JOHOR BARU: Some parents are not taking any chances and are keeping their children at home despite the authorities saying that schools in Pasir Gudang will remain open.
Their decision came in the wake of yesterday’s incident, which saw all 111 schools in the district reopen for the first time since last Tuesday, only to have some 130 students and teachers suffering from breathing difficulties.
Parent Jamalludin Abdul Malik said he would not be sending his four children to school for another week.
“I am worried about my children’s safety.
“I hope the government can appoint an independent body that can be a voice for the public and sit in the Disaster Management Committee, not the politicians or the local authority,” said Jamalludin, who is also Taman Tanjung Puteri Resort Residents Association chairman.He said the latest wave yesterday showed how weak the state government was in handling the crisis, especially when it came to responding quickly to the public.
He also urged the state government to provide a better communication method, especially with the people within the Pasir Gudang district, so that any change or situation could be quickly dealt with.
“Is any member of the public involved in the Disaster Management Committee? No. Where are the NGOs that represent the community in Pasir Gudang?
“All they (state government) tell us is that it is safe and that the air quality is fine, but they neglect to tell us what the safety level is,” Jamalludin said.
Another parent, who wished to be only known as Buvenes, said she was worried about the safety of her two children.
“On Saturday, they told us that it was safe to go to school. The next day, dozens of children and some teachers fell ill. There are all sorts of scary stuff on social media.
“What is happening? I am not taking chances,” she said, admitting that while her children’s education would be affected, their health was her priority.
Housewife Nurul Hidayah Emily Abdullah said while she would still be sending her 12-year-old daughter to school, she would take precautionary steps and ensure that her child had a face mask on.
“Although I am concerned, I still think it is important for her to go to school and not miss out on her lessons.
“However, I will not be sending her to religious classes in the evenings for at least one more week,” she said.
Nurul Hidayah was among those admitted to the hospital during the Sungai Kim Kim pollution crisis in March.
“I collapsed outside the front gate of my daughter’s school, SK Taman Pasir Putih, when I went there to pick her up after she experienced breathing difficulties,” she said.
In Bangi, Bernama reported Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as saying that there was a need for a long-term plan to prevent a recurrence of the pollution in Pasir Gudang.
With the consent of the Sultan of Johor, she said the government might have to think of ways to resettle the residents.
“A long-term solution is necessary as the issue has affected the health of the residents.
“The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry has implemented several short-term measures, including building automatic gas monitoring stations in the area.
“This is good because it gives a warning once the amount of toxic materials in the air has exceeded the critical level, allowing immediate action to be taken, including evacuating the residents.
“But this will not provide a comprehensive solution in the long run due to the centralised location of the factories and their proximity to residential areas,” she said after closing the Welfare Department’s 2019 junior leadership programme here.
She said the economic output by the manufacturing industry in the area should be considered when drawing up the long-term plan.
“With regards to the factories, we need to consider the economy and how it can help and be managed appropriately,” she added.