Loopholes in Malaysia’s Environmental Law
This talk recorded at 6pm on Wed 20 May 2015 at University of Nottingham Kuala Lumpur Teaching Centre, Level 2, Chulan Tower, No 3 Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur.
Teckwyn Lim & Jia Yaw Kiu
Teckwyn Lim is Technical Director of Resource Stewardship Consultants Sdn Bhd (RESCU) a research and policy advisory company. Teckwyn has a degree in forestry and served as the first manager of the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) in 1999. He worked in Sabah as forest officer for WWF's Borneo Programme. He has authored two books and numerous articles on conservation and the environment in Malaysia. Teckwyn has also evaluated a number of endangered species for the IUCN Red List and is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. He is active with several non-governmental organisations and is presently the secretary of the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society.
Jia Yaw was called to the Malaysian Bar in 2004 and is a partner of a law firm in Petaling Jaya. He is a member of the Bar Council Environment & Climate Change Committee and also a Committee member of the Selangor Bar, where he chairs the Environment, Human Rights & Young Lawyers Sub-Committee. Jia Yaw was a Chevening scholar, completing a Masters in Environmental Law at SOAS, University of London.
Malaysia has a complex and comprehensive legal framework that covers many aspects of environmental protection. This includes a wide array of laws that have provisions for conserving almost every aspect of the environment including forests, wildlife, rivers, soil and air. Some of these laws were passed by the federal parliament and others by the various state legislative assemblies. In addition the Malaysian legal system recognises customary law as a valid source of law and the native traditions of indigenous communities regarding nature conservation have been upheld by the high courts. Despite its solid foundation, the Malaysian legal system has numerous loopholes that allow the government to approve projects that destroy the environment. These loopholes include administrative get-out clauses that make it rather easy for state authorities to approve the destruction of virgin forests, the killing of endangered species of wildlife, the muddying of rivers, erosion of soil and pollution of the air. Fortunately public pressure for increased transparency and accountability and growing political will are leading to some of these loopholes being tightened up.