Pasir Gudang pollution: Johor ruler fumes, takes gov’t to task

Pasir Gudang pollution: Johor ruler fumes, takes gov’t to task

PUCHONG: Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar is livid over the new case of pollution in Pasir Gudang, calling it despicable and a total disgrace.

In an interview with The Star, Sultan Ibrahim also criticised federal and state agencies and said he would be summoning leaders of the agencies to answer for this latest pollution case.

“We were assured that all was alright and we heard politicians and officials giving us assurances but barely three months later, Johoreans are facing this issue again.

“This is despicable and a total disgrace,” he said.

Last week, about 60 students in Pasir Gudang were rushed to hospital and healthcare centres after suffering from breathing difficulties and vomiting after inhaling toxic fumes.

The Education Ministry then ordered all 457 educational institutions at the area to be closed.

The institutions involved are 111 primary and secondary schools, three institutions of higher learning, 14 private schools including international schools, and 347 private kindergartens.

The latest incident came just barely three months after nearly 2,000 people living near Sungai Kim Kim, Pasir Gudang were affected by toxic fumes emanating from the polluted river.

The government shut down 111 schools and 95 kindergarten and nurseries at the affected area then as well.

Sultan Ibrahim said the latest incident clearly showed ‘complete flaws and weaknesses, if not incompetence’ in the state and federal disaster management systems.

He also said that he would not be hoodwinked by empty assurances that such incident would not happen again.

“I read that the state government spent about RM6.4 million to clean up Sungai Kim Kim of the toxic waste in March.

“Then, we have conflicting statements from a minister who first affirmed that the latest incident was related to the earlier case in Sungai Kim Kim but later denied it.

“These are very confusing and conflicting statements to me, as they should be speaking authoritatively on such an important matter,” said Sultan Ibrahim.

The ruler said that he would propose to the state government to ‘get rid or relocate’ industries that affect the environment adversely, saying they not only endanger Johoreans but also Singaporeans.

He cited an example where a plastic manufacturer was allowed to operate in Johor ‘when other states did not want it.’

“I don’t care about the so-called economic value of these toxic industries as I am only concerned about the health of Johoreans. That is far more important than money.

“And I don’t want the politicians, whether state or federal, to tell me about the economic impact. Please stop these,” said the Sultan.