Environment Minister Palanivel and even PM Najib should be censured for failing to ensure that the Royal Address address the haze emergency

Environment Minister Datuk Seri S. Palanivel and even the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should be censured for failing to ensure that the Royal Address delivered by the Yang di Pertuan Agong at the opening of the 13th Parliament this morning address the government’s agenda on the haze emergency.

In a constitutional monarchy, the Royal Address at the opening of Parliament outlines the government’s agenda for the coming year. The Royal Address is prepared by Cabinet Ministers outlining the government’s legislative agenda and their national priorities.

It is not that the haze emergency occurred only last night, catching the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers by surprise so that they could not incorporate the government’s concerns, agenda and priorities in addressing the haze catastrophe in the Royal Address.

The country has been haunted and hounded by the haze catastrophe for a week, with thousands of schools closed in the past week throughout the country, affecting the lives, health and livelihood of millions of Malaysians in various parts of the country, starting from Johor Baru and Muar in the south and moving progressively northwards to Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Pahang and Penang with the change of winds from the raging peat fires in Riau and Sumatra.

It has been estimated that if the haze catastrophe persisted until September, it could cost the Singapore economy up to $(S)1.2 billion in economic losses.

The haze crisis in 1997 lasted about three months and cost Southeast Asia an estimated $9 billion from disruptions to air travel, health expenses and other business impacts.

What is going to be Malaysia’s economic cost of the present haze catastrophe?

In failing to address the haze issue in the Royal Address this morning, the Environment Minister and the Malaysian Government is sending out a wrong message to the Indonesian Government that they are not very serious in wanting Indonesia to live up to its ASEAN responsibilities to take meaningful and effective action to control the latest transboundary haze disaster from undermining the lives, healthy and economy of millions of people in the three ASEAN countries.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah