DAP calls on
Environment Minister Adenan Satem to release Air Pollution Index (API) twice
a day to fully to minimize health hazards of the people
- after attending the continued hearing of the Permatang Pauh election petition in support of Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah at the Penang High Court
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Wednesday): Education Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein said yesterday that with the worsening of the haze menace in parts of Peninsular Malaysia, he will consider closing some schools. As a first step, he would consider banning all sports and outdoor activities.
He also announced that he had directed all state and district Education Departments to keep a close watch on the air quality index.
The question is how the various state and district education departments are to meaningfully “keep a close watch on the air quality index” when the Department of Environment is keeping the Air Pollution Index (API) a top state secret, dribbling out selective information as and when it deems expedient?
DAP calls on the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Datuk Seri Adenan bin Satem to release the Air Pollution Index (API) with the Department of Environment making public twice a day all the API data throughout the country to fully minimize the health hazards posed by the haze to the people.
DAP had been in the forefront opposing the government decision in 1997 to classify the API as an official secret especially during haze, which went against the ethos of greater openness and transparency in an information age.
It was most short-sighted decision for while Malaysians support tourist promotion to bring in tourist revenue, this cannot be at the expense of the health and welfare of the citizens or those of the tourists themselves.
In the 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 when haze is blanketing the Malaysian skies by refusing to release the daily API readings.
Just like the high incidence of snatch thefts, the Environment Minister should learn the first lesson of Ministerial responsibility in an information age – that it pays eventually to tell the truth, however unpleasant it may be in the beginning.
In this connection, the Environment Minister should explain why all the anti-haze measures which the Malaysian Government had discussed and agreed with the Indonesian Government in the past few years to prevent another major haze catastrophe had all come to nought, with more than 250 “hot spots” in Sumatra showing up in satellite images yesterday – or a sharp increase from 84 the previous day – and the haze situation expecting to worsen in the coming weeks!
Were all the big, frequent and expensive conferences in the past few years between the Malaysian and Indonesian Environment Ministers and officials to work out a joint strategy to avert another haze disaster in South-east Asia just empty P.R. exercises and a total waste of money and time?
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman