Selangor lawmaker pushes stronger powers for water authority to act against polluters

Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong speaks during the Selangor State Assembly session in Shah Alam March 19, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong speaks during the Selangor State Assembly session in Shah Alam March 19, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

SHAH ALAM, March 19 — Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong called for the state government to give the Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas) more power in light of the chemical contamination of Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor.

Speaking at the Selangor State Assembly during the Sultan’s debate today, Wong proposed an amendment to the Selangor Water Management Authority Enactment 1999.

“Irresponsible companies must be faced with a stiffer punishment over their actions. We should not just imprison them but also strip them of their licence and contracts while monitoring their activities.

“This is the best time to amend the Luas enactment to ensure anyone found guilty of polluting rivers must be made liable to pay for the cleanup cost. We must also give them severe punishment to ensure that rivers in Selangor are protected,” said Wong.

She called for local government authorities, city councillors, other assemblymen and even village chiefs to help the state government in combating irresponsible businesses by monitoring rivers near them and reporting any cases of dumping.

The PKR lawmaker also said the state public hearing mechanism needs improvement, particularly after the Bukit Lagong public hearing last month.

She said the public hearing to degazette the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve to allow for a housing development did not allow the participants enough time to state their facts and ask questions.

“A public hearing is a space allowing the public to speak up and ask,” said Wong.

“We also find it odd when the developer’s representative who has a joint-venture with PKNS had given their briefing to us and the participants on why the forest reserve in Bukit Lagong must be degazette instead of the state government representative.

“Bukit Lanjan was also uncomfortable when the Forest Reserve Institute Malaysia scientist was stopped from continuing the briefing. I hope the state government reviews and improve this public hearing process which should not have happened in the first place.”

She also reminded the House that there are many endangered species of flora and fauna in Bukit Lagong.

At the same time, Wong said the laws in Selangor only allows development in forest reserve if it is part of a public infrastructure or for public good.

“The criteria to degazette a forest reserve is that it must be used for public infrastructure or public utility.

“A housing development does not fit that criteria and this will set a bad precedent because since 2008 the state government has protected its forest reserves from private and even GLC trying to develop it,” said Wong.