Stop hurting environment, pressure group tells policymakers

Orang Asli representative Shaq Koyok taking part in the rally in conjunction with Earth Day in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: Calls for climate justice rang out in downtown KL today as a group of youngsters gathered for a rally in conjunction with Earth Day, which falls tomorrow.

The rally, organised by pressure group Klima Action Malaysia (Kamy), saw some 50 people assembling in front of Sogo shopping centre along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, holding placards bearing messages on the environment.

Some of the messages read “Keep the world colourful. Protect diversity”, “Be part of the solution”, “Green policy”, “Forests are disappearing” and “Hentikan eksploitasi sumber asli” (“Stop exploitation of natural resources”).

Rally cries were also sounded, such as “Malaysia bukan tong sampah” (“Malaysia is not a rubbish bin”); “Power to the people”; “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”; “Alam sekitar milik kita!” (“The environment belongs to us!”).

The rally also urged Malaysians to say “no” to the logging of forests and to greed.

Kamy spokesman Nurul Fitrah Marican listed the NGO’s eight demands to the government, which included heads of state and MPs, to treat climate change as a crisis, and a just transition towards a low-carbon and resilient economy.

A participant holding up a poster reading ‘Don’t exploit our natural resources’.

The group is also demanding stricter environmental regulations and enforcement, just indigenous land tenures and climate literacy in Malaysia.

One of the speakers, Amalen Sathananthar, from Kuantan, talked about how climate change was already happening in his own backyard.

Amalen said he lives 1.7km from the beach, and with the sea level rising, he will one day lose his house.

“I do not want to lose my home. I do not want to lose where I grew up, where I spent my childhood every day, playing in the trees, playing by the beach.

“My kids will never see that. My kids will never understand what it is like to sit under a tree and just watch the waves come in. By the time I have kids, they will not be able to see what it’s like at the beach.

“There will just be water everywhere. The sea levels are going to rise,” he said.

Amalen Sathananthar.

Shaq Koyok, an Orang Asli contemporary artist from the Temuan tribe in Banting, Selangor, called for a stop to the destruction that is taking place.

He said the Orang Asli have been silent on the environment for far too long.

“We need to stop whatever destruction we see — to our motherland, our Orang Asli land and to Mother Nature.

“We have had enough, enough development and too many buildings being built on Orang Asli land.

“Our land is being encroached by development companies and it is not on a small scale,” he said, calling for support and unity for a better future for the generations to come.

Kamy organised the rally to call for a more democratised approach to climate action and to demand climate justice in Malaysia.

One of its members, Reza Abed, said it is the youth of today and future generations who will experience the full force of climate change.

“So, we must call for concerted action now before the effects of climate change intensify beyond our ability to adapt.

“We call upon the government to recognise the threat posed by climate change and to intensify measures to avoid the unfolding disaster.”

He said inaction will result in conflict, famine and mass migration.