PETALING JAYA: Malaysia isn't a "global rubbish landfill" and we should not accept waste from other countries for a pittance, says MCA spokesman Mike Chong.
Chong was responding to Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin's announcement on Sunday (April 4), that starting June, plastic waste importers must pay RM20 for every tonne of scrap brought into the country for recycling.
Chong said Malaysia isn't at such a "desperate level" where the government had to resort to accepting foreign garbage for revenue.
"Furthermore, is our country prepared to receive more plastic waste into our country? Do we have a good place and standard operating procedures to deal with the influx of plastic waste to ensure there is no environmental pollution?
"We disagree with the proposal by Zuraida to develop the treatment of the plastic waste industry as we do not want Malaysia to be the 'rubbish landfill' for trash from other countries," he told reporters during a press conference at Wisma MCA on Thursday (April 8).
Chong also described fees collected from recycling rubbish as pittance and insufficient to address pollution, which is expected to be an after effect of disposing waste.
"As we are aware, a portion of plastic waste which cannot be treated or recycled, will be discarded and burned in Malaysia, and the smoke from this burning process pollutes our country's air, while garbage that is not burned will be dumped in a landfill."
Chong also added that there should be no reason for Malaysia to accept rubbish from other countries.
Quoting a Greenpeace report, Chong said it was found that the volume of foreign plastic waste in Malaysia had increased from 40,007 tonnes to 65,316 tonnes at present, of which 63% was from the UK.
"The same report also stressed that since China prohibited plastic waste imports in January 2018, a huge volume of rubbish has been sent to Malaysia which affected our country's population as well as contaminated our rivers and seas.
"This exposè by Greenpeace is indeed shocking," he added.
At the same time, Chong welcomed Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man's announcement on Feb 17 that 254 containers containing 5,512 tonnes of plastic waste had been sent back to its country of origin.
Chong said latest statistics have shown that a total of 71 Approved Permits (APs) have been approved for the importation of plastic waste, which is an increase of nine APs compared to 62 APs during the previous Pakatan Harapan government's administration.
He urged Zuraida to reduce the issuance of new APs and to reduce the imports or rubbish and treatment of plastic wastes.
"The Housing and Local Government Ministry should focus on resolving the problem of waste stockpiles in the country, which still does not have a good solution plan.
"Don't allow a situation whereby for the sake of profits, the health and wellbeing of the rakyat are sacrificed."
In Zuraida's announcement on April 2, she also said that Malaysia would only allow import of plastic scraps from developed countries such as Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.
She said Malaysia could capitalise on the plastic industry as "it is a good industry if it is managed properly".