PRIME Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement that the government is reviewing the compounds and penalties under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 to curb rampant pollution activities by irresponsible quarters is indeed welcomed.
Following increasing reports of water pollution in the country, Muhyiddin said the government was committed to ensuring that Malaysians enjoy a cleaner and healthier environment.
The movement control order (MCO) implemented in March last year provided some relief to the environment, with Malaysians experiencing clearer skies and cleaner air.
But Muhyiddin said this was not sufficient. “The challenges of the global lockdowns have given respite to the environment when industrial activities were reduced, but at the same time, new norms had added a new set of environmental issues in the form of indiscriminate disposal of face masks and the heavy use of plastic for takeaways.”
He said the challenge now is to restore economic activities without reactivating environmental degradation.
The Association for Community and Dialogue (Acid) believes that while the PM has shown concern for the environment, there is no overall framework on environmental ethics in the corridors of power, business and among the rakyat.
According to experts on the central issues in environmental ethics, adjusting the relationships between humans and nature is one of the most fundamental issue facing nations globally.
With increasing deterioration of the ecological systems upon which all living things rely and aggravation of the environmental crisis, humans cannot rely on economic and judicial methods alone to solve pollution and ecological imbalances. Only after a new ethical relationship between human beings and nature is established will we be able to love and respect nature automatically and conscientiously.
Towards this end, the government in consultation with all stakeholders must come up with a document on environmental ethics to guide our policies on education, economy and social sectors in meeting sustainable development goals.
RONALD BENJAMIN , Secretary Association for Community and Dialogue