MPs urge state of emergency be declared over Pasir Gudang chemical spill

KUALA LUMPUR: Several lawmakers have urged the federal government to call for a state of emergency over the chemical dumping incident in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

Among them was Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim, who also appealed to the Dewan Rakyat to do away with “technical red-tape” and allow an emergency motion to be tabled immediately over the issue.

He added that this was an urgent public matter and should be discussed immediately, instead of next Monday (March 18).

“As the Pasir Gudang lawmaker, I hope the federal government can declare a state of emergency in the area today. And I hope the Minister can assist me.

“This morning, I submitted a letter to the Speaker, so a special motion can be debated in Parliament, not next Monday.

“I hope technical matters can be discarded, as this involves lives. The special motion must be discussed immediately,” he said during Question Time in Parliament on Thursday (March 14).

Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin, in response, said she would put forward the suggestions and all feedback from lawmakers to the Johor disaster management committee.

“This is not my decision alone, but falls under the committee. I will take note of it and inform them and a decision will be made as soon as possible,” she said.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) also called for the federal government to declare an emergency, saying that it had been done previously under the previous administration in Ledang and Muar, Johor due to the hazardous haze.

“Similarly, we urge a state of emergency (be declared) in Pasir Gudang, as the cleaning of the rivers could take up to seven days,” he said.

Ahmad also urged the government to increase the penalties under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 (EQA) and to standardise it both at the state and national level.

“The victims of the incident should also be given compensation, similar to compensation given to flood victims,” he said.

To this, Yeo said she had met with the Attorney-General to discuss the possibility of increasing penalties under the relevant laws.

“This is a serious offence; we need to impose a higher penalty from what we currently have under the EQA.

“We also discussed whether the offenders can be charged with multiple charges. As the Department of Environment (DoE) has completed its investigation paper, we will charge them under EQA in court,” she said.

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