I AM relieved that there seems to be strong sentiment within the Government to enforce environmental laws in our country. And which better spokesperson to expound this than our respected PM. There is hope after all for Mother Nature.
For some time, Cameron Highlands appeared to be headed back to the watershed as development priorities overshadowed the need for conservation of this idyllic hill station on our Main Range.
The PM’s statement on Tuesday marks the turning point of environmental enforcement in Malaysia.
No longer can we sideline environmental laws or even local council regulations.
The message is clear – perpetrators will be severely dealt with.
For too long we have allowed irresponsible developers to get away with violations with just a slap on the wrist.
And this has added to the boldness of offenders to challenge the law and the authorities.
I sincerely hope that this wind of change will prevail. However, are we too late?
Temperatures have risen significantly in Cameron Highlands as more forest cover is lost.
Streams are polluted with run-offs from development and farming, rendering low catchment waters useless for human consumption.
Despite being in the centre of a mountain rainforest, water is scarce.
During peak holiday seasons, locals are deprived of water as tourism takes its toll. Landslides are commonplace.
Wildlife is becoming scarce.
Endemic flora and fauna are near extinction or are already extinct.
Tourism-related development and farming are the main contributors to this sad state of affairs.
It is hard to imagine that the Cameron Highlands we see now was once a pristine and quaint hill station.
Obviously, we were overzealous in exploiting its charm, and the damage done is today irreparable.
This is a recurring story line for many of our wonderful natural attractions – Bukit Tinggi, Genting Highlands, Port Dickson, Pulau Tioman, Pulau Langkawi, Pulau Redang. The list goes on.
Enforcement should be uniform across Malaysia and not just in Cameron Highlands.
This extends to industrial polluters as well as the general public (open burning perpetrators).
Also, let’s not forget the sad state of enforcement of our marine park laws and the main purpose of their enactment in the first place.
I applaud the PM for his bold stand. It’s a reflection that should we intend to move to developed nation status, the mindset should change.
We must look long-term. Nature will sustain us if we properly care for her is an obvious fact we have to acknowledge.
To exploit and rape nature to fuel our short-term desire is foolish and akin to a banana republic mentality.
I hope that the Federal Government will further tighten enforcement legislation to assist the relevant agencies to carry out their duties effectively.
Turf issues which so often hinder proper enforcement should be identified and ironed out to facilitate swift and uniform action.
No longer can offenders take advantage of these loopholes.
Love Life, Love Nature.
THE DUGONG DUDE,