Use Local Agenda 21 to empower NGOs

Friends of Sungai Klang Taman Melawati River Three (FoSK TMR3) founder Kennedy Michael is of the opinion municipal councils should empower local communities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under Local Agenda 21 (LA21) to be their eyes and ears on the ground.

For the record, LA21 is a programme and action plan towards achieving sustainable development. It encompasses raising awareness, capacity-building, community participation and the formation of partnerships.

“There are many NGOs who are doing good work. However, sometimes they are unable to carry out their responsibilities to the best of their abilities,” said Michael.

“They have taken videos and pictures of people dumping waste into rivers but at times this evidence is not admissible in court as they do not have the authority to be in the area.

“We are not trying to be heroes, we just want to be the eyes and ears of the municipal councils.”

He said the activists can be given similar power as Rela (People’s Volunteer Corps) and volunteer firefighters.

“For instance, if we have authority cards, perhaps if there is open burning, we can enter premises to take photographs or video evidence to make the job of the authorities easier to prosecute the offenders,” said Michael.

He added at times local councils cannot do their job efficiently as they are short of staff. In this situation, local communities, NGOs and activists can play their part.

Michael said at least eight development projects are ongoing in Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur and that is partly why the area experienced two flash floods last year.

“We had a rare success when we provided Kuala Lumpur City Hall with video evidence that one of the developers was at fault and a stop-work order was issued.

“Normal citizens cannot go up to a developer and tell them to stop work. That is why empowering the community will go a long way.”

On a separate note, Michael said the river which flows through Taman Melawati is 4.5km long and after much work, the first kilometre has been classified Class 1, which means it is safe to drink.

The goal is to make the whole stretch Class 1 by 2030.

“The river flows to Klang River. If we can get the upstream clean, then the amount of rubbish reaching Klang River will be reduced drastically,” he said.

Klang River is undergoing a transformation process under the Selangor Maritime Gateway which hopes to rejuvenate 35,612 hectares along the river ecosystem to make it a future source of income for the state as well as providing better quality river water in the long run.

From 2016 to 2020, total annual waste collected has been halved.

The river water quality improved from Class V (highly contaminated) in 2016 to Class III (moderately polluted) and Class IIB (recreational use with body contact) on the Water Quality Index.

The goal is to raise it to Class IIA (conventional treatment required) and then Class I for consumption.

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

ELDERS TO GET SINOVAC COVID-19 VACCINE

Those aged 60 and above will receive Sinovac vaccine as Phase Two of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme starts on April 19.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the coordinating minister for the programme, said latest data showed that the vaccine is “safe, effective and stable” for senior citizens.

Nations that use Sinovac vaccine for those aged 60 and above are Turkey (11 million people), Brazil (seven million) and Chile (three million).

COPS PUT THE BRAKES ON ILLEGAL RACING IN KUANTAN

Police went to the Taman Perindustrian Indera Mahkota 14 in Kuantan yesterday after learning that a 250m stretch at the industrial area was used for illegal racing.

In the 5pm operation, police seized 30 cars and detained five teenagers for driving without a licence.

Police are investigating if the race involved betting activities, said Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department principal assistant director (Enforcement) Supt Bakri Zainal Abidin.

RTD ANNIVERSARY GIFT – HUGE DISCOUNT ON COMPOUNDABLE SUMMONSES

The Road Transport Department, which turned 74 today, is offering a 70 per cent discount on compoundable summonses.

The discount offer will be valid starting tomorrow till June 13.

There are some 3.5 million compoundable summonses in RTD’s registry.

‘I AM KHALSA’ TO BE RELEASED AT MIDNIGHT

In conjunction with the Vaisakhi celebration, Sri Saheb Production Sdn Bhd will release its latest production, ‘I Am Khalsa’ at midnight (April 13).

The documentary will be released on Asia Samachar’s Facebook page.

Sikhs in Malaysia will celebrate Vaisakhi – which marks the birth of the Khalsa (a group of fully initiated Sikhs) and the harvest festival – on Wednesday.

BAM PRESIDENT NORZA’S NEW TEAM STRIVES TO UP THE GAME BY ATTENDING TO ‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS’

With Tan Sri Norza Zakaria confirmed at the helm of BA of Malaysia for the 2021-2025 term, expectations are high. All eyes will now be on the new team, especially Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos and Datuk Michael Tang Vee Mun, to see if they can take Malaysian badminton to greater heights.