PETALING JAYA: A collective of 17 conservation groups and personalities, including celebrity Maya Karin, has written to the Prime Minister, calling for stronger protection of the country’s environment and natural resources.
It includes, among others, World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia), Danau Girang Field Centre, Malaysian Nature Society, Water Watch Penang and the Society of Conservation Biology-Malaysia Chapter.
The letter dated May 24 was written in the wake of an online petition initiated by the group, which garnered over 28,000 signatures within 10 days after it was put up on May 13 on Change.org.
The petition called upon the Prime Minister and the new Pakatan Harapan Government to maintain and strengthen a dedicated environmental portfolio within the Cabinet.
So far, no dedicated ministry on the environment and natural resources has been announced by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who said he wished to have a leaner Cabinet.
The group also asked Dr Mahathir to choose a minister with “genuine interest in protecting the environment” to head the portfolio.
In the letter, the group said Malaysians were concerned about the declining state of the country’s natural environment, which included forests, highlands, coral reefs, rivers, mangroves, seagrass, ocean and all wildlife.
“This ecosystem provides valuable services such as clean water, fresh air, sources of protein, medicine, recreation and many more,” said the group, adding that it was crucial in supporting the people’s livelihood and general well-being.
While Malaysia is considered among the top 17 countries with a rich biodiversity and is well known for its natural beauty, the group said protecting and managing this was a “huge and challenging task”.
“Most developed countries have a dedicated ministry which is responsible for helping their countries achieve international commitments,” it said.