by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, May 15, 1991:
Royal Commission of Inquiry should inquire as to why Selangor State Government failed to help Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. relocate away from a residential area.
DAP is gravely concerned that 40 workers of the Bright Sparklers fireworks factory which was destroyed in the Sungai Buloh explosions disaster a week ago are still not accounted for.
The worst could have happened to these 40 workers who were working in the factory when it caught fire, setting off explosions which rocked not only Sungai Buloh new village but surrounding areas and destroying nearby factories and houses, killing 24 people confirmed to date.
It is highly regrettable that while numerous Federal Ministries and government agencies had issued licences or approvals to Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. to manufacture fireworks, the Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Taib, insists on calling it an illegal factory.
How illegal is Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. when eight Federal Ministries had issued licences or approvals for its operation?
If eight Federal Ministries had allowed the Bright Sparklers fireworks factory to operate for 17 years, how illegal is the Sungai Buloh fireworks factory?
In fact, the Selangor State Government cannot shirk responsibility in allowing the Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. to operate in Sungai Buloh new village, for it knew of its existence for 17 years and did not do anything to stop its operation, apart from regularly rejecting the factory’s application to convert the status of the land it was sited on from agricultural to industrial use.
In this context where eight Federal Ministries had either issued licences or other forms of approval for its operation, and the Selangor State Government had closed its eyes to its operation for 17 years, how illegal is Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd.? Fifty per cent illegal, or 30 per cent or ten per cent illegal?
The Selangor Mentri Besar’s insistence that the Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. is illegal while Federal Ministries had issued licences or approvals to it in the past 17 years give the people, and in particular the victim, the unfavourable impression that Tan Sri Muhammad is only interested in shifting blame and responsibility elsewhere.
The most important question is why the Selangor State Government, knowing of the existence of Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. for 17 years, did nothing in this long period to help Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. to relocate away from the residential area.
A Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. spokesman, Chung Kin Chuan, had said that the Petaling District Office and other authorities did not respond to the company’s appeal to have the plant relocated elsewhere and that the company had applied for a two-hectare site with the intention of relocating and expanding its operations.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Sungai Buloh fireworks factory explosion disaster should inquire into this important aspect, as to why the Selangor State Government had failed to help Bright Sparklers Sdn. Bhd. to relocate elsewhere away from a residential area.
Four Principles for regularising or relocating illegal factories throughout the country.
The Selangor Mentri Besar said yesterday that the Selangor State Government has set up a committee to relocate the 3,000 illegal factories in Selangor.
The Selangor State Government, and if necessary with the help of the Federal Government, should have a multi prong strategy to relocate the illegal factories, which should have the following three components:
Amnesty for all illegal factories from any prosecution, charges or fines during the period of regularisation or relocation of illegal factories;
Assurance that every illegal factory would be regularised and licensed;
A special fund to provide financial assistance to help the illegal factories to regularise and/or to
relocate their operation; and
Suitable alternative industrial land for the relocation of the illegal factories with nominal or low land premium.
In fact, these four orinciples should be chserved by all State Government in the country to regularise or relocate illegal factories to ensure that the best interests of all concerned, whether the workers or the public, or the factory operators, are fully safeguarded.