GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today slammed Selangor Barisan Nasional (BN) over its “election promise” of wanting to reverse the no plastic bags rule, hence making Malaysia a “laughing stock to the world”.
State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh expressed shock at the pledge by Selangor BN, saying that the giving of free plastic bags is part of its election manifesto.
“This goes against every effort to cut down the use of plastic bags in the country. Hence, Selangor BN’s election promise is offensive to mankind and mother nature.
“BN leaders should explain whether they agree with the nonsensical election promises made by the Selangor BN on reversing the no plastic bags rule.
“Selangor BN’s promise of free plastic bags and the removal of a government-mandated 20 sen charge for bags if it won the state in the next general election (GE14) has made Malaysia a laughing stock to the world. Shame on Selangor BN,” he said in a statement today.
His statement was in response to Selangor BN information chief Satim Diman reportedly saying on Sunday that the 20 sen charge for plastic bags would be lifted if BN swept to power in Selangor in GE14.
Many organisations and political parties had disagreed with him, saying the convenience of shoppers should not come at an environmental cost.
Phee, who is also Penang Green Council vice-chairman, pointed out that since 2002, countries or cities worldwide started to impose charges, taxes, or bans on plastic bags at the checkout counters.
He also noted that back in 2009, the Penang government was the first to launch the No Free Plastic Bags campaign, which required consumers to pay 20 sen for each plastic bag purchased. The campaign was also intended to encourage people to bring their own recyclable bags when out shopping.
“Many people were furious in the beginning as they failed to see the reason behind the initiative. Also, the 20 sen collected is channelled to the state’s AES programme (Agenda Ekonomi Saksama) which plays a role in eradicating poverty in Penang,” he said.
Phee said in December 2017, 193 nations signed pledge to tackle the “global crisis” of plastic in the oceans, and that early this year, the Taiwan government announced their plan to ban straws starting 2019.
“In UK, they are committed to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 as they launched the government’s environmental plan for the next 25-years.
“Malaysia, as a member of United Nations, should be more committed to environmental issues. The policies here are only baby steps in creating public awareness on proper waste management and reducing plastic waste, and yet Selangor BN is telling the whole world they cannot do it. Shame on Selangor BN,” he said.
The current Selangor government began charging 20 sen for plastic bags from Jan 1, 2017. It has collected RM1.87 million as of July last year.
Penang began its “no free plastic bag” policy on July 1, 2009, starting with chargeable plastic bags on Mondays. It also enforced a permanent ban on the use of polystyrene food containers.
It then extended the ban to three days in 2010 from Monday to Wednesday. A complete ban on free plastic bags was implemented in 2011.