Published: Fri, 23 Mar 2012
SHAH ALAM: State executive councillor Elizabeth Wong said Selangor welcomes the idea that specialised environmental courts may soon be introduced in the country.
“The state is in support of an environmental court in its bid to bring to trial and convict polluters in Selangor,” Wong (Bukit Lanjan-PKR), who holds the environmental portfolio, told the state assembly on Tuesday.
Wong said the courts were currently ill equipped to hear pollution cases, as it took some four to five years to conclude a hearing and pass a decision.
She was responding to a supplementary question by Lee Kim Sin (Kajang-PKR) on the lack of expertise by the current courts to hear pollution cases.
She said this in reference to a recent report quoting Chief Justice Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria that environmental courts may soon be introduced in the country, at the opening of the 2012 Legal Year and Conference of Judges in Putrajaya in January.
Earlier, Wong responded to Datuk Raja Ideris Raja Ahmad (Sungai Air Tawar–BN) on the number of pollution cases brought to court by the state’s Department of Environment (DOE).
She said 2011 saw some 194 cases brought for hearing, with 95 successful convictions.
Another 42 cases resulted in acquittals and 57 cases were discharged not amounting to an acquittal.
She said the DOE had slapped 194 offenders with fines totaling some RM1.12m for various water, air pollution and open burning offences.
Wong added that there were reports of pollution in the state that were filed under No Further Action (NFA) by the DOE due to lack of evidence or because witnesses or suspects could not be located.
She said local governments had the power to shut down polluting factories and the DOE would provide technical assistance in determining the severity of the offences.
Wong told the state assembly that the environmental agency could only take action against illegal dump sites if the premises emitted toxic gases, as provided under the Environment Quality Act 1974, adding that illegal dumping grounds were under the jurisdiction of local governments but the DOE would also assist in the cases.