Focus View
The high cost of poor enforcement
FocusM team | 11 Aug 2017 00:30
The recent arrests of civil servants in relation to the illegal mining of bauxite in Pahang show just how slack the state Lands and Mines Department is in enforcing the law. 

The action by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is not the first relating to bauxite mining in Pahang. Early last year, the MACC had made several arrests. 

The threat of arrests by the enforcement agencies does not seem to deter bauxite thieves. The mining ban has been in force since Jan 15, 2016. 

The illegal mining is so lucrative that the miners stop at nothing to get the bauxite. It is immaterial to them whether their illegal activities cause pollution and adversely affect the health of residents in the area. 

But what is more shocking is that those responsible for enforcing the ban allowed the illegal mining to go on for more than a year! And instead of the bauxite stockpile declining due to the ban, it actually increased.

In fact, bauxite exports to China rose from 166,000 tonnes in December to 720,000 tonnes in May. That, and the fact there were 200 lorry trips day and night from the mining sites to the port is telling on the standard of enforcement. 

It all boils down to enforcement. 

In recent months, Vietnamese fishermen have been encroaching into East Malaysian waters. Their boats used Sabah registration numbers and operated in deep waters where the larger fish are caught. This not only affected the livelihood of Malaysian fishermen but the ensuing shortage of fish caused prices to soar by up to 50% in the last three months. 

Then, we have the estimated two million illegal foreign workers in the country. How is this possible given the assurance by the authorities that they have stepped up surveillance along the coasts and borders?

And once these illegals are in, why is it so difficult to nab them and deport them? Is it sheer inefficiency on the part of the enforcement authorities or is there corruption involved?

Illegal workers, illegal bauxite mining and illegal fishing mean millions of ringgit in revenue are lost by the country. It’s a heavy price to pay for the negligence and corruption of some quarters.