PETALING JAYA: The Johor state govt must explain the purchase of multi-gas detectors said to be unsuitable for use that have been distributed to 111 schools as the purchase cost more than RM1mil of taxpayers' money, says Wanita MCA central committee member Chan San San.
"They must clarify the reason for buying unsuitable gas detectors and the transactions involved, so that public interest will not be sacrificed nor people's health placed at risk.
"The experts have said that the gas detectors are inappropriate. Why did the Johor state government still insist on buying it?
"Was this a mistake in decision-making, or were there any hidden interests behind the purchase?" she said in a statement on Thursday (July 11).
Earlier, Pasir Gudang MCA chairman Tan Tuan Peng revealed that the devices were only good for indoor use and not in open areas such as schools.
He said the devices, estimated to be priced at RM10,000 per unit, could only detect one single gas at one time.
Tan, who said he had more than 10 years' experience in distributing personal protective equipment, also said that the state Environment Department (DOE) should have bought a gas analysis machine – priced between RM50,000 and RM200,000 a unit – that is able to trace more than 1,000 gasses within the air at any given time.
Calling the Johor DOE "implacable to public feedback" for going ahead with the purchase, Chan said it was a waste of money and of no help at all in gauging the air quality.
It was reported that state DOE director Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaafar said the claim made was not valid as the detectors were meant to function as an early warning system for schools once toxic gas was detected.
“What will happen is upon detection, the schools will then contact DOE where we will take the necessary action.
“The DOE teams are equipped with gas detectors-cum-analysers that can properly identify the gasses in the surrounding environment,” he said.
Three weeks have passed since the second bout of toxic fume contamination in Pasir Gudang and with no clue in tracing the source of the poisoning, Chan said such a failure has led to public suspicion that the authorities were "overlooking illegal chemical factories."
"DOE's questionable purchase casts doubts on the integrity and professionalism of the Johor state government," she said.
With the pollution affecting the lives of residents, including high-risk patients, elderly and children, Chan said the Johor state government must propose specific solutions to address the health issues faced by the people.