) on Saturday signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance the agarwood industry development in Sabah.

The event was witnessed by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili and SLDB Chairman Datuk Sapawi Ahmad.

The memorandum was signed by Nuclear Malaysia’s Director-General Datuk Dr Daud Mohamad and SLDB’s General Manager Jhuvarri Majid.

Under the memorandum, Nuclear Malaysia will provide the technical expertise to ensure the agarwood seeds to be cultivated are of high quality and that the production of agarwood oil products are capable of meeting market demands.

It will also organise the cultivation of agarwood at a 40-hectare site in Kalas in Nabawan and provide the inoculation that induces the resin in agarwood.

The agarwood industry development project in Nabawan is believed to be the future model for Sabah’s overall agarwood industry development.

Speaking at the event, Ongkili said he believed the collaboration would reap tremendous success following SLDB’s vast experience in implementing large-scale agricultural projects and Nuclear Malaysia’s expertise in technology-based community projects.

To this end, Ongkili urged government agencies, research institutions and corporate organisations to jointly collaborate in project implementations which would set off high and immediate impact to communities and grassroots societies.

Jhuvarri said the processing and extraction of the plant would provide local collectors a chance to sell the agarwood locally and get paid the true market value, while at the same time create a new economic activity for Nabawan.

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Three men held by Perhilitan for peddling animals

Posted on January 29, 2010. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

-The Star-

SHAH ALAM: The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhi-litan) arrested three men for peddling wildlife on the Internet.

Selangor Perhilitan director Rahmat Topani said the three were a 23-year-old software technician, 30-year-old construction supervisor and a 28-year-old employee with an IT firm.

“Our enforcement officers went undercover, pretending to be agents or buyers interested in buying the animals,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

On Jan 23, department officials arrested the technician who had an oriental white-eye bird (zosterops palpebrosa) in a car at Taman Maluri in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

On the same day, they arrested the supervisor at his home in Bandar Baru Bangi and seized two white-rumped shama birds (copsychus malabaricus). Both were fined RM400 each.

Confiscated: Perhilitan officers showing the Burmese pythons that were seized.

On Jan 26, Perhilitan enforcement officers arrested the 28-year-old at AEON Bukit Tinggi car park in Klang and found two iguanas in the car he was driving.

They checked the man’s house and found a rare monitor lizard, cobra, python, a red-tailed boa constrictor and a Burmese python.

The man has been released on a RM2,000 police bail and is expected to be charged on Feb 25 under Section 68 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which carries a fine of not more than RM3,000 or a three-year jail term.

Initial investigations revealed that the oriental white-eye was to be sold for RM160 while the common shama for RM400 each.

The rare clouded monitor lizard that originated from Papua New Guinea could fetch between RM7,000 and RM8,000.

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Tiger in the spotlight at Saleng Zoo

Posted on January 29, 2010. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

-The Star-

KULAIJAYA: The Saleng Zoo here is aiming to educate the public on protecting the Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris malayensis), in conjunction with the Year of the Tiger.

Zoo caretaker and animal trainer J. Siva Priyan said the zoo is home to 24 Malayan tigers, an endangered species due to poaching activities as well as the destruction of their natural habitat.

“This is the best platform to campaign for the conservation of the species, as the tiger comes under the spotlight this Chinese New Year,” he said.

Star attraction: Siva showing off the eight-month-old cub at the zoo in Kulaijaya.

“Our goal is to bring people closer to these animals so that they will come to love the species,” Siva said, adding that the tiger was a beautiful animal symbolising strength.

He added that an eight-month-old tiger cub will be available for photograph and petting sessions between Feb 14 and 24 at the zoo.

The Malayan tiger is a sub-species found in the jungles of Malaysia and Thailand.

Recent counts showed there were between 600 and 800 Malayan tigers in the wild, thus putting the species on the endangered list.

Endangered species: The big cats in their enclosures at the zoo, which is home to 24 Malayan tigers.

