I. STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT IN MALAYSIA
A. Malaysian resources and the environment
1. Environmental problems related to lack of development
The environmental problems related to the lack of development include: inadequate provision of sanitary facilities; the lack of proper housing in rural areas; the unchecked sprawling growth of urban settlements resulting in slums; pollution of waterways by human and industrial waste; and the poor quality of public transport systems in the cities and towns.
Good water supply and sanitation services are important to ensuring good health and the absence of epidemic diseases. Water supplies in Malaysia, which have shown significant improvement, now reach 89 per cent of all households (99 per cent urban, 77 per cent rural) compared to 80 per cent in 1990, 55 per cent in 1980 and 42 per cent in 1970 (Ministry of Finance, 1980/81; 1991/92). The sanitation system has also improved significantly over the past decade; 32.8 per cent of the population had no sanitation facilities in 1980 compared with 8.5 per cent in 1990. The remainder of the population were provided with sewerage facilities during the Sixth Malaysia Plan (1991-1995). To accelerate the provision of modern sewerage services, the government privatized the sewerage system in 1993. By 1995, 82 out of 143 local authorities throughout the country had handed over the management of sewerage system. Garbage disposal is not a problem in the cities, although irresponsible dumping (especially by construction contractors) does cause some problems.
The provision of roads and electricity supplies is also important to ensuring proper development. Once those infrastructural facilities are in place, problems associated with under-development can be overcome. For example, the migration of youths from rural areas in search of jobs could be checked if industries were set up in rural areas. With the establishment of transport, water and power infrastructure facilities, many new regional areas have been developed.