Preserving the charm of Seremban, my childhood home, requires collective efforts

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My name is Hema and I am 34 years old. Born and raised in the charming town of Seremban, my childhood was filled with delightful adventures outdoors. Weekends were often spent exploring the serene landscapes of Kampung Rasah, Rantau, and enjoying short getaways to picturesque places like Port Dickson, Ulu Bendul, and Jelebu. These moments with my family were precious, and they instilled in us a deep appreciation for nature’s beauty and wonders. School holidays were especially exciting as they meant more opportunities to immerse ourselves in the natural world.

Eventually, my parents decided to purchase a home nestled right beside a lush forest. Living life near the woods came with its share of surprises. Sometimes, curious snakes would make their way into our house, though they never posed any harm. Witnessing monkeys gracefully swing from tree to tree and woodpeckers paying us occasional visits brought immense joy. One of my fondest memories was when my father would take our dogs for a bath in the refreshing stream deep within the forest.

My home was once surrounded by natural forests before the trees were cut down.

But as time passed, our surroundings began to change, and not for the better. The forest near our home suffered a similar fate. The lush greenery of trees near our home gave way to development, and a large portion was cleared for a new township, leaving only a narrow strip of land overrun with grass and shrubs. The consequences of these changes were evident, with wildlife like musangs, wild boars, and monkeys increasingly venturing into residential areas, seeking refuge and food.

My daughter looking at what used to be a forested area. Our surroundings changed in 2021.

As if this wasn’t enough, the rapid construction of apartments and housing estates over the past decade only exacerbated the situation. I recall returning home to vote in the last elections, only to discover a new apartment building right in the middle of two of my schools, disrupting the balance and further straining the already congested traffic.

The beaches suffered a similar fate. When I was thirteen years old, my mother took my sister and me on a day trip to Port Dickson. Hoping for another delightful day at the beach, our excitement turned into dismay when we dipped our feet into the water, only to find black oil-soaked soil beneath the waves. It was disgusting and robbed us of the simple pleasure of enjoying the beach. While things improved somewhat afterward, litter continued to be a significant issue, with trash strewn about in many places.

Our local beach in Port Dickson is littered with trash.

Ulu Bendul, a place of cherished memories, also underwent significant changes over the years. Instead of its natural clear water streams, there were now artificial pools dotting the area. On a trip to revisit old memories with my sister, we were disheartened to see the transformation of this serene place.

Seremban, once a peaceful haven, has now become overcrowded and burdened with traffic woes. The town simply lacks the infrastructure and resources to accommodate the influx of people. As more individuals migrate here, our roads struggle to cope, and the air quality has suffered. Our once-pristine nature is continuously compromised to make way for new developments.

This year alone, the highest temperature recorded was 38.4 °C in Negeri Sembilan. This isn’t just a coincidence. These are the direct impacts of the rapid changes taking place in the state. It’s disheartening to witness the city we love grappling with unsustainable growth.

We must recognise the urgent need for sustainable practices and balance development with environmental conservation. Preserving the charm and essence of Seremban requires collective efforts. By giving importance to our natural heritage, we ensure a brighter and greener future for generations to come. We need to vote smart. Vote for the representatives who will not only take care of their constituents but also put importance on the environment.

#Vote4Climate #UndiIklim

Hema Sulakshana Mahadevan is a Public Campaigner at Greenpeace Malaysia, based in Kuala Lumpur.