PETALING JAYA: Contamination of water sources must be regarded as a threat to national security and well-being and dealt with urgently, the Malaysian Bar said.
Lamenting the recent water pollution incidents at Sungai Kim Kim in Johor and along the Klang River, Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said the importance of protecting water sources, including rivers, seas, lakes, groundwater, dams and reservoirs, was recognised by Parliament.
He said the Water Services Industry Act 2006, for example, gave the federal government the executive authority over all matters related to water supply systems and services.
The legislation, Fareed said, provides for severe penalties for offences, signifying the gravity of the issue of water safety.
“It is disheartening to note that environmental pollution by industries continues to be prevalent, despite the existence of legislation to counter this menace,” he said in a statement.
He called on Putrajaya to take immediate action to ensure the effective enforcement of environmental laws to curb activities that have adverse and irreversible effects on the environment and the public’s health.
“The government has a fiduciary duty to protect and preserve the environment and to ensure that the full force of the law is brought to bear on all wrongdoers,” he said.
In the Sungai Kim Kim incident in March, it was reported that nearly 6,000 individuals were affected by toxic fumes said to have been caused by chemical waste dumped into the river.
A Singaporean non-executive director of a used tyre-processing factory has since been charged with abetting three others in the disposal of scheduled waste into the river in Pasir Gudang.
The Selangor Water Management Authority had, during the same month, also reported that pollution along the Klang River was believed to have been caused by the disposal of chemical waste.