Public urged to combat pollution


One of the photos attached to Sultan Ibrahim’s social media post on Oct 20, 2021, where he expressed his disappointment with the behaviour of some individuals who litter in drains, ditches, and rivers. — Photo from His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia’s official Facebook page.

FROM river pollution to rubbish problems, His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, has never shied away from speaking his mind when it comes to environmental matters.

Over the years, His Majesty has used his voice as the Ruler to champion environmental causes, be it through direct interactions with the state or Federal government or by making strong statements openly.

The public was also not spared, as His Majesty would also call out behaviours that contribute to environmental and cleanliness problems. A case in point was in May last year when His Majesty hit out at the poor state of cleanliness and maintenance of low-cost flats in Johor.

In a Facebook post, Sultan Ibrahim said most of the low-cost flats in Johor are dirty and in poor condition, with indiscriminate disposal of rubbish, making them convenient breeding grounds for rodents, pests and insects.

His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, granting Local Government and Housing Development Minister Nga Kor Ming an audience, during which His Majesty raised his concerns about the condition of low-cost flats in Johor.   Photo source His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia's official Facebook page.His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, granting Local Government and Housing Development Minister Nga Kor Ming an audience, during which His Majesty raised his concerns about the condition of low-cost flats in Johor. Photo source His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia's official Facebook page.

“I have personally seen that many low-cost flats in Johor are in very bad condition. It is almost as if my people are living in chicken coops. I hope the Federal government will provide assistance to repair the old low-cost flats.

“At the same time, residents of these flats must also take responsibility for maintaining the cleanliness of their areas,” His Majesty said after meeting with Local Government and Housing Development Minister Nga Kor Ming.

In another instance in October 2021, His Majesty also expressed his disappointment in the attitude of some people who throw rubbish into drains, ditches, and rivers.

The Sultan said investigations by the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) revealed that the flash floods that had previously hit the city were caused by a clogged drainage system caused by rubbish and construction waste.

“It stems from the attitude of some people who like to throw garbage into rivers, ditches, and drains. When there is heavy rain that lasts for a long time, flash floods are definitely inevitable.

“I have seen the pictures and video recordings shown by MBJB. There is so much rubbish thrown away including mattresses, wood, and even refrigerators. Very disappointing.

“The community should be more responsible by not throwing garbage into drains or rivers. Acts like this will contribute to the occurrence of floods,” said His Majesty.

His Majesty had even openly reprimanded a former state executive councillor in charge of the health and environment portfolios over the handling of indiscriminate rubbish dumping and pollution in rivers.

“The state committee chairman should not just focus on health matters alone as the environment is also important for the people’s lives.

“Work should be carried out continuously and this includes the aspect of enforcement and monitoring. Do not wait until being reprimanded to get the work done.

“Many allocations have been channelled to agencies and departments responsible to take care of rivers and the environment but it has not been effective,” His Majesty said in another statement in November 2021.

Following the Sungai Kim Kim incident, His Majesty decreed that the authorities also investigate the pollution happening in Sungai Ulu Benut and Sungai Machap in Simpang Renggam that has caused the death of many fish.

A photo of dead fish found in Sungai Ulu Benut that was shared by Sultan Ibrahim on social media. — Photo from Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia’s official Facebook pageA photo of dead fish found in Sungai Ulu Benut that was shared by Sultan Ibrahim on social media. — Photo from Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia’s official Facebook page

“Do the investigations and I want the report immediately. Anyone involved must be held responsible for polluting the rivers. This is an irresponsible action,” said His Majesty.

These are just some of the many instances where the Johor Ruler, now the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, used his voice to highlight environmental-related issues.

When interviewed, Johor Environment Department (DOE) director Dr Mohd Famey Yusoff said there is a special place in His Majesty’s heart for the environment.

“His Majesty is very concerned about the environment, as he knows how important our environment is for the future of Johor and its people, especially with the current threats of global warming.

“One of the advice His Majesty always gave us is to closely monitor ongoing projects and industries in Johor to ensure that they adhere to environmental regulations and do not cause any pollution,” he told The Star.

Mohd Famey said His Majesty’s efforts in highlighting environmental issues that stem from attitude problems also help the department in its bid to educate the public.

“We will not be able to fully protect the environment if government agencies and departments are the only ones carrying out their duties.

“We need the support of the public as well. They need also to do their part. If there is no change in the public’s attitude, things will remain the same.

“That is why His Majesty’s statements are very important, as they also highlight the importance of the public’s participation,” he said.

Sultan Ibrahim steering an airboat along Sungai Danga, where he found rubbish being thrown into the river. —Photo from His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia’s official Facebook page.Sultan Ibrahim steering an airboat along Sungai Danga, where he found rubbish being thrown into the river. —Photo from His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia’s official Facebook page.

Safe Johor River founder Poh Paik Yik said he believes the Sultan will continue using his voice to fight for environmental issues now that His Majesty is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“I am certain that His Majesty will also do the same for the whole of Malaysia.

“If in the past the Sultan had openly reprimanded state executive councillors over environmental issues, I am sure His Majesty will now do the same to ministers that fail to perform.

“It will help to keep them on their toes. At the same time, I think His Majesty will also be expanding environmental awareness to the whole nation,” he said.

Green Earth Society Johor president P. Sivakumar echoed a similar sentiment, adding that His Majesty has a powerful voice as a Ruler and is using it for the betterment of the people and country.

“His Majesty’s statements are very powerful as they come from a Ruler and are sincere. People take things more seriously when it comes from the Sultan.

“We welcome such strong statements from His Majesty. They really show how much he cares about the people and the environment.

“I believe His Majesty will continue to do the same thing as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as this is something that is very close to his heart,” he said.

He added that he also believes that Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, who is now the Regent of Johor, would follow in his father’s footsteps.

“At the same time, I also hope that the state government would also take on a more proactive approach.

“They should not only enforce but also ensure that departments or companies responsible for environmental matters are also carrying out their duties responsibly,” he said.

Johor health and environment committee chairman Ling Tian Soon said that Johoreans are lucky because they have a Ruler who has been looking after the environment for years.

“Not all Rulers will look into environmental issues as closely as Sultan Ibrahim.

“Apart from public statements, His Majesty also always reminds the state government to monitor environmental issues, including those involving our rivers and forests.

“As the state executive councillor responsible for the environment, I will carry out my responsibility the best that I can as I know this is a very important matter,” said Ling, who was handed the environmental portfolio just last month following a reshuffle of the state executive councillor line-up.

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