Archives 2018

Some items from the 2018 press relating to caves

Contents :
Niah Cave skull studies
New book on Ipoh Cave temples
Gua Tempurung lipstick challenge
Gua Kerbau Kedah
Limestone plants named after mininsters
Mulu hit by floods
Flights to Mulu
Mulu 2018 expedition
Brit dies in fall in Mulu
New book on Mulu
Vale Ian Glover
Drop in Niah National Park visitors
Another climber falls on Mulu’s pinnacles
Suyanggae – Lenggong: Prehistoric Adaptation, symposium
Gua Tambun closed
Via ferrata at Gua Ikan
Quarrying Gunung Pulai, Kedah
Controversy over Batu Caves steps paint job
Batu Caves consecration
Gua Pelangi archaeological dig
Dust filters at Kanthan quarry
Gua Naga Mas

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Niah Cave skull studies

Following on from the excavations at Niah at the end of 2017, further studies will be done. Darren Curnoe of University of New South Wales had suggested that the Niah skull found by Tom Harrisson in 1958 may belong to an older woman and that it more closely resembled humans today from more northerly parts of Southeast Asia. Article in NST on 6 Jan “More studies on Niah Caves skull” and reprinted in Malaysian Digest.

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New book on Ipoh Cave temples

A new book, “Historical Records and Legends of the Cave Temples in Ipoh” has  been published by the Perak Heritage Society. It covers seven temples – Loong Thow Ngam Tao, Sam Poh Tong, Nam Thean Tong, Nam To Ngam, the Perak Cave Temple, Kong Fook Ngam, and the Tung Wah Tong Buddhist meditation centre. The book has 276 pp and is priced at a hefty RM188. Malay Mail did a report on 7 Jan. The Star 12 Jan. When the idea of the book was announced in early 2017, it was said the publisher would be the China Social Sciences Press (CSSP) and the book would be in  Mandarin and English, will be officially available in July 2017, see Archives 2017.

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Gua Tempurung lipstick challenge

This has to be the first item of ridiculous news for 2018! In The Star 19 Jan, “Gua Tempurung challenge to include special event for male participants”. Parts of the article :

“THE Gua Tempurung Lipstick Challenge is back for its third edition and this time, there is a special event for male participants.
Named the Gua Tempurung Lipstick vs Pomade Challenge 2018, 650 participants from all over the country are expected to be a part of this exciting event.
Female participants are expected to ensure their lipstick lasts throughout the entire challenge, while for the male participants, they need to keep their hairstyle in place using hair pomade.
The 10km run will see participants attempting to overcome eight types of obstacles, which are Tire Hill, Commando Crawl, River Crossing, Spider Maze, Hill Sliding, Off Road Running, Tire Loop Run and Balancing.
“We hope that with the continuation of this annual challenge series, it would also help to promote Gua Tempurung and its surrounding areas as an ideal tourism destination,” added Nolee Ashilin.
The Gua Tempurung Lipstick vs Pomade Challenge 2018 is organised by the Perak Tourism Information and Health Association, in cooperation with Tourism Perak Management Bhd, Rat Adventure Consultant and Apt Consortium Sdn Bhd.”

It is not clear from the article if any part of the race will be held inside the cave.

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Gua Kerbau, Kedah

Gua Kerbau was in the news end of Jan as locals want to preserve the cave. Bernama 31 Jan :

Gua Kerbau Has Potential As Geological Heritage Site Due To Uniqueness

Those who are driving along the stretch from Jitra to Kodiang will surely be amazed at the uniqueness of several limestone hills along the route.
However, if you wander beyond the limestone hills there is Gua Kerbau (Buffalo Cave) which has its own uniqueness in terms of colourful myths and rock formation, believed to be formed between 200 and 300 million years ago.

“The name Gua Kerbau may be derived from a tale about a buffalo that have been cursed by the ?Sang Kelembai’ (monstrous creature that could transform all that it touched into rock) and to this day, if you look carefully there is a huge stone resembling a reclining buffalo,” said Kampung Kodiang Lama Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairman Ahmad Nayan @ Majid to Bernama here, today.
Ahmad said the surrounding area of the cave needed to be conserved and improved for the comfort and convenience of the visitors such as to provide adequate lighting in the cave and a safer entrance to enable visitors to gain a memorable experience from the visit to the cave.
“This cave was once a settlement of humans during the Neolithic period based on the discovery of stone artefacts found by researchers and the site was also once the settlement of the Orang Asli as well as the training field for the Kedah army during the Siamese attack,” he said…..

The Star also did a similar piece on 2 Feb, “Villagers want to preserve beauty and legend of Gua Kerbau”.

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2 new limestone plants named after ministers

Bernama on 2 Feb mentioned “Azizan announced two species of plants found on limestone outcrops that have been named after Ahmad Zahid and Wan Junaidi – Gymnostachyum ahmadzahidianum found in Kelantan and Impatiens feonajunaidiana found in Perlis.”

The Star on 3 Feb did an article:

Rare plants named after Zahid and Wan Junaidi
In recognition of their efforts to help preserve the nation’s biodiversity, two rare plants have been named after the Deputy Prime Minister and the Natural Resources and Environment Minister.
A limestone hill plant from Kelantan is now known as Gymnostachyum ahmadzahidianum while another similar species found in Perlis is called Impatiens feonajunaidiana.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said the move was made to honour Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
The ministry’s director-general, Datuk Seri Azizan Ahmad, said experts were preparing the scientific description of the flowering plants for publication in international scientific journals.

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Mulu National Park hit by floods

In Feb Mulu National Park was affected by floods and emergency food aid had to be sent in for the stranded residents. The food was sent to Marudi and then on to Mulu by boat. The Star 9 Feb “Food aid for natives after floods hit Mulu National Park” and  Star Metro 10 Feb “On a mission to deliver food to Mulu National Park”.

The floods had inundated large areas of Sarawak following heavy rain.

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Flights to Mulu

The NST 11 Feb reported “Mulu National Park needs more flights”. And NST 15 Feb reported that “Tourists prefer to fly to Mulu National Park” :

“The limited number of flights to Mulu National Park was the number one complaint from foreign tourists who were keen to visit the World Heritage Site in Mulu National Park, here.
Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said tourists would prefer to use air transportation, instead of a long and exhausting land route.
“We have received many complaints from tourists about limited flights to Mulu disrupting their travel plans.
“There are tourists who like to use land routes, including boats and four-wheel-drive vehicles (4WD), but the first choice is still travelling by air,” he said.
Lee said the two daily flights from Miri Airport To Mulu National Park were not sufficient to accommodate the rising number of tourists which increased almost every year.
“If the number of flights is full on that day, travellers are forced to wait the next day to make a reservation.
“Hence, MAS wings should take this matter seriously to increase the number of flights,” he said.”

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Mulu 2018 expedition

The Mulu Caves 2018 expedition took place from 12 – 29 January. The main aims of the 8 person team were to carry out wind logging experiments, to use a camera drone to search for entrances in the Melinau Gorge and to commence a systematic re-survey of sections of Clearwater Cave. See more on MCP.

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Brit dies in fall in Mulu

A British man died after falling when rock climbing on the Pinnacles Trail. Many reports on 27 March, The Star, and NST.  There were also many reports in the British papers.

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New book on Mulu

The 3rd edition of ‘The Show Caves of Mulu Sarawak’ was launched in April. Written by Darrel Tsen Nyuk Choi and his children Dianne SC Tsen and Carlin EM Tsen, the latest edition is an upscale of the two previous editions published in 1991 and 1993. See article in the Borneo Post 25 April.

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Vale Ian Glover

Very sad news that Ian Glover died in April. He did a lot of archaeological work on caves in SE Asia and I was fortunate enough to co-author a section with him on SE Asian caves in the Encyclopedia of Cave and Karst Science. See more on SEArch.

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Drop in Niah National Park visitors

Last year it was reported that there would be a major facelift for Niah National Park. This doesn’t seem to have worked, as on 6 May, Borneo Post reported ”

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Another climber falls on Mulu’s pinnacles

Following the death of a climber on the pinnacles in March, a Sabahan tourist fell climbing the pinnacles in May and had to be rescued by helicopter. Report in The Star on 30 May. Then in Aug a Spanish visitor slipped in the park and had to be rescued and flown by helicopter to hospital, NST 15 Aug.

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Suyanggae – Lenggong: Prehistoric Adaptation

23rd Suyanggae International Symposium in Penang, Malaysia: Suyanggae – Lenggong: Prehistoric Adaptation, 2-3 July 2018. Suyanggae is a valley in South Korea, rich with archaeological evidence that was discovered in 1996. Since then, an annual symposium lead by Prof Yung-jo Lee has been held locally and internationally. This year, Malaysia is hosting the symposium and will highlight the Lenggong Valley, Perak, due to its impact in world archaeology. Lenggong Valley was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 2012, and holds evidence of human occupation from 1.83 million years ago.

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Gua Tambun closed

The Perak gov’t has said Gua Tambun is closed indefinitely in an attempt to clean up the site. Once again the area is poorly maintained, despite having spent a lot of money in the past. The Malay Mail had several reports, 10 July “Perak govt plans to shut access to prehistoric Gua Tambun rock paintings”; 11 July “NGOs support closure of prehistoric Gua Tambun rock painting site” and  13 July “Gua Tambun closed indefinitely, Ipoh City Council tasked with major clean-up”. The Star 16 July “State initiates steps to preserve site on a more sustainable basis”.

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Via ferrata at Gua Ikan

A via ferrata is to be set up at Gua Ikan, at Dabong in Kelantan, as well as new rock climbing routes. Bernama report, 9 Aug :
“The via ferrata route, meanwhile, is 155 metres long and is built at a height of 150 metres above sea level.
Mohd Aidil Afizie said the via ferrata route in Gua Ikan was the third such route in Malaysia after the ones in Mount Kinabalu in Sabah and Paya Gunung at Gunung Tahan, Pahang.
He said the ministry was planning to extend the Gua Ikan via ferrata route to three kilometres, work on which would begin as soon as possible, to enable more tourists and visitors to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
“We don’t want them to use the wrong routes. We’re creating this via ferrata here to provide visitors with a safe route,” he said.

