Sungai Gong pollution: Four brothers among five released on RM400,000 bail each

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SHAH ALAM (Sept 22): Four board members and a manager of a heavy machinery repair company charged in connection with the dumping of hazardous materials into Sungai Gong, Rawang, were released on RM400,000 bail each with one surety by the High Court here today.

Judicial Commissioner Datuk Norsharidah Awang made the decision after allowing the review application of the four board members who are also siblings - Yip Kok Wai, 53; Yip Kok Mun, 58; Yip Kok Kuin, 50 and Yip Kok Wong, 60; as well as the workshop manager, Ho Voon Leong, 59, against the Sessions Court’s decision not to allow them bail.

She also ordered the five men to hand over their passports to the court and warned that if they committed any offence during the bail period, the court would withdraw the bail.

In her judgment, Norsharidah said she took into account factors such as the seriousness of the offence and the health factors of the accused as well as the dangers that await if the offence is repeated.

“This is a serious case that has received a lot of attention, therefore the court ordered the accused to be released on RM400,000 bail each with one surety, besides the additional condition that all the accused have to surrender their passports to the court, and if any offence is committed during the bail period, the court will withdraw the bail,” she said.

On Sept 17, the accused had filed an application to review the decision made by Selayang Sessions Court Judge, Syafeera Mohd Said.

Two days earlier, they had pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court to two charges read against them.

On the first count, the five were charged with committing mischief by causing hazardous waste to flow from their workshop, Yip Chee Seng & Sons Sdn Bhd into Sungai Gong knowing that it would cause a diminution of water supply for human consumption.

They allegedly committing the offence at the workshop premises in Kampung Sungai Dua, Rawang near here between Sept 2 and 3. The offence under Section 430 of the Penal Code carries a jail term of between five and 30 years or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

According to the second charge, they were jointly accused of releasing waste containing harmful substances from the same workshop into a waterway which would flow into the same river without a license, at the same place and time.

On the second count, they were accused of discharging hazardous waste from the same workshop which streamed down into Sungai Gong without a licence, at the same place and time.

For the offence, they were charged under Section 25 (1) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 which provides a maximum fine of RM100,000, or imprisonment for up to five years, or both, if found guilty.

Earlier, lawyer Datuk Akberdin Abdul Kader, who represented all the accused argued that his clients should be allowed bail because there is no evidence or proof that they would flee or harass the witnesses.

“The respondent (prosecution) also raised an old case involving the Yip Chee Seng company which was compounded by the Department of Environment, but we argued that the issue should not be raised at this stage. Furthermore, the old case involved a non-accused company, it is a completely a different legal entity, nothing to do with the accused.

“We also ask the court to take into account the safety of the accused, all of them, aged 50 and above,  were detained at Bentong Prison, when there were about 80 prisoners placed in quarantine due to COVID-19, besides the situation in each cell where there were between 20 and 30 people, there is no physical distancing,” he said, adding that all the accused also had health problems that required them to depend solely on treatment and medication.

Akberdin said although the offence under Section 430 of the Penal Code was non-bailable, the court had the discretion to grant it and they applied for a reasonable bail amount apart from each accused being willing to pay bail of RM100,000.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Asnawi Abu Hanipah argued that although the court had the discretion to allow the accused bail, the court should examine the seriousness of the case which had affected 1.2 million water account holders.

The media before this had reported that due to oil pollution from the factory on Sept 3, operations at four Sungai Selangor Water Treatment Plants Phases 1, 2, 3 and Rantau Panjang were suspended, causing 1,292 areas in seven regions around the Klang Valley to experience unscheduled water supply disruption.