PETALING JAYA: A coalition of local civil societies today filed a landmark complaint with the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), calling for a public inquiry into legal gaps in the governance of transboundary haze pollution.
Led by CERAH – Anti Haze Action and Greenpeace Malaysia, the alliance of 10 organisations said proactive steps were needed to address the chronic and persistent haze pollution faced by Malaysians.
Lawyer and climate activist Kiu Jia Yaw said there were legal gaps in national and regional frameworks, citing the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution of 2002 (AATHP) as an example.
“The AATHP remains a regional agreement and is a tool for the Malaysian government when it engages with its neighbours but not the citizens of Malaysia.
“It provides no direct legal assistance to the private person in Malaysia who wishes to seek redress against transboundary haze pollution in a Malaysian court,” he said.
Kiu urged Suhakam to take note of these gaps and identify state and non-state actors that contribute to the problem.
Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai agreed that more specific laws were needed to address the problem.
“Haze has taken a back seat over the past couple of years because of the pandemic, but now more than ever we need regulations and laws to be more robust,” he said.
He pointed out that clean air was in fact a right to quality of life and the joint complaint was a step in the right direction towards bridging those legal gaps.
“We will set a timeline of six months before the next haze season. Hopefully, by then we will have successfully opened a public inquiry and addressed these gaps”, Mah said.
Among the other groups in the joint complaint are Klima Action Malaysia (Kamy), Undi18, MyHutan, and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).