KOTA KINABALU July 13, 2012: The sand mining activities at Kampung Kogopon in Papar have been suspended, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.
“I have instructed that the company suspend operations which they have done immediately,” he said after officiating the stakeholder consultation workshop on Sabah Policy on the Environment here yesterday.
The company Masidi was referring to was said to have encroached into the Kampung Kogopon’s ‘tagal’ area with its sand mining activities.
He later disclosed that the company was also compounded for operating outside the area stipulated in their licence.
“The notice of compound and instruction to cease operation were issued by the state Environment Protection Department to the company concerned on June 29,” he said.
Meanwhile, Masidi said that policies made must be simple so that laymen would have no problem understanding them.
“We should not waste so much time creating bombastic policies which people don’t understand. We become too legalistic and the public may not understand it at all.
“Why can’t we make it simple, easy to understand, to implement and the most important thing is that easy for the public to respond to and feel obliged to help,” he told reporters.
“The attitude of the public matters, and if the law is such that they feel obliged to be part of the enforcement of the law, that would be great,” he said, adding that while it was wishful thinking, it was something that he hoped would happen.
Another matter that needs to be improved upon was enforcement because people’s habits seemed to have grown from good to bad.
“Fine tuning the policy is very good but after that we must look at enforcement and changing of human habits to be more responsible. Look at the law against drug trafficking (in Malaysia), people know that it is death by hanging but yet they still do it, and the incidents are actually rising,” he stressed.
On the issue of palm oil mills polluting rivers in Sabah, Masidi said enforcement must be done on the offenders as there was a limit to the patience of the kampung people.
“And I say this to all the mills, don’t wait for the kampung people to take law into their own hands. That will be serious. If the law is not enforced, sooner or later out of frustration or anger, there will be people who will take the law into their own hands and that will be sad for us,” he pointed out.
Masidi also reminded the public that everyone was a stakeholder and an enforcer in their own little way so they must play their part in helping the relevant authorities such as the state Environment Protection Department (EPD) and Department of Environment (DoE) to protect the environment.
“I hope there will be a coordination committee comprising all the relevant authorities, even NGOs, so that there is a one-stop centre to solve all problems,” he said.
On the framework of Sabah Policy on the Environment, Masidi said that it was expected to be ready by October.
In his speech earlier, Masidi said many would ask why the need to formulate an environmental policy when there were several existing legalisations pertaining to the protection of the environment, such as the Environment Protection Enactment 2002, Wildlife Enactment 1997, Sabah Parks Enactment 1994, Sabah Water Resources Enactment 1998, Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000 and Sabah Forestry Enactment 1968, among others.
“Besides that, there are also environmental related policies and plans such as the Sabah Tourism Master Plan, Sabah Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan, Sabah Agriculture Policy, Sabah Forestry Policy, Sabah Environmental Education Policy, Sabah Wildlife Policy and Action Plan and Sabah Development Corridor Blue Print,” he disclosed.
According to Masidi, the major problem with the existing legal framework was in its sectoral approach in managing the environment which had resulted in passing of a number of environmentally related legislations with its own provision on the environment.
“Besides that, policies and plans are also rather specific and sectoral where environmental issues are incorporated in a fragmented manner,” he said adding: “Hence, despite these legislations, policies and plans, the environmental degradation continues.”
Masidi pointed out that an environmental policy for Sabah was therefore crucial to serve as a framework and guideline for decision making in its path towards modernization and industrialization.
“This policy will be a standard operating procedure by the state government to manage impact of humans on the environment with a view to prevent, reduce or mitigate harmful effects on the environment and natural resources,” he said.
by Nancy Lai