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Abdullah should “walk the talk” of an open, transparent and trustworthy government by ending the eight-year secrecy of the API to protect the health and safety of 26 million Malaysians and herald the advent of an information society
Media Statement (2)
(Parliament, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should “walk the talk” of an open, transparent and trustworthy government by ending the eight-year secrecy of the Air Pollution Index (API) to protect the health and safety of 26 million Malaysians and to herald the advent of an information society in Malaysia.
The statement by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday that Malaysians will have to be content with general information on the haze as the government has no plans to make the API public is most disappointing and unacceptable.
Malaysians must express loud and clear their disappointment at Najib’s statement and demand that the Prime Minister should give this matter new and deep redeliberation, not only because of the return of the haze and its health hazard to 26 million Malaysians, but because of the larger national implications, such as:
DAP had been in the forefront opposing the government decision in 1997 to classify the API as an official secret especially during haze, which went against the ethos of greater openness and transparency in an information age.
It was most short-sighted decision for while Malaysians support tourist promotion to bring in tourist revenue, this cannot be at the expense of the health and welfare of the citizens or those of the tourists themselves.
In the era of information technology, it is sheer folly for the government to pretend that it could mislead foreign tourists into believing that there is pure and clean air in the country when haze is blanketing the Malaysian skies by refusing to release the daily API readings.
The contention that the release of API figures would be distorted by the foreign media to paint a grim picture of Malaysia to have an adverse effect on the economy, particularly the flow of tourist ringgit, is both short-sighted and pre-information society.
By this logic, the Singapore authorities should be equally, if not more, concerned about the adverse effect of poor API data on foreign tourist arrivals to the island republic – but Singapore never banned the API even in the worst haze catastrophe in the past eight years.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman