Malaysian land reclamation work suspended pending environment impact reports

YVONNE LIM Today Online 29 Nov 14;

SINGAPORE — Malaysia has since last month suspended land reclamation projects in the Strait of Johor pending the completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the country’s Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Minister James Dawos Mamit told TODAY.

It will take at least three months for the EIA to be completed, he said. He added: “We have given the order to stop work ... We are currently conducting research for an EIA report ... It is not ready yet.”

Dr Mamit was speaking to TODAY over the phone, in response to the Singapore Government’s concerns over the projects during a meeting on Tuesday between Dr Mamit and Singapore Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, as part of an annual exchange of visits between the environment ministries of both countries.

Among other things, Dr Balakrishnan reiterated the Republic’s request for the reclamation work to be suspended until Singapore has received and studied all the relevant information from Malaysia, including the EIAs, and established that there would be no transboundary impact on Singapore from these projects

Responding to TODAY’s queries, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said it had noted Dr Mamit’s remarks that Malaysia had issued the order for reclamation work in Johor to be stopped.

An MEWR spokesperson said: “Based on his statement, we also look forward to receiving Malaysia’s EIA reports for the land reclamation projects in about three months. As Singapore has conveyed earlier, we are concerned about Malaysia’s land reclamation projects in the Strait of Johor given their close proximity to Singapore.”

She added: “Both Singapore and Malaysia are obliged under international law, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to undertake and share Environmental Impact Assessments on all work that could have transboundary impact, prior to the commencement of such work.”

Other issues that were discussed during the meeting include the control of vehicular emissions, joint monitoring of water quality in the Strait of Johor and the emergency response plans for chemical spills at the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link and the East Johor Strait.