Malaysiakini
LETTER

Are we serious about making our air and water cleaner?

TK Chua

Published
Modified 20 Mar 2019, 3:57 am

LETTER | For the next month or so, ministers, politicians, enforcement agencies, NGOs and other research organisations will probably talk like heroes about pollution and the need to control it.

Oh yes, the Department of Environment has cleaned up Sungai Kim Kim as if the minister in charge has done us a great favour. And yes, the police will be going after the polluters. And some NGOs and environmental groups have asked for the blood of those responsible. But we shall see how long this lasts. It’s more like a charade or flash in the pan.

Go ahead, accuse me of being negative and condescending. I think I have written enough letters on this subject to hold on to such a negative view - that in a month or so, all toxics, nausea, fainting, medical emergency and massive clean-up will be forgotten.

In another few months or so, another mega contamination will recur, affecting yet another river, catchment area, or the air we breathe. Is there anyone who wishes to wager with me?

How can we not see the baloney we indulge in? We now have a government who wants to charge us twenty cents for a biodegradable plastic bag but is willing to import tonnes of plastic waste from all over the world to make Malaysia the giant garbage dump.

I have expected the new government would be more resolute and forthcoming when come to protecting public interests. Apparently, it is not. Whether new or old government, the ineptitude, the lack of monitoring and the lackadaisical attitude of most enforcement agencies have remained very much the same.

When is the government going to learn that we can’t leave the problem of pollution to the good conscience of individuals? Pollution must be regulated, monitored, controlled and enforced.

Businessmen and factory owners must be made to “internalise” the cost of pollution. We can’t keep arguing stricter pollution control will increase the cost of doing business and render Malaysia uncompetitive. I think we are being unrealistic and penny wise and pound foolish. The cost of pollution is paid for by all Malaysians in full and with no exception. Businessmen and factory owners do not pay because others have paid on their behalf.

I have a simple suggestion to make based on our recent pollution fiasco in Johor. When the next pollution crisis occurs - I suggest that we arrest the officers in charge of the environment in that area first and then ask the state exco and federal minister to resign. 

That will really work. 


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