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Give constitutional protection to nature

Breathtaking: Lush forest canopy - LINDA LUMAYAG

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Due and serious consideration must be given to the proposal to amend our Federal Constitution so as to include a new article that provides for the rehabilitation, preservation and protection of the country’s natural environment.

The immense significance of this suggestion not only requires the serious attention of the government but also support from the country’s stakeholders.

Environmental group Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) said its proposal, which has already been submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, was aimed at preserving the forests, sea, mountains and animals while addressing other environmental issues over the long term. These are obviously our invaluable assets that must be safeguarded.

The way some of our forests have been ravaged and the wildlife driven out of their natural habitats – over the years in the name of development – suggests that our natural environment does require iron-clad protection from reckless human interference and selfishness.

As Peka rightly pointed out, it is not enough to merely protect wildlife while its natural habitats are severely destroyed. These creatures cannot survive without their existing habitats.

That is why the environmental group also proposed an immediate 100% blanket protection for all species of pollinators and their habitats, adding that 70% of the food we obtain is from pollinators such as bees, butterflies, birds and other seed-spreading creatures. Clearly, these creatures perform a vital function.

In this regard, Peka rightly called on the government to sign the world deforestation 2030 treaty – which has already been signed by over 100 countries – to curb logging and other threats to the forests.

READ MORE:  Religious leaders must inspire contemplation of the environment

Incidentally, much of the plight of the Orang Asli living on the margins of the forests should serve as a warning sign against the predatory and disruptive activities of their urban cousins. It is, however, unfortunate this warning is often overlooked or worse, deemed anti-development.

Indeed, as shown above, our own survival is also dependent on the natural surroundings as we are all interconnected in the greater scheme of things in life.

But some of us, particularly certain business quarters, tend to lose sight of the importance of this symbiotic relationship in their frenzy to subdue nature and bend its forces to their will. But the problem is, this ideology of unfettered human conquest of nature is no longer sustainable.

In expressing his concern for the status of rivers in the country, Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin rightly said our society needs to realise that humans and the environment are closely related.

From the Islamic perspective, human beings are considered the custodians of this earth and, hence, entrusted to protect it from human destruction, which can cause an irreparable existential imbalance. To do otherwise is a betrayal of that trust.

The proposed amendment to the Constitution will have the effect of granting us a human right to a better natural environment.

From a worldview that is not human-centric, this constitutional provision can also be read as giving nature its right to exist without much human tampering.

If the constitutional amendment is realised, we would leave a priceless legacy for future generations. The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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