The recent chemical pollution that struck Pasir Gudang had become one of Malaysia’s serious environmental issue.
As reported by the media, the ordeal began on March 7 when over 1,400 students from two schools were evacuated. Victims were reported to have experience respiratory problems and vomiting, with some even fainting.
Beside making headlines in the mainstream media, the issue was also heavily debated in the social media with people using the hashtag, #PrayForPasingGudang, on Twitter. Subsequently, the issue became worse a few days later which ultimately led to the shut down of all the 111 schools at Pasir Gudang district. The call was made by Education Minister Maszlee Malik.
Besides Maszlee, the Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin is one of most involved politicians in the case of Pasir Gudang. In fact, the Bakri MP ranks second with 309 statements in the past month; falling not far behind the state executive councilor of health, environment and agriculture Sahruddin Jamal.
While we see Johor state politicians taking up responsibility on tackling the crisis, the Menteri Besar of Johor Osman Sapian appearing relatively ‘quiet’ seems a bit far-fetched. Consequently, his lack of involvement in the issue caused him to receive backlash from various parties including former premier, Najib Razak who actually went down to Pasir Gudang.
On March 17, the Johor Menteri Besar finally broke his silence on his absence during the crisis. He defended that the working trip was pre-planned to promote the state’s tourism industry and that he had been following the issue oversea while receiving updates every two hours.
Nevertheless, Osman Sapian’s low involvement in the crisis is a bad image on him and might potentially led the people of Johor to lose confidence towards a leader they have entrusted.