PEOPLE from all walks of life were united in a show of commitment towards conserving biodiversity and tackling climate change in several Earth Hour 2019 events across Penang.
At Gurney Paragon Mall, several hundreds of people turned up for a Zumba and Night Yoga session themed ‘Connect to Earth’.
After the countdown to 8.30pm, most of the mall’s non-essential lighting was turned off, plunging the Festive Square and St. Jo’s building into darkness.
That was the cue for participants, all set on Yoga mats, to begin their hour-long session. Experienced instructors led them through pose after pose.
Homegrown dance group Euphoria also performed a number celebrating the beauty of Earth through graceful body movements and a shower of rose petals.
The event on Saturday was jointly organised by the mall, WWF-Malaysia, Penang government and Penang Island City Council.
WWF-Malaysia conservation director Dr Henry Chan said Earth Hour is a significant global movement that celebrates the beautiful planet and its biodiversity.
Last year, it saw the participation of 188 countries and territories, where more than 17,900 landmarks and monuments switched off their lights.
“The symbolic act shows a united voice of millions of supporters who are aware that climate change is real, and that it is intricately connected to our lives.
“Tonight shows that Penangites care about Earth and are willing to make changes to reduce the impact our lifestyles have made, specifically to Malaysian biodiversity and nature,” Dr Chan said.
He highlighted the Ulu Muda Forest as one area that needs safeguarding. Spanning over 160,000ha in Kedah, it comprises seven forest reserves and is a crucial water catchment for the northern states.
“About 80% of Penang’s water supply comes from Sungai Muda. The area is also a biodiversity hotspot, being home to at least 112 species of mammals.
“To protect it, WWF is advocating for it to be reclassified as a water catchment forest, as well as being established as a state park. This would ensure the conservation of its biodiversity and vital ecosystem services,” he added.
State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the event complemented the state’s vision of becoming the greenest in Malaysia.
“To achieve that, we must be ready to make changes to our everyday habits and lifestyle choices. It’s a battle to save the planet and we need everyone involved.
“Destroying biodiversity will have an effect on food security, which in turn increases cost of living,” Phee said.
Hunza Group executive director Khor Tze Ming later handed over a RM12,590 donation to fund WWF-Malaysia’s conservation work.
Khor said the sum was raised through registrations for the Zumba and Night Yoga event, as well as from a teddy bear adoption campaign.
“As a mall, we want to lead the way in promoting sustainability and raising awareness to spur people from all walks of life to start to act now,” Khor added.
Meanwhile, event partners Samsonite and Celcom also chipped in with donations of RM10,000 each.
At Lexis Suites Penang in Teluk Kumbar, dozens of guests enjoyed being bathed in the subtle warm glow of candlelight during the Earth Hour Celebration.
Many had candles in hand as they swayed gently to tunes such as ‘Colours of the Wind’ from Filipino band Muzique Duo.
Among those present were Penangites Yap Eunie, 35, and Billy Chee, 40. They found it one of the most meaningful family vacations.
“It is a joyful experience, as it allows us to contribute by teaching our daughter about nature conservation,” Chee said, referring to eight-year-old Erlina.
Lexis Suites Penang general manager Ben Ho said they were blessed to be part of the global sustainability movement.
At the end of the celebration, hotel staff also presented guests with souvenirs like key chains, fridge magnets and foil magnets.