Haze should be regarded as environmental terrorism

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The Association for Community and Dialogue would like to thank Resya Hani Ahmad of Institute for R&D of Policy for highlighting the critical silent killer nature of air pollution in the country in the New Straits Times on 29 August 2019.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution caused up to 6,251 deaths in Malaysia as of 2012.

Air pollution is responsible for one out of every nine deaths in Malaysia making it one of the top causes of death.

The latest air pollution in the west coast of the peninsula and west Sarawak was due to haze from fires in Indonesia. Local open burning is also the cause of haze in Pahang and southern Terengganu.

It is obvious the issue of pollution and its impact on Malaysia has not been tackled effectively.

The Pakatan Harapan government needs to review and shed light on the real causes of air pollution through an ethical and honest dimension that is free of mere financial calculations.

It seems that the transboundary agreement between Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia on haze has to be reviewed again since there is a recurrence.

It is disappointing to see reports on deaths on air pollution coming from international bodies like WHO, instead of our own institutions. We don’t even have state-level statistics of deaths due to air pollution.

As the issue of air pollution has national and transboundary aspects and Malaysians have been the victims, the Malaysian government must take the lead in declaring air pollution as a form of environmental terrorism.

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The issue of air pollution in this country needs to be reframed, since the deaths due to air pollution have not been properly accounted.

Environmental justice is needed especially for those vulnerable poorer communities. They are victims as they use cheaper modes of transport such as motorcycles and bicycles.

The laws on open burning need to be strengthened and our transportation policy reviewed to see how it contributes to air pollution.

The overwhelming fleet of cars on the roads and the current suggestion of legislating the ride-hailing service Go-Jek would only continue to increase air pollution in the country.

Policy direction on the environment is critical for our future generation.

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