WWF-Malaysia survey: Seven in 10 Sabahans will vote based on lawmakers’ commitment to environment

A bull banteng is pictured in a Sabah forest reserve. WWF-Malaysia's survey shows that respondents are concerned about deforestation. — Picture courtesy of Danau Girang Field Centre
A bull banteng is pictured in a Sabah forest reserve. WWF-Malaysia's survey shows that respondents are concerned about deforestation. — Picture courtesy of Danau Girang Field Centre

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Seven in 10, or 71 per cent of Sabahan voters who participated in a survey told that their ballots in the upcoming state election will be determined by a politician’s commitment towards protecting the environment.

The survey by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia also showed that out of the same group, eight in 10 said they would like to know more about what each political party plans to do for the state’s environment.

“Sabahans, in general, are concerned about the environment,” the environmental non-profit group said in a statement.

“A majority of respondents comprising 72 per cent across all age groups expressed that they are ‘very concerned’ about the state of our natural environment, covering a wide range of topics including marine and terrestrial issues.”

The survey also showed that the respondents were most concerned about issues such as: plastics and waste management, loss of coral reefs, and deforestation.

Other areas of concern included unsustainable infrastructure, air pollution, climate change, and unsustainable agriculture.

WWF-Malaysia also said it has sent open letters to Sabah politicians, urging them to include environmental commitments in their party manifestos. 

In the open letter, it has asked them to include vows to ensure green growth in Sabah, environmental sustainability and biodiversity protection in major infrastructure and development projects in Sabah, beefing up anti-poaching efforts, and outlining plans to increase the resilience of Sabah’s people, nature, and economy, in light of a possible future that includes zoonotic and climate change disasters.

WWF-Malaysia Head of Conservation for Sabah, Robecca Jumin, highlighted that the survey’s results show that it is clear Sabahans worry about the environment. 

“Our actions cannot stop here. We as Sabahans need to continue to use our voices and share our concerns as our future wellbeing is dependent on the state of the environment,” Jumin said.

“We should continue to hold our political leaders to a high standard and accountability to ensure that Sabah’s rich biodiversity continues to be protected and conserved for the benefit of people and nature."

The survey was conducted last month via digital media and messaging services with a total of 1,239 respondents from various age groups and backgrounds.

While respondents aged 61 and above made up for the smallest proportion of respondents in this survey, 79 per cent of them were the most concerned about the environment. 

This was followed by the age group of 31-35 (74 per cent), 46-60 (70 per cent), and under 30 (69 per cent).  

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