(Dewan Rakyat, Monday): I commend the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for his sensitivity to the national haze disaster and in agreeing to suspend Standing Orders when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes today to allow a full and comprehensive debate on the national haze disaster and that it take precedence over all other parliamentary business.
Parliament would be very remiss in its role, function and duty, apart from being irrelevant to the people’s needs, problems and aspirations, if MPs from all political parties, whether government or opposition, are unable to debate and focus on this very first day of Parliament on the national haze disaster, which has been described as a "global environmental disaster".
Under the original Parliamentary Order Paper which was circulated to MPs last week, there would have been no debate on the national haze disaster in the Dewan Rakyat today, and the first parliamentary business would have been the debate on three bills which had been presented for first reading in the previous meeting, namely the Money-Changing Bill, the Bank Negara Amendment Bill and the Bernama Amendment Bill.
There are actually two motions on the national haze disaster in the Parliamentary Order Paper, but they were listed as No. 5 and No. 9 in the order of business. The fifth item of parliamentary business is a motion in the name of the DAP MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, asking for compensation from the Indonesian government for the damages to the economy and the health of Malaysians as a result of the worst air pollution in Malaysia caused by the raging thousands of forest and plantation fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The ninth item of parliamentary business is a motion in the name of the DAP MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, asking for a full report on the ecological effects and causes of the national haze disaster.
However, as these two motions are private member’s motions, which must give way to official government business, and going by Malaysian parliamentary practice, they would only have the chance of appearing on the Parliamentary Order Paper for the record, but would have no chance of being debated at all.
Furthermore, these two motions had to be submitted at least 14 days before the Parliamentary meeting, which means around the third week of September.
Since then, the national haze disaster had worsened, not only with the declaration of a state of emergency in Sarawak which lasted 10 days, causing havoc on air, sea and land, closed down Malaysian airports, grounded flights, and is clearly responsible for the Garuda airbus jet crash in Medan on September 26, 1997, killing 234 people on board (and there are fears that five Malaysian youths from Penang and Kedah might also had been among the victims as they had told their families that they were going to Indonesia to work during the period of the fateful crash and are still missing), several collisions of ships in the Straits of Malacca and the rise in road accidents, including fatalities.
The haze is probably behind the fatal accident of Penang State Assemblyman for Sungai Bakap, Ooi Theng Bok, two weeks ago, which had necessitated a by-election to be held in Penang. Ooi, 44, sustained serious head injuries in an accident when his Proton Saga slammed into the rear of a trailer at the 156 km of the North-South Expressway (at the time it should more appropriately be called the North-South Hazeway) at 11.25 p.m. on 23rd September and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Sungai Bakap Hospital. I am told that the haze at the site of the accident that night was very thick and one of the worst in Penang.
Furthermore, the health of millions of Malaysians have been adversely affected by the haze, with hundreds of thousands in the month of September alone having to seek medical attention for haze-related ailments, like respiratory infection, asthma and conjunctivitis. But what is even more serious and worrying are the adverse long-term effects on the health of the Malaysian population, particularly children, some of which would only be manifested in a decade or two. These long-term effects include cancer, chronic lung disease, damage to the nervous system, kidneys and liver, effects on the lungs of growing children and aggravation of medical conditions among the aged.
Yesterday’s press reported the finding of a joint study by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia that constant exposure to air pollution affects the intelligence of schoolchildren.
It is for this reason that on Sept. 27, I gave notice to move an updated and more comprehensive motion on the national haze disaster, which among other things, called for a a Clean Air Action Plan to be submitted for adoption by the current meeting of Parliament to "demonstrate the nation’s seriousness and commitment in ensuring that clean air and water should be among the fundamental rights of all Malaysians."
