Minister: Putrajaya mulls new law to make polluters pay for clean-ups and damages to environment

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the law would be part of the proposed amendment to the Environmental Quality Act 1974. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the law would be part of the proposed amendment to the Environmental Quality Act 1974. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — The government is looking into the possibility to introduce a new law to compel polluters of the environment to pay for the cleanup operations and other damages that they have caused.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the law would be part of the proposed amendment to the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

She said instead of only focusing on individuals who committed the crime, the new law would also look into punishing companies that failed to monitor their scheduled waste movements.

“Polluters must pay for the mess, but what if the culprits are lorry drivers? How to force them to pay millions in damages? They will be declared bankrupt and the government will still have to pay for the mess.

“What we want to do in the new law is how to make the companies who don’t monitor their waste pay for it,” she told a press conference after attending the Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Research Bhd (MIDF) Green Conference here, today.

Asked when the new law would be introduced, Yeo said her ministry was working on the matter and had been in close contact with Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas.

“Reviewing of law will take some time and what happens in Pasir Gudang will surely help to speed up the tabling of that law in Parliament,” she added.

It was reported that the Johor state government had to spend RM6.4 million for cleaning works and as financial aid to victims of toxic fumes due to chemical waste dumped into Sungai Kim Kim, Pasir Gudang.

Many quarters have demanded the polluters to pay for the mess instead. — Bernama