LETTER | The Rimba Disclosure Project (RDP) issued a press statement on July 7, 2022 demanding transparency on environmental impact assessments (EIAs) by the Environment Department (DOE).
This was in the context of the sudden removal of the EIA portal on the DOE’s website. Since then, the DOE has been uploading EIAs on their “Senarai EIA” page.
However, our data below shows that several EIAs are still missing from that database, thus posing the question of whether this senarai is complete and regularly maintained and updated. Further, the vast majority of EIAs are still not publicly accessible.
In line with our right to freedom of information, on behalf of the RDP we would like to reiterate the demands we originally called for in July.
The RDP and the undersigned demand that the DOE, in conformance with their own guidelines, make data on EIAs transparent and freely available on the internet with immediate effect through the following actions:
Regularly updating the online EIA database on daily basis.
Ensuring that the database includes EIAs from at least 10 years before (2012 onwards), and a list of all EIAs before that should also be made publicly available.
Guaranteeing that the database is comprehensive and inclusive of all EIAs submitted, and that information on their approval status is accurate.
Including relevant information in the database, including the project proponents and EIA consultants that have submitted the EIA.
All first schedule and second schedule EIAs to be publicly available in full and downloadable online.
The DOE to organise EIA briefings with the project proponent via an online meeting system (eg Zoom) where the public are able to raise questions, concerns and objections.
EIAs are mandatory for projects of a certain size and sector. Data on EIAs are essential for CSOs to monitor projects, such as logging and plantations, land reclamation, mining and quarrying, infrastructure, and others.
These projects are of public interest as they may potentially involve environmental destruction, impact communities, exacerbate climate change and have exposure to corruption.
Transparency of EIAs is guaranteed, in theory, by the DOE’s EIA Guidelines (2016), which state that web displays of EIAs are required for both first schedule and second schedule EIAs.
Previously, the DOE had an EIA portal available on their website. While this portal had many limitations in terms of the availability of data, in February 2022 the DOE redesigned its website and this portal, the only government database on new EIA submissions and approvals has now disappeared and replaced by the “Senarai EIA” page, which is inadequate as:
A number of EIAs appear to be missing from this database, based on a cross-check with the RDP’s own data.
It only shows EIAs from 2020 onwards.
No further information about the majority of EIAs (such as an executive summary) is available.
This database cannot be found on the website’s directory and potentially can only be accessed by those who have the specific link.
This lack of transparency makes it very difficult for NGOs and the public to act as a check-and-balance to the environmental regulators, as we are left in the dark about what projects have been approved and are being planned in sensitive areas.
While we are aware that some EIAs can be viewed at DOE offices, we reiterate that it is inadequate for EIAs to only be accessible physically, as this provides needless barriers for the public to access information on projects which ultimately affect them.
Furthermore, offices may restrict access to and photography of EIAs.
Agora Society Malaysia
AJ Rimba Collective
Alliance of River Three
Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
Badan Warisan Malaysia
Cent to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center)
Cerah - Anti-Haze Action
Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM)
Five Arts Centre
Free Tree Society Kuala Lumpur
Freedom Film Network (FFN)
Friends of Bukit Kiara
Gerimis Art Project
Glimpse of Malaysia
Jaringan Ekologi dan Iklim (Jedi)
Justice for Sisters
Klima Action Malaysia (Kamy)
Kota Damansara Community Forest Society
Malaysian Action for Justice & Unity (Maju)
Malaysian Youth Delegation
Monsoon Malaysia (MM)
North South Initiative (NSI)
Partners of Community Organisations (Pacos)
Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak)
Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (Kuasa)
Persatuan Alam & Warisan Bukit Fraser
Persatuan Pecinta dan Pemuliharaan Penyu Pulau Pangkor
Persatuan Pemeliharaan dan Pemuliharaan Alam Sekitar (Pelihara))
Persatuan Rimba Komuniti Shah Alam
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat
Pertubuhan Alam Masa Depan Borneo Sabah @ Future Alam Borneo
Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia (Grass Malaysia)
Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (pekamalaysia.org)
Pertubuhan Solidariti Hijau Kuantan
Reef Check Malaysia
Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (Reach)
Rimba Disclosure Project
Sahabat Alam Malaysia
Save Malaysia Stop Lynas
Society for Equality, Respect And Trust for All Sabah (SERATA)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd (TrEES)
Water Watch Penang
Youths United for Earth
Malaysian Cave and Karst Conservancy
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
Shaq Koyok (Orang Asli Activist)
3. Sharifah Sofia
4. Zolkifli Jaffar