Be more proactive in dealing with landslides, govt told

KUALA LUMPUR: The government, including states and local authorities should be more proactive in dealing with landslide occurrences instead of only reacting after a tragedy takes place.

This, said Alliance for A Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, was as Malaysia does not lack proposals and policies on mitigation plans in dealing with such calamities.

Lee also questioned the outcome of inquiries conducted by authorities on similar tragedies in the past as Malaysia often encounters landslides.

"It has become an annual 'deja vu' of save and rescue, blame and defensiveness as we witness a year in and out of the news of landslide subsidence and the fatalities count.

"Hundreds of millions of the people's money have been awarded to contractors to conduct remedial works, all of which can be prevented if proper control and precautionary approaches on development or illegal encroachment have been done by local authorities and developers, with less focus on short-term gains.

"We have also had rather regular landslides at hillslopes. Why was not much, if any remedial action taken to prevent more landslides to save lives?" he said.

Following this, he added that authorities should also implement the application of slope safety warning systems to provide long-term monitoring.

This, he said, includes an early warning system to facilitate the understanding of slope behaviour in managing landslide risk.

"The responsibility of installing such systems should both be borne by the local authorities and developers or proponents of projects in the vicinity of hilly high-risk or environmentally sensitive areas.

"Similarly in Hong Kong, every slope is designated an owner to look after and maintain the safety of all slopes."

Lee, at the same time, also called for the environmental protection legislation to focus more on the conservation of natural resources and environmentally sensitive areas rather than merely focusing on corrective measures.

He added that while there have been significant numbers of breaches of environmental law and development plans, the proportion of prosecutions or other enforcement action, however, has been minimal and only comes to the fore when there is public outcry.

"The five–year development plans, various environmental acts and policy documents in theory would have guided the government on the types, scale and locations of development allowed.

"The major problem within the legal framework is in its sectoral approach which leaves certain grey areas unregulated due to the overlap between existing government agencies tasked to manage environmental well-being.

"Environmental protection must focus on conservation of natural resources rather than merely focusing on corrective measures and this law must include prevention of environmental damage by development activities."


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