My motion reads:
"That this House
"EXPRESSES shock and dismay that Malaysians are exposed to the worst life and health-threatening air pollution disaster in the nation’s history in the current haze emergency to the extent that the Air Pollutant Index (API) in Kuching reached the unprecedented and unimaginable level of 839 on September 23, 1997 at 11 a.m. and a state of emergency declared in the Sarawak state on 19th September 1997, despite public assurances in previous serious haze disasters in 1990, 1991 and 1994 that lessons would be learnt to prevent any recurrence;
"EXPRESSES concern at the failure and inability of the Indonesian authorities to bring the raging thousands of forest and plantation fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan under control, posing grave threats to the environment, health and well-being of tens of millions of people in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines as well as in Indonesia;
"EXPRESSES shock at the Garuda Airbus jet crash near Medan on September 26, 1997 as a result of the haze, sends the deepest condolence to the bereaved families and calls on the Indonesian Government to declare the haze caused by the raging forest and plantation fires an international disaster, admit that it is beyond the capability of the Indonesian authorities to singly handle it and to ask the United Nations to organise an international haze-fighting team with full powers to fight the current and future haze;
"NOTES that the haze disaster in Malaysia has been compounded by the failure in the past few years to take firm and effective measures to formulate and implement a Clean Air Policy for the country as well as to mobilise national support for a policy of sustained development which gives priority to quality of life, in particular in ensuring that Malaysians enjoy clean air and water;
"RESOLVES that a Clean Air Action Plan should be submitted for adoption by the current meeting of Parliament to demonstrate the nation’s seriousness and commitment in ensuring that clean air and water should be among the fundamental rights of all Malaysians."
I also wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim proposing that the first item of parliamentary business when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes today should be a full and comprehensive debate on the national haze disaster, and asking for government agreement to suspend the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders to allow such a motion to be debated.
In the meantime, in an attempt to make it doubly sure that Parliament today would have the opportunity to debate the national haze disaster, the DAP MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, had also given notice under Standing Order 18 to move a motion of urgent, definite public importance immediately after question time on the national haze disaster.
I am glad that Anwar has agreed that the first item of the parliamentary agenda in the current meeting of Parliament should be a full debate on the national haze disaster, although the debate would not be on my motion but over the Deputy Prime Minister’s motion.
There had been people who had questioned the need to have a special debate on the haze when Parliament reconvenes today as the haze situation was much improved last week, with Malaysians being able to see clearer skies and feel fresher air, something they had missed for so many days.
In fact, when we went round the country launching the "Clean Air For Our Children - Let 1997 Haze be the last worst haze", whether it be Sarawak, Perak, Penang, Selangor, Federal Territory, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Malacca or Johore, the first reaction of many people is why there is a need for concern when the haze is over with the return of clear skies.
This is one big problem in Malaysia, that people have very short memory, which is why clean air and quality environment had not been regarded as a mainstream national issue but a peripheral or marginal issue, allowing the haze problem to deteriorate over the years until it has become a global environmental disaster this year.
This is compounded by the short memory of the government, the confusing and conflicting statements from government leaders and agencies and the failure of the government to give to the people accurate, full and timely information about the haze disaster.
Last Friday, for instance, the Star carried the front-page banner "WORST IS OVER" quoting the Deputy director-general II of the Meteorological Services Department, Yong Pok Wing that the people could expect clearer skies for the next seven months because changing winds will clear the country of choking smog.
On the same day however, the New Straits Times in a report under the heading "Law: Winds change may worsen haze" quoted the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding as warning the people and the relevant agencies to be on guard as a change in wind direction had been predicted which could worsen the haze in some parts of the country.
Who are the people to believe, the second most senior Meteorological Department officer or the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment? It is no reflection on the the Minister that most people would believe the Meteorological Department officer as the latter is a professional who should know what he is talking,unlike the Minister who has no expertise whatsoever whether in the field of meteorological forecasts or environmental science.
However, even professional officers from the Meteorological Department have not been very enlightenining in their public statements. For instance, when the people are told that the "Worst is Over", does it mean that the Air Pollutant Index (API) in Malaysia will never again reach the "very unhealthy" level of 201 or even the "hazardous" level of 301, let alone the disastrous level of over 501 as happened in Sarawak for 10 days last month?
Yesterday and today, however, the standing of the Meteorological Department in predicting that the "worst is over" cannot be very high among the people of Malacca and in the Klang Valley, when they see the return of the haze.
When they are told that the API for Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya at 5 p.m. yesterday were 125, 82 and 60, it would be very difficult to find many people who have faith and confidence in the credibility of the API.
The knee-jerk reaction of the authorities is that the public should not judge the visibility reading of a particular day against the Air Pollutant Index reading as this would be misleading.
