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by Lim Guan Eng
(Penang, Saturday): The dead and toxic rivers of Juru and Pinang demonstrates Penang’s poor environmental record that is bad not only for tourism but a failure of good governance by BN at both the Federal and state levels. Fourteen years after the government launched “Love Our Rivers” campaign in 1993 and hundreds of millions spent, our rivers remain not only dirty but also dead and toxic.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said of the 20 most polluted rivers in Malaysia with a toxic level 5 or poisonous level, Sungai Pinang was not only the most polluted river in Malaysia but probably in the whole of Asia. Is the Penang state government proud of such a dubious distinction? If not, then they should explain their failure of good governance and their poor environmental record, which is becoming an increasingly crucial issue with Malaysians concerned about clean and healthy living.
The BN government must explain where and how they have failed when other countries have succeeded such as the Seine in France, the Thames in London and even Singapore. The public is getting a very poor return for all the money spent, including the new RM 7 million allocation or additional RM 10,000 a year allocation to BN elected representative to protect rivers by mobilising people to keep their waterways clean.
Isn’t this a waste of money when elected representatives from BN do not care and have never showed any concern for environment or our rivers? Witness the extensive illegal logging in our jungles that have worsened the flood problems. See the water shortage problems in Selangor and Federal Territory in a tropical country like Malaysia with an average of 100 inches of rainfall annually.
Unless the BN government places environmental protection and awareness as equally important as development, all this “Love our Rivers” campaign will just be mere rhetoric. BN must show their commitment towards environmental protection not only in terms of funding but also action against those who pollutes our rivers and harms our environment. Penang is the place for BN to show such commitment because there can be hope only if Penang with the dirtiest river in Asia can be cleaned up.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP