About Me

My photo
I am a Practitioner of 'The 7e Way of Leaders' where a Leader will Envision, Enable (ASK for TOP D), Empower, Execute, Energize, and Evolve grounded on ETHICS!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Daily Lessons from Life 08 January 2015 - Pahang residents suffer side effects of bauxite mining

"Pahang residents suffer side effects of bauxite mining - CNA 08 Jan 2016

PAHANG, Malaysia: Along a dusty red road in Malaysia's central Pahang state, a family-run restaurant is struggling to survive.

The process of mining and transporting bauxite, an aluminium-making ore has left layers of red dust coating everything from trees to cars in certain areas around the state capital of Kuantan.

Bauxite mining began in Kuantan in 2013 but demand soared after Indonesia banned exports of mineral ore to encourage domestic processing. Demand from China then shifted to Malaysia. The Southeast Asian nation supplied some 20 million metric tonnes of bauxite to China in the first 11 months of 2015.

It has been a lucrative business for the state. Pahang made US$10.7 million off bauxite exports in 2015. But this is of little concern to residents who are worried about the environment and their health.

It is something even those who benefit from the pollution, like car wash owner Natrah Mohd Yusof, fear.

"For our business, we're happy," she said. "But now I'm sick, I'm coughing."

There are also fears of health risks from contaminated water. Rivers and seas have begun turning red after heavy rain - something residents blame on the mining. The federal and state governments said they are aware of the concerns and are analysing water pollution levels. They are also suspending all mining activities in the state for three months beginning Jan 15.

At a joint press conference with Malaysia's Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Pahang Chief Minister Adnan Yaakob urged residents to stay calm.

"We are not in denial ... we're not playing the blame game but we are doing our fullest to make sure that the welfare of the people at all times supersedes any other benefits including monetary benefits."

The suspension period will be used to clear existing stockpiles and enforce stricter regulations in an industry that may be tainted with corruption.

Malaysia's anti-corruption commission is trying to clamp down on this, detaining four government officials on Wednesday, suspected of taking bribes from illegal miners. Given the state of the business, the opposition Member of Parliament for Kuantan Fuziah Salleh believes a longer suspension may be needed.
"I think (the suspension) is a step forward considering what has happened, considering that the damage to the environment is very, very extensive," she told Channel NewsAsia. "I think we have achieved one step. But there is a lot to do. I doubt three months is enough."

However, for those who work in the bauxite industry, three months is long enough.

"We just want to work. If we don't work one day, our kids don't eat, no one eats," one contractor lamented.

This is ultimately why many Kuantan residents like Salwani are torn as well about a complete shutdown of the bauxite industry. They know that without it, there would be a loss of income for fellow residents, especially those who have allowed mining to take place on their oil palm estates.

"We don't rely on bauxite mining so it's okay, but we pity those who work in the industry," said Zulaiha, Salwani's sister. "If it stops, what can they do? Their land is now unusable"
For now, however, the state government has indicated it has no intention of putting a permanent end to this lucrative industry."

We are NOT watching a movie about the Nuclear contamination of the infamous 3-Mile Island of the 70s US fame. Nor are we watching some documentary in far away Amazon or some grossly underdeveloped places on Earth! This is Malaysia. Our neighbour!

Lessons for me are:

1. the 'torn' sentiment between those who 'rely' on bauxite mining vs. those who don't! This is a FLAWED logic! How did those who 'now rely on bauxite mining' used to live? They can always go back to that way of life. Albeit a bit harder. That they have to decide: short term 'monetary gains' vs. 'permanent damages to health and the land and water they rely on to LIVE!'! Unless of course they make their money and 'move to KL away from this DEAD land'!!;

2. the 'lucrative business where the state government makes USD10.7m in 2015' - it comes down to 'how much USD do you place on a person's life?' What about the long term costs of healthy care IF the residents' health ARE indeed adversely affected by this bauxite mining thingy? What is USD10.7m vs. the billions that went unaccounted for in other scandals in Malaysia? Seriously, this is making a mockery of how 'adults measure pros and cons of this or that decision'!!;

3. IF hard logic has to be used to help decide, then: what is the % of people benefiting from this bauxite mining vs. those that don't but have to pay a price with their long term health? A SIMPLE computation will show you the obvious answer IF it is anything like 20/80 or even 30/70! Alas, as in many DECISIONS taken by adults and those with 'conflict of interests', it is always the 'Money Talk' in many incidences.

Can this be an EXCEPTION? I hope so. I hope so too for the embarrassing 'annual haze from slash-and-burn' from Indonesia too IF we 'welcome the haze again' in 2016!! 

No comments: