8 April 2021
Press statement by MCA Spokesperson Mike Chong Yew Chuan on the import of foreign plastic wastes
Malaysia’s finances not in dire straits that we cannot refuse refuse refused, thrashed and dumped from overseas to fill our coffers
Recently, the Minister of Housing and Local Government (KPKT), Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said that her Ministry will study and develop a system to classify the treatment of plastic wastes.
In the study, she said that Malaysia would only accept plastic wastes from more developed countries such as Europe, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
According to a report in The Star, Zuraida had stated that initially, the government had wanted to impose a fee of RM20 for every tonne of waste imported into Malaysia. The Minister also said that this is an industry which is beneficial as it could generate revenue for the country.
MCA disagrees with the statement by the YB Minister of Housing and we wish to state our objections against the imports of plastic wastes from abroad, and we believe that the situation in Malaysia is not at such a desperate level that till we need to accept foreign garbage to enhance our nation’s income.
Furthermore, is our country prepared to receive more plastic wastes into our country? Do we have a good plan and standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with the influx of plastic wastes that ensure that there will be no occurrences of environmental pollution?
Therefore, MCA disagrees with the proposal by the said Minister to develop the treatment of plastic wastes industry as we do not want Malaysia to become the “rubbish landfill” for trash from other countries!
Thus, importing plastic wastes from overseas is inappropriate, and the total fees that will be collected is insufficient in view of the risks that have to be borne by Malaysian citizens if environmental pollution befalls as a result of these garbage.
As we are aware, a portion of the plastic wastes which cannot be treated or recycled, will be discarded and burned in Malaysia, and the smoke from this burning process pollutes our country’s air, while garbage that are not burned will be dumped in a landfill.
Therefore, I urge KPKT to review the licences for importers of plastic wastes. Other advanced countries such as China, the United Kingdom, United States and Japan not only refuse to accept plastic wastes from other countries, but they send the rubbish to other countries. Due to this, many countries choose to dump this garbage in Malaysia. In my opinion, there is no reason for our country to accept this junk and it should not be considered as a profitable “foreign direct investment”.
I also wish to quote a report by Greenpeace. According to data by Greenpeace, on 16 February, the volume of trash produced by the United Kingdom in a single day is enough to fill 2.5 Olympic-size swimming pools.
In 2020, a total of 537,000 tonnes of wastes were exported to other countries, of which 64,000 tonnes or 12% of the total were sent to Malaysia.
The analysis by Greenpeace also revealed that the volume of foreign plastics wastes in Malaysia has increased from 40,007 tonnes to 65,316 tonnes today, of which 63% hailed from the UK.
The same report also stressed that since China prohibited plastic wastes imports in January 2018, a huge volume of rubbish has been sent to Malaysia which affected our country’s population as well as contaminated our rivers and seas.
This exposẻ by Greenpeace is indeed shocking. Therefore, it is MCA’s position that our country cannot become the “rubbish landfill” of other countries. Do not simply because the Government can collect fees that ultimately, the health and well-being of the rakyat are placed at stake. We have to what the "opportunity costs" are that we have to pay if we insist on developing this plastic waste treatment industry.
In this context, MCA also welcomes the statement by the Minister of Environment and Water (MEW), Dato’ Sri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man on 17 February where he announced that his Ministry had repatriated 254 containers containing 5,512 tonnes of plastic wastes to its country of origin. However, we are also of the view that the MEW should increase efforts in return these plastic wastes to the country of origin.
According to the latest statistics, a total of 71 APs have been approved for the importation of plastic wastes, an increase of 9 APs compared to 62 APs during the PH Government’s tenuer. MCA would like to emphasise that the Ministry of Housing and Local Government should reduce the imports of rubbish and treatment of plastic wastes, and not give out new APs anymore.
Instead, KPKT should focus on resolving the problem of wastes stockpiles in the country which still does not have a good solution plan.
Do not allow a situation whereby for the sake of profits in front of our eyes, the health and wellbeing of the rakyat are sacrificed.
With this, MCA proposes that the focus of waste processing operators in Malaysia should be given towards solving this country’s problems, instead of processing the refuse of other countries, and continue to meander as the "rubbish landfill" of the world.
Mike Chong Yew Chuan