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The Selendang Ayu Oil Spill

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On December 8, 2004, Selendang Ayu, a Malaysia-flagged ship carrying 66,000 tones of soya beans and 500,000 gallons of fuel grounded and split into two near the Island of Unalaska. More than 300,000 gallons of fuel linked into the sea and were washed ashore to Makushin and Skan Bay beaches. The following is a discussion of the connection between recreancy, and social capital in the Selendang Ayu case.

According to Ritchie and Gill (2006), the term ‘recreancy’ refers to failure of experts, or specialized institution/organizations, to take collective measures or fulfill their responsibilities in times of emergencies or disasters, in their respective areas of responsibilities or expertise. In relation to the case of Selendang Ayu oil spill, many of the respondents directed recreancy to the captain of the ship, Kailish Bushan. According to one of the respondents, since Kailish was the main decision maker when then ship was on voyage, he ought to have exercised his powers as the captain, and take collective actions to prevent the oil from linking into the ocean. Based on the media report, Kailish had pleaded guilty of giving false information about the circumstances surrounding the Selendang Ayu oil spill. This provides evidence that as the ship’s captain, Kialish was aware of the circumstances, which led to spillage of oil in the ocean. However, he failed to use his expertise and his powers as the captain of the ship, to safe the situation. Recreancy can be restored by taking collective actions at the right time. For instance, Kialish would have called for help, immediately he sensed trouble while on the sea.

On the other hand, social capital refers to the community benefits that arise from social networks/groups. These include the reciprocities and dependability, which arise from the social networks. The role of social capital is to promote unity, team spirit, sense of identity, economic development, honor, and prestige among individuals in a social group (Ritchie & Gill, 2006). Social capital can be used in implementation of natural disaster planning by encouraging people to offer assistance to those who are potential victims of a natural disaster. For instance, in planning for a drought, people can make food donations and have them preserved in food stores. Moreover, to prevent floods during heavy rains, people can work together in building canal, dams, or dykes. These could act as a preventive measures against destruction of social capital due to occurrence of natural disasters.

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