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NGOs against turning state wireless
Malaysia Created: 21 Nov 2008
The state government’s plan to make Penang a ‘wireless’ state in the next two years is drawing opposition from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The Penang Wireless Campaign Group and Penang Telco Towers Campaign Alliances submitted a memorandum to the state government to oppose its wireless@PENANG initiative on Tuesday, calling for the project to be scrutinized again for health risks that might be caused by long-term exposure to electromagnetic transmission of the WiFi and WiMAX services.

Penang Wanita MCA chief Tan Cheng Liang, who also received a copy of the memorandum from the two NGOs, urged the state government to review the project and study research results and other scientific evidence on exposure to electromagnetic transmission before it allowed access points to be installed state wide.

“For WiFi, the exposure to the transmission can be up to a 300m radius from a single access point, while for WiMAX, it is about 50km.

“This is not like using mobile phones that you can put away or turn off when not in use. People will be exposed to the transmissions over long hours continuously,” she said during a press conference.

Tan said the NGOs were concerned about access points being installed in libraries, schools and public places with growing children, pregnant women and elderly citizens.

“The exposure to the transmission can affect the children’s immune systems. It may also cause cancer or other illnesses.

“The wireless plan should be scrapped if it is proven to cause health adversities,” she said.

Tan also said being a CAT (Competency, Accountability and Transparency) state government, it was responsible for ensuring that the project and its possible effects were well studied and all necessary health measures undertaken.

“With the state calling for transparency, we also hope it would live up to its own words in disclosing the contracts and provisions for owners of premises who want to install WiFi and WiMAX access points,” she added.

On Tuesday, state Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state government would not hesitate to call off its Wireless@Penang project if there were substantial claims to show that there were health risks.
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Source: Malaysia Star, 20 Nov 2008

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