Why is the DOE and the National Disaster Relief Management Committee unable to provide hourly API updates over radio, television and Internet when the country is faced with a national disaster with the worst air pollution in history


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday):
For the whole of yesterday, (Friday, 19th September) there was a total breakdown of the Department of Environment (DOE) Homepage announcing daily Air Pollutant Index (API) at 12 noon (http://www.jas.sains.my/doe/n_announ4.html) as it had not been updated, and whoever visited it for the latest API readings could only get the API for 12 noon the previous day (Thursday, 20th September).

This was the height of irresponsibility, as on this day, the API in Kuching went through the roof, reading 612 at 8 a.m., 625 at 9 a.m., 650 at 1 p.m. and 658 at 4 p.m. – the highest ever recorded in Malaysian history and causing the declaration of a state of emergency in Sarawak.

As at 1 p.m. yesterday, four other places, namely Kuala Lumpur, Gombak, Malacca and Nilai registered the "very unhealthy" level of 255, 232, 228 and 248 respectively

By 4 p.m. yesterday, the API for Kuching has reached 658, while that of Nilai reached the "hazardous" level of 300, while air pollution continues to worsen throughout the country, especially Kuala Lumpur at 294, Gombak at 299 and Malacca 241. Three other places are nearing "very unhealthy" levels, namely Petaling Jaya at 195, Kajang at 197 and Klang at 185.

By 5 p.m., API readings have further deteriorated for Nilai at 314 and Gombak 304, putting both in the "hazardous" levels while Malacca’s API continued to rise to 244.

One of the Haze Emergency Action Guidelines is to give regular reports to the public about the API readings. Why had this guideline not been complied with yesterday, and what was done before the state of emergency in Sarawak was declared was not even maintained after declaration of emergency?

Such omission, which amounts of irresponsibility and even negligence, does not inspire confidence that those in charge of the emergency operation know what they should be doing to fight the first haze emergency in the region.

Partly in disgust, as well as a national service, DAP yesterday posted up API readings of the day on the DAP national homepage. We hope that from today, the National Disaster Relief Management Committee and the Department of Environment would discharge their duties by putting up hourly API updates over radio, television and the Internet.

Malaysians are indeed entitlted to ask whether we are aiming to be an Information Society or are we not?

(20/9/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong