MRR2: Engineers Should Speak Up?
by Engr. Tan Ka Kheng, Ph.D(Cantab),ＦＩＣｈｅｍＥ，C.Eng., F.I.E.M., P.Eng
We must salute Ir. Dr. Wahid bin Omar for his suggestion that our local engineers participate in open discussion on engineering issues of public interest. The lack of participation of engineers with credible expertise in the discussion of the MRR2 flyover problem may have led to the emergence pf "pseudo experts", who just could not adequately deal with the causes of the problem. The local media is not known for its technical competence either. On two occasions, I was caught in traffic jam on the flyover and I could feel the abnormally high level of vibrations of the bridge not felt on other flyovers. Immediately I informed as many people as possible not to use the flyover. Should the flyover remains open to traffic and something untoward occurs, it would be a big blow to the stature of the engineers and The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia.
Engr. Tham Kum Weng (June 2006 issue of Jurutera) was right in stating the need of engineers to exercise utmost professionalism in any public debate. However, when the safety of public facilities such as an MRR2, a flyover whish has become highly questionable, the public should have the right to voice its concern until the problem is resolved. The public cannot just sit back and wait for the experts to act as it will take time and it may be too late. It will be more fruitful if a technical discussion can be convened in the premise of The Institution of Engineers so that the full facts can be reviewed by experts. Such technical discussions and free public lectures hosted by a learned society like IEM should be encouraged and promoted, so that the concerned parties and general public can gain an authoritative and responsible account of the issues at hand. This is often done by professional bodies and universities in the West.
The call of Engr. Dr Wahid for transparency and openness amongst engineers is laudable, for without transparency, professional accountability and truth Malaysia cannot hope to progress towards a technologically advanced and civil society. Public accountability is crucial in gaining public confidence in any professional body. The failure of MRR2 flyover, the collapse of NKVE and Highland Tower, and the controversy surrounding Matrade Building and Bakun Dam all require proper investigations and inquiry to build up public confidence and accountability. Malaysian engineers and The Institution of Engineers must seriously think of ways to raise the stature of the engineering profession and the esteem of engineers.
Chief Editor's Comments:
All engineering failures deserve the deepest concern of engineers. In our country, however, engineers quite often find their hands tied and are therfore not able to do what they have been tranied to do best. As you have mightly put it, many politicians think they can do a better job than engineers. In such cases the engineers do not choose to keep quiet. They are told to shut up!
The problem pertaining to the MRR2 flyover at Kepong may develop into a litigation, and it is best for experts and non-experts alike to refrain from making any comment on it at this stage.
After the dust has settled, we can look at the problem objectively and hopefully come up with a lesson that everybody, engineers and otherwise, can benefit from.