Minister Yeo Bee Yin has been told to resign after it was alleged that her husband's company is among those responsible for forest fires in Indonesia
Former Pulau Betong assemblyperson Muhammad Farid Saad and MCA Youth chief Nicole Wong have called for Yeo to step down, alleging that she might lead with favouritism.
Farid said Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change's (MESTECC) portfolio should be left to someone who is not affiliated with the corporate world, reported Malaysiakini.
"Her close affiliation with the IOI Group will always make citizens, the business sector, and investors question her integrity in decision-making, as her decisions as a minister will always be shrouded with suspicions," said the former BN assemblyperson.
"We fear that she might not be advising the Cabinet correctly due to alleged favouritism," he added.
According to The Star, the above comment was also echoed by Wong.
Yeo is married to Lee Yeow Seng, the chief executive officer of IOI Properties Group Bhd
A separate company, IOI Corporation, through its subsidiary, was alleged to have been one of a few Malaysian companies linked to the recent haze.
Last week, Indonesia alleged that four Malaysian conglomerates were involved in the forest fires blazing in Indonesia, reported Malay Mail.
The companies are:
- Sukses Karya Sawit (PT SKS), a subsidiary of IOI Corporation,
- Sime Indo Agro (PT SIA), a subsidiary of Sime Darby Plantation Bhd,
- PT Rafi Kamajaya Abadi (PTRKA), a subsidiary of TDM Bhd, and
- P.T. Adei Plantation and Industry (P.T. Adei), a subsidiary of Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd.
In response, an unfazed Yeo urged the opposition to give constructive suggestions instead
Yeo said the matter should be handled by the Indonesian government and the necessary action against the culprits will be from them, The Star reported.
"I hope that instead of criticising, the opposition can give constructive ideas to resolve similar issues in the future," Yeo retaliated.
"If there are constructive ideas, we will accept and execute them."
Yeo is currently pushing a new law that would allow Malaysian courts to prosecute Malaysians responsible for forest fires overseas
Walking her talk, Yeo is currently preparing the policy of the new Cross-Border Pollution Act and will bring it to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) after getting the Cabinet's approval.
While a new law might take months or even years to materialise, her ministry has informed the AGC about its urgency.
Two out of the four Malaysian companies have admitted to the presence of forest fires on their land
According to theSundaily and Malay Mail, 2.8 hectares of PT Adei's land was confirmed as a hotspot area along with 1,201 hectares of PTRKA's land.
Both companies have claimed that steps were taken to prevent the fires with dedicated firefighting teams. Now, they will give their full cooperation to the Indonesian authorities in the investigation.
As for IOI Corporation and Sime Darby Plantation, they had refuted the claim that their land had been sealed off by the local authorities in the aftermath of the haze, reported Malaysiakini.
"Sime Darby Plantation would like to further clarify that the recent fire incident was outside of the operational area of PT SIA and in fact it is located in lands occupied by local communities,” the company said in a statement, as quoted by The Edge Markets.
Meanwhile, environment group Greenpeace highlighted that Genting Plantations Bhd is also a top contributor of haze
Greenpeace reported that Genting Group, via their subsidiary PT Globalindo Agung Lestari, is one of 10 other companies responsible for the largest area of burnt land in Indonesia between 2015 and 2018.
The report published yesterday, 24 September, claimed that none of these companies has had their palm oil licences revoked by the local government, nor have they received any sanctions despite repeated fires throughout the years.
Thousands of Chinese tourists have cancelled their holidays in Malaysia, though the monsoon season is expected to clear the weather: