Reclamation work in Johor affects Singapore too

The report "Mega reclamation project off Johor raises concerns" (Sunday) shows that land reclamation is a sensitive issue that affects the territorial rights of one's immediate neighbours.

In 2002, when Singapore reclaimed land in Pulau Tekong and Tuas View, Malaysia responded with a strongly worded protest, and said such reclamation caused pollution and harm to the marine environment.

Such a protest may not have occurred if Singapore had informed the Malaysian government of its intention beforehand.

Coastal reclamation work for the recently reported Forest City in Danga Bay is too near the Second Link ("Chinese firms plan 39,000 homes in Johor"; Sunday).

As of June 15, publicly available information on Malaysia's Department of Environment website showed that no environmental impact assessment report has been submitted for the project.

Land reclamation may affect the seagrass bed and the livelihood of fishermen, causes pollution and damages marine life, and sometimes encroaches on the territorial rights of one's neighbours.

When I visit the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the Woodlands Waterfront, I usually see flotsam and jetsam along our coastline.

They could have been discarded by passing ships or carried here by waves from Johor. This shows that the purity of the water in the Strait of Johor affects the marine environment of both countries.

I hope Singapore and Malaysia will consult each other before embarking on any major land reclamation projects, especially those adjoining the Strait of Johor.

Heng Cho Choon

This article was first published on June 25, 2014.
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