The zoo also has some 40 different species of animals, including two orang utan, lions, crocodiles and 42 of the world’s largest freshwater fish species, arapaima gigas.

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Urban Public Transport Enhanced By 2012

Posted on January 28, 2010. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods |

(Bernama) — Highlights of the Government Transformation Programme Roadmap towards improving urban public transport:

*Increasing the percentage of overall utilisation of public transport from 10 to 13 per cent in 2010.

*Raising the number of public transport users from 240,000 to 265,000 this year.

*Increasing the accessibility and communication of the overall percentage of the population residing within 400 meters of the public transport route from 63 per cent to 75 per cent.

The government’s main target is to improve the standard of public transport at the main population centres in Malaysia, beginning with increasing the use of public transport during peak hours, that is, from 7am to 9am by 25 per cent in the Klang Valley in 2012, and subsequently in Penang and Johor Baharu.

Efforts to improve urban public transport services would also be emphasised including improving reliability by focusing on punctuality of the services and subsequently reducing journey time.

In addition, the quality of the journey four users of public transport in terms of comfort and convenience would also be enhanced by ensuring that the rakyat get easy access to public transport and providing adequate transportation capacity for existing and new passengers.

Five important measures that have been identified to improve public transportation between 2009 and 2012 were coordination of the capacity of systems which had reached their limit, that is, by raising the capacity of the KTM Komuter and LRT by between 1.7 and four times.

In order to attract more people to use public transportation, the ticket and fare structure for public transport would be integrated and about 6,800 additional parking bays would be provided at 14 major rail stations. Feeder bus services to the rail stations would be improved while stations with high traffic volume would be upgraded.

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“Avatar is real,” say tribal people

Posted on January 28, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

-Ground Report.com-

Following the film Avatar’s win at the Golden Globes, tribal people have claimed that the film tells the real story of their lives today.

A Penan man from Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, told Survival, “The Penan people cannot live without the rainforest. The forest looks after us, and we look after it. We understand the plants and the animals because we have lived here for many, many years, since the time of our ancestors.

“The Na’vi people in ‘Avatar’ cry because their forest is destroyed. It’s the same with the Penan. Logging companies are chopping down our big trees and polluting our rivers, and the animals we hunt are dying.”

Kalahari Bushman Jumanda Gakelebone said, “We the Bushmen are the first inhabitants in southern Africa. We are being denied rights to our land and appeal to the world to help us. ‘Avatar’ makes me happy as it shows the world about what it is to be a Bushman, and what our land is to us. Land and Bushmen are the same.”

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, known as the Dalai Lama of the Rainforest, said, “My Yanomami people have always lived in peace with the forest. Our ancestors taught us to understand our land and animals. We have used this knowledge carefully, for our existence depends on it. My Yanomami land was invaded by miners. A fifth of our people died from diseases we had never known.”

Director James Cameron received his Golden Globes awards for “Avatar” last week, and revealed one of the central ideas of the film.

“Avatar asks us to see that everything is connected,” he said in his acceptance speech, “All human beings to each other, and us to the earth.”

Cameron was inspired by the Maori language of New Zealand when devising the language spoken by the Na’vi.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry says, “Just as the Na’vi describe the forest of Pandora as ‘their everything’, for most tribal peoples, life and land have always been deeply connected.

“The fundamental story of Avatar – if you take away the multi-coloured lemurs, the long-trunked horses and warring androids – is being played out time and time again, on our planet.

“Like the Na’vi of ‘Avatar’, the world’s last-remaining tribal peoples – from the Amazon to Siberia – are also at risk of extinction, as their lands are appropriated by powerful forces for profit-making reasons such as colonization, logging and mining.

“One of the best ways of protecting the our world’s natural heritage is surprisingly simple; it is to secure the land rights of tribal peoples.”

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‘Mega-dams’ may displace 600,000

Posted on January 27, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

-Malaysiakini.com-

The announcement on Jan 11 of an investment of US$11 billion (RM37 billion) by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) in Sarawak’s Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) brought a welcome smile to the face of beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak.

