Gambar atas: Seorang pelajar terbaring dibawa menaiki ambulans untuk ke hospital selepas mendapatkan rawatan awal di Dewan Komuniti Taman Pasir Putih, Pasir Gudang hari ini. Sekurang-kurangnya 20 pelajar dari beberapa sekolah di sekitar Pasir Gudang dibawa ke dewan itu untuk rawatan kerana mengalami simptom sesak nafas, loya dan muntah, dipercayai susulan pencemaran sisa kimia.-fotoBERNAMA
Comment by DATUK REJAL ARBEE
The culprit factories should also be given the severest of punishments to ensure that they will never ever again take a laissez-faire attitude towards the disposal of the toxic wastes.
AGAIN, we now read of school children being made to suffer – this time as victims of toxic wastes.
Wastes produced by irresponsible factories in the Pasir Gudang area of Johor had resulted in the closure of two schools, where nearly 300 of their students had to be hospitalised due to inhalation of poisonous gas.
When can we Malaysians expect not to hear of such cases ever again?
Can we also expect the authorities who are supposed to check and monitor all the factories producing toxic wastes from dumping them haphazardly to do the job they are supposed to?
Then again, there are also some factories that just pay off some half past six waste disposers and then just wash their hands as if their responsibility ends there.
So, what is the role of the authorities supposedly set up to monitor such factories? Can they just wash their hands, too, for not doing the job that they are supposed to do? Or is there something more than meets the eyes?
Thus, the higher authorities must investigate and act on those authorities not carrying out their duties.
Or, is there something else that made the authorities overlook what they should be monitoring strictly?
It seems they had in fact not carried out the checks that they are supposed to. This surely is a call for the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate and act.
In addition, the culprit factories should also be given the severest of punishments to ensure that they will never ever again take a laissez-faire attitude towards the disposal of the toxic wastes that they produced.
They should be made to understand that this country and its people will never ever allow such factories that kind of latitude any more.
Besides taking them to court, it is hoped that the bench will also take a strong attitude against such irresponsible behaviour by imposing the severest of punishments on the owners and managers.
In addition, the factories should also be made to pay for the treatment given to the 300 or so students of the two schools in Pasir Gudang, who were affected by the fumes to the extent that they had to be hospitalised.
The culprit factories should be made to pay adequate compensations to all the students hospitalised, as well as to the other students of the two schools whose classes had been affected. In addition, the families and the public affected by the toxic should also be adequately compensated.
Enough is enough. Stern action must be taken although the factories provide jobs to the local population.
That is no excuse for the factories to act irresponsibly by passing off their wastes to even more irresponsible waste disposers, who just dumped the toxic wastes indiscriminately.
It is also the job of the monitoring authorities to ensure that the factories under their jurisdiction would not violate whatever conditions imposed on them, including not to irresponsibly dispose their toxic wastes in such a manner.
This is the least that we should expect from the authorities, as well as all the factories operating in this country and not just in Pasir Gudang.
Datuk AhmadRejal Arbee has been in journalism for over 40 years, starting as a cadet reporter in the Straits Times in 1963 and heading its Johor Bahru office in 1966. He then moved to Bernama and became its first overseas correspondent to Jakarta in 1972. He also served as the Berita Harian Group Editor and the Editor of The Sun. Currently, he is reminiscing some of his memorable experiences throughout his long career in journalism.