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


Odie said...

It's good to hear from you again. I once attended an EIA course which was also attended by a foreigner. He was shocked to know that our assessment period is only 6 months!! He shared with us, in Europe, the assessment period must be one year, sometimes longer.

Again, when it comes to big projects owned by 'big people', EIA is always handled in hanky-panky manner. Even DOE cannot do anything about it.. sigh..

Nway, you go girl!! Stand up for our environment. Keep on writing ;-)

Take care.

justone said...

Well EIA may not be 'the' tool in Malaysia but it is the only tool we have. But rather there is some than none at all, rite? Can anything be done to change it? Maybe... it all depends on what everybody wants. Like the government now, people can change the government anytime. Just are they too scared of changes? Sometime what frustrates me is not why thing become as it is but why are we allowing thing to continue on to be as it is...

Fish said...

Hi Didie,
Thanks, my friend! Yes blogging has been a bit slow lately for me, as I've been travelling a lot. SOmetimes I may have drafted the post but never have the time to post it up. 6 months still isn't too bad, I've handled an EIA in 3 months! These people are just ridiculous! They want it fast, good and cheap. Sigh.

Thanks for dropping by! You too, keep writing for the good of the environment! ;)

Hi Justone,
Perhaps you are right. But from what I see, ppl still enjoy it the way it is now, that's why they prefer to let things be. I still believe that a handful of ppl (e.g. you) have already tried to change the way things are but with such a small number, can we succeed?

Taffy A.E. Jong said...

Sounds practical Fish.It's sad how profit is regarded to a higher aspect rather than the actual intention to protect the environment. Ironic, is it not?

Design | Elque 2007