Monday, November 16, 2009

Bagan Ajam( Butterworth), Air Force Base, and the Jet Noise

I have the opportunity to visit the family friends in Bagan Ajam, Butterworth, Penang State in Malaysia. The house is located near the Malaysian air force base and St Mark Secondary School. At the time of the visit, two fighter jet planes were flying low for practice at the area. The noise from the fighter was very loud to human hearing.

On Saturday, RMAF public relations officer Maj Kamarulzaman Ali said the aircraft in question was one of eight USAF fighter jets participating in the Cope Taufan 2009 exercise along with RMAF aircraft from Nov 9 to 20(The Star).

But according to the resident, even the normal flying of Malaysian air force fighter jets are equally loud.

There are residential houses, schools and small and light industries in the area.

As reported by The Star on 16-11-2009, two houses lost their roofs on Wednesday following a tactical flight by a US Air Force (USAF) fighter jet.

It reflected that the area is no longer safe and healthy for human activities. It can caused hearing impairment for the residents and students there.

There is plan for relocation of the 250 squatters , but there is no plan mentioned for relocation of the school. I wonder how the students are going to study in the noisy environment.

Immediate precaution and safety measures need to take up by the federal government to resolve the issue.

What is noise pollution?
Noise can be define as an unwanted or undesired sound whereas environmental noise is any unwanted or harmful outdoor sound created by human activities that is detrimental to the quality of life of individuals. It is now well established that exposure to noise levels of relatively high degrees can lead to direct hearing loss and/or hearing impairment. Noise can also cause annoyance and sleep disturbance are considered to be the most important environmental noise effects. Noise also could lead to human annoyance, reduces life quality, and might affect health and physiological well-being.

High noise levels can contribute to cardiovascular effects and exposure to moderately high levels during a single eight hour period causes a statistical rise in blood pressure.

The source of most noise worldwide is transportation systems, motor vehicle noise, but also including aircraft noise

Aircraft noise

Aircraft noise is defined as sound produced by any aircraft or its components, during various phases of a flight, on the ground while parked such as auxiliary power units, while taxiing, on run-up from propeller and jet exhaust, during take off, underneath and lateral to departure and arrival paths, over-flying while en route or during landing. Jet noise is a large section of the field of Aeroacoustics that focuses on the noise generation structures caused by aerodynamic jets. The primary source of noise comes from the turbulent eddies generated by shearing flow. Such noise is known as broadband noise and extends well beyond the range of human hearing (100kHz and higher). Jet noise is also responsible for the loudest sounds ever produced by mankind

There are health consequences of elevated sound levels. Aircraft noise can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance, sleep disturbance, and decreased school performance. Although some hearing loss occurs naturally with age, in many developed nations the impact of noise is sufficient to impair hearing over the course of a lifetime. Elevated noise levels can create stress, increase workplace accident rates, and stimulate aggression and other anti-social behaviors.

In the 1980s the U.S. Congress authorized the FAA to devise programs to insulate homes near airports. While this does not address the external noise, the program has been effective for residential interiors. Some of the first airports at which the technology was applied were San Francisco International Airport and San Jose International Airport in California. A computer model is used which simulates the effects of aircraft noise upon building structures. Variations of aircraft type, flight patterns and local meteorology can be studied. Then the benefits of building retrofit strategies such as roof upgrading, window glazing improvement, fireplace baffling, caulking construction seams can be evaluated.

Since the Jet noise or pollution will caused bad health effect on the residents and will affect the performance of students in the schools nearby; government should relocate them immediately.

(source: wikipedia)

Bagan Ajam

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Bagan Ajam is a small town located in the district of Seberang Perai Utara, Seberang Perai(formerly known as Province Wellesley). Seberang Perai was a British colony in 1800 and its administration was then located in Penang. In 1913, Rural Municipal Council were form for the North, Central and South of Province Wellesley, together with the Municipal Council of Butterworth. On 1st of July 1974, all three North County Council, Centre County Council and South County Council, Seberang Perai were unitized and known as a Local Authority Managing Body, Seberang Perai. Finally, under the Local Government Act 1976, history was created on 15th Dec 1976 when the Board was succeeded by and recognized as the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai or MPSP, the largest local authority in Malaysia. MPSP now administers three main Districts with 54 localities, including Bagan Ajam.

The 3 districts under the MPSP or Municipal Council of Seberang Perai (formerly Province Wellesley):

* Northern Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai Utara)
* Central Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai Tengah)
* Southern Seberang Perai District (Daerah Seberang Perai Selatan)

Bagan Ajam, under Northern Seberang Perai District, grew out of the village of Kampung Bagan Ajam which is located near the coast of Pantai Bersih.

Bagan Ajam can be reached from Butterworth through Jalan Bagan Ajam. Today, the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR) goes right across Bagan Ajam.

