Port Klang residents allege illegal plastic factories are protected by 'Datuk'

A container filled with plastic waste from Australia, in Port Klang, Malaysia. – AP

PORT KLANG (Bernama): Locals are claiming that illegal plastic and tyre recycling factories operating around Kampung Teluk Gong here are "protected" by an influential individual with a "Datuk" title.

Residents in the area were reluctant to talk about the illegal factories when asked during a check by Bernama.

A resident, who only wished to be known as Zambri, 41, a taxi driver, said there were about 50 licensed and unlicensed plastic and tyre recycling factories operating in the area.

"They are protected by an influential individual. Not only the residents are very reluctant to get involved in the issue of illegal factories, the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) personnel also do not dare, while abang-abang kawasan (local thugs) have prevented and harassed the local authority's personnel from carrying out monitoring," said Zambri, who is from Port Klang.

He added that the factories that faced legal action from the authorities also had the nerve to re-operate despite being shut down.

"At the beginning of the year, there was a massive operation carried out by the authorities, but only a week later, the factories were back in operation as usual, and we, the villagers here are forced to risk our health as these factories regularly burn plastic and rubber in the open, in the afternoon and early morning," he said.

Bernama's checks found that chemical residue from plastic and tyre recycling activities were discharged into drains, causing the water to turn black and smelly, while drains were found to be connected to the water gate at the nearby fishing jetty.

Port Klang assemblyman Azmizam Zaman Huri expressed his disappointment over MPK's lack of action in addressing the issue of illegal factories in the area.

Azmizam said many unlicensed factories that faced legal action from MPK were found to have resumed operations.

"For example, an illegal plastic recycling plant in Sungai Chandong, Bandar Armada Putra in Pulau Indah is back in operation despite legal action taken by MPK.

"It carries out open burning which poses health risks to the surrounding population. The same with a factory in Teluk Gong, despite action taken by MPK.

"In fact, checks with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) also found that MPK did not issue any letter for TNB to cut the electricity supply to those illegal plants.

"TNB is ready to work on this, but it needs to be informed in writing by MPK," he said, adding that it showed that MPK was not serious as any enforcement needed follow-up action to ensure that the illegal factories cease operations.

"The local authority (MPK) needs to take serious action in this regard as this issue has affected the image of the country and the government.

"It should not just target the small fry but also take action against these 'big sharks'," he said.

Meanwhile, MPK's licensing and hawkers department head Azhar Samsudin said as of April, there were nine unlicensed plastic recycling plants that had been ordered to stop operations immediately and to clean up used plastic piles in their possession.

"In the same period, we have identified 41 unlicensed plastic recycling factories operating in Klang, these factories are being monitored and we will take action as soon as possible," he said. – Bernama

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