KUCHING: Local authorities here appear to have different views on the decision to fully enforce the ban on the use of plastic straws and polystyrene at markets and hawker centres effective July 1.
The Kuching Kuching South City Council (MBKS) has warned that hawker centres under its jurisdiction still found serving drinks using plastic straws after the deadline will have their licences to be revoked after the fourth offence.
The news evoked different response from Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang and Kota Samarahan City Council (MPKS) chairman Datuk Peter Minos.
Will both these councils emulate MBKS? New Sarawak Tribune interviewed both chairmen this week for their views.
Minos said he never liked the idea of eateries and hawker stalls using plastic straws in Kota Samarahan.
“Actually, I don’t like people using plastic of any kind, including plastic straws because plastic is not good for the environment.
“So it is a matter of time MPKS will emulate MBKS. The Kuching city council is doing it right, a good move and wise of them to impose the ban,” he said.
Lo, on the other hand – while stressing that MPP discouraged the use of plastics and polystyrene off all sorts, and encouraged citizens to recycle plastic bags – said his council would not enforce a total ban on plastic straws.
“We are not enforcing a total ban on plastic straws, however, if that’s the direction of our relevant ministry for all the 23 councils throughout Sarawak, then yes, all of us will have to follow suit,” he said.
Minos also thought that it was good if plastic straws were banned and not used by hawker stalls or any eateries, saying when the relevant ministries fully implemented the anti-plastic policy, MPKS would follow the rules.
“That can be done easily, it is only a question of when to enforce the rules and the fine quantum on those transgressing,” he said.
He, however, said that it was up to the Ministry of Public Health, Housing and Local Government to impose the anti-plastic straw policy and direct all local councils to enforce it.
Lo explained the practicality of the ban had to be considered, considering that Sarawak was vast and those in the interior couldn’t be expected to use non-plastic straws.
“Padawan Municipal Council takes care of the rural and city areas, and we can’t impose the ban across the board.
“However, through education, I am beginning to see non-plastic straws being used in a number of coffee shops in not just areas under MPP but also major towns and cities throughout Sarawak,” he added.
Asked if MPKS would be much stricter in its enforcement, Minos said “we would sit down with our corporate social responsibility (CSR) team and the staff and. Discuss how to go about with enforcing the ban”.
“After that, we will refer to the ministry, and if everything goes well, we will then spring into action,” he said.
Lo, meanwhile, was concerned whether the people were ready for the ban across the board.
“If and when the community is ready, all the councils throughout Sarawak can just impose the ban. There is no necessity to differentiate between who should and who shouldn’t enforce the ban.
“We are all Sarawakians, and are equally intelligent enough to know that the improper disposal of plastic items is detrimental to our environment and mother nature as a whole,” said Lo.