CM raps Gerakan over less plastic bag campaign

By Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: The New Year has kicked off in Penang with DAP going at the throat of Gerakan over the issue of reducing reliance on non-biodegradable plastic bags.

The DAP-led state government is going big on the environment with its “less plastic bags” campaign.

It has instructed that all hypermarkets, supermarkets and fast-food outlets would no longer dispense free plastic bags to consumers on a daily basis, effective Jan 1, 2011.

The ruling covers other enterprises keen to join in the campaign and todate, several bakeries, hospitals as well as restaurants and gasoline outlets have decided to follow suit.

However, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng questioned Gerakan’s silence on the matter, claiming remarks by its state chief Dr Teng Hock Nan gave the impression it was against the campaign.

Lim said that the party seems to be subtly supporting the Malaysian Plastic Manufacturers Association which is naturally against the move by the Penang government.

Lim said environmental protection was vital as mother earth has suffered too long from tonnes of plastic bags clogging the drainage, rivers, seas and landfills.

He accused Gerakan of dragging its feet over the matter when it was in government here and for the past 20 years, no concrete action was taken to preserve the environment.

Wet market traders, petty traders and hawkers have, however, been given an exemption from the “less-plastic bag campaign”.

Teng, in response to Lim’s criticisms, said environmental protection was an issue which should not be politicised in Malaysia.

“Gerakan would support the state on all matters related to preserving the environment. However, Lim should not paint Gerakan as a villain and to politicise the issue,” said Teng.

Legislation  not clear

Teng said that Lim was inconsistent with the stand on the campaign as earlier, he had called for an outright ban on all plastic bags.

“Then Lim confined it to hypermarkets and supermarkets for three days in a week. Now, it is lesser use of plastic bags daily. It is vague as the legislation to enforce it is not clear.

“Why single out hypermarkets or supermarkets? Why is it not extended to others who use plastic bags frequently? What happens if one hypermarket turns rogue and refuses to obey? asked Teng.

He said that directing such business enterprises to impose a 20-sen per plastic bag ruling on consumers who require the bags, is also unfair. “There is no transparency.”

He also asked who would benefit from imposing the 20-sen per bag rule on consumers.

Teng said the campaign was laudable but the implementation was bad, adding that it indicated DAP lacked experience in governance.

According to Teng, Australia and New Zealand, strong exponents of environmental preservation, do not ban plastic bags but rather encourages reusing them.

He also accused DAP of hijacking the concept of 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) on managing the use of plastic bags.