I have a feeling that the Malaysian government does not give a damn for the environment. The last time, it was the incinerator in Broga. Despite opposition from the locals and various environmental organizations, the project went through. Now, it concerns the Tioman Island, probably one of the famous diving scuba sites in the world with a beautiful coral reef system.
Here is the situation. The government plans to build a new marina somewhere off the island for the sake of tourism. In their mind probably, they would be able to boost tourism by providing the relevant infrastructure; in this case, a marina. They have argued that the marina will help develop Tioman further and at the same time, help the locals to move up the social ladder.
This is my opinion. People from all over the world come to the island mainly to enjoy the reef system and the tropical weather. Part of the attraction will no doubt be devastated during the planned construction of the marina and thus, what good is a marina to tourism when the marina itself will threaten the main reason behind Tioman’s tourism industry?
Tioman does not need a marina. What Tioman needs is to be left alone from a certain type of policymakers.
I, as you would probably guess, disagree with the project. The marina construction comes at the expense of the system. I think it is utterly stupid to destroy the main attraction of the island in order to build a marina. Years ago, similar things happened at Tioman. The government built an airport on a reclaimed land off Tioman and in the process, damaged part of the ecosystem. In my opinion, an alternative to an airport is the usage of floatplane, or seaplane. However, there is no use crying over split milk.
Conversely, the construction of the marina has not even started and any damage to the coral reef system can be avoided by preventing this project.
The Malaysian Department of the Environment (DOE) has recorded its opposition towards the marina project but from what I have read, the DOE has no power comparable to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prevent this. To prove this, three barges associated with the project contractor have already reached Tioman even though the DOE has yet to approve the contractor’s environmental management plan.
At the same time, I am never going to trust the DOE again. Even the fast eroding EPA earns more respect from any green’s eye. What good is the DOE when the report environmental impact assessment (EIA) is approved even while the environment is at a terrible loss? How could such body, supposedly to take care of the environment, gave a green light even as the coral reef system is being threatened unnecessarily?
The same thing happened to Broga. The EIA allowed the construction of the incinerator despite the knowledge that the incinerator site is in a proven water catchments area.
Perhaps the libertarian’s common belief is entirely true; one cannot trust the government.
I am not sure what I am going to do other than rant. It seems hopeless. It seems, I have more power in the US than in my home country. Nevertheless, I have just joined Environmental Justice, a campus wide environmental group. Through this organization, I hope I could somehow forward the trouble in Tioman.
p/s – This coming Monday, Nader, yes, Ralph Nader is coming to Michigan. I will be skipping class to attend that.