THE environmental crisis in Pasir Gudang, Johor, raises troubling questions.
How small can a tyre factory be that it escaped the attention of the authorities?
How long has this factory been operating and where were its toxic waste chemicals being dumped all this while? How could an illegal factory brazenly operate without detection?
If a tyre factory cannot be monitored and inspected to ensure that all safety procedures are being followed to the letter, what can we expect of tiny backyard or shoplot operators who do not comply with safety standards?
With 1.5km of a river full of toxic chemicals, what else has been affected other then humans (some of whom are struggling to recover)?
Is this the one and only location, one factory, that has destroyed
the area’s environment and affected our livelihood and school-
children in the hundreds? God alone knows (perhaps some environment health inspectors too) how many more factories dotting the map of Malaysia are brazenly dumping toxins under the cloak of darkness.
We can plug smoking at
eateries overnight but we cannot plug industrial-sized pollution, why?
As the prime minister calls for more manufacturers to come here and invest to help build our economy, what are we doing with the last 30 years of producing wastes like xylene, trichlorethane and freon, to name a few that are largely used in industrial environments and cannot be recycled?
Is the illegal factory owner/operator and the agents contracted to dump waste the only ones who
will be made to march through the corridors of justice?
Or will we see the relevant government departments on the taxpayers’ payroll being made to give public accountability?
Will we forget this entire episode as quickly as possible and declare it as an isolated incident, and one that should not cause “panic”?
If we do not ask these questions (and more) and demand acceptable answers, let us then prepare for more crises affecting many more lives in the near future.