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Why the U-turn from Pakatan over incinerators?

LETTER | After fighting Barisan Nasional relentlessly over their decision to build the harmful incinerators/Waste To Energy (WTE), we are now back to square one and have to take on Pakatan Harapan.

Harapan used to oppose incinerators/WTE back then but seems to love it much now. This sudden interest in is very surprising. Perhaps a report to the MACC can uncover why.

Now let me explain. Firstly, incinerators and WTE are the same and not different. It’s just termed differently by the companies to deceive people. So I hope Harapan leaders will not further this great lie.

Secondly, it is very costly. It will cost no less than RM600 million for 1000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day. Nothing less.

To add to that, the operational cost of a WTE plant will be above RM100 per tonne. No states or even the Housing and Local Government Ministry can afford such exorbitant tipping fees compared to around RM30-RM40 per tonne now.

Thirdly, even if you have incinerator/WTE plants, there will still be around 20% of inerts that must be sent to the landfill. So do not make statements that with WTE, you can do away with landfills. This just shows shallow knowledge of waste management.

No incinerator/WTE in Malaysia is working perfectly currently. To put it bluntly all has failed. Even the new one being built in Negeri Sembilan which is touted as Smart WTE is actually quite dumb and has overshot the expected completion time.

Please also do not make yourself look stupid further by comparing Malaysia with Singapore in defending incinerators. Let me tell you why. In Singapore, their recycling rate is 60%. Yes 60%. And in Malaysia, its less than 10%. And furthermore their food waste is only about 10% of their waste composition whereas in Malaysia it’s above 55%. Thats why incinerator/WTE will work in Singapore but never in Malaysia. Do try burning wet rice and you will understand.

You should not even think what works in South Korea or Japan or in Europe will work in Malaysia as even what works in Singapore does not work here.

Why? Simple. Five important points. Weather condition. Waste composition. Waste characteristics. Moisture Content. Recycling Rate.

Selangor MB suddenly made a statement that they want to build not one but two incinerators/WTE (at Jeram and Tanjung Dua Belas) to the cost of RM1.5 billion.

This too with a China company which has almost zero experience in building or even running one plant. Their website says they have built one WTE plant but a simple check thru Google fails to show such a plant.

If Selangor is going to fund the WTE, why work with a China company which has not just zero experience but also questionable credentials.

We really hope Harapan leaders are not motivated by money offered by companies or consultants promoting the expensive incinerator/WTE. We don’t want to accuse but there is just no other reason why the same leaders who used to oppose incinerators are now promoting it to the extent of building one in every state.

Please honour your words to safeguard us Malaysians. That’s why we voted for you guys. And lastly we hope the senior civil servants will open their mouth and advise the political leaders wisely. The era of civil servants being treated like servants only by BN should not continue under Harapan.

Vanisha Selvam is chair of the WTE Incinerator No Go Malaysia Task Force (WINOGOM).

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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