EIA should be mandatory for all highland development projects

I recently attended a meeting organised by Pahang Department of Environment (DOE) which invited all Pahang MPs and state assemblymen.

During the briefing, I suggested that the Federal Government and Pahang State Government should make EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) a compulsory criterion for all development projects in Cameron Highlands in order to minimise pollution due to development and to ensure sustainable and safe development in Cameron Highlands.

Pahang DOE organised the meeting in Kuantan on October 3 and invited all Pahang MPs and state assemblymen. The purposes of this meeting were to strengthen communication between DOE, MPs and state assemblymen, to provide feedbacks on environmental issues in different area as as well as to improve efficiency in protecting the environment. YB Abd Rahim, Pahang Chairman of the Committee on Local Government and Housing also attended the meeting on behalf of the state government.

I have written to Cameron Highlands DOE to enquire about EIA reports being done in two years. Based on the reply by DOE, there are only 7 projects whereby EIA reports are approved in two years. However, the ongoing development projects at Cameron Highlands are actually more than 10, meaning that some projects might not have EIA reports.

Furthermore, some development projects are being promoted to the public for pre-order without the approval from the local government. All these incidents are indeed worrisome.

The purpose of conducting EIA is to assess all new development projects in order to adopt necessary precautions based on the potential negative impacts brought to the environment. EIA also aims at collecting opinions from residents in the area and the local government as well as amending original development plans until a consensus is reached. This will minimise any potential negative impacts on the environment in advance and reduce the potential cost of pollution control.

As for flatlands, the local government can permit the exemption of EIA for projects involving land not more than 5 acres. However, as Cameron Highlands area is located at more than 1000 metres above sea level, any development projects must undergo EIA based on the guidelines of highland development issued by KPKT.

Therefore, I urge the government to make it mandatory that all projects in Cameron Highlands must undergo EIA and obtain its approval before any construction begins.

It is also my suggestion that the government should make it mandatory for developers to attach EIA reports for potential buyers when promoting their projects. This will protect the safety rights of buyers as they will not easily purchase a unit that is in a potentially dangerous zone whereby their life and property is at risk.

Chiong Yoke Kong
Media statement by Chiong Yoke Kong in Cameron Highlands on Saturday, 5th October 2019