KUALA LUMPUR: Stern action will be taken against those responsible for causing air pollution in Pasir Gudang, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Air pollution should not have recurred after the first incident in March, he added.
“It is rather unfortunate. The incident should not have happened again. It seems like there are some industries that are not very concerned about safety.
“That is why we have to identify those responsible for causing the pollution and take stern action against them,” he told reporters after delivering his keynote address at the 33rd Asia-Pacific Roundtable here yesterday.
Dr Mahathir said this in response to the latest pollution incident in Pasir Gudang, which had caused cases of breathing difficulty and vomiting since last Thursday.
The incident led to authorities closing schools in the district for the second time in three months.
In March, all 111 schools were ordered to close following toxic fumes emanating from Sungai Kim Kim.
All educational institutions in the Pasir Gudang district have been ordered to close for three days following the latest pollution in the area.
There are 475 education institutions in Pasir Gudang registered with the state Education Department comprising 111 primary and secondary schools, three higher education institutions, 14 private and international schools and 347 private kindergartens.
In Johor Baru, Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal said there was no need to close down
all chemical factories in the Pasir Gudang area following the latest chemical pollution.
“I urge any MPs or members of the public who want to know about the situation in Pasir Gudang to get information from the secretariat involved or to visit the site themselves,” he said.
He was commenting on Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim’s suggestion that the government temporarily close all chemical factories in Pasir Gudang.
He also pointed out that Hassan was currently out of the country.
Asked about Hassan asking the state to declare the district as a disaster zone if the situation worsens, the Mentri Besar said there was no need to take such a measure now.
Hassan, who is in London on an official working trip as chairman of the Malaysian Parliamentary Select Committee on state and federal relations, had earlier suggested that all chemical factories in Pasir Gudang close temporarily until the pollution was brought under control and the air quality in the area improved.
He also suggested that the Federal Government step in as this chemical incident was believed to be caused by a gas leak.
Presently, there are 252 chemical factories in Pasir Gudang.
Should the situation worsen, Hassan hoped the state government was prepared to take the necessary steps, including declaring Pasir Gudang a disaster zone.
“The National Disaster Management Agency should also get its experts and those from universities to find out the source of the pollution.
“I hope there will be no cover-up or protecting any factory involved in flouting our environmental laws,” he said.
Hassan also claimed that those affected did not want to hear authorities saying the “situation is under control”.
“The people do not believe that anymore. Please do not hide or cover up the information,” he said.
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