Malaysia’s Ministry of Education (MOE) has instructed all 475 schools in Pasir Gudang to close for three days starting today (25 Jun) after residents reported experiencing vomiting and difficulty in breathing as a result of the latest pollution incident in the Johorean town.
Johor’s education department director Azman Adnan said that the purpose behind ordering the three-day closure is to enable the authorities to trace the source of the pollution, Bernama reported.
Azman noted that the list of schools encompasses 11 primary and secondary schools, three institutions of higher education, 14 private and international schools, as well as 347 private kindergartens registered with the Department.
“All principals and headmasters have been told to inform their students, teachers, parents and staff about the closure.
“The department will continue to monitor and help schools to ensure the students well-being,” Azman said.
He added that the Department will “monitor the situation closely”.
The latest pollution incident in Pasir Gudang, which began last Thu, came around three months after the Kim Kim River incident, which resulted in over 4,000 people falling ill and the temporary closure of 111 schools in the area.
Four individuals, including two Singaporeans, were charged in the Sessions Court for their alleged involvement in the Kim Kim River case.
However, Malaysia’s Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin rejected the speculation that the latest pollution incident in Pasir Gudang is connected to the Kim Kim River incident.
Bernama quoted her as saying yesterday (24 Jun) that any toxic waste in the river has already been cleared and disposed of.
“As the hazardous materials have been exposed to wind and rain, the uncontrolled air borne substances may have spread and affected the people once again,” Zuraida told reporters.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) told The Straits Times yesterday in response to queries that it has been liaising with its counterparts in Johor, noting that the 24-hr Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) and the PM2.5 readings in Singapore have remained in the “good” and “normal” ranges since last Thu.
NEA added that the ambient levels of volatile organic compounds along the shores of northern Singapore have also remained low and are within safe levels.