THE recent Tanjung Bungah tragedy brings back painful memories of Highland Towers 1993 and Bukit Antarabangsa 2008, to name but two.
I would like to highlight how environmental governance and compliance on hillslope construction, development and urbanisation can be enhanced by diligent execution of strategies, policies and initiatives, using legal and non-legal implementation frameworks.
Malaysia is a shining example of sustainable development (SD) in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region. The 11th Malaysian Plan took into view SD provisions as a key compliance landmark in Federal urban design and hillslope development.
It is hoped that the 12th plan will adopt a higher level of SD for hillslope development, at both public and private landbanks.
The Paris Agreement 2016 was a realistic continuation of past Conference of the Parties on climate change operational efforts towards green financing, green technology and capacity building, especially for Asean within the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The SDGs call upon countries to realign global economic growth and urbanisation using the SD model. Thus, the birth of United Nations New Urban Agenda (NUA) as a new megatrend and guideline in urban design and hillslope development.
City councils, state governments and local authorities are, therefore, required to incorporate NUA components into new policies and initiatives to achieve a carbon-free city. It is recommended to set up a safe and sound Green Hillslope Development Index, similar to the Green Building Index. Malaysia’s National Structure Plan (NSP) is proof of its commitment since the early days of greenhouse impact under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
State governments should not change the State Structure Plan (SSP) according to the whims of private developers and contractors at hilly areas and highland regions.
Outdated SSP should be revised and gazetted using the NUA-centric model. In this regard, the Street Drainage and Building Act 1974 needs to be revised to incorporate NUA expectation. Here, private developers should take note of Mesra Alam Manual Guide (MSMA) in its private commercial design and development plan.
All SSPs require careful planning to ensure compliance with NSP requirements. Old SSP should be revised to meet new SD green trends. In terms of SD governance, the new EIA Order 2015 has revised and imposed new compliance requirements for EIA Reports for all construction and development under the prescribed activities.
This new order ought to be strictly implemented to ensure full compliance at hillslope geological terrains in the interest of the public.
State governments, local municipals and district offices are required to enforce EIA requirements for projects that do not require EIA Reports, but are situated close or adjacent to private hilly areas and highlands.
But this proximity loophole remains unresolved at almost all state levels. Hence, the recommendation that the Environmental Quality Act 1974 be revised to resolve this dilemma. Conjunctively, this includes the Land Conservation Act 1960, which excludes construction and development at hill lands and highlands.
Perhaps, there is a need for a new integrated law to resolve and incorporate all outstanding loopholes and inadequacies.
Jeong Chun Phuoc
Shah Alam, Selangor