Alam Sekitar Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.,(Asma) managing director Datuk Dr. Abu Bakar Jafar said that when it rains during a hazy period, the pollutants in the air are dissolved in the water and the API readings goes down. However, the visibility may not improve as the water vapour in the air may impair or worsen it.
Can this explain why the worsening visibility in the Klang Valley is not reflected in the API readings? There had been considerable rain in the Klang Valley on Friday and Saturday. If this explanation holds, that the visibility problem is the result of water vapour in the air and has nothing to do air pollution, then the API readings should continue to go down.
But this is not the case. The API has worsened in Malacca and the Klang Valley in the past two days. From 8 a.m. yesterday, the API readings in Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya climbed from 103, 74 and 50 respectively to 125, 82 and 60 at 5 p.m respectively. At noon today, the API readings for Malacca, Kual Lumpur and Petaling Jaya have climbed further to 170, 153 and 135 respectively.
Alam Sekitar Malaysia has also said that the public does not seem to realise that the Air Pollutant Index is actually an average reading of particulates for the past 24 hours. This would mean that when Malacca and the Klang Valley face worsening air pollution levels yesterday morning, it would not be reflected in the API readings until 24 hours later. This is very different from claiming that visibility readings and API readings are completely different things.
In this connection, I would call on the Cabinet to act on the dissatisfaction of Malaysians over the charge of RM1.95 per minute imposed by Alam Sekitar Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. for telephone enquiry on the daily Air Pollutant Index readings
ASMA had introduced from Tuesday a 24-hour hotline service(600-85-6355) regular updates on its API readings.
ASMA had justified the charge on the ground of the high cost of service, which can receive 400 calls at any one time.
The Cabinet should intervene in this matter to ensure that such a hotline for regular updates of API readings should be provided free to the public.
The Government also oftten sends wrong signals to the people about the national haze disaster.
One such example is when Information Minister and Chairman of the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee Chairman, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat announced last Monday that the National Haze Committee chaired by the Science, Technology and Environment Minister, Datuk Law Hieng Ding, had taken over the responsibility of tackling the haze problem from the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee because of the improving air quality nationwide, with the Air Pollutant Index (API) no longer at the hazardous level.
Mohamed Rahmat said that his committee would take over the task when the API breached the 300 level.
The 1997 haze is the worst haze in Malaysian history, even worse than the haze in 1990, 1991 and 1994. It should be declared a national disaster regardless of the daily API readings until the haze disaster ends, which could be in November, December or even next year.
I call on the government to establish a National Haze Disaster Committee which should regard the 1997 Haze, the worst air pollution in history, as a national disaster regardless of the daily API readings and be responsible for addressing this national disaster until its end, especially in educating and sensitizing Malaysians about the life and health-threatening effects of haze.
This National Haze Disaster Committee should be headed by a person who commands public confidence, and clearly this person is not Datuk Mohamed Rahmat.
It is ridiculous for the task of addressing the haze disaster to be juggled between the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee and the National Haze Committee depending on the API reading reaching the 300 hazardous level, when the government should be impressing on Malaysians that the haze is a national disaster, regardless of the daily API readings, until the end of the entire life and health-threatening haze.
I had earlier referred to North-South Highway as North-South Hazeway, as in the weeks when haze was at its worst, those who had to use the roads extensively suffered from a general sense of oppression of the spirit as a result of the heavy haze. The North-South Hazeway became symbolic of a nation-wide indictment of the serious environmental degradation in Malaysia even before we reached fully developed status in the year 2020.
In fact, Malaysia has achieved Vision 2020 as a fully developed nation as far as air pollution is concerned, 22 years ahead of the target, surpassing all the fully developed nations in the world - a feat for which there is nothing for Malaysia to be proud of.
Haze is nothing new for Malaysia. In fact, it has become an annual event in Malaysia since the eighties.
This is an editorial on haze in Malaysia, under the heading: "Fazed by the Haze", which states:
"Dry throats, running noses, sore eyes, asthma seizures. Poor visibility, flights cancelled, collisions. That sombre greyish haze again, this time the worst in 10 years with visibility reduced to 600 metres in Subang…And an embarrassment for the rest of the nation. This is a country that has exciting plans to achieve industrial maturity by 2020 and yet is already suffering from the effects of environmental pollution."
This is a New Straits Times editorial, not written last month, last week or yesterday, but six years ago on 3rd October 1991!
