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SUHAKAM calls for stronger protections against water pollution

Graphic: The sun sets over the Selangor River, Malaysia

The recurring problem of water pollution shows there are critical gaps in existing laws that must be addressed.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) calls for effective enforcement of the laws, including stiffer penalties for perpetrators of water pollution, in order to protect the people's right to clean water.

The recurrent water pollution over the years has led to frequent disruption of water supply. The recent water pollution in the Selangor River has caused disrupted access to water for people in 1,292 areas in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

This has posed various challenges to the people in the country in gaining access to clean water especially for those who cannot afford to buy bottled water while waiting for the water supply to be restored.

Vulnerable groups, including older persons and pregnant women, may also face difficulties in accessing water supply distributed via the water tank trucks, especially those who live in flats without elevators.

SUHAKAM notes that the Selangor State Government has taken action against the alleged factory responsible for the recent water pollution in the Selangor River.

However, SUHAKAM is also concerned that the laws, namely the Water Services Industry Act 2006 and the Environmental Quality Act 1974, have not been successfully enforced to protect public health and the environment.

The recurring water pollution shows that critical gaps in these laws remain to be addressed.

In 2015, all Member States of the United Nations including Malaysia have adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which ultimately aims to improve the lives and prospects of everyone around the world.

Goal 6 of the SDGs is to ensure clean water and sanitation for all. In this regard, SUHAKAM also stresses that business entities are also responsible to respect and protect human rights in the conduct of their activities.

Lastly, SUHAKAM calls on the Government to realize its commitment to ensure access to clean water for its people through effective enforcement of the existing laws and at the same time, review of the laws and policies in order to allow for stern actions against the perpetrators of water pollution.

Date: 6 September 2020


Image credits

  1. The sun sets over the Selangor River, Malaysia - Gido, Flickr CC