'Johor govt welcomes Taiwan to dump factory'

HarakahDaily 18 May 2011

JOHOR BHARU, May 18: Bakri member of parliament has rapped the Johor state government for its acceptance of a Taiwan-based petrochemical company previously rejected in its home turf over environmental concerns.

NOT IN TAIWAN .... Young Taiwanese protesters rail against the development of the 2,773-hectare petrochemical project by Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co on April 20.

"The question is whether the Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (PEIA) methodology of our country has lower standards than Taiwan's to the extent that our authorities can accept the project with open arms,” said Er Teck Hua.

Er said that the Taiwanese media had reported that Kuo Kuang Petrochemical would build a factory in Johor following Taiwan president Ma Ying Jeou's refusal to allow it build such a factory there following fears of environmental pollution.

“Before we take a decision whether to support or oppose the investment from Kuo Kuang Petrochemical, we must raise the question on why the Taiwan government itself rejected the plan to build the petrochemical factory in their own soil?" stated Er.

He said a petrochemical factory was known to release dangerous toxics such as dioxin, sulfide and other chemical toxics which can harm the environment and the human’s health.

"Petrochemical industry involves a lot of energy resources, water and the release of nitrogen dioxide which is very high in content,” he added.

Referring to a study by Professor Zhuang Bing Jie from the Environment Engineering Department of National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan, Er said it revealed that the risk of cancer had shot up due to petrochemical plants.

“His research revealed that about 339 to 565 people have died from heart problems, lung cancer and citing an increase in repository diseases,” he said.

Er (left) pointed out that Taiwan's media reported that the Malaysian government was "very keen" to take on the rejected project.

He said a report had quoted International Trade and Industry deputy minister Mukhriz Mahathir as welcoming Kuo Kuang to invest in the country to build oil refineries and naphtha cracking.

“He also said that the (Malaysian) government was ready to offer a conducive environment and fulfil the requirement for the petrochemical industry,” Er said.

He said Pasir Gudang and Pontian local councils had reportedly approved the project despite having no formal application, as claimed by International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed.

According to Er, Taiwan premier Wu Den Yih had on April 23 said he did not rule out the possibility for the industry to be moved to Malaysia.

While Er said petrochemical industry would bring profit, technology transfer and job opportunities, he warned that Malaysia might need to pay the cost of environmental destruction and the health hazards on its citizens.

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