Pasir Gudang pollution incident is a wake-up call for local councils

Regarding the students affected by chemical poisoning in the Pasir Gudang area in Johor, the most important question to ask is whether it could have been avoided.

What was the cause of it? The state government needs to undertake a thorough investigation of what went wrong that resulted in the pollution of Sg Kim Kim that is said to be the cause of chemical pollution that has affected the health of thousands of students in the area.

Why wasn’t the cause identified much earlier? Factories polluting rivers is not an unusual problem that it should have caught us by surprise. The problem may have existed for a very long time but probably ignored or was not given the priority it demanded. This can only be the responsibility of the state government and municipal councils. And, the time is past to put the blame on the previous administration.

The fact that an ongoing major problem like chemical pollution was left unattended is simply the fault of the authorities concerned. It is time that they took their jobs seriously and started prioritizing the issues affecting the people and addressed them before another major crisis happens.

Chemical pollution, illegal factories, the rise of dengue, potholes, rat pollution in alleys, unclean restaurants, swarming squirrels in residential areas, neglected landscapes, unmonitored domestic pets owners (whose pets mess up the neighbourhood) are all the responsibility of the municipal and district councils.

While municipal and district councils surely know their jobs, what is lacking is firm but kind enforcement and getting the job done efficiently and quickly. The old way of greasing palms and looking the other way has to stop.

Instead, council staff need to just do their job. The Pasir Gudang chemical pollution incident should be looked upon as a wake-up call for all municipal and district councils to work to put the interests of the people first before their own.

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