Greater emphasis on sustainable development — Group of 16 NGOs

JANUARY 25 — Amid speculations and uncertainties, Malaysians know the 14th General Election (GE14) is on the way, as the parliamentary term is due to expire in August 2018. A group of non-governmental bodies have come together to call on political parties to recognise the environmental aspirations of the citizens of Malaysia by including their commitment to the environment in their Party Manifesto and ensuring that they are given high priority to safeguard sustainable development for current and future generations.

The Open Letter to all po litical parties is signed by Biji-biji Initiative, Civil Society Organisations for Sustainable Development Goals (CSO-SDG) Alliance, Ecocentric Transitions, EcoKnights, Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM), Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) Spiral, Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch, Power Shift Malaysia, Reef Check Malaysia, Sabah Women's Action Resource Group (Sawo), Sabah Environmental Trust, Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society, Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham), Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES), Wetlands International Malaysia and WWF-Malaysia.

They write to urge political parties to make sound environmental aspirations a priority and a reality. The open letter was prepared in a neutral and non-partisan manner. It contained no praises nor criticisms to avoid misuse by political parties for their own propaganda or campaign. They call on the media to interview the political party presidents for their response to this open letter.

Malaysians must aim to achieve development in a sustainable way to balance our aspirations for economic growth without compromising our natural capital, such as environmental assets, social systems and cultural resources. Only then can we ensure higher standards of living for current and future generations.

It is common for NGOs to increase their lobbying effort before an election. Before GE13, a group of environmental NGOs under the umbrella of Malaysian Environmental NGOs (Mengo) made a similar attempt. With election around the corner, this will add to the election fever and debate.

The topic of environment will not only be of interest to the younger generation but also parents and grandparents. Rural and urban constituencies are equally concerned about the environment as that is part of human well-being.

The group welcomes more organisations to be a signatory to this open letter, believing it would make a more compelling voice. The letter is available in English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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