GEORGE TOWN: An environmental group fighting illegal recycling factories and air pollution in Sungai Petani, Kedah, today invited their MP for a discussion after he said they had never asked him for a meeting.
Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Sungai Petani (PTAS) has proposed a meeting with Johari Abdul on Saturday.
FMT is reaching out to Johari for his reaction.
Earlier, responding to comments by activist Mariam Mokhtar that he had refused to meet PTAS to hear its concerns over illegal recycling factories spewing effluents in the town, Johari said he had never been asked for a meeting.
He told them to set a date.
PTAS president Lydia Ong said Johari’s comments came as a surprise as he was “never interested” to hear them out in the first place.
“For an issue that is severely affecting Sungai Petani, Johari is waiting for an invitation from us to meet.
“I would have thought that our open invitation to deal with our problems began on May 9 last year when we elected him to be our MP,” she told FMT.
Ong said she and the PTAS members have proposed to Johari to meet at the Cinta Sayang Golf Club at 8pm on Saturday.
She said Johari’s absence during their five protests held this year, and silence from his aides made them conclude that he was never interested to hear them out.
She said that assumption was further reinforced after Johari “only offered snide remarks” to her and other PTAS members during his Hari Raya open house in June.
Ong said that as a backbencher, Johari should speak to Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to cancel permits for plastic recycling factories.
“As the local MP, we would advise him to write to the ministry to cancel whatever licences and Approved Permits that have been issued to this industry,” she said.
Yesterday, Johari had asked PTAS to “ask Zuraida” to cancel the approvals for plastic recycling factories so that local authorities in Sungai Petani could take action.
He said the Kedah government had worked hard to close down the illegal factories, and it would be unfair to close existing factories which had been operating close to 15 years there.
In response, Ong said three people had fallen seriously ill due to the poor air quality caused by the factories, with an increase in admission by 15% to 30% from May to August at a private hospital.
She also said Johari should compare the situation to the recent haze.
“While the daily average air quality monitored by a station in Taman Delima by the Department of Environment shows moderate readings, residents in homes near the factories continue to experience bad air quality.
“High PM10 and PM2.5 air quality readings are measured daily, especially from 5am to 7am, where it is at its peak. The seasonal haze only made it worse,” she said.