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Seasonal haze is back, it's time for Transboundary Haze Pollution Act

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As Air Pollution Index numbers spike, PKR's Semambu assemblyperson Lee Chean Chung is pleading for regional partners to get together and draft a transboundary pollution act.

Yesterday and today, four areas - Klang, Kuala Terengganu, Indera Mahkota Kuantan and Rompin all reached Air Pollution Index (API) readings of above 100 to be classified in the “unhealthy” category.

"The seasonal haze is visiting Malaysia again," said Lee in a statement today.

He pointed to the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution as a legally binding agreement ratified by all ten Asean countries in 2014.

"The treaty calls for haze to be mitigated through concerted national efforts and intensified regional and international co-operation in the context of sustainable development. This is to be done through monitoring and prevention activities. However, five years have passed and the issues remain."

The unhealthy category means air conditions worsen the health conditions of people with heart and lung complications.

Lee said it is clear that apart from regional efforts, criminalising companies that cause or contribute to haze pollution is a necessary step to counter the problem.

"They have made huge profits by causing suffering to millions of people. It is time for the government to enact the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to curb the negative externalities created by these companies adopting open burning practices," he said.

The law should be designed to target firms or entities that they have control over from taking part in or condone activities that contribute to transboundary haze, said Lee who is also PKR Treasurer-General.

"The Environmental Department (Jabatan Alam Sekitar) should be given the authority to obtain needed information upon request."

"Stern actions, such as fines and imprisonment on companies or individuals, or whose subsidiaries or suppliers that pollute, should be made part of the law.

"I believe this enactment will strengthen and complement the current regional framework. It will also show a strong commitment towards sustainability and livelihood of the rakyat.

"Those found guilty, notwithstanding the Malaysian companies operating there, should be subjected to the same penalty and action," he said.

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