NIOSH calls for stiffer punishment for environmental offenders

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 (NNN-BERNAMA) — The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health  (NIOSH) today called for the imposition of the stiffer jail sentence on individuals or companies involved in activities detrimental to the environment.

NIOSH chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the jail sentence is necessary as a deterrent.

“In very serious cases, a fine alone is insufficient. If possible, we want the culprits to be jailed to send a message to those involved in illegal activities which jeopardise the health of the people. They must be jailed,” he said in a special interview with Bernama that was also carried by Bernama News Channel (Astro 502) and Bernama Radio.

Citing the example of the severe toxic pollution of Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor, earlier this year, Lee said the companies involved can pay the fine but, if a jail sentence is imposed, they will be more responsible and refrain from discarding toxic waste illegally into waterways.

Referring to a statement by environmental activist Gurmit Singh, he said there are about 40 laws, by-laws and acts related to the environment in the country but there is weakness in the enforcement, with only one offender having been jailed under the Environmental Quality Act 1974.