Malaysia’s lower house of Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat has today approved a motion for the federal government to declare an emergency in Pasir Gudang, Johor, following an unlawful chemical dump. Hundreds of nearby residents have reported illness, and 111 schools have been closed due to the after effects of dumping waste into the nearby Sungai Kim Kim (Kim Kim River).
House Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof told parliamentarians: “As the Speaker, I am satisfied that the motion meets with all of the requirements – that it is a specific matter, of public interest, and urgent.
“I will allow the motion to be debated at 4.30pm for a period of 60 minutes,” he said.
There have been bipartisan calls for Parliament to debate the motion to declare an emergency over the incident in recent days.
Speaking to The Malay Mail, civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan told the paper that parliament would most probably declare a “disaster emergency” rather than a Proclamation of Emergency as stipulated in Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, resulting in a curfew.
“This is a different sort of emergency than the one provided for under the Constitution.
“It is a ‘disaster emergency’ where the State is not given extra powers or authority,” said Syahredzan. He is also the current political secretary to Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang.
Prime Minister Mahathir is expected to make a visit to the area this evening.
Authorities believe that over a week ago, a lorry dumped the waste in the river, sending hazardous fumes into a wide-ranging area surrounding the site. Those suffering from the toxic wafts of air have reported nausea and vomiting. It is not clear what type of gas is poisoning the residents of Pasir Gudang.
Many children have borne the brunt of the symptoms, with 160 being admitted to hospital, and the initial figure of 43 schools closed jumping by more than double to 111 shut down until further notice. In total, 506 have sought treatment, and nine of them are currently in intensive care.
Johor’s highly revered Sultan, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, has pledged RM1 million (US$250,000) towards helping rescue agencies and authorities gather the necessary means and equipment to resolve the matter.
After hearing a father’s pleas over his sick son, he is reported to have been “deeply moved,” and wants authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and to take firm action against those involved.
Yes, yes, and yes.
Singaporean comedian Fakkah Fuzz has gone on ground to the industrial area to deliver goods to the citizens, posting to his Facebook that those who are looking to help their neighbor can contribute needed R95 masks. Good on you, sir.
Meanwhile, one minister isn’t ready to get too worried just yet. Ladies and gentlemen, our Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development — Dr. Wan Azizah. Yes, the same woman who called female genital mutilation “cultural”, Dr. Wan Azizah.