Living, vibrant natural forests will be part of a New Malaysia as political parties commit to implement an Inter Party Caucus to halt widespread deforestation in the country, at the launch, of the Eco-Manifesto yesterday in Subang Jaya.
Thirteen leaders from both Barisan National and Opposition Pakatan Rakyat pledged their support for the Eco-Manifesto to halt the rapid lose of Malaysian’s forest .The Manifesto is by a coalition of 23 NGOs, spearheaded by Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M).
TI-M had invited all political parties to endorse the Eco-Manifesto, but many had returned to their constituencies over the weekend.
In Malaysia, we have witnessed the growing awareness of environmental injustices since the 1970s. Environmental problems now impact on most Malaysians with different degrees of harm, depending on where you live and who you are.
“We need a New Malaysia, one that recognizes that environmental issues are not separate from questions of social justice.
We need a new citizenship whose intellectual fountain is based on ecological thought, that everything is inter-connected. A New Malaysia should be based on the idea of environmental citizenship, where the politics of obligation is taken seriously”, said Josie Fernandez, Secretary General of TI-M.
Present for the Barisan Nasional (BN) were PPP( Peoples Progressive Party) deputy secretary-general Datuk Simon Sabapathy, while MIC Hulu Selangor MP P. Kamalanathan was represented by his special officer S. Yogendran.
The Pakatan Rakyat bigwigs included Batu MP Tian Chua who represented Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Subang Jaya MP Sivarasa Rasiah, Ampang MP Zuraida Othman, Klang MP Charles Santiago, Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw, Senator Syed Shahrir Syed Mohamad, and representatives of Senator Ramakrishnan
PRM (Party Rakyat Malaysia) president Dr Rohana Ariffin and independent candidate for Kapar parliamentary constituency, Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz were also present to show their commitment to the Manifesto.
Datuk Simon and Mr Yugendran stated the government could have done more to address environmental concerns.
However, Sivarasa pointed out, change could not happen if only political leaders or individual lawmakers commit to push for environmental issues. “It is the political will on the part of the government of the day that makes the difference,” he said.
Malaysia Nature Society executive director Shah Redza Hussein said when people took to the streets for environmental issues, it proved that politicians should take people seriously about their concerns.
Jaringan Orang Asli Malaysia committee member Shafie Dris pleaded that dams not be built in forest areas where indigenous communities live.
Ismail Muhamad, Chairman of UMNO Tasik Chini branch called for redistribution of the wealth extracted from natural resources.
As a commitment to address the Eco-Emergency, the representatives of the political parties agreed to address five cores areas in the Manifesto:
a. Spirit of Sustainability. A spirit of sustainability where a sustainable non-sectarian mindset, framework and practice at all levels of personal, professional and national life.
b. Indigenous People. The rights of indigenous people and Orang Asal to their ancestral land is a pre existing right that cannot be extinguished and that must be recognized and access to natural resources guaranteed.
c. People Participation. In all matters relating to the natural forests, people should be actively involved in decision-making and change processes as a critical to operationalising the practice of democratic management of forests.
d. Global Conventions. Malaysia is a signatory to a number of global treaties and conventions that protect our forests. Among others, Malaysia is party and signatory to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Malaysia must adhere to these conventions.
e. Inter-Party Eco-Platform. An inter-party caucus to come together for our national, natural forests with a single non-sectarian voice. A platform will help build a national consensus for our forests and for democracy.
On behalf of TI-M and Coalition Partners