PETALING JAYA: It's not right to move a government department in charge of conservation to a ministry in charge of extracting resources, say conservationists.
They say that moving the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia (DMPM) to the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry (MOA) will harm rather than protect the marine environment.
A source from the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry (KATS) confirmed that the move from that ministry to MOA had been proposed to the Cabinet.
But how can MOA, which oversees the Department of Fisheries, be in charge of marine park conservation as well, asked the source.
"One ministry can't be both the check and balance," the source told the Star Online, adding that the decision could still be reversed.
The Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister is Datuk Salahuddin Ayub.
Reefcheck Malaysia General Manager Julian Hyde said it is contradictory to place DMPM, a resource conservation agency, under a ministry dealing with utilisation and extraction of resources.
"The Ministry's goal is to maximise resource extraction, it seems to me that the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry's mindset is at odds with a resource conservation mindset," he said.
"There is a conflict there... The resource extraction mindset will overcome the resource conservation mindset," Hyde added.
Hyde said DMPM should instead be placed with a ministry that is mandated to protect the environment, namely (KATS) or the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (Mestecc).
DMPM was previously parked under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry during the previous administration.
According to the DMPM's website, its mission is to be a leader in conservation and management for sustainable marine park biodiversity in South-East Asia.
On the other hand, the MOA's website says its mission is to transform the agriculture sector for Malaysia to be a competitive global food exporter.
Reefcheck Malaysia has launched an online petition appealing for the government to reconsider the move.
"We believe it is in the best interests of Malaysia's coral reefs, and the communities that rely on them, that conservation of these important resources remain under the control of a ministry charged with resource conservation and not a ministry charged with resource utilisation," the petition read.The petition can be seen at this website: https://www.change.org/p/government-of-malaysia-keep-department-of-marine-parks-malaysia-under-a-resource-conservation-ministry