Johor Baru: One Singaporean and two Malaysians have been charged in connection with the illegal dumping of chemicals on March 7 into Sungai Kim Kim at Pasir Gudang, which affected almost 6,000 children and adults.
It also caused the closure of all 111 schools in the area, which will not be opening again until after March 31.
The three individuals apprehended are Singaporean Wang Jin Chao, 34, and Malaysian Yap Yoke Liang, 36, who are the directors of a company that processes used tires, as well as N. Maridass, 35, a truck driver.
The charge sheet indicates that Mr Maridass has been accused of illegally dumping the chemicals into the Sungai Kim Kim on March 7. Mr Yap and Mr Wang are accused of conspiring with Mr Maridass.
They have all been accused of dumping chemicals in the river unlawfully, and they have all pleaded not guilty to the charge when they appeared before Judge Hakim Jailani Rahman.
This is just the first of the charges, with more expected.
The three men were read the charges in the Sessions Court in Johor Bahru under Section 34B(1)(a) of the Environment Quality Act 1974.
Messrs Yap and Wang were also charged under Section 42 of the same Act and will be sentenced under Section 34B(4) of the Act.
Should the men be convicted, they could be fined as much as RM 500,000 (S$ 166,000) and face a five-year jail sentence.
The judge imposed a bail of RM 100,000 (S$ 33,000) on Maridass and RM 250,000 (S$ 83,000) on Yap in one surety each.
Mr Yap was also told by the judge that he needs to surrender his passport.
According to Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd, the chief of police in Johor, there is another Singaporean whom the police are looking for in connection to the illegal dumping. “We are tracking down the man and will be conducting further investigations in this case.”
The other Singaporean national the police are looking for is Sim Wei Dee, age 49, who is also a director of the company that processes used tires.
Bernama reports that according to the Johor police chief, they are “awaiting assistance from our counterparts in Singapore to arrest him.”
For its part, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on March 24, Sunday, that they are in communication with the Royal Malaysia Police and that they are waiting for them to issue an official request for help.
The SPF said, “The Singapore Police Force is in touch with the Royal Malaysia Police, and are awaiting the latter’s official request for assistance. We are unable to comment further as investigations by the Malaysian authorities are ongoing.”
The Johor police chief also said that out of the eleven people who have been detained in connection with the illegal dumping, 7 have already been released when it was shown through an investigation that they had no connection to the case.
Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd asked the public to exercise patience while the police endeavor to find those responsible for the illegal dumping. He appealed especially to those who commented online.
“The most important thing is we have managed to apprehend the three main suspects in this case. This shows there has been a development in the case and we hope that the people will give us room to conduct our investigation.
The police cannot just arrest a person without proper conduct, investigation, and evidence.
Many netizens claimed that the police were just putting on a show regarding the case.
We work conscientiously and do the best we can.
We do not simply arrest anyone, we only do it based on facts, and when we make the arrests, we also make sure that our case is air-tight, only then will we charge them in court.
So, I urge netizens not to hurt the feelings of my officers and personnel, who have been working hard to rectify the situation for the well-being of the people of Johor,” he added.
Read related: 9 arrested in connection with Pasir Gudang toxic dumping
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