However, the PM’s brow may now be furrowed by adverse international press coverage. The deal has raised worrying questions regarding corruption and the displacement of thousands of native landowners, required for the construction of the ‘mega-dams’ that will deliver profits for the SGCC and its local partners.

The Financial Times of London quoted an estimate of 608,000 local people who will be “likely” to require relocation. The number of natives who will face eviction from their homes is still unclear, but the scale of uprooting and alienation of communities will undeniably be immense.

sarawak energy board slide show hydropower project in sarawak 180608 bakun damThe fundamental issue, say critics of the ‘mega-dams’, is one of waste.

The state government argues it needs 12 new dams to provide electricity for Score projects such as the giant Salco aluminium smelter in Bintulu, a planned partnership between CMS and the multinational Rio Tinto Alcan.

Opponents of the dams point out that Sarawak already has a comfortable surplus of electricity. The 2,400 megawatt Bakun dam (above), begun over a decade ago, is scheduled to provide even more excess energy.

Furthermore, local people are incensed by the government’s choice of an aluminium smelter industry, notorious for pollution and discharge of toxins into the environment.

Family ties and contracts

The waste of taxpayers’ money, used in the construction of the ‘mega-dams’ and the relocation of affected communities, dominates debate.

The stench of allegations of corruption – of PKFZ dimensions – swirls around the new dams and related Score industries.

Transparency International has described the Bakun dam project as a “monument of corruption”. The 12 proposed dams are also being condemned as further monumental “jobs for the boys”.

NONEFor example, the RM209 million contract for the power line connecting Bakun to the Salco smelter was awarded on Jan 13 to Naim Holdings by Sarawak Energy Berhad.

Sarawak Energy monopolises the local electricity grid. Its chief executive officer, until last month, was Abdul Aziz Husain, brother-in-law of Sarawak’s durable Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (left).

The chairman of Sarawak Energy is Abdul Hamid Sepawi, Taib’s cousin. Abdul Hamid is also chairman of Naim Holdings. No conflict of interest has been declared.

The beneficiaries of the Salco project are CMS, Naim, Sarawak Energy and their partners. In its 2008 report, CMS announced it was 29.3 percent owned by Abdul Taib’s family, including his late wife and two sons.

Since 2005, CMS has been awarded RM1.3 billion worth of government projects, and Naim RM3.3 billion, according to Bloomberg News. CMS and Naim responded to Bloomberg by denying any improper influence by Abdul Taib over the contracts awarded.

Displaced people neglected

The beneficiaries of the contracts may have huge numbers dancing before their eyes, but thousands of impoverished farmers will see their homes vanish for each mega-dam.

The Bakun resettlement scheme has set a disturbing precedent. In 1998, 10,000 Kayan, Penan, Kenyah and other villagers were moved from their longhouses and settlements, mostly to Sungai Asap.

NONEGara Jalong is a Kenyah headman whose community, Long Geng, was forced off their land. The Bakun dam submerged the Long Geng longhouse, together with its history, and its intricate murals and carvings.

“We asked how much land would the government give us if we moved to the resettlement scheme? Initially, we asked for 10 acres. But the government did not agree to our request.

“When we all asked for seven acres…then, the government made a decision. They allocated only three acres of land for us. So…we also made the decision, of refusing to move into the resettlement scheme,” Gara told his story with calm dignity.

Most of his fellow villagers refused resettlement at the Sungai Asap site, and moved upstream to carve out a new life in Long Lawen. Thanks to hard work, the Kenyah community at Long Lawen has thrived.

NONEIn stark contrast, Lejau Ului, a Kenyah who moved to the Sungai Asap site recounted being assured: ” ‘Don’t worry because of the three-acre land. If your land is already full, you can always ask for more later. The government will not forget all of you. The government will manage all your problems,’ we were told. So, that’s why we came.

“It’s only when arrived here that we realised the problems. What the government said wasn’t true. Suddenly the government’s promises were not the same as before. They have already changed. That is because they made promise to us by word of mouth,” Lejau said.

