An NGO has given Environment Minister G Palanivel a 48-hour ultimatum to name the Malaysian companies involved in the ongoing haze crisis, or it will take the government to court for negligence.

“We demand answers from Palanivel and give us the names of Malaysian companies involved in open burning in Sumatra.

ally harzan hashim“We want him to be responsible on the safety, health and environment of Malaysians today,” said Memacu Arus Perjuangan (MAP) deputy president Ally Harzan Hashim (left) when met by Malaysiakini today.

The group’s lawyer Ahmad Jufliz Faiza said that if the minister fails, the group intends to bring the government to court for negligence by failing its duty of care to Malaysian citizens.

The clock for Palanivel starts at 4pm today, when the interview was held.

MAP also wants Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam to disclose health-related statistics regarding the haze, such as the number of persons visiting hospitals for breathing difficulties, in order to raise awareness on the issue.

Ally Harzan claims that he has surveyed hospitals in Kajang and found that 300 children and 200 senior citizens had sought treatments for respiratory illnesses.

They also complained about government inaction over the haze and an apparent short-supply of N95 respirators.

While many Malaysians are seen wearing surgical masks on the streets, it offers negligible protection against fine particles whereas a well-fitted N95 respirator can filter out even finer particles.

Indonesian NGOs helping

Another of MAP’s lawyers, Patrick Dass, questioned whether the government had vested interests in the companies involved, judging from its inaction although the haze has been a recurring problem for about 15 years.

The ongoing haze, which has resulted in a state of emergency being declared in parts of Johor, has been blamed on palm oil companies practising slash-and-burn tactics to clear the forests in Sumatra. Some of these companies are believed to be Malaysian, or owned by Malaysians.

ahmad jufliz faizaAlly Harzan said MAP has several suspects, and is working with Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) and environmental NGOs in Singapore and Indonesia for confirmation on which companies are involved.

“We know the names of the companies, but we have to confirm this. That is why we request the government through the minister to give us the names, while we are also liaising with other NGOs to get their names,” said Ahmad Jufliz (right).

The NGOs would also initiate legal action against the companies responsible for the haze in their home countries if necessary, he said.

Backing their call for action to tackle the haze, PRM president Rohana Ariffin said, “Every year it has been promised that this thing will be resolved, but I think it has to be stopped now.”- malaysiakini