I. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL DECISION-MAKING AND DEVELOPING PLANNING
The primary goal of national development in Malaysia is national unity, and it is that goal which forms the basis for the formulation of public policies, strategies and plans. In that context, national unity has to be seen in the light of the unique historical development of Malaysia. Since achieving independence, national planning initiatives have been guided by a series of successive five-year plans (annex figure I). Those plans have given equal emphasis to economic and social development. An assessment of the integration of economic and environmental measures into development planning is given in this annex and the development planning structure at the national, State and local government levels is explained.
The highest planning body in the country is the National Planning Council. The Council is the economic committee of the Cabinet, and its membership comprises ministers dealing with key economic portfolios. In addition, there is also the National Development Council which considers the implementation of development programmes and the National Security Council which handles national security matters. The Prime Minister chairs the three bodies. The National Development Planning Committee, which is chaired by the Chief Secretary to the government, serves as the secretariat to the above three bodies. Annex figure II shows the relationship between the National Planning Council and other key agencies involved in planning in Malaysia.
The Economic Planning Unit (federal level) and the State Development Office (State level) are in charge of development within the framework of the national five-year development plans. Sector-based Interagency Planning Groups (IAPG) provide valuable inputs for planning at the macro level. The IAPG inputs are critical and precede the formulation of the five-year plans. Both the top-down and bottom-up planning processes are adopted, with the Economic Planning Unit under the Department of the Prime Minister playing a key role in matching micro level programmes with macro level plans for each economic sector. Annex figure III illustrates the central role played by the Economic Planning Unit in the national planning process.
A. Environmental considerations in development planning
In the preparation of the five-year development plan (annex figure III), the Department of Environment plays a crucial role in providing environmental inputs into the development plan. Headed by a director-general the Department comprises five divisions: administration, information management system, monitoring, development and evaluation. In addition to the department at the headquarters level, there are 13 State offices (annex figure IV). As of the end of 1996, the Department of Environment had a total staff of 367, including 147 at the management and professional levels.
The Department of Environment has established a number of mechanisms for gathering opinions and views on environmental management in Malaysia. One such mechanism is the Council for Environment. Council members are appointed from the Department, various NGOs, local universities, the ministries and the industry sector. Issues discussed range from amendments to the Environmental Quality Act, 1974, and new and effective methods of enhancing the EIA, to developing Malaysia's stand on environmental issues at the international level.
To ensure better coordination and improved environmental control and monitoring at the State level, the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment meets with the State executive councillors who are in charge of environmental matters in their respective States. The meetings are held to resolve coordination problems as well as enhance cooperation between federal and State agencies on matters concerning environmental management. In addition, the Department of Environment conducts regular dialogue sessions with industry groupings and NGOs to encourage feedback and maintain open channels of communication.
At the local government level, there are a number of provisions (Town an Country Planning Act 1976 , and the Local Government Act, 1976) calling for the formulation of structure plans. Those plans contain policies and general proposals by the local planning authority in respect of development, including measures for the improvement of the physical environment, communications, the management of traffic and planning of transportation networks, and the zoning of economic activities. In addition, the two Acts call for the preparation of local plans which contain detailed proposals for development and land use in the local planning areas.
Apart from the above, the Department of Environment provides inputs to ensure that environmental factors are taken into account in development planning. The Department also advises the local authorities on site suitability for development projects. The Department maintains an office in the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) which assists and advises foreign and local investors and manufacturers on matters related to the requirements of the Environmental Quality Act, 1974, as well as policies and procedures related to various environmental regulations and guidelines. The office is also consulted over environmental inputs and it provides comments on applications to MIDA for licences and incentives.
As mentioned earlier in this report, the Department of Environment is administered by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. The views of the Department are channelled to the Cabinet and planning committees at the federal level through the ministry.
B. Plans and planning process
Development planning for the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur is coordinated by the City Hall of Kuala Lumpur under the responsibility of the Mayor who is accountable directly to the Prime Minister. A series of comprehensive by-laws and regulations provide the Mayor with the power to act wherever necessary.
Planning Legislation (Act 267), in particular, vests the Mayor with the power to undertake planning activities in Kuala Lumpur. To put such activities into action, two committees are established under the Act: the Town Planning Committee and the Planning Technical Subcommittee. Their functions are to ensure that all applications for development, including environmental considerations, are thoroughly evaluated and vetted for compliance with all necessary legal requirements and provisions prior to approval. The Town Planning Committee is chaired by the Mayor and its members comprise City Hall director-generals, deputy director-generals and directors of department involved in development. The Director of Legal Affairs and the Head of the Federal Territory Development Department of the Prime Ministerís Office are also committee as members. All planing decisions are made by the Mayor at the Town Planning Committee meetings.
