Tuesday, April 22, 2008


SLA to play permanent role in protecting environment


The Sabah Law Association (SLA) through its newly formed Sub-committee on Environment and Climate Change will have a permanent role to play in the State Government’s drive to clean, conserve and care for the environment. The chairperson of the newly launched Sabah Law Association Sub Committee on Environment and Climate Change (SLA ECC),Nilakrisna James, said both parties have created history through the smart partnership. “We created history today by cementing a smart partnership between SLA and the State Government of Sabah through the Environmental Action Committee (EAC) under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment,” she said. According to her, the idea of creating a special sub-committee in SLA to deal specifically with environment and climate change laws came about as a result of her involvement in the EAC Steering Committee and Management Group. “I was made aware of the devastation in our local environment from pollution in our rivers and monsoon drains to the devastation at the Mamut Copper Mine. “On the global front there is a concerted effort to try to comprehend and implement the Kyoto Protocol because of the very real concern for climate change that is predicted to change the world’s environmental landscape unless proper control mechanisms are enacted in individual countries,” she added. According to her, in the absence of proper implementation and enforcement of any laws to prevent pollution and damage protect and conserve the environment and penalise those who deliberately cause damage and pollution, people can simply complain about the obvious and get nowhere. Therefore the decision by SLA to set up the SLA ECC. SLA President Datuk John Sikavun said the Association and its members have played their role in society and would continue to do so. “We have many able and committed lawyers in SLA who despite their heavy work schedules, are ever willing to play apart in society to make it a better place to live whether by writing books or articles not only on the issues at hand but on other important issues that arise,” he said. According to him, by speaking up on important issues, SLA members have also created awareness among the public as well as educating them. He also disclosed that SLA had participated in the Government’s decision making process, provided legal aid and advice to the public. “I believe that we may even be the first Bar in the country to create a special sub-committee dealing specifically with environment and climate change. Our overall aim is to be a driving force and a leading voice in the creation of new legislations relevant to this field and to act as the advisory body to the Government when it comes to the revision of the existing laws to make them ore relevant to the present times,” he said. “There is a huge difference as to what comprises the Federal jurisdiction and State jurisdiction when it comes to environmental laws and in the context of Sabah and Sarawak, some of those rights are entrenched in the Federal Constitution such as forestry, land matters, agriculture and water,” he added. John also said that SLA is indeed committed in its efforts to continually review, refine and make relevant the local legislation. “The 3Rs as I would call them, are to study new existing legislation, review them, provide advice to the Government if necessary, refine such laws and make sure they are relevant in the context of Sabah and also Malaysia as a whole,” he said.