Mohammad Syahir Aiman Abd Khair
Thesis: Governance in the urban planning practices and processes: The Malaysian solid waste management.
The Malaysian Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Management Act of 2007 (Act 672) was introduced to provide a comprehensive, integrated, cost-effective and sustainable system of solid waste management. This Act grants the Federal Government Corporation, known as the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp Malaysia), executive power over managing urban solid waste and public cleanliness throughout Peninsular Malaysia (Periathamby, Hamid, & Khidzir, 2009). A previous study (Abd Khair, 2014) on Malaysian urban solid waste management found that the adoption of Act 672 did not necessarily lead to successful waste management, with good management requiring the coordination of many actors such as government, community, and non-governmental organisations. Criticised by various actors in solid waste management, state governments across Peninsular Malaysia have implemented the Act to varying degrees with different levels of success.
This study will explore the management of urban solid waste in Malaysia, with the objective of identifying and investigating the underlying factors that account for the various degrees to which the Act 672 is implemented. It will assess community socio-economic outcomes of these processes and practices in two Malaysian states. In addition, the Malaysian experience in finding waste management solutions is based on cost-benefit analysis (CBA) model. The decision is based on the solution that involves less cost but is considered effective to solve the problems that have arisen. The process includes an open tender for services in which contractors submit their proposal to the decision makers. The proposal is discussed and the decision is based on economic efficiency. This process of decision making does not require any involvement of the public although the public is at the receiving end of any decision made. Furthermore, this practice might be ethically compromised for example by encouraging corruption as decisions made may be based on the benefit to decision-makers and service providers(Morrissey & Browne, 2004).
This study will employ governance and urban planning theoretical framework with an input from urban political ecology (UPE) perspectives to unpack governance and urban policy issues within the Malaysian urban solid waste management system. To date, there has been limited research on urban services delivery, especially in middle-income countries where factors such as politics and power relationships among actors, the politics of scale, and governance play a large role in the urban planning practices and processes associated with urban solid waste management service delivery. This research aims to fill this gap as well as make practical recommendations for the adoption and implementation of the Federal waste management policy at Malaysian state and local levels.
Why my research is important
In many studies (Afrizal, 2012; Bjerkli, 2013), scholars and international organisations fail to create a deep understanding of how governance processes operate in the local context. Most literature indicates the effectiveness of urban service delivery through the success of cooperation between actors but does not discuss the socio-economic implications of various governance and urban planning practices. Studies on technical approaches to governance also give a false sense of political neutrality, as they portray development without politics (Afrizal, 2012; Bjerkli, 2013). To date, there has been limited research on urban services delivery, especially in middle-income countries where factors such as politics and power relationships among actors, the politics of scale, and governance play a large role in the urban planning practices and processes associated with urban solid waste management service delivery. This research aims to fill this gap as well as make practical recommendations for the adoption and implementation of the Federal waste management policy at Malaysian state and local levels.
Research exploring solid waste management in Malaysia is varied covering aspects of engineering, management, and health science, largely focusing on the technical aspects of management, sustainability, and privatisation practices. The research will build upon the existing knowledge of urban service delivery for middle-income countries and investigate the implications of socio-economic outcomes of various governance and urban planning practices and processes in Malaysia for urban solid waste management in a multi-level governance structure. Understanding the reasons for the varying degrees of implementation by state governments will provide new knowledge and understandings of Malaysian solid waste management, which it is hoped will help Federal, State, and Local Government in creating better policy implementation mechanisms. Better mechanisms at all levels of government will encourage new approaches in resolving issues of solid waste management, increasing service reliability and in turn generating better community socio-economic outcomes.