Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad appeared surprised to learn that Johor’s menteri besar had gone to Batam to promote tourism as the Pasir Gudang toxic crisis unfolded.
"Did he go? I also don't know," he said when asked about Menteri Besar Osman Sapian's trip to Batam, Indonesia.
Osman has come under fire for travelling to Indonesia to promote Visit Johor 2020 at a time when around when 2,775 people were affected by the toxic pollution at Sungai Kim Kim.
Mahathir, however, defended Osman over his handling of the Pasir Gudang situation.
"He has his views but the fact is that in the end, we were of the same view that there is no cause for us to declare an emergency or panic," he said.
"(This is) because we know we are doing all the right things and handling the situation well," he said.
Yesterday, the Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, expressed his shock over the government's decision not to declare an emergency in Pasir Gudang over the pollution crisis.
To date, 2,775 people have sought treatment at several hospitals in Johor due to the incident, with seven of them in the Intensive Care Unit.
The cleaning process is being conducted by the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department, Hazardous Materials Management (Hazmat) Team, the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defence team set up by the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), the Department of Environment (DOE), as well as several private companies and three appointed contractors.