A ministry dedicated to the environment

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With a change in the government after the recent general election in Malaysia, there is a sense of optimism across different sectors, not just about fighting corruption, improving the economics or reducing the cost of living.

As a conservationist, I feel that there is hope for our environment under a new government. We have members of parliament like Hannah Yeoh who is dedicated to preserve the greenery in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. Perhaps more politicians will go towards this direction, to also conserve our marine, freshwater, mangrove and freshwater resources.

When our Prime Minister first announced the 10 ministries to be in place, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry (MOA) were not on the list. Why MOA is a concern too? That’s because the protection of sea turtles and all marine resources fall under the Department of Fisheries, which is under the MOA.

Before Tun Dr. Mahathir further announced that there will be 25 ministries but not more than 30, members of Society of Conservation Biology – Malaysia Chapter has started a petition to pledge for a ministry led by a Minister that is dedicated to the protection of the natural resources, biodiversity and environment.

It would be a positive change if this happens. Can’t wait for the Prime Minister to announce the full list of ministries as well as their ministers and deputy ministers.

GE14: A historic day to remember in Malaysia

9 May, 2018, the day I voted for the third time in the Malaysian general election since I turned 21. Before I reached the age eligible for voting, I used to watch the TV with my parents for the announcement of the results. The results were almost always as expected. The previous ruling government, the National Front (Barisan Nasional, in short BN) always led by a huge number of votes and there was no doubt they would definitely continue to be the government for the next 5 years.

As much as I hope for a change of government in Malaysia, I was not too confident that the Alliance of Hope (Pakatan Harapan, in short PH), which is the other coalition party, could actually sway enough voters to win the majority seats contested. It has proven to be so in the past. For this reason, the 14th general election (GE14) is definitely a historic moment showing that nothing is impossible. It shows how strong the power of people is and Malaysians have made their voice loud and clear that they want a change in the government for a better future. I, like many others, had spent hours watching the changing numbers of seats won by various parties. At some point, it looked like a close tie between BN and PH. The anxiousness and excitement of not knowing who would eventually win the majority were similar to watching Dato’ Lee Chong Wei playing against Lin Dan in a badminton match.

I am not a big fan of politics. I always term politics as dirty, a game played by players who put their personal interest in front of the interest of the people and nation. Even for someone who does not keep abreast with the current news on politics and economics (pardon me for my lack of interest and knowledge across a diverse field), the news 1MDB scandal was so huge that I could not contain my curiousity on that matter but to read it up. Then I learned a new word – kleptocracy and when I checked its definition, OMG. I was wordless. From conversations I heard around me, names came up and issues came up. Although I couldn’t quite make sense of the stories, they all smelled fishy, leading to none other than corruption and misappropriation of citizen funds that do not benefit the citizens but we citizens will bear the debt from these scandals.

So since the GE14, on every social media that I frequently visit, I came across videos taken during the campaign period as well as articles from the past and videos of the debate between members of parliaments on many dubious development projects in Malaysia. Not only that, there are constant updates every day that capture my interest and makes it hard to not follow them. When will Tun M be sworn in as the Prime Minister? What happens to the hung assembly in Sabah and Perak? What, our previous Prime Minister and his wife are blacklisted and barred from leaving the country? Wow, we have a Council of Elders! Seriously, this is like watching a series of Malaysian politics in episodes, revealing the story plot bits by bits, except this is real, not fiction. One thing for sure is we have a government that shouts for transparency, accountability and corruption-free. We have done our part to make the impossible possible, it is now the people whom we have voted do their part to uphold their promises.

What puzzles me still is, how did the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) win the state of Terengganu and Kelantan? I was so confused. People said vote for the moon, to change for once. I thought ubah (or change) means vote for PH. Besides, PAS is not in the coalition party of PH, neither are they part of BN. I must have been living in a different planet to be missing the point here. All these years, BN and PAS have the strongest and longer presence in Terengganu. When people want to vote for the opposition, it has always been PAS, without fail. Rumours are many rules and regulations will come to place like shutting down of the cinema, etc. In my opinion, these are just speculations, which may or may not happen. What will happen is what we will find out along the way. They are the government the people chose so let’s give them one term to serve us, the people in Terengganu.

The right to vote has never felt so meaningful. The core of democracy – a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Looking forward to a better Malaysia.