Tougher legislation and stiffer penalties needed to deter perpetrators of pollution

Tougher legislation and stiffer penalties needed to deter perpetrators of pollution

Press statement by MCA State Liaison Committee Chairman Dato’  Ng Chok Sin

Tougher legislation and stiffer penalties needed to deter perpetrators of pollution

With the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Selangor state government having failed to control factories illegally discharging wastes into rivers leading to water and odour pollution at residential areas, MCA Selangor urges all federal legislators irrespective of political affiliation to swiftly approve the Bill to amend the Environmental Quality Act 1974 which was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on 3 Oct 2022.

It appears that federal  intervention is needed to resolve the repeated occurrence of river contamination which the state government and local authorities have failed to deliver.

In addition to fining or jailing the culprits as proposed in the Bill, the authorities need to immediately ensure that cleaning up works and sanitation are underway to prevent the pollution from worsening.

News Straits Times (4 Oct 2022) report that the authorities have issued a stern warning to stop any further discharge into Sungai Kabul in Kampung Bukit Batu, Beranang pending a full investigation by the Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas), Department of Environment (DoE) and the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKJ).

However, the same authorities confirmed that pollution still persists but at a smaller scale and is not harmful. This indicates that the factory operators are totally thumbing their noses at the authorities order to stop the disposal of effluents into the river.

As the stop work order does not seem to work, MCA Selangor would like to suggest that either federal legislation or state enactments be revised to compel the perpetrators to pay up to clean up the mess, rather than just the water and local authorities having to clean up the wastes in whichever form that the factory operators had discarded into the rivers.

If the factory operators ignore the orders to clean up the mess, the authorities should be allowed by law to not only seal the factories, but to seize their assets and freeze their bank accounts as well. This will pressure them to bear all costs for the cleaning services which should be undertaken by the authorities or vendors appointed by the authorities. The assets may not be released, nor may the factory resume operations until investigations by the local governments, DoE, water authority and other related enforcement units are satisfied that the waters in the rivers are safe for consumption.

It is also a lackadaisical of the authorities to assure that the pollution at Sg Kabul presently “is not harmful” knowing that the contamination already exists. It is only a matter of time when its accumulation will force the water treatment plants to shut off supply unannounced.  As it is, residents have already alerted that the latest incident is not an isolated one with households having suffered unscheduled water cuts before.