30 July, 2008

Losing it's purpose?

Photo courtesy of Cartoon Stock.

I attended a simple training course for EIA consultants in Kuala Lumpur this morning. Very interesting indeed, and it is more interesting when there is a chance to meet so many other consultants. The experience we exchanged is priceless, simply priceless. However, I do have one question in mind as I look at these fellow comrades. Are they working for the sake of the business, or for the protection of the environment?

For the developers and construction-based companies, EIA is a nightmare. It means the out-flowing of their resources in the form of dollar sign. Incurring more cost, which may also mean a little less come-back, and with those tedious environmental laws that are a total burden for them, who would like it that way?

For some consultants, (well, perhaps most of them), it is how much the company earns, how well-known the company is in the local market, and how competitive they can be that count. They work to be paid. The environment may never be the factor, but they try to address every possible impact that can be foreseen. They work hard only to look forward to 3 things: 1. Approval by DOE or NREB; 2. To impress DOE or NREB and their clients; and perhaps, 3. For their own good name.

Doing it just for the sake of doing it without knowing its actual purpose. What good can EIA make?

During my undergraduate years, the lecturer posed me one question, “Do you think EIA can solve the problem?” Innocently, I answered, “Yes.” Until I acquired some real personal experience in the field of EIA, I would not have known how useless EIA has been. Maybe not in other countries like Australia and America, but in Malaysia, I would say that it isn’t that successful at all.

If EIA is a planning tool, why don’t the developers and construction companies make good use of it? Worse still, some companies refuse to cooperate with the environmental consultants in terms of providing the needed information. But the worst of all, it is our Government who is always keeping some data to themselves and refuse to share, with the excuse that these are private and confidential.

When environmentalists and environmental consultants are not supported by the Government, what hope is there for us if we are serious about protecting the environment? The accountants have their Malaysian Institute of Accountants; the bankers have their Association of Banks in Malaysia; the medical doctors and surgeons are registered with Malaysian Medical Association… who is protecting us, the environmentalists and consultants?

Enough said, I guess?

*EIA = Environmental Impact Assessment

Design | Elque 2007