The worst haze in Malaysia so far were in 1990, 1991 and 1994, with the later haze worse than the earlier one. Each time, the government and the people would say, never again, but invariably, immediately after each haze, the importance of providing the environment to ensure clean air and healthy living for all Malaysians was forgotten.
Until today, we have the most deadly life and health-threatening haze of all in Malaysia, with the Air Pollutant Index (API) shooting up to the unprecedented and unimaginable level of 839 in Kuching on September 23, 1997 at 11 a.m. and a 10-day state of emergency declared in Sarawak state on 19th September, 1997.
It is most disturbing that the authorities concerned are not giving all available information about the haze to the public and is in fact withholding certain information - in particular about the adverse long-term effects to health of the haze, like inducing cancer in a decade or two.
The authorities have released information about the general health effects on the people at the various API levels. Although the United States uses the Pollution Standards Index (PSI), both have the same categorisation of the index values of "good" between 0-50, "moderate" between 51-100, "unhealthy" from 101-200, "very healthy" from 201-300 and "hazardous" from 301-500.
A comparison of the warnings given by the authorities in Malaysia and the United States shows that by and large, the same information is given with regard to the first three API and PSI levels, i.e. when the index value is "good" between 0-51, "moderate" between 51-100 and "very unhealty" between 201-300.
However, there is a difference when the index level becomes "hazardous" between 301-500.
The information released by the Malaysian authorites with regard to general health effects when the API reaches the "hazardous" level between 301-500 is "Severe aggravation of symptoms and endangers health", which is so general that it means nothing.
The information released by the Environmental Protection Agency under the United States Clean Air Act is more specific and illuminating, dividing the general health effects of the "hazardous" air pollution level.
For the "hazardous" index of 301-400, it warns of "Premature onset of certain diseases in addition to significant aggravation of symptoms and decreased exercise tolerance in healthy persons" while for the "hazardous" index of 401-500, it warns of "Premature death of ill and elderly. Healthy people will experience adverse symptoms that affect their normal activity."
Both the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee and the Department of Environment should explain why they withhold information that when the API reaches the hazardous level between 301-500, the adverse health effects includes "premature onset of certain diseases" and "premature death of ill and elderly".
The raging thousands of forest and plantation fires are the primary cause of the haze. On this score, the people want the Malaysian Government to take a firm and strong stand that the fires in Indonesia should be brought under control.
The Malaysian Government should urge the Indonesian Government to admit that it is incapable of singly handling the raging thousands of forest and plantation fires which has threatened the environment, livelihood, health and live of tens of millions of people not only in Indonesia, but also in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines and Thailand, declare an international disaster and ask the United Nations for take over the emergency by forming an international haze-fighting team with full powers to fight the current and future haze.
The Malaysian Government should commission a costing of the damages which have been caused to the Malaysian economy and people by the haze and submit a claim for compensation to the Indonesian Government.
In this connection, the statement by the Indonesian National Disaster Management Co-ordinating Agency, Azwar Anas, rejecting responsibility for the hazardous haze blanketting large areas of South East Asia is most shocking and even unfriendly.
It makes a mockery of the apology publicly tendered by Indonesian President Suharto to neighbouring ASEAN countries because of the damages caused by the Indonesian fires and which he repeated yesterday.
Malaysians are extremely disappointed by the statement yesterday of the Information Minister and Chairman for the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat that the government had never considered the matter of asking Indonesia for compensation for the raging Indonesian forest and plantation fires which are the primary cause of the national haze disaster affecting Malaysia and other ASEAN nations.
The contemptuous manner in which Mohamed Rahmat dismissed the issue of claiming compensation from Indonesia has compounded the people’s disappointment, especially as only a few days ago, the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding had kept open the possibility of Malaysia claiming compensation from the Indonesian Government.
While it is agreed that the immediate focus is to tackle the problem at source, which are the raging thousands of forest and plantation fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Malaysian Government would be out of sync with the feelings and demands of Malaysians if it is not prepared to give serious consideration to the issue of claiming compensation from Indonesia for the mammoth losses caused to Malaysia in terms of damages to the environment, economy, tourist and the people’s health – both immediate and long-term.