Among the prominent buildings in Bagan Ajam include the Thean Hock Keong Temple, Masjid Jamek Bagan Ajam, Sekolah Kebangsaan Bagan Ajam, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Dato Onn, Sekolah Menengah St Mark(established in 1958) and Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (C) Li Hwa. The RMAF Butterworth base is also located near Bagan Ajam.

RMAF Butterworth air base

RAF Butterworth(1941-1957)
RMAF air force base was formerly RAF Butterworth air base. RAF Butterworth was commissioned in October 1941, as a Royal Air Force station which was a part of the British defence plan for defending the Malayan Peninsula against an imminent threat of invasion by the Imperial Japanese forces during World War II.

During the Battle of Malaya, the airbase suffered some damage as a direct result of aerial bombing from Mitsubishi G3M & Mitsubishi G4M bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service based in Saigon. Brewster Buffalos from the airbase rose to challenge the escorting Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters but was mauled during several of these engagements by the highly trained and experienced Japanese fighter pilots.

The airbase was subsequently captured by units of the advancing 25th Army (Imperial Japanese Army) on 20 Dec 1941 and the control of the airbase was to remain in the hands of IJA until the end of hostilities in September 1945, whereupon the RAF resumed control of the airbase and Japanese prisoners of war were made to repair the airbase as well as to improve the runways before resuming air operations from the airbase in May 1946.

During the Malayan Emergency that was to last from 1948 to 1960, RAF as well as RAAF and RNZAF units stationed at the airbase played an active role in helping to curb the communist insurgency in the jungles of Malaya by attacking suspected hideouts and harassing the communist guerrillas. The base also served as a vital front-line airfield for various other units on rotation from RAF Changi, RAF Kuala Lumpur, RAF Kuantan, RAF Seletar and RAF Tengah

RAAF Butterworth(1957-1988)
In 1957, the RAF transferred the control of the base to the Royal Australian Air Force and it was promptly renamed as RAAF Butterworth, the base became the home to numerous Australian fighter and bomber squadrons stationed in Malaya during the Cold War era. Two of the notable RAAF units were 3 Sqn and 77 Sqn which saw service with their CAC Sabres during the Malayan Emergency through the Confrontation with Indonesia. From August 1964 onwards, these Sabre jets responded on several occasion to incursions by MiG-21 fighter jets of the Indonesian Air Force flying towards Malaysian airspace but the Indonesian aircraft always turned back before crossing the international boundary, thereby averting possible escalation.

As of October 2008, the Australian Defence Force continues to maintain a presence at RMAF Butterworth as part of Australia's commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), with No. 324 Combat Support Squadron and a detachment of AP-3C Orion aircraft from No. 92 Wing RAAF being located at the base. In addition, the Australian Army maintains an infantry company (designated Rifle Company Butterworth) at Butterworth for training purposes.

Note: The film was shot in 1964 by John Parsons. John was a Navigator with 60 Sqn based at RAAF Butterworth & is featured in the film at 3:40 donning his helmet.

RMAF Butterworth/TUDM Butterworth(from 1988)

On 30 June 1988, the base was handed over by RAAF to the Royal Malaysian Air Force and was again renamed as RMAF Butterworth. The flying squadrons stationed at the airbase are as follows:

* No. 3 Squadron RMAF, with S-61A4A Nuri helicopters
* No. 12 Squadron RMAF, with Northrop F-5E, F-5F & RF-5E
* No. 15 Squadron RMAF, with BAE Hawk 108/Hawk 209 & Aermacchi MB-339AM
* No. 18 Squadron RMAF, with Boeing F/A-18D Hornet

(extract from wikipedia)

Thean Hock Keong Temple, Bagan Ajam

The Thean Hock Keong Temple in Bagan Ajam is one of the oldest temples in Butterworth, Penang. It was founded in 1888. A prominent Penangite Khoo Thean Teik was a major benefactor who contributed to the construction. The current Thean Hock Keong Temple was completed on January 3, 1997.

The patron deity at the Thean Hock Keong is Kwan Kong. Like many Taoist deities, Kwan Kong, whose name is Guan Yu (162-219), was a deified military general under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period. The historical account of Guan Yu's life has since been mixed with legend and fiction, passed down the generations as folklore, and was depicted in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

( extract from

Food at Bagan Ajam

1. 323 seafood restaurant is popular seafood restaurant located at Bagan Ajam. The restaurant is just beside the sea, and have a great view looking over the Penang Island.

323 Seafood Restaurant
Bagan Ajam , Pantai Bersih,

2. Lobster Village Seafood Restaurant

Lobster Village Seafood Restaurant,
Bagan Ajam Pantai Bersih,

Tel : 016 4322833 & 016 5920229

Related articles:

1. RMAF base too close for comfort, by TUNKU SHAHARIAH, The Star, Monday November 16, 2009
2. Aircraft noise,
3. This website contained some old photo of RAAF Butterworth.
5.Fond memories from ex-RAAF staff, by YENG AI CHUN, The Star Online, dated 27-5-2008,

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