Lejau’s family, and others who resettled at Sungai Asap, were promised a school, clinic, and modern amenities. A dozen years later, they are struggling with insufficient land, unemployment, and ramshackle facilities. They are mired in poverty.

According to the Sungai Asap villagers, the compensation promised them was not delivered in full, and what was paid out had already been exhausted.

Many cannot afford to pay their electricity and water bills, according to a Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Social Impact Assessment report made available to the Star.

A silver lining?

There may be a silver lining for natives threatened by the ‘mega-dams’. Two recent stunning landmark court victories by native landowners over the Sarawak authorities have thrown the government’s land dealings into the limelight.

NONEThe court decisions give hope to Malay and Dayak communities dispossessed by ‘Big Business’, in the shape of oil palm plantations, logging, or the new threat of joint SGCC-Sarawak Energy dams.

In a lawsuit filed by Agi anak Bungkong and 15 longhouses against Ladang Sawit Bintulu Sdn Bhd, Tabung Haji and the Sarawak government, High Court Judge David Wong found on Jan 21 that the oil palm plantation had infringed the Iban communities’ Native Customary Rights.

He awarded the disputed land to the longhouse folk.

On the same day, the High Court Judge also found for Mohamad Rambli Kawi, a Malay landowner who had sued the state government for wrongfully extinguishing his NCR claim over land, obtained under the Malay custom of ‘serah’.

Malay and Iban plaintiffs were united in joy.

NCR hopes and fears

However, concern on the ground remains over the government’s track record of failing to take heed of previous court rulings on NCR land.

The Sarawak government continues to insist that all native land is state land unless the Land and Survey Department has gazetted the land under NCR.

NONEThis leaves native landowners twisting in the wind, since the Land and Survey Department has gazetted less than 10 percent of all NCR land throughout Sarawak, since the formation of Malaysia! The department claims it lacks the resources to complete its task.

Resentment among rural Sarawakians has been simmering for years, because the administration’s actions have ignored legal precedents such as Madeli and Rumah Nor Nyawai.

These seminal cases affirmed that NCR claims over land, established by traditional laws and practices, or ‘adat’, over many centuries, cannot be extinguished by administrative edict.

This dissatisfaction may be boiling over. NCR issues will count among the most important political issues in Sarawak and Sabah in the upcoming 13th General Election.

It appears likely that native Sarawakians will now be emboldened to launch more lawsuits against the government.

There may even be some anxiety among state ministers that the tide may turn against them in the court of public opinion – the upcoming elections.

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Nuclear energy inevitable, Chin tells OBG

Posted on January 27, 2010. Filed under: Energy |

-Theedgemalaysia.com-

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s implementation of nuclear energy is inevitable and the challenge is to “clinch a good deal on new sources of energy at the opportune time,” Minister of Energy, Green TECHNOLOGY and Water Datuk Peter Chin told Oxford Business Group (OBG) recently.

In an interview with OBG, the global publishing, research and consultancy firm, he said this would help ensure that Malaysia’s export sector was able to compete with neighbouring countries rather than finding itself hindered by high electricity tariffs.

“Nuclear power is expensive, but it is the only fuel option that is not finite, so it is inevitable that Malaysia will have to use it with a combination of other sources.

“The question is, when are we going to use it? The answer is very simple: when we feel the other sources of energy are depleting to a point where the cost of generating energy becomes too high compared to other fuels. Then we will deploy nuclear energy, which will dampen the total cost of energy overall,” he said.

In a statement, OBG said the interview with Chin would be featured in The Report: Malaysia 2010, its forthcoming guide on the country’s business activity.

OBG said the report would serve to reinforce OBG’s place as the world market leader in providing accurate, insightful economic information on developing and emerging economies across the continents.

It added that the report would be a vital guide to the many facets of the country, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, political landscape, banking and sectoral developments.

Chin also told OBG that green technology was the way forward for Malaysia, since it would provide the economy with a potential area of growth while also allowing it to project itself as a forward-looking country, rather than one based on old, wasteful technologies.

