Call on Anwar to put the health and welfare of people above money and revive the Clean Air Action Plan which was rejected by Cabinet three months ago because of financial considerations


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday):
I welcome the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that the government was prepared to divert millions of ringgit from allocations for other sectors to overcome the haze problem.

He said in Hong Kong that the welfare of the citizens was paramount and that the security and health of the people should not be put at risk.

The Government had been very quick and fast in proposing a RM60 billion fund to try to shore up the Kuala Lumpur stock market until the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange Composite Index could return to 1,000 points, but it had been very tardy and indifferent in approving a special fund to deal with the health-threatening haze crisis in the country and the emergency in Sarawak, although the Air Pollutant Index (API) index had crashed through the maximum 500 mark to reach 839 in Kuching two days ago.

Yesterday, the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding said the Cabinet had brought forward the date for the construction of 50 API monitoring stations in the country rather than to wait until the end of the Seventh Malaysia Plan in the year 2,000. But in view of the worst air pollution crisis faced by Malaysia, such a decision is inadequate, and the government must immediately approve and implement the construction of more API monitoring stations. This is urgent and necessary. Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya need more stations to give more accurate and reliable readings of air pollution levels. Penang Island should have more than one API monitoring station, when there is not a single one at present. There should also be better coverage of API centres in Sabah and Sarawak.

If the Government is serious in wanting to give paramountcy to the health and welfare of the people in the government’s development programme, then Anwar should revive the Clean Air Action Plan which the Cabinet rejected three years ago on the ground that the costs were too high for certain industry.

In retrospect, the Cabinet decision in rejecting the Clean Air Action Plan three years ago did not give paramountcy to the health and welfare of the people, who might have avoided the worst effects of the present haze crisis. The haze crisis and emergency should have convinced even those Cabinet Ministers who objected to the Clean Air Action Plan three years ago to support it now, as there can be no compromise as far as the right of the people to clean air is concerned.

What is the use of all the developments in the country if the people cannot even breathe clean air?

(25/9/97)


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