SEA Games – So do you think you can GREEN it ?

Updated on 25 Aug

After 16 years, Malaysia once again hosts the 29th SEA Games and the 9th ASEAN Para Games.

via GIPHY

The SEA Games will take place from Aug 19 to 30 while the ASEAN Para Games will be held from Sept 17 to 23. The Games will coincide with the celebration of Malaysia’s National Day as well as Malaysia Day.

Green Games Initiative

Few months back, the Malaysian Sea Games Organising Committee (Masoc) launched the Green Games Initiative in conjunction with World Environment Day. The chief operating officer of Masoc, Shaiful Zahrin Subhan pledged to commit to deliver the event in an environmentally-responsible way and to promote environmental protection. Besides, he also mentioned that the green initiatives will be implemented in collaboration with key partners which hope to inspire all stakeholders including venue owners, vendors and the public to continue their sustainable practices beyond the Games. [The Star]

This is how i felt during that time. So POWER, So AMBITIOUS, So MUCH WIN

They even came out with a framework on how to go “green” during the Games and publish on the website. In the website, it also stated that the events present broad opportunities to promote environmental awareness and sustainability practices to be shared and applied across different layers of society. OK LAH, SAY UNTIL LIKE DAT, CANNOT GIVE APPLAUSE ALSO CANNOT LIAO

As usual, my skeptical mindset started to tickle me. No matter how great is the plan sound like, it will fail if no proper implementation is given. Thus, Emily and i have decided to bought the opening ceremony ticket and head to the Bukit Jalil National Stadium to check whether they put words in their mouth.

For this “audit”,  I am using the key green initiatives that clustered by The Star as a reference, which comprises of

  1. Waste management
  2. Transportation management
  3. Outreach and Engagement
  4. Other matter – Land Management 

Disclaimer:

  • I am not focusing on energy management in this article as i have no access to any information regarding this, thus i will not provide any comment on this … yet
  • The content below are based on my findings and view.

Waste Management

People came all the way to Stadium Bukit Jalil to check on their favorite athletes and firework while i was there to check on the recycling bin and also the waste management system. #ironic #truestory

I know this is how you think of me now

As promised by the organiser, recycling bin for non plastics (the one in orange) can be spotted along side with non recyclable bin and food waste bin. Consider them as one set and each set was placed a few pillar away only. To stated the obvious, the bins are placed to encourage waste separation and to recover recyclable material. The food waste will also be processed into compost on site. Updates: I only spotted the recycle bin for plastics (the one in blue) during my 2nd visit to the venue. 

The pictures above were taken around 5.30 pm. While waiting for Emily and her friends to buy some snacks at the food truck (it was quite a long wait), i was standing nearby the bins while stalking people on how they throw their rubbish. As you might expected, Malaysians in general (please bear with me for those who are not) still lack of awareness in waste segregation, or maybe we simply don’t care. Once they see a bin that look like trash bin, they will just open the lid and throw the rubbish in.

The picture below were taken after the opening ceremony (around 10.30 pm). As you can see, the waste were not segregated and some of them were overflowed with rubbish too. Same thing happened to the food waste bin. I wonder how will the organiser separate the food waste for on-site composting with the packaging still intact. Moreover, these kind of situation happened to almost all of the bins that i passed by. Till the end, human mentality is still the hardest to change.

Apart from these, do you notice anything fishy in the photo?

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PLASTIC BAGS (LOTS OF THEM)

As mentioned in the beginning, the Chief Operation Officer, Shaiful Zahrin Subhan said that

“the green initiatives will be implemented in collaboration with key partners which hope to inspire all stakeholders including venue owners, vendors and the public to continue their sustainable practices beyond the Games”

But i noticed all of the food trucks are still using plastic bags, which defied the purpose of the green initiative.

Besides, one of the plan is using compostable/recycleable food packaging which i believed they were provided/supplied by SCGM Berhad, a thermoform food packaging manufacturer and also the silver sponsor for SEA Games. I am not going to say anything on the so called “eco-friendly” products here as the main point now is the usage of unnecessary plastic bags even though proper packaging is used.

I am wondering whether the target of reducing waste going to landfills by 30% is still achievable or not if plastic bags are still being used throughout the whole SEA Games.

I think more waste management awareness need to be done especially on the vendor side in order to really inspire everyone to continue their sustainable practices. Maybe we can ask Dato Seri Vida for some help. #Sayangx3 #wanmotaim #joke

Transportation Management

I would say the organiser did put great effort in transportation management.

On 10 August, our Ministry Youth and Sport release a statement to encourage everyone to take public transport to avoid delay. (I only found out about this after the opening ceremony!). Since Bukit Jalil LRT is just next to the stadium, coming here by public transport is so easy.

The best thing about using public transport now is getting 50% discount on all Rapid rail services. In conjunction with the opening ceremony, all public transport also extended their operation until 1am.

I heard discount!

We reached Bukit Jalil LRT station around 5pm and the station already crowded with people. A special thanks to the policemen that guarding at the exit while maintaining the order of the queue. The station was reinvigorated and look much sporty now.

People mountain people sea

After exit the station, signage and directory also can be spotted easily.

The organiser also partner with oBike which provide free bike-sharing services (for the first 1 hour) to and from LRT/MRT stations for the public. We attempted 2 times to ride around the venue but failed due to sudden down pour and the pathway are always crowded with people.

Everyone was rushing to the LRT station right after the event ended. The organiser already knew this is definitely going to happen and i could see they were already well prepared for this.

I (organiser) got you bro

Barricades were setup and policemen were stationed outside of the station. Once the train has arrived, then only they will allow a certain number of people to enter the station. This can ensure everyone safety. I dont think anyone will wish anyone to fall on the railway track as a result of “sardin-ing” right, unless you are a psychopath. 

For this initiative, there is no doubt that it has already achieved the target of having at least 30% of volunteers and spectators to travel by public transport

Extra comment: As there were a lot of people waiting for the LRT (easily reach 40,000), the queue was utterly long. Even after we walk around the stadium for 1 hour to check on the waste management, the queue is just exactly the same as before. Bored of waiting, we decided to check on the price of taking Grab to KL Sentral. What happened in the next second stunned us. The price is RM49 due to surge rate. Albeit there are RM5 off x 10 rides in conjunction with SEA Games, the charges is still sky high.

Then we tried to check the price to go to the second nearest LRT station – Sri Petaling but there was no one want to fetch us despite plenty of drivers indicated on the map. Maybe our trip is not profitable for him/her kut. So, we ended up walking to Sri Petaling LRT station instead. It was a nice and windy 15 mins walk.

While the event is promoting the usage of public transport, i hope Grab can give us flat rate.

Outreach and Engagement

Aside from traditional media approach, the organiser also fully utilized the power of social media. They create a Facebook album specifically for public transport guidance. Do you know what lagi #ohsem? In the afternoon of the opening ceremony itself, a video was uploaded on Facebook that featured our Minister of Youth of Sport, Y.B. Brig. Gen. Khairy Jamaluddin on encouraging people to take public transport. #winliao

Based on the Star, there will be 1,000 volunteers from local universities trained as “green ambassadors” who will be responsible for advocating waste separation and collecting waste data. Indeed i saw quite a few of them throughout the event. As the name “green ambassadors”, they were wearing green shirts as well. After the event finish, they can be spotted easily as they walked around the venue to collect litter. But i am not sure what will they do with them after this.

So far i yet to notice any booth that educate waste separation nor do i know how are the data being collected. I will update here if i found answers during my next visit to the stadium, which will be on 24th September.

Moreover, the message of promoting the green initiatives/environmental awareness should be brought up publicly and proudly by the emcee throughout the event in order to gain a greater outreach. The message also can be shown on the 2 huge LED screen inside the stadium or even projected on the new facade of the newly reinvigorated stadium. I think it will be super awesome!

Last but not least, i would suggest the organiser to fully utilize the empty wall of the toilets by placing signs that promote and encourage sustainable practices.

Other matter – Land Management

Albeit land management related initiative is not stated in the framework, i think our government (at least the organiser) did a brilliant job in this. Instead of following the trend of building new stadiums (plural) for grand international sport event, they chose to reinvigorate them. 

A new look in 2017 for one of the world’s biggest stadiums

Building new stadiums (plural) require to buy and develop a large piece of land which most of the time forest is the best candidate as it hits all the requirement needed.

In other words, deforestation has to be done in the name of development. Forest is one of the major carbon sink (reservoir) which continuously remove/store carbon. By destroying the forest, it will lead to the now carbon sinks becoming carbon sources in a foreseeable future. And the final product …

CLIMATE CHANGE! #perubahanIklim

Aside from environmental issue, spending billions to build new stadium for a 1 month event (including Para Games) is not a wise investment. A good example is the Olympic venues. Most of them go unused after the games and become white elephant – total waste of space and money. Photos of run down stadiums can be viewed HERE.

For this Games, only one new velodrome was built in Nilai (costing MYR 80 million ) to host track cycling events as there is no proper venue previously. For more information about the redevelopment of KL Sport City, you can refer to HERE. I believe by reinvigorating the venues instead of building new one, the carbon footprint can be reduced. [Example]

“In line with KL2017 mission to leave a meaningful legacy, we will support efforts to rehabilitate certain forest areas.” – Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Youth and Sports (KBS)

After the Games, 5,249 trees will be replanted in destroyed or degraded forests to support forest conservation and reduce carbon footprint of the games (layman term: offset). The total number of 5,249 are based on the total number of gold, silver and bronze medals offered in the SEA Games and Para Games. The “One Medal One Tree!” initiative will see every medalist receiving a seedling which will be planted at the Tropical Rainforest Living Collection Banun in Gerik, northern Perak. Landskap Malaysia is the official partner in implementing this initiative.

People see shades, i see unlimited power supply from solar.

In the near future, i hope that solar panels will be installed along the roof of the walkway as well as the stadiums to optimize the environmental footprint.

Summary

Despite there are #kantoi moments, the organiser did tried their best in adopting green initiatives for the Games. Not forgetting this is the first ever SEA Games that has such brilliant initiatives. OK LAH, GIVE YOU A LIKE  #Negaraku #LetMakeOurEarthGreatAgain

 

Written by Thomas Lai,

Malaysian Youth Delegation

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