Malaysia's task force to prevent environmental crimes to start work as soon as next month

Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the task force will involve the Department of Environment, Water Services Commission, Biosafety Department and the police.
Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the task force will involve the Department of Environment, Water Services Commission, Biosafety Department and the police.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A special Malaysian task force to prevent environmental crimes is being set up as early as next month to deal with polluters quickly, Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said on Monday (Sept 14).

The unit's formation followed the pollution of a river early this month that led to a four-day shutdown of water treatment plants in Selangor, angering millions of people in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor state.

Malaysia is also facing a problem with tonnes of plastic waste imported illegally, with dozens of containers of the garbage stuck at its ports.

Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim said the task force will involve the Department of Environment, Water Services Commission, Biosafety Department and the police.

"The setting up of the task force will further boost enforcement against polluters," he told a news conference on Monday.

"This, along with amendments to the Environment Quality Act, will ensure that those who commit crime against the environment will pay dearly."

He said the ministry will hold discussions with the Public Service Department and the Finance Ministry on staff and allocation.

"We have also decided to allow the police to act immediately against environmental criminals by giving them the authority to enforce the Environment Quality Act and Water Services Industry Act," he added.

Malaysian police currently have the power to use the Biosafety Act to move against polluters.

Meanwhile, the minister said police last week submitted the investigation papers on the recent Sungai Gong pollution incident to the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC).

Mr Tuan Ibrahim said action could be taken under the environment Act against a company that caused pollution and its management.

"We can also charge and take action against the company director, chief executive officer, manager or other officers for the crime," he said.

The police had remanded at least five people as part of investigations into the pollution after a solvent dumped into the river caused the water-supply disruption.