by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 13th February 1992:
Malaysians have a right to expect higher standard of environmental responsibility by government servants
Malaysians have a right to expect a higher standard of environmental responsibility by government servants, particularly with regard to the provision of their basic necessities like the supply of drinking water.
However, many government servants have not taken their environmental responsibilities seriously, as could be seen in the controversy over the closure on Chinese New Year’s Eve of the Sungai Semberong water treatment plant in Parit Raja, Johore which was suspected to have supplied 20,000 people in the Batu Pahat area with water contaminated by industrial effluents and waste material from the local council dump.
On Feb.3, the Batu Pahat District Officer, Datuk Lokman Thany, ordered the Sungai Semberong plant closed after receiving reports it supplied contaminated water to the consumers. The 20,000 people in Parit Raja and the surrounding areas in Batu Pahat had been complaining about smelly, brown water from the taps for the past few years.
This version, however, has been disputed by the Johore State Water Department director, Mohamed Hatta Bakri, who said the plant was closed not because of any contamination but it was no longer economical to operate. Hatta said that the old treatment plant was still supplying water despite completion of the new plant as there was a delay in laying new pipes.
Malaysians as a whole are shocked at the indifferent and irresponsible attitude shown by the Johore State Water Department director about the health and environmental concerns of the people, as what happened in Parit Raja can so easily happen to any other area in the country.
The people of Batu Pahat as well as the whole of Malaysia must be wondering what the Department of Environment (DOE) had been done over this matter, or is the DOE blissfully unaware of the existence of this problem?
I hope the Minister for Environment, Law Hieng Ding, can let kdpthe people know what his Ministry has done on this issue.