“Malaysia’s competitiveness in the world can be enhanced through the efficient use of electricity and through the deployment of green technology. Malaysia must create an economy that is vibrant and can attract foreign investors.

“We don’t want our goods to be labelled as not being environmentally friendly or not sustainable. We need to be comparable to international countries that are successful in global trade.”

Chin acknowledged that there were restrictions on some sources of green energy, such as solar power which was still expensive and biomass which required further technological advancement.

But he said others, especially hydro, had potential. Chin said although it was unrealistic to expect hydro to make up the bulk of Malaysia’s renewable energy mix, it could certainly be a significant component, especially in the Bakun Dam project.

“The Bakun Dam coming onstream will be very important in increasing the contribution of hydro power to our energy mix,” he said, adding the CONSTRUCTION [// <![CDATA[// ] of the undersea cable connecting Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia would be the subject of a call for international tender which was earmarked for the end of the year.

The Report: Malaysia 2010 will be available in print form and online and will include interviews with leading political, economic and business figures in addition to an analysis of sectors ranging from banking, capital markets, energy, infrastructure and industry to insurance.

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Putrajaya, Cyberjaya to go green ASAP!

Posted on January 26, 2010. Filed under: Energy, Environmental Science |

– The Star-

PUTRAJAYA: Putrajaya and Cyberjaya will be developed as pioneer townships in green technology in the “shortest time possible” to reflect the Government’s commitment towards environmentally sound and sustainable practices.

In announcing this, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak the decision was made during the inaugural Green Technology Council meeting which he chaired Tuesday, adding that this was among efforts undertaken by the Government to ensure the use of renewable energy and green technology was actively pursued.

“The Government realises that countries adopting sustainable energy and green technology will be winners in the 21st century as it will be the core of economies. This is not an option but a reality that all nations must face.

“The use of renewable energy and green technology will be an important part of the Government’s agenda and it will go beyond the responsibility of the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry to further promote and propogate its use.

“It is our committment to bequeath our future generation with an environment which is pristine and healthy,” he said at the launching of the RM1.5bil Green Technology Financing scheme.

The Prime Minister said the fund was aimed at encouraging investment in green technology, green construction and innovation, adding the scheme would also encourage much-needed foreign direct-investment and would support technology transfer and capacity building for local companies.

He said as an added incentive, the Government would play its role by covering 2% of the loan’s interest rate and providing guarantee of 60% on the financing while the remaining 40% would be covered by banks.

He said that since the scheme was launched on Jan 1, 186 companies have responded to the initial soft loan offer.

“I am confident in the long-term strengths and benefits of this scheme for companies that invest in green technology as well as financial institutions that see it as a smart and strategic investment.

“This is the role of the financing scheme — to stimulate investment and the development of Malaysia’s green technology marketplace, That, in turn, will support business growth, job creation and prosperity,” he said.

Najib said Malaysia was committed to playing its role in addressing climate change issues, including setting a carbon reduction goal of 40% by 2020 while investing in green technology, adding that the investments would allow the Government to build a progressive and low carbon economy.

He said the Government has placed an emphasis on high-potential sectors of growth which include green technology, and it believed that “green jobs” and “green innovation” would be part of a dynamic and fast-growing economic landscape.

“These are ambitious plans for an ambitious nations. We must all play our roles — government and private sector alike. We need to train the next generation of entrepreneurs and scientists to invest in new businesses of the future and to chart a path for green technology and infrastructure that drives our nation forward,” he said.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui said his ministry was also working on several plans and roadmaps such as the Energy Efficiency Master Plan, the Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan, and the Green Technology Action Plan.

He said these initiatives, among others, were aimed at reducing dependency on fossil fuels and increasing generating capacity from renewable sources such as biomass, hydro and solar.

“We hope that with the creation of these plans, we will be able to spur the economy by encouraging entrepreneurs to construct green buildings, hydro power plants, manufacture solar panels, wind turbines and industrial and building energy efficient equipments,” he said.

