The Leg Co Debates and the Environment

Today will be the end of the current session of the Leg Co. Members will be making their speeches and it's back to one speech per member in the main Council. Over the last few days, the Council sat as a Committee making a free for all and asking as many questions as the Speaker lets them. I have not been able to sit in all of them but the four members of the four districts compared to the other members have been particularly full of questions which no doubt are fed from their constituents. I have been following the debates over the last 3 years and the style of questioning too has been changing. You would get the members first doing a little praise and then coming in with the thorny question. This is more akin towards the British MPs which I used to follow back in the 1980s. I just wished we have longer session especially in approving the legislations.

A couple of members stood out and hopefully they will continue to do so in the future. But what is frustrating is still the lack of debates on some national issues. From time to time the Speaker often chided the members for asking questions that could be asked by the members calling the Ministers and finding out what happened to a particular project rather than waste the time of the Council by asking that question when they should use the precious time of the Council to debate other important and strategic issues. I did not say that but the Speaker did and I think that sums up the Council sessions. Half of the time, time was taken up to debate issues of what's going in my backyard rather than nationalistic issues. No doubt these are important but there are other channels for that. I guess one of the difficulty is that the members are not representative of a particular area. If they had been a particular area, I am sure that they will nurse that area and give priority to the constitutents without waiting for the Council to meet.

Then probably we wouldn't have the waste crisis at Sungai Akar. This I have to admit has been the slowness on our part over the last few years. Sungai Akar was supposed to have close down before the end of 2000. What I have learnt in my one and a half month is this. Many vendors have come out with solutions to the point we are bursting out of our ears with them. All wants to make money which is obvious enough. One solution which was bandied about was to build an incinerator. Then you have the issue of where best to place this with almost everyone saying 'NIMBY' which is 'not in my backyard'. Then you have other issues - our garbage apparently is not dry enough to be dumped straight into an incinerator, you would have to 'dry' it before doing so, our garbage total is not large enough despite what you think of the volume in Sungai Akar for an incinerator to operate economically, incinerators need power - really large volume of power and hence very costly. In West Malaysia, with population much much larger than ours, the two they have are not being used because of these similar problems. Hence we need a new kind of incinerator or a more modern way of disposing our garbage.

Someone asked for a list of RKN projects approved for the environment, there is only one page (guess what's missing from the list - but I have been assured the missing one will be included as soon as we finally figure out what we want) -


I think it's time Brunei seriously considers some policy on waste re-cycling.
Bearing in mind that it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY our people will want to bother themselves in sorting their waste, let alone sending the re-cyclable waste to a recycling centre,
the government needs to bring the ways and means to their doorsteps, costly but will be beneficial in the long term.

If you can't picture it, I refer to the waste management here in England. What the government does to encourage waste re-cycling is that each household is given 'white sacks' for their re-cyclable waste every few months. So each week, 2 binmen will come, 1 for the wet household waste and another for the recyclable waste.
What we have noticed now is that the 'white sacks' are no longer distributed as often as it was 2 years ago. Now, because everyone has been used to the whole re-cycling routine, the habit is formed and re-cycling becomes the norm.
I don't know if it will work in Brunei, but it does work here in England (unless our people are too thick-headed to see the rationale- which could well be the case!).

Anyway, to me this waste management is not a laughing matter. If Brunei really wants to preserve its environment, waste management SHOULD be our main and first priority.

sky said…
besides waste recycling, Brunei should also take into account on the reuse-able stuffs and recycling such as re-using plastic bags or promoting the use paperbags and recycle shopping bags. plastic bags take up huge amounts of space in our country's landfill sites, space that could be used much more effectively.

Plastic bags could also contribute to releasing greenhouse gases through its production, decomposititon and disposal and it takes 1,000 years for plastics to decay.

The government could pass laws to tax plastic bags or have special carrier-bag recycling bins set up around the country. This again would come down to the government as they could run a campaign to make people re-use carrier bags or pass laws making it difficult not to - for example by not allowing supermarkets to provide them.

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