Greenpeace Malaysia calls upon the Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob and the newly appointed Cabinet Ministers to implement a low-carbon economic stimulus in order to tackle unsustainable business practices that are threatening the environment and health of its citizens. These include unsustainable logging practices and forest conversion [1] to lax enforcement against environmental polluters [2].

Malaysia is experiencing increased environmental disasters in which  big polluters are still pushing through unpopular policy changes to exploit the environment during this pandemic. The country’s ranking as the 12th most biodiverse country [3] has not stopped big polluters from destroying the environment in the name of development. Protecting the environment should not be sacrificed under the pretence of Covid-19. There needs to be a balance between economic growth and safeguarding the environment.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been calling on all countries to implement rapid, systemic and transformative changes to address the climate crisis. Furthermore, Malaysia is particularly vulnerable to flooding, more so than other countries. The occurrence of droughts and floods may also have an impact on the cultivation of crops [4]. Without healthy ecosystems, there would be no clean air to breathe, safe water to drink or nutritious food to eat. Therefore, climate change mitigation and adaptation are equally crucial with economic recovery, to prevent more lives from being lost and more people from being pushed into crisis.

The new Malaysian government and leadership should implement low-carbon stimulus measures or “Green New Deal” that promotes renewable energy, creates new job opportunities, and stops subsidy to big polluters, in order to save subsidies to fund adequate healthcare, strong disaster relief mechanisms, food security, education and vibrant nature to prevent ourselves from the next public health emergency.

In Malaysia’s Green New Deal it is important to examine what has been learnt from others such as the US, United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, Australia, South Korea, with the purpose of developing a national strategic plan to tackle climate change and economic crisis. These include legislations advocating for “people before polluters”, halt the funding of big polluters, as well as safeguarding peoples rights to a more healthy and people-powered democracy.

Greenpeace Malaysia will continue to serve its role as a watchdog of the government and provide support to the government when necessary, regardless of the political party or coalition in power, to defend the environmental rights of the people. We will continue to play our role as a civil society organisation to  push for “building back better” in all spheres of Malaysian society as part of a just and equitable post-Covid-19 recovery.

[1]Geographical Association. This article looks at the rates of current deforestation in Malaysia and to what extent this is having an environmental effect on the region. This is supplemented with relevant case study examples.
[2]Mongabay news. Repeated water cut-offs due to the illegal dumping of chemicals in Malaysia’s rivers have led to a groundswell of citizens calling for stronger enforcement against industrial polluters. a call long made by civil society groups to reform the country’s environmental regulations, particularly the Environmental Quality Act of 1974.
[3]Convention on Biological Diversity.
[4] Asian Development Bank and World Bank. Climate Risk Country Profile, Malaysia.