Victoria Brown thinks it’s time to reevaluate our half-hearted stance on the environment.
HOW high do you place Mother Nature on your priority list? The answers range, with some saying that more has to be done to protect our environment, while others nonchalantly reply that they don’t really care.
There is no denying that there are a large number of Malaysians who shove aside their responsibilities in protecting our environment to someone else.
I’m talking about the person who tosses their trash out moving vehicles or openly burns their garbage instead of properly disposing of it.
If everyone had this sort of mentality, our world would be a very different place.
Imagine life without clean rivers, lakes or seas; no rainforests or animals; living in a toxic wasteland.
Before you laugh this terrible scenario off, just look up the pictures of the acres of trees we have cut down and the countless of dirty teh-tarik coloured and rubbish-filled rivers Malaysia has.
The environment affects everybody in some way or another and it’s about time we do something about it!
Thankfully, the government has addressed some environmental concerns in Budget 2014 and are beginning to take a few steps forward in terms of environmental conservation (see Budget 2014 points at the end of the article).
I spoke to a couple of environmental organisations to discuss their thoughts on the government’s allocation to the environmental sector in the latest budget.
Kanitha Krishnasamy, a senior programme officer at Traffic Southeast Asia, expressed her delight on the mention of The National Conservation Trust Fund, which is something that has been deliberated for close to a decade.
“It’s good to see it mentioned, hopefully it will come into effect soon and be an initiative that protects wildlife and protected areas,” she said.
However, she mentioned that there weren’t much details on wildlife protection efforts.
“Illegal hunting and wildlife trade is a serious problem in Malaysia, evidenced by the level of hunting and seizures occurring throughout the country,” said Kanitha.
She said that more enforcement has to be carried out to ensure that we don’t lose more of our “precious wildlife to ruthless poachers and traders”.
“One of the most urgent needs is to improve on-the-ground efforts and intensify patrolling within key forest landscapes to ensure that the killing is stopped,” she said.
“Enforcement agencies must be equipped with the right people, tools and resources to ensure that our forests are protected from encroachment, kept safe from poachers,” added Kanitha.
Kanitha says that patrolling and enforcement activities should focus on key areas such as Belum-Temengor, Taman Negara and Endau Rompin.
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Malaysia executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma agrees that the National Conservation Trust Fund is a good start to fulfilling the government’s election promise to conserving our environment.
“It is important that this Fund is set up with a view to ensure that conservation efforts receive sustainable and long-term financing and is able to withstand any flux in economic outlook,” said Sharma.
He stresses the importance of maintaining a “healthy and functioning environment” and the “sustainable use of products and services”.
On the other hand, Sharma says that Budget 2014 is also about growth and development, which is sure to bring about challenges and threats to the environment.
“We have seen that happening in the past, and we continue to see it today,” he continued.
With that in mind, Sharma said that it is essential that measures should be in place to ensure that economic activities and development are conducted based on improved environmental and socially responsible operations.
“Otherwise, the well-being of the rakyat will ultimately be adversely affected,” said Sharma.
Overall, there are still concerns and issues among environmental groups regarding the government’s steps to conserve our environment and ecosystems.
Personally, I hope that the government will effectively implement the points mentioned in Budget 2014 and that more effort will be put into educating the public on the importance of caring for our environment.
What are your thoughts on the government’s environmental initiatives in Budget 2014? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
The following environmental issues have been addressed in Budget 2014:
- The implementation of the National Carbon Reporting Programme or MyCarbon for the corporate sector.
- The establishment of a National Conservation Trust Fund for conservation of degraded areas and permanent forest reserves.
- Provide investment tax allowance for the purchase of green technology equipment and income tax exemption on the use of green technology services and system.
- Malaysian Green Foundation will be established to promote and enhance use of green technology by the corporate sector and the general public.
- Allocation of RM40mil to widen and deepen Sungai Bertam.
- Government will install solar panels on rooftops of ministry buildings as well as replace existing lights with LED lights in stages.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own