If we do not ask disturbing questions and demand acceptable answers, let us then prepare for more crises, writes JD Lovrenciear.
The environmental crisis in Pasir Gudang raises more questions than solutions.
How small would a tyre factory have to be to escape the attention of the authorities?
How long has this factory been operating and where were its waste chemicals dumped all this while?
How could an illegal factory brazenly operate without detection?
If a tyre factory could not be monitored and inspected to ensure that all safety procedures were being followed to the letter, what can we expect of tiny backyard or shoplot operators who do not comply with safety standards?
If 1.5km of a river is affected by toxic chemicals, what else has been affected other then humans, some of whom are struggling to recover?
Is this the one and only location, the one and only factory that has allegedly destroyed our environment and affected our livelihoods and schoolchildren by the hundreds?
God alone knows (perhaps some environment health inspectors too) how many factories dotting the map of Malaysia are brazenly dumping waste chemicals and residual toxins under the cloak of darkness.
We can plug smoking at eateries overnight but we cannot plug industrial-sized pollution. Why?
As the prime minister calls for more manufacturers to come here and invest to help build our economy, what have we done with the last 30 years of manufacturing waste like xylene, trichlorethane and freon, which are largely used in industrial environments and cannot be recycled?
Will the suspected illegal factory owner, operator and agents contracted to dump the waste be the only ones who will be made to march through the corridors of justice?
Or will we also see the relevant government departments, which are funded by taxpayers, being made accountable to the public?
Where are the voices of those who were entrusted to watch over, check and implement safety standards commensurate with our national penchant to attain developed nation status?
Or shall we forget this entire episode as quickly as possible and declare it as an isolated incident, one that should not cause panic?
If we do not ask these questions and more and demand acceptable answers, let us then prepare for more crises affecting many more lives in the near future.