CAVE EXPLORATION

Apart from indulging in rock climbing and via ferrata activities, visitors also have the option to explore Gua Ikan, which is endowed with beautifully sculpted stalactites and stalagmites that were said to have been formed some 150 million years ago.”

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Quarrying Gunung Pulai, Kedah

It seems the quarry at Gunung Pulai at Baling, Kedah is likely to destroy some of the caves. This reports was in Bernama 15 Aug :
“The Kedah State Government which is in discussion with the Yayasan Islam Kedah Holdings Sdn Bhd (Yiked) on whether to carry out work at the limestone quarry project at Gunung Pulai in Baling, is hoping for a win-win solution.
Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir said the state government will continue discussing with Yiked and the community to find the best approach or solution to the problem,” he said in reply to a question by Abdul Nasir Idris (PAS-Bayu) at the Kedah State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting at Wisma Darul Aman here today.
Abdul Nasir had asked about the status of the project and whether the State Government would continue the quarry project despite widespread protests from the locals.
On July 29, it was reported that 300 residents from Kampung Pulai, Kampung Sungai Limau and Kampung Dalam Wang, representing more than 1,000 residents had opposed the quarry project around the Gua Kelambu.
The residents claimed that the quarry project would destroy the historic and tourist sites of Gunung Pulai and its surrounding caves such as Gua Sirih, Gua Kambing, Gua Pari and Gua Harimau.
They also said that the area had also become a venue for extreme sports, adding that the quarry project was threatening the health and safety of the population.
Mukhriz while acknowledging that the area had much tourism potential, said the quarry project was approved by the state government in July 2012, under the PAS administration, but with the agreement sealed, it was difficult ot get out of it…..”

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Controversy over Batu Caves steps paint job

The stairs at Batu Caves have been repainted, in bright multi colours. This has sparked a lot of interest. It’s not just the stairs but also the 13 temples and statues that have been painted in really bright multi colours. The NST 27 Aug “Batu-iful! Batu Caves sports colourful new look”. The Star Metro on 29 Aug reported “Paint job on staircase in viral photos may be illegal”. It’s worth checking the video to see the colours. The problem is the site is listed as a national heritage, but the temple authorities didn’t get permission from the National Heritage Department for the paint work. The renovations were for a consecration ceremony on 31 Aug.

“THE colourful staircase of the iconic Batu Caves Temple that has gone viral on social media, could land the temple committee in trouble as the multimillion ringgit painting and renovation works were not sanctioned by the National Heritage Department (JWN). This is because the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple located on the top of the staircase is a National Heritage site listed under the National Heritage Registry.
Any application for development must go through the heritage department.
His contacts in JWN had informed him that the paint works and renovation were not in harmony with the surroundings, he said, and was a “disaster” for a heritage site.
“They are disappointed that efforts to get the temple listed as a heritage site might have been in vain as the paint job could lead to the temple being delisted,’’ he said.

The Star 30 Aug “Batu Caves temple committee steps into trouble”. The Star had another report on 1 Sept “Batu Caves temple committee: We do not need heritage status”, in which the temple chairman says they don’t need the heritage status. There is also a video in that report. Malaysian Insight 1 Sept “No benefit in being heritage site, Batu Caves temple committee says in war over painted steps”.

Batu Caves consecration

Following the above controversy about the Batu Caves paint job, Batu Caves had its 12 year consecration ceremony on 31 Aug. Report & photos in The Star on 4 Sept.

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Gua Pelangi archaeological dig

An interesting article and photos on the dig at Gua Pelangi in Negeri Sembilan in Serembanonline on 6 Aug.

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Dust filters at Kanthan quarry

The quarry at Gunung Kanthan, Perak has often been criticised for producing too much dust. Now they have invested in a new filter system which is more efficient. Read more on the Lafarge page, Aug 2018.

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Gua Naga Mas

The Star on 1 Oct had this article “Rare tiger fossil in cave at Gopeng, Perak, must be preserved”. The article begins “The Perak state government is keen to preserve Gua Naga Mas in Gopeng because of a unique complete fossil of a mammal embedded in the limestone cave wall”. People have been saying this for years, but so far nothing has been done. And I am mentioned in the article as saying this “In fact, a veteran caving expert in Malaysia, Liz Price, raised serious and valid concerns about the sad condition of the fossil and the surrounding areas several years ago,”. I was also interested to see a painting of a tiger has now been added near the fossil and that the fossil is being worshipped in the temple at the base of the hill.

The Malay Mail had an article  with photos on 8 Oct “Prehistoric fossil site in Gopeng cave sealed for three months”. The intention is to close the site for 3 months to enable further studies, as no one seems to agree on what the animal fossil is. The Malaysian Insight had a similar article on 9 Oct.

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