KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — The government is expected to table an amendment that would pave the way for far higher fines on businesses convicted of polluting any water sources, Berita Harian reported today.

The compoundable penalty will be multiplied by 2,500 times to RM5 million from the current rate of RM2,000, according to the newspaper, a sum environmental groups and Opposition lawmakers have described as paltry relative to the impact of the offence.

Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaffar, director-general of the Department of Environment, was quoted as saying that failure to pay the fine would allow the agency to drag offenders to court where the penalty could be doubled to RM10 million.

“Based on statistics most of those who pollute are repeat offenders, and on that consideration, we have suggested a much higher fine,” he said.


“We want to make sure these companies repent and are deterred from dumping pollutants into the river. Among the reasons why they dump pollutants into the river is to save costs by avoiding regulation.”

The amendment, slated to be tabled at next month’s sitting, will likely involve enforcement provisions under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 known also as Act 127, the newspaper reported.

Industrial waste dumping, a lot of it toxic, is rampant. In Selangor, the country’s industrial heart, toxic waste dumping has forced near-frequent disruptions to the water supply, often costing businesses millions of ringgit in losses.


The Department of Environment (DoE) said between 2017 to 2020 over 15,000 compounds had been issued with 1,036 charges brought to court involving fines worth RM16.8 million.

The DoE said it had also found attempts of illegal waste dumping sourced from foreign countries.

Between May 1 and October 2021, 200 containers carrying 4,000 tonnes of scheduled waste were confiscated, it was reported saying. The wastes are believed to be mostly from China and Romania.

Wan Abdul Latiff said raising the penalty rate is long overdue given the cost to clean up the rivers from pollutants are typically expensive. The recent cleanup of the Kim Kim River in Johor, for example, had cost the government agency RM8.5 million.