Yeo Bee Yin among top 10 people who mattered this year, scientific journal says

Yeo’s efforts against plastic pollution was recognised by scientific journal, 'Nature'. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli
Yeo’s efforts against plastic pollution was recognised by scientific journal, 'Nature'. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 ― Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin has been named among the 10 people who mattered most this year by renowned scientific journal, Nature.

The journal honoured Yeo due to her efforts in reforming the country’s governance over its environment and natural resources.

Among her major policy changes were to increase renewable energy from 2 per cent to 20 per cent of total energy generation by 2030, to reform the nation’s electricity sector and to increase energy efficiency.

Yeo’s efforts against plastic pollution was also acknowledged by the journal as she criticised the influx of plastic waste into the country and even helped set a nationwide ban on its import and launched a 12-year roadmap and legal framework towards eliminating single-use plastic in Malaysia by 2030 which is also aligned to the global concern of single-use plastics.

Nature quoted Julian Hyde, general manager of the environmental organisation Reef Check Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, who praised Yeo for her initiatives.

“The most important thing about it is that it’s over a realistic timescale,’’ said Hyde.

However, the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) sustainability subcommittee chairperson Wee Ching Yun said local manufacturers can already produce biodegradable plastics but it is not decomposing fast enough to solve the problem.

Wee, however, notes that Yeo has given the MPMA more opportunities to voice its opinion.

Adamant about solving the problem, Yeo said the issue could be resolved if enough funding went to local research and adopting foreign techniques to enable Malaysia to develop the technology for biodegradable plastic.

“Some people think of problems to solutions, and not solutions to the problem. When business, as usual, is not possible, you find another solution,’’ she said.

First published in 1869, Nature is the world's leading multidisciplinary science journal

It is one of the most recognisable scientific journals in the world and was ranked the world's most cited scientific journal.

Among others listed with Yeo are genealogist Barbara Rae-Venter, Climatologist Valerie Masson-Delomotte and palaeogeneticist Viviane Slon.