PASIR GUDANG: A group of 160 victims of the Sungai Kim Kim pollution will take the Johor chief minister and the state government to court to seek monetary compensation for damages caused by the illegal dumping of toxic chemicals in March.
Their counsel, Mr Kamarudin Ahmad, said on Sunday (Jul 7) that among others, they are seeking RM5 million (US$1.2 million) for Irfan Wafiy Idham Wazir, 12, who now suffers from myokymia.
“The lawsuit will be filed on behalf of 160 people, including 34 students who fell ill and 120 fishermen from Pasir Gudang, whose livelihood were badly affected by the pollution,” he was quoted as saying by the Star.
Irfan Wafiy was among hundreds of students who suffered breathing difficulties during the pollution in March. Three men - a Singaporean and two Malaysians - have been charged in court for disposing chemicals into the river.
The lawyer said the 12-year-old boy has been diagnosed with myokymia, a movement disorder that causes involuntary trembling or muscle spasms in parts of the body.
While his parents blamed his condition on the poisonous gases, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said on Saturday it has yet to be determined if his illness is related to the pollution.
Mr Kamarudin said a specialist who treated Irfan Wafiy has prepared electromyography reports and media reports to prove that the boy has myokymia.
The other parties to be named in the suit include the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, the state health committee chairman, the Department of Environment, the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council and factories, he added.
“We are also seeking special damages between RM4,000 and RM5,000 for every plaintiff as well as general damages, the amount of which would be determined by the court if necessary,” he said, according to the New Straits Times.
The group, which calls themselves the Sungai Kim Kim Toxic Gas Victims and Pollution Action Committee, will file the case at the Johor Bahru High Court on Jul 17.
CAUSE OF CURRENT POLLUTION STILL UNKNOWN
Meanwhile, uncertainties over another bout of illnesses possibly caused by pollution are now clouding Pasir Gudang, an industrial town with about 250 chemical factories.
Hundreds of students reportedly experienced breathing difficulties and nausea since Jun 20, but authorities have yet to ascertain the cause.
The recurring cases of students falling sick, even after schools were closed from Jun 25 to Jun 27, have prompted the authorities to monitor the air quality closely and carry out enforcement action against the factories.
Ms Yeo Bee Yin, the federal minister in-charge of environment said illegal factories in Pasir Gudang would be shut down, while Johor Chief Minister Dr Sahruddin Jamal said on Sunday the government would look into relocating high-risk chemical factories.