July 2012, Tioman Island (Malaysia)  
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A CSR Mission Possible by Berjaya Hotels & Resorts - it's more than taking action; it's about educating and inspiring others to do the same...


TIOMAN, JULY 2012 – A momentous effort to restore the pristine beauty and natural heritage of Tioman Island was recently undertaken by Berjaya Hotels & Resorts, accomplished by a total of 50 divers and over 100 other participants including staff, media and children from Sekolah Kebangsaan Tekek, Tioman.

Supported by various partners - Malaysian Nature Society, Shark Savers Organisation, Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia, Scuba People, Berjaya Air and Berjaya Cares Foundation, the three-day Tioman World Ocean Day (TWOD) scheduled from 29 June to 01 July 2012 vows to strengthen conservation of underwater life and educate people on the importance of coral reefs and marine life to the ecosystems. Apart from exercising its role as a socially responsible corporate citizen, the resort along with divers and non-divers experienced an extraordinary journey of creating a kinship with Mother Nature.

Abel Nelson Nang, Corporate Director, Marketing & Communications - Berjaya Hotels & Resorts enthused, "The protection of the world's oceans and coasts is among the key goals of the United Nations for Sustainable Development which includes the preservation of the marine environment, marine scientific research and the transfer of marine technology. In line with these goals, Tioman World Ocean Day (TWOD) 2012 celebration by Berjaya Hotels & Resorts is a four-pronged CSR effort comprises of a Dive Clean-up by 50 divers to remove as many sea debris and Crown of Thorns from sea beds; the launch of BERJAYA-MNS "Restore Our Awesome Reefs" (ROAR) Project; Signing of Corporate Pledge - "I'm FINished with FINS", a Save The Sharks Campaign by BHR with Shark Savers Organisation; and last but not least - Turtle Conservation Workshop for Children by Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia."

The two main highlights of TWOD 2012 - the launch of BERJAYA-MNS "Restore Our Awesome Reefs" (ROAR) Project and Signing of Corporate Pledge - "I'm FINished with FINS" was jointly graced by Leong Wy Joon, Executive Director, Berjaya Land Berhad and Mohamed Shah Redza Hussein, Executive Director, Malaysian Nature Society. Leong also presented a grant of RM180,000 on behalf of Berjaya Cares Foundation to Mohamed Shah Reza to fund the ROAR project.

"Coral reefs are the world's most biologically diverse marine ecosystems. In Tioman Island, continuous development and booming tourist industry are causing a detrimental effect to the coral reefs. Moreover, the coral bleaching in 2008 caused by increased sea surface temperatures as a result of global warming and increased sedimentation due to development has completely destroyed the coral population in Tekek Bay. As a responsible corporate citizen, Berjaya sees the need to embark on a sustainable project in addressing this issue.

Working in collaboration with Malaysian Nature Society through Berjaya Cares Foundation, Berjaya Hotels & Resorts is extending its "Loving Earth" commitment by embarking on a 15-month coral reefs rehabilitation programme in an effort to preserve, restore and rehabilitate the degraded coral area in Tioman Island by using a scientifically proven method i.e. the Biorock technology. This technology has proven to enhance the growth rate of corals, increases their resistance to environmental stresses and can re-establish devastated marine ecosystems within a short period of time. Some of the successful projects are located at Pemuteran Bay off the north coast of Bali, Indonesia and Koh Samui, Thailand," commented Leong.

Leong also said that part of this project also involves the empowerment of local communities to monitor and maintain the local environment's health and integrity through education activities on the importance of Tioman's marine ecosystems. Together with the locals and scientific expertise to rehabilitate Tioman's coral reefs, Berjaya hopes to build awareness on coral reefs long term importance to the community, ultimately creating a sustainable eco-tourism industry and protecting the island's natural heritage.

On the same occasion, Berjaya Hotels & Resorts submitted its Pledge to Save the Sharks in a campaign endorsed for all its hotels and resorts worldwide, along with Shark Savers Organisation. Shark finning - the practice of catching a shark, slicing off its fins and then discarding the body at sea - takes a tremendous toll on shark populations. Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year to primarily support the global shark fin industry, valued for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup.

"By saying "I'm FINished with FINS" today, we send our commitment not to serve shark fin in our restaurants and banquet events. We also pledge to continue educating members of the public on the risks for the health of entire ocean ecosystems, due to sharks' overexploitation and slow recovery from depletion. And, if we all wait for each other - to stop eating shark fin, by the time peer pressure gets going, it might be too late," added Leong.

A total of 103 reef-destroying Crown of Thorns (COT), were removed during the dive clean-up, covering islands with diving sites where coral beds are abundant and others - identified as the most productive areas of coral reefs breeding ground. These islands are Renggis, Chebeh, Genting Bay, Labas, Tulai, Soyak and Malang Rocks.

Abel remarked that it was especially heartening being able to reach out to 50 school children aged 9 and 10 from Sekolah Kebangsaaan Tekek.

"For many years now, through Berjaya Hotels & Resorts' Loving Earth commitment we have been promoting environmental education especially Turtle Conservation for children. The inclusion of the local school in the TWOD programme reflects the Group's main CSR focus on helping the community in which we operate, and is clearly communicated through the theme - "Building Communities, Enriching Lives". It's really only through this process of education that we are able to change their philosophy and nurture a spirit of loving the earth. Children are the next generation and are really the ambassadors of change. If we educate them and they understand, the project will sustain and endure; hence in a long run - make a difference," added Abel.

Conducted by Ms Chen Pelf Nyok from the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia and co-facilitated by the media, the Turtle Conservation Workshop by the beach aimed at fostering awareness on protecting turtles through interactive and fun-filled learning activities. The children were briefed on the characteristics of different turtle species and the dangers facing them, causing their extinction. The children then participated in group dynamic activities incorporating threats-to-turtles story narration and games by BHR's Teen Ambassador for Turtle Conservation - Fimie Don.

The Tioman World Ocean Day (TWOD) 2012 is the first for the island and the brainchild of Berjaya Hotels & Resorts.

"This is not just work for us. In our small way, it's our contribution but also a passion that we've picked up from our drive to respect the ecosystem in which we operate. The Loving Earth awareness and educational programme is not going to be an easy or fast process, but our hope sooner or later, we will get to them," concluded Abel.