No one is applauding promise of ‘free plastic bags’ in Malaysia

The right-wing Barisan Nasional party in Malaysia has promised to bring back free plastic bags if it should recapture Selangor in the upcoming 14th general election.

According to Malaysiakini, Selangor BN information chief Mohamed Satim Diman said at a dialogue on February 18: “This is part of the BN manifesto, if BN gets back the Selangor government, no more payments for plastic bags. Do you want this?”

The ruling federal coalition will also cease the practice of making shoppers pay 20 sen (US$0.05) if they want plastic bags when buying groceries.

Satim added that the Selangor government would set up a production factory to ensure free usage.

However, the proposal has failed to entice and has generated considerable backlash concerning efforts to protect the environment.

According to Free Malaysia Today, state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh said the mere suggestion to give free plastic bags when out shopping was against every effort to cut down the use of plastic bags in the country.

“It is offensive to mankind and mother nature. Here, we are trying hard to cut down on the use of plastic bags in our country and these people want to reverse it.”

Previous notable endeavours to curb the problem include the Penang State government’s launch of the “No Free Plastic Bag” campaign in July 2009 and “Everyday is No Free Plastic Bags Day” campaign in Jan 2011.

A complete ban on plastic bags took effect in 2011. The policy covers Malaysia’s hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, petrol stations and pharmacies.

The campaigns have proven to be effective as most shoppers in Penang carry their own bags and trolleys, as a result of an increased consciousness about the environment.

“It is funny the Selangor leaders want to give away free plastic bags when Prime Minister Najib Razak told a UN climate change summit in Copenhagen in 2009 that the country aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent, come 2020,” Phee added.