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Malaysia Committed To Adopting Renewable Energy And Green Technology – Najib

Posted on January 26, 2010. Filed under: Energy, Environmental Science |

(Bernama) — Malaysia is committed to adopting renewable energy and green technology to become a leading nation in the 21st century, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The prime minister said the government realised that in the 21st century, renewable energy and sustainable energy as well as green technology would be the core of economic growth for all countries.

“This is not an option but a reality that all nations must face up to.

“Only those who master the application of green technology and sustainable energy will be the winner in the 21st century,” he said at the launch of the Green Technology Financing Scheme (GTFS), here Tuesday.

Also present was Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui.

Najib also witnessed the signing of a memorandum between the Finance Ministry and the Credit Guarantee Corporation.

The prime minister said the government realised that it was not sustainable to be over-reliant and over-dependent on fossil fuels.

“During the recent conference of the parties in Copenhagen, I was pleased to join world leaders, academics and NGO leaders to consider these opportunities.

Although the outcome was rather disappointing, at least there is additional commitment by many countries in the sense that all nations believe that we must somehow put together a legally binding commitment soon after the Copenhagen summit,” he said.

Najib said the threat was real and these discussions must continue because, around the world, the effects of climate change were being seen.

“From melting polar ice caps to loss of endangered species to unprecedented numbers of natural disasters, it is all around us. We are seeing more severe, more deadly results than ever before,” he said.

Najib said the investment of RM1.5 billion for the GTFS would encourage business investment in green technology, green construction and innovation.

“The government will play its role, covering two per cent of the loan’s interest rate and providing a guarantee of 60 per cent on the financing. The remaining 40 per cent will be covered by banks,” he said.

He said that since the scheme opened on Jan 1, some 186 companies had responded to the initial soft loan offer.

“I am confident that in the long-term strengths and benefits of this scheme for companies that invest in green technology as well as financial institutions that see green technology as a smart, strategic investment,” he said.

He said the second reason for Malaysia to move forward swiftly in green technology development was because jobs, industry opportunities and economies of the future would be vastly different from those of today.

“As a government, we are putting an emphasis on high-potential sectors of growth – Islamic finance, biotech and high technology, and advanced manufacturing processes along with green technology.

“We do this not only because they are industries of the future, but also because we know Malaysia can compete and succeed in them,” he said.

The GTFS is a special financing scheme introduced by the government in the 2010 Budget to promote and support the development of green technology in Malaysia.

Earlier, Najib, who chaired the first National Green Technology Council meeting, also announced Putrajaya and Cyberjaya as pioneer townships in green technology in the country.

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Putrajaya to guarantee 60pc of green loan

Posted on January 26, 2010. Filed under: Energy |

-The Malaysianinsider-

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 26 — The government today officially launched its Green Technology Financing Scheme, promising to guarantee 60 per cent on the financing and to cover two per cent of the interest rate.

The scheme was first unveiled at the tabling of the Budget 2010 and will provide soft loans to companies that supply and utilise green technology, especially those in the energy, water and waste management.

Participating banks include Bank Pembangunan, SME Bank, Agrobank, Bank Rakyat, Exim Bank and Bank Simpanan Nasional.

“Today’s launch of the green technology financing scheme is an important milestone. The investment of RM1.5 billion will encourage business investment in green technology, green construction and innovation,” said Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his speech.

“The government will play its role, covering two per cent of the loan’s interest rate and providing a guarantee of 60 per cent on the financing,” said the Prime Minister.

He also said since the scheme was opened on New Year’s Day, 186 companies have responded to the initial soft loan offer.

“I am confident in the long term strengths and benefits of this scheme for companies that invest in green technology as well as financial institutions that see green technology as a smart, strategic investment,” said Najib.

“This is the role of the financing scheme – to stimulate investment and the development of Malaysia’s green technology marketplace. That, in turn will support business growth, job creation, and prosperity,” he added.

In his speech Najib also named Putrajaya and Cyberjaya as green development areas in line with the National Green Technology Policy.

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