The damages suffered by Malaysians is not trivial. The Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding said Sarawak suffered RM100 million losses a day during the 10-day haze emergency, which would mean a total of RM1 billion damage to the Sarawak economy. A conservative estimate of the damages to the whole of Malaysia as a result of the haze would therefore be in the region of billions of ringgit.
Such a demand would make the Indonesian Government more responsible in future and take all possible pre-emptive measures, whether on its own or in unison with regional and international efforts, to ensure that there would be no recurrence of the raging thousands of forest and plantation fires from next year onwards to create perennial global environmental disasters in the region.
Such a claim to Indonesia for damage for the regional environmental disaster would serve notice to the world that every country must be responsible for the transboundary pollution emanating from within its borders and pay compensation for the damages to the environment, economy and health of neighbouring countries.
I call on both Malaysian and Indonesian Governments to take heed of the demand of 25,000 Malaysians who have endorsed the "Clean Air For Our Children - Let 1997 Haze be the last worst haze" signature campaign in demanding compensation from Indonesia for the billions of ringgit of lossses suffered by Malaysians.
The 25,000 signatures collected in six days have already made it the most successful signature campaign in Malaysian history. This is not the final target.
The initial target of the mass signature campaign, which was annouonced last Monday, was 100,000 signatures in time for presentation to Parliament today. This signature campaign had run into a lot of "teething" problems in the past few days.
The biggest problem is the heavy rain throughout the country in the past few days, which is good news in temporarily washing away the haze, but has dampened the mass signature campaign – making it not possible to achieve the initial target of 100,000 signatures in less than a week.
I definitely welcome more rain so that our skies are clearer and the air fresher, even if it is at the expense of considerable slow-down of the mass signature campaign.
I have no doubt, however, from the willing response and great concern of the people of all races, age and sex, who were approached in the past few days to support the mass signature campaign that this 100,000 signature target could be reached.
In fact, I am of the view that a higher target of the mass signature campaign could now be set - 300,000, 500,000 or even one million signatures.
I would like to take this opportunity to urge all Malaysians who support the demand that Indonesia should pay compensation for the damages caused to Malaysia because of the national haze disaster – the worst in the nation’s history – should come forward to make the "Clean Air For All Children – Let the 1997 Haze be the last worst haze" mass signature campaign the most successful mass signature campaign in the nation’s history to reflect the deep-seated feelings of all Malaysians, regard of l race, religion, age, sex and territory.
This mass signature campaign has three major objectives: Firstly, to express the fundamental desire of Malaysians for clean air, particularly for our children and that the 1997 Haze would be the last worst haze, and would not be like the Nation’s Worst Haze of 1990, 1991 and 1994 which were followed by even worst haze in subsequent years.
Secondly, to send out a clear and unmistakable message to the government and all political parties, whether in government or opposition, that clean air and quality environment should not continue to be a peripheral or marginal issue but must become a national mainstream concern through the enactment and implementation of a Clean Air Policy and Action Plan.
Thirdly, to get Indonesia to be a responsible member of the international community by bearing full responsibility for the global environment disaster caused by the health and life-threatening haze by making compensation to neighbouring countries for the enormous damages caused as well as pledging that there would be no repetition of such environmental disasters in future.
This is why one of the six demands of the "Clean Air For Our Children – Let 1997 Haze be the last worst haze" reads: "That the Government conduct a costing of the damages which have been caused to the Malaysian economy and people by the haze and that a claim for compensation should be submitted to the Indonesian Government".
The other five demands of the mass signature campaign are:
The Government should respect the widespread and deep-seated feelings of Malaysians that Indonesia should compensate for the enormous damages it had caused to Malaysia as a result of the environmental disaster caused by the raging thousands of forest and plantation fires in Indonesia causing the regional haze to set a precedent in international relations about good neighbourly conduct. The Cabinet should set up a task force to look into all aspects of claiming compensation from Indonesia.
This mass signature campaign for clean air for our children and compensation from Indonesia is not a party political, racial or religious issues, but an issue which the fundamental human right of all Malaysians, and I hope all political parties, religious organisations, civic bodies, youth groups and all Malaysians could come forward to support this campaign.
While the Indonesian fires are the primary cause of the worst haze disaster in Malaysia, we must concede that the haze disaster in Malaysia has been compounded by our failure in the past few years to take firm and effective measures to implement a Clean Air Policy and reduce the air pollution levels which are already at dangerous levels.
