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Astro Awani | Transboundary Haze Act a missed opportunity for sustainable solutions?

Tuesday, 14 November 2023

Astro Awani interviewed Jia Yaw on Malaysia’s lack of concrete plans to draft the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act even though it has been under discussion for several years.

Recently, the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad told Parliament that the transboundary haze pollution law will not be tabled as it would be difficult to implement. Immediately after that, the Minister clarified that the government is not shutting the door on enacting such a law yet.

Against this confusion, Astro Awani reached out to Jia Yaw for an analysis of the potential of using domestic legislation to deal with transboundary haze.

In the interview, Jia Yaw explained how deciding not to have a Malaysian law on transboundary haze pollution would be a missed opportunity as the law could bring a more holistic approach in tackling this perennial problem.

Jia Yaw emphasised that the assumption that a haze pollution legislation only involves establishing criminal offences is too narrow and myopic. Instead, the new law should empower the Malaysian authorities to take a wide range of actions, across the civil and criminal justice systems. The forum for accountability should not only be the courts, but to take into account developments around rising ESG expectations in the private sector.

He spoke about how the law should include mandatory data disclosures and reporting from companies involved in sensitive or related industries. This would enable not just government authorities but a wider range of stakeholders (eg. Bursa Malaysia, financiers, investors, purchasers, civil society groups, certification bodies, etc.) to engage meaningfully with companies or hold companies accountable for their business practices. With better transparency and access to information, society will be able to better discern between businesses that actually create value and those that generate profits on paper while externalising significant costs of production onto the environment and local communities.

Watch the full interview here:

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