Don’t burn our future

Waterfall Endau Rompin

The next Parliament sitting calls for the tabling of the second budget under the Pakatan Harapan government.

The theme for Budget 2019 was “Credible Malaysia, Dynamic Economy, Prosperous Rakyat,” that focused on institutional reforms for the country in addition to welfare aid for the people. However, I wish to highlight one specific allocation.

RM5 million was allocated to micro-grants to implement community-led programmes in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme. The allocation was to “manage and protect environment towards fostering economic development of Orang Asli and Orang Asal communities.”

Mention the words “climate change” and without doubt you will get the attention of many Malaysian youths.

The young are indeed concerned with climate woes, demanding governments to take critical and effective action for mitigation and preventive measures. The recent haze crisis resulted in the gathering of over 200 people at the Global Climate Strike held in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 21.

With growing awareness and concerns over the climate, we must increase the allocation of conservation efforts with the Orang Asli and Orang Asal communities. A report released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) concluded that the land populated by indigenous communities showed declining biodiversity loss.

The report highlights the very nature of the indigenous communities’ relationship with the environment. Instead of viewing nature as a “servant to mankind”, the communities create an intimate bond that returns and further cultivate the resources it takes from.

Having said so, it is a common misconception that there is little to nothing to learn from the Orang Asli community. I, however, believe it is time to break that myth.

Fight for Change 2019

With the increment of allocation for community-centered projects that encourage conservation efforts, it will also be able to build bridges between those who live in concrete jungles and the people who live in real ones.

The vast majority of youth may be more concerned about employment and education but I find myself asking – if the climate crisis persists and an actual dystