The haze which has enveloped Klang Valley and nation-wide is not only sign of worsening environmental degradation but also failure of environmental leadership and management in the government


by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 8th September 1994:

The haze which has enveloped Klang Valley and nation-wide is not only sign of worsening environmental degradation but also failure of environmental leadership and management in the government.

The haze which has enveloped Klang Valley and nation-wide is not only the sign of worsening environmental degradation but also failure of environmental leadership and management in the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology.

The haze poses not only health problems and environmental hazards, but has also posed risks to air travel, as the low visibility has been given as one probable cause for the ‘near-miss collision’ between a Malaysian Airlines B737-400 and a Singapore Airline Airbus 310 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport runway yesterday.

Penang had been one of the earliest states to be affected by the haze – and Penangites will remember that the visit of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and the entire Cabinet to Penang in the third week of July coincided with the coming of the haze to the island state.

For the past few months, the Ministry of Environment was completely helpless in dealing with the haze problem. It had initially predicted that the haze will go away without becoming a major problem – but the haze has confounded the predictions of the Department of Environment.

This is probably because in the past few months, the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology had been under a ‘telecommunications haze’ of its own.

In the past, few months, there have been mounting public complaints that the Ministry of Environment has not only been helpless to deal with the haze problem, but the entire Ministry seemed to have disappeared ‘in a haze’ as public attempts to contact the Ministry officials to find out about the haze problem have not been able to reach anyone by telephone.

I have checked and found that the telephone system of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology had broken down for two to three months, and there is no way anyone could reach the Ministry by its general number, 03-2938955.

What is even more shocking is that the Ministry will take several months before it could emerge from its ‘telecommunications haze’ which cut off the Ministry from public communication, as it has just called for tenders for a new-telephone system, costing some RM180,000 to be installed.

I do not know how the ‘telecommunications haze’ at the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology for the past two to three months had allowed the haze at Klang Valley and nation-wide to reach such a serious stage as to threaten the safety of air-control at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, but it is a scandal of the first magnitude that the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology should be cut off from public communication because of breakdown of its telephone system for the past two to three months and may be for many more months to come.

Surely, it is not beyond the ingenuity or imagination of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to get a new and working telephone system installed in a matter of days – so that the Ministry will not continue to be in a ‘telecommunications haze’ while the country is under a ‘haze’!

As the Minister in charge of telecommunications, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu should ensure that the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology could hook-up with a telephone system within 24 hours to ‘liberate’ the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology from its ‘telecommunications haze’ of the past few months!