This had been admitted by the Department of Environment, as for instance in its 1994 Annual Report when referring to the 1994 Haze:
"In 1991, the country experienced very hazy weather condition due to the forest fires in Sumatra. After a lapse of three years, during the month of September 1994 the haze recurred and lasted for over a month, only this time more severe compared to 1991. Serious forest fires in Kalimantan and Southern Sumatra were again identified as the main cause of the problem. The dry weather, and stable lower wind conditions coupled with emissions from local pollution sources such as from motor vehicles, industries, and open burning of wastes also aggravated the situation. "
For this reason, the Cabinet should make a commitment to present a Clean Air Policy for adoption at the current meeting of Parliament with the will to fully implement it, and I hope the five Cabinet Ministers, including the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Rafidah Aziz and the Minister for Transport, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, who had opposed the adoption of a Clean Air Action Plan in Cabinet in 1994 would stop their obstruction and opposition.
In the New Straits Times today, Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud, who had mysterious disappeared when Sarawakians were facing their worst crisis as a result of the haze disaster last month with the Air Pollutant Index (API) reaching the all-time disastrous high of 839 in the history of the entire country, suddenly re-surfaced and launched a bitter attack on me.
Taib Mahmud said he had left Sarawak with his family for the United States during the state of environmental emergency caused by the haze to look for assistance from health and haze experts.
He hit out at me for accusing him of running away from Sarawak during the emergency.
The people of Sarawak are very angry that at the height of the haze emergency, the Sarawak Chief Minister had mysteriously left the state and gone overseas and are even angrier that he has returned with an explanation which insulted the intelligence of the people of Sarawak and Malaysia.
I would like to know whether there are anyone who are prepared, whether inside or outside Parliament, to publicly defend the Sarawak Chief Minister for running away from the state during the height of the emergency crisis or to give full support to his shocking explanation?
If Taib Mahmud had gone overseas on a SOS mission to seek for international help from health and haze experts, why was he and the state government so secretive about it, when in normal circumstances, there would have been the fullest publicity, whether before, during or after the SOS mission? If this was an emergency mission, why was it not announced beforehand and why was it entrusted only to him and his family, rather than to a team of State leaders and experts? Was the international SOS mission which Taib Mahmud embarked on confined solely to him and his family, and what was the strength of his family delegation? Are the expenses of his international SOS trip and that of his family borne by the Sarawak state government, and if so, what are the details of these expenses?
Taib Mahmud should give full details as to when he left Sarawak, who left with him, the full itinerary of the countries he visited, the international haze and health experts that he had met and what is the three-year to seven-year anti-haze plan to resolve all haze problem in Sarawak once and for all.
Did Taib Mahmud get the clearance of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed or the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to leave the Sarawak state at the height of the haze emergency?
If Taib Mahmud had left Sarawak for the highly proper and honourable reason to seek international help of health and haze experts, why was his office so shy about revealing whether he was inside Sarawak or out of the country when I phoned up on 23rd September to specifically ask about the whereabouts of the Sarawak Chief Minister?
In the era of information technology where there could be instant communications from any part of the globe, why had Taib Mahmud taken more than two weeks to reveal himself and explain his absence from Sarawak?
Taib Mahmud owes the people of Sarawak and Malaysia a fulsome and satisfactory explanation as to why he left the state when he should be in Sarawak to provide leadership and guidance at a time when Sarawakians were faced with the worst crisis in history, which has caused RM1 billion losses in the 10-day emergency, or RM100 million losses a day.
This morning, I sent a fax to the Sarawak Chief Minister’s office in Kuching to give Taib Mahmud adequate notice to be present in Parliament for the debate on the haze motion, where he would have an opportunity to give a satisfactory accout of his mysterious absence from Sarawak.
But he is not here. Taib Mahmud should be in Parliament tomorrow during the continued debate on the haze motion to give a full and satisfactory account of his absence from the state of Sarawak and his failure to provide leadership and guidance at a time when Sarawakians were faced with the worst crisis in history.
If Taib Mahmud is not present in Parliament tomorrow and unable to give a satisfactory account of his absence, he should resign as Sarawak Chief Minister for he would have failed in discharging the duties of the highest office in the Sarawak state government.