Ensure that the residents in Tasek industrial area enjoy the right to clean air

Press Statement by Lim Kit Siang, Ketua Pembangkang and MP for Bandar Melaka on 8 October 1973:

Call for joint action by the Minister for Environment Quality and the Ipoh Municipality to ensure that the residents in Tasek industrial area enjoy the right to clean air

I have received a petition signed by hundreds of residents adjoining the Tasek industrial area in Ipoh, including housing estates such as Star Park, Kim Mee Garden, West Pool Park, Ipoh Garden, complaining about air pollution by the Tasek Cement Factory in the neighbourhood.

The residents had complained to the Ipoh Municipality and the Ministry of Health when the Tasek Cement Factory started to pollute the air of the residential areas since 1964, but unfortunately, the authorities ignored the complaints and grievances of the residents by siding the well-financed Tasek Cement Factory.

The residents in the Tasek area, who run into several thousands, are now particularly concerned because the Tasek Cement Factory is installing another kiln which is capable of turning out cement at more than twice the pollution for the residential neighbourhood in the Tasek industrial area.

The people of Malaysia are entitled to clean, fresh air, and it is the duty and responsibility of both the Central Government and Ipoh Municipality to protect the basic right of the people to have clean, unpolluted air.

Studies abroad have shown that prolonged inhalation of dust can lead to silicosis which is an incurable disease leading the premature death. In fact, children in the residential estates and the kampongs adjoining the Tasek area are suffering from chronic respiratory complaints, such as coughs lasting three or four months at a stretch which no medicine could cure.

All industries have a public responsibility to ensure that public health is not jeopardised by its industrial activities. The Tasek Cement Factory, the Ipoh Municipality and the Federal Government have all failed in their responsibility in ensuring that the people enjoy clean, fresh air, for the last ten years.

I call on the Ipoh Municipality and the Federal Government to take immediate steps to stop the Tasek Cement Factory from installing the new kiln, until effective anti-dust pollution measures to the satisfaction of the residents have been taken. If this is not done, the DAP will be taking this matter up in Parliament, especially during the debate on the Environment Quality Bill, which is to spell out the basic rights of the people of Malaysia to a healthy and clean environment, such as clean air, water and healthy surroundings.

I also suggest that Mr. Michael Chen, as the Minister in charge of the Environment, to take action to stop the new kiln from being set up as a first step to prevent deterioration of the air pollution. He should call for a report from the Ipoh Municipality and ask it to explain why it had allowed air and dust pollution in the Tasek residential neighbourhood for the last ten years, without requiring effective anti-pollution measures to be taken by the Tasek Cement Factory.