Bar Council wants govt to take firm action against water polluters

Hazmat personnel from the Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department take water samples at the Kuala Koh Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang June 11, 2019. — Bernama pic
Hazmat personnel from the Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department take water samples at the Kuala Koh Orang Asli settlement in Gua Musang June 11, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — Malaysian Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor today urged Putrajaya to take stern enforcement action against culprits behind industrial pollution damaging the environment, saying that environmental rights are part and partial of basic human rights.

Abdul Fareed pointed out recent cases such as the Sungai Kim Kim pollution in Johor and the Orang Asli Batek tribe in Kelantan suffering from possible water contamination as examples of weak enforcement by the government.

“It is disheartening to note that environmental pollution by industries continues to be prevalent, despite the existence of legislation to counter this menace. 

“The Malaysian Bar calls on the government to take immediate action to ensure the effective enforcement of environmental laws in order to curb activities that have adverse and irreversible effects on the environment as well as the health of present and future generations of all Malaysians.

“The government is under a fiduciary duty to protect and preserve the environment, and to ensure that the full force of the law is brought to bear on all wrongdoers,” Abdul Fareed said in a statement today.

He said water contamination should be regarded as a threat to national security and well-being and must be dealt with equal seriousness.

He recalled that Parliament has already recognised the critical need to protect Malaysia’s water sources through the enactment of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 which grants Putrajaya the executive authority in respect to all matters relating to water supply systems and services.

The legislation provides for severe penalties for offences, signifying the gravity of water safety.

“Environmental rights — rights relating to environmental protection — should therefore be seen to encompass not only the right to a healthy environment but also human rights vulnerable to environmental harm, such as the right to life that is guaranteed in Article 5,” said Abdul Fareed.