Hishammuddin, who is a joint-chairman of the Kuala Lumpur 2006 Bid Committee, gave an assurance that Kuala Lumpur will not hold back or provide false information required by the five-member OCA Evaluation Committee as Malaysia will not jeopardise its credibility as an international sporting host by providing false details.
Hishammudin should ponder as to how Malaysia can convince the Olympic Council of Asia officials about Malaysia’s commitment to transparency and successfuly bid for 2006 Asian Games when the government is not prepared to release Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at the expense of the health and welfare of Malaysians because of the mistaken notion of not driving away foreign tourists!
Motorists travelling on the North-South Expressway yesterday between Petaling Jaya and Ipoh can testify to the severity of the haze problem despite the claim by the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Datuk Law Hieng Ding that the haze in the west coast of peninsula is "temporary", "not reached a level to worry about" and "no cause for alarm".
This is most shocking as Law had admitted that three stations yesterday reported Air Pollutant Index readings at the "unhealthy" level, although the Department of Environment (DOE) director-general, Rosnani Ibrahim contradicted him in stating four stations reporting "unhealthy" API levels.
As API readings are categorised into 0-50 (healthy), 51-100 (moderate), 101-200 (unhealthy), 201-300 (very unhealthy) and 301-500 (hazardous), Law should explain when Malaysians should begin to worry about the haze - is it when the API readings reached "very unhealthy" or "hazardous" levels.
By claiming that the API reading which categorised the 101-200 level as "unhealthy" was "no cause for alarm", Law is making a total mockery of the API reading and jeopardising the health of the people and the young generation in his attempt to play down the severity of the haze problem.
In Penang, the state education department has suspended all outdoor school activities beginning today. Will Law consider this an unwarranted "panicky" over-reaction as the haze had "not reached a level to worry about" and "was no cause for alarm"?
It is one of Law’s blot as Minister for Environment for being a party to the decision to put the API readings in a cloak of secrecy under the Official Secret Act.
Law should immediately make amends and take immediate action to release regular API readings at least twice a day to give greater priority to the health of Malaysians, particularly of the young generation than to the tourism industry for fear that the API figures would drive away tourists.
Law should realise that in this era of information technology, it is sheer folly for the government to pretend that it could mislead foreign tourists into believing that there is pure and clean air in the country although API readings showed otherwise.
Law should get the support of Hishammuddin if he needs more Cabinet
votes to honour the right to information of Malaysians by making API readings