JOHOR BARU: The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) hopes the new state government will consider setting up the Environmental Consultative Committee, with relevant stakeholders as members, to address environmental issues.
Its vice-president Vincent Chow said everyone is Johor was part owner of its natural heritage and sidelining the environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) would not be productive.
“We are ready to sit on the committee and assist the state government in its quest to right all the wrongs of the past where good governance of the environment is concerned,” he said.
Chow said the sad lack of engagement between the past state government and environmental NGOs must not be repeated with the new state government.
He said the declining state of the present environment was testimony to the failure of the previous state government.
“The care of the environment is the concern of all and the executive councillor in charge of the portfolio has to be able to work with ordinary men on the street as it is a shared responsibility,” added Chow.
He said it was baffling how so many environmental problems had escaped the eyes and mind of the previous executive councillors and there was a pressing need for the new state government to take appropriate action.
Chow said for instance, Sungai Johor was badly hit by water pollution because of sand-mining activity and he wanted to know whether there would be a team to look into the problem.
He said Johor’s important life-sustaining water resources were mostly polluted and little action was taken by the previous administration to protect them for the future.
Furthermore, illegal squatters, he said, had made use of the buffer zones for settlements and agriculture.
“Indiscriminate dumping of rubbish has turned Sungai Skudai into a river of floating rubbish, including plastic which causes indigenous fishes to disappear from the river and affect the livelihood of our inland fishermen who depend on the rivers,’’ said Chow.
He said sensitive areas such as the largest freshwater swamp in peninsula had been deteriorating, adding that the area could have been retained and used as a water catchment area for the future of Johor and cater to the multibillion ringgit Pengerang intergrated petrochemical complex.
Chow said mangroves were disappearing fast in coastal areas and millions of ringgit spent on the coastal management study of the state’s west and south-western coasts had hardly shown any results in terms of rehabilitation work to forestall the rapid loss of the coastline due to marine erosion.
“All the recommendations put forth in the studies have mostly been forgotten or neglected,’’ he said.
He noted likewise, the elephant conservation project in Kota Tinggi was bulldozed through, resulting in the area becoming too small and not conducive for the health of the large mammals.
He emphasised Malaysia had very good environmental laws but some needed to be revised to synchronise with the state’s rapid development and laws alone were not enough but must be followed with effective enforcement instead of a mere lip service.