Monday, October 11, 2010

Let's hope they have learnt their lesson

THE people who put up the telecommunications (telco) tower in the children's playground in Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, must be kicking themselves for thinking that they could fool Bangsar folk.

There is a lesson to be learned here. You just don't mess around with someone else's backyard without consulting them.

There is a Malay saying that goes like this: "Kalau nak masuk rumah, bagilah salam dulu." It basically means knock before you enter.

It's all about courtesy and, in this case, the people who put up the tower did not consult the residents first -- and it is obvious why they did not.

But even if they did, the chances of the tower going up are slim.

Transmission towers are bad news. It is common knowledge that they emit harmful electromagnetic radiation (EMR). There has been enough bad press about them since the first few came up in the city in the '90s when handphones arrived on our shores.

Whether or not these transmission towers emit EMR that can cause cancer or make you senile before your time is immaterial. Seeing one coming up, even if it is a dummy, can easily cause sleepless nights.

No one likes transmission towers in their backyard, especially those who are better informed and empowered, like those living in Bangsar.

Folk here are already up to their eyeballs in the rapid commercialisation of their once quiet residential haven.

The persistent traffic jams, haphazard parking and increasing noise pollution are already robbing them of what little quality of life that is left.

Putting up a telco tower in their playground where they exercise daily for good health is asking for trouble.

Never mind what the experts say about radio communication towers emitting very low frequency non-ionised radiation; unlike ionised ones such as X-rays. Or that the low frequency waves can at worse cause skin burns if one stands too close to a high-powered source.

Try convincing the people who live nearby that such towers are safe and see if you succeed.

Perhaps the Mandatory Standards for Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Emission from Radiocommunication Infrastructure guidelines can address concerns over the potential ill-health effects resulting from telco towers.

The guidelines, which were drafted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), is now available for public viewing at its website at until Nov 15.

With the dos and don'ts spelt out clearly, hopefully owners of such infrastructure facilities will be more mindful of the placement of these towers to avoid giving people living nearby the jitters.

Never mind if the lack of such towers result in poor connectivity on mobile networks and headaches for users.

Goodwill is a better alternative than bad press about one's lack of corporate social responsibility.

Meanwhile, with the removal of the tower, people living in Jalan Bangkung can continue to enjoy their pursuit of good health at the playground.

They are lucky to have the well-informed, empowered and vocal Bukit Bandaraya Residents' Association to voice their grievances.

Folk who live in less privileged communities around the Klang Valley are not so fortunate. Many have to put up with transmission towers and live underneath high tension cables that power the quality lives led by people elsewhere.

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