On the other hand, the Planning Technical Subcommittee is chaired by the Deputy Director of Town Planning and Building Control and its members include the Telecommunications Department, the National Power Board, the Fire and Rescue Department, the Department of Environment and the Survey Department. The main function of the Planning Technical Subcommittee is to ensure that applications meet the various technical requirements of the respective departments or agencies before they are submitted to the Town Planning Committee. The Department of Environment and several of the City Hall departments that are involved in environmental management are required to contribute opinions and expertise on any environmental agenda that falls under their jurisdiction.
In arriving at many decisions vis-à-vis the development of Kuala Lumpur, City Hall is guided by a number of government policies, most notably those outlined in the Malaysia Five- Development Plan, the Outline Perspective Plans and other circulars issued by the federal government from time to time. In addition, many of the decisions pertaining to the development of Kuala Lumpur are based on the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan (KLSP), administrative policies issued by the Mayor, internally prepared development plans approved by the Mayor and technical standards set by the various relevant departments under City Hall. City Hall of Kuala Lumpur has drawn up a KLSP as a basic guideline for all future development in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur until the year 2000. Formulation of the next revision is underway and it will cover the period up to the year 2020. The new KLSP will ensure that all development inside the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur is properly coordinated.
As discussed earlier in this report, the overall development and planning for the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur is coordinated by the City Hall of Kuala Lumpur, with the environmental issues being controlled, to a large extent, by the Federal Territory Department of Environment - Federal Territory at the State level and the Department of Environment headquarters at the federal level. Given the three-tiered system of government in Malaysia (federal, State and local levels), environmental decision-making in the context of development planning can sometimes be time-consuming and labourious. That arrangement reveals a number of institutional and policy weaknesses.
C. Institutional and policy weaknesses
The three-tiered structure and the separation of rights and responsibilities between the federal, State and local authorities has resulted in an absence of a clear hierarchical system in the discharging of duties. The Department of Environment - Federal Territory and the State-level Department of Environment office have extensive statutory power to regulate, monitor and enforce environmental pollution regulations. In contrast, as the primary planning authority for Kuala Lumpur, City Hall has rather superficial authority for handling environmental matters, mostly by indirect association of related issues.
There are no legal provisions for imposing federal or Department of Environment authority on State or local government over development. Since each State is the sole authority in land matters, including acquisition and development, land has consequently been overdeveloped. Price increases depend on demand, and in order to maximize profits the States develop land without much consideration for either immediate or long-term environmental concerns. There have been many instances where the State has re-gazetted forest reserves or land meant for open areas, in order to allow construction of commercial complexes.
In addition, there are loopholes in the enforcement of the Environmental Quality (Prescribed Activities) EIA Order regarding land-use requirements. In most instances, EIAs are required for designated development areas of 50 hectares or more. But because of the scarcity of land in urban Kuala Lumpur, almost all project and development areas are under 50 hectares; thus, by default, the developers are not required to submit EIAs. The only exceptions are highways and the proposed "Linear City" by a private developer in which some parts of the city and the Light Rail Transit system will be elevated on top of the Klang River.
Based on discussions with city officials, legislation pertaining to environmental management is now considered adequate for handling issues and problems arising from city development efforts. However, the officials stressed that enforcement of such legislation is problematic as a result of the inadequate workforce allocated to environmental monitoring and enforcement as well as the lack of cooperation by the public and industries.
The lack of enforcement has also provided an avenue for the public and industries to take advantage of opportunities to dispose of waste indiscriminately and thereby cause pollution of resources. For example, if open burning and solid and toxic waste disposal are not carefully monitored and steep fines levied on offenders, the irresponsible few will revert to taking the easy way, for example, midnight dumping.
In essence, environmental inputs are being considered at all levels: federal, State and local governments. By virtue of the status of Kuala Lumpur as the national capital of Malaysia, all planning decisions by City Hall of Kuala Lumpur pertaining to development must take cognizance of the importance of environmental factors. City Hall of Kuala Lumpur has the support of the necessary laws and regulations for handling environmental issues and problems; however, City Hall must be given adequate resources to enable it to implement effective enforcement.