Developed nation status just a dream if environment left to rot, says PM

Dr Mahathir Mohamad launching the Nature Day celebrations at Taman Tugu in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will not be able to achieve developed nation status if the environment is left to rot, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Mahathir said the Earth Day message is very clear: At a time of developing the country, one should not forget the importance of retaining and preserving the environment.

He said one has seen the effects of indiscriminate development and which is only centred on profits.

“We need to realise that our efforts to achieve developed nation status will amount to nothing if we only have skyscrapers to show but our rivers are polluted, our forests are barren and we breathe in polluted air.

“In other words, we can only achieve such a status if we are able to balance the nation’s physical development with the preservation of the environment and its greenery,” he said when launching the Earth Day celebrations at Taman Tugu here.

Dr Mahathir and his wife Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali watching participants planting a tree at the Nature Day celebrations at Taman Tugu.

Present were his wife Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, ministers Mohamed Azmin Ali, Yeo Bee Yin, Khalid Abdul Samad and Xavier Jayakumar and deputy minister Hannah Yeoh.

Mahathir said preserving the natural environment should be both a private and collective effort, and the duty to do so needs to continue in whatever situation.

The Earth Day celebrations today took place in a garden setting at the 26.7ha Taman Tugu in the middle of the capital’s concrete jungle.

A group photo with Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah at the launching of the Nature Day celebrations.

Mahathir said Taman Tugu exists as proof of the government’s commitment to ensure a balanced physical development along with the preservation of the environment.

Among those who headlined the celebrations was artiste Zainal Abidin, who belted out hits such as Hijau, as well as a cover of Suriram.

Siti Hasmah caught everyone’s attention by singing a few lines of Hijau, which was first released in May 1991.

Her mini performance drew a rousing applause from those present.