A big wow for the merbau! — Hiew King Tiong

SEPTEMBER 4 — Recently, the merbau was selected as our national tree, and the choice is indeed a wise one. The merbau is found all over the country, including in Sabah and Sarawak. It is a hardwood and stands tall and majestic in its natural environment.

The selection of this tree on the eve of our 62nd National Day comes with psychological importance. It lends an element of strength and reinforce our national unity in our collective psyche at a time when there are efforts to undermine our integrity.

From the nation building perspective, the merbau serves as a reminder that sustainable development is possible. Forest-clearing for development sake can be done if we uphold good environmental practices, as what we had done over the past 62 years.

Having a national tree in our collective consciousness now elevates our environmental awareness and importance of sustainable development to the next level.

It also helps to instill a sense of pride in the flora and fauna in this country. At 130 million years old, we have one of the oldest rainforests in the world, teeming with a vibrant living ecosystem.

There are some who questioned how the tree was selected and suggested that the selection should have been based on voting. The truth is that, unlike flowers, or logos for Visit Malaysia Year 2020, Malaysians generally know very little about tree species.  Most live in concrete jungles, oblivious to the nitty-gritty details of the green foliage which still covers over half the land in this country. I believe this was why the government made the selection.

On that note, I'd implore all Malaysians to visit the Hutan Kita exhibition taking place at the KL Tower until September 22. Entrance is free. Last weekend, I brought my grandchildren who, like many Malaysians of their age, had only a scant idea of what Malaysian forests look like.

Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience for them as they are exposed for the first time to facets of our rich natural never before explored or even known. I believe this is the first time such an exhibition is being held and in the spirit of Merdeka spirit this month, everyone should pay the Hutan Kita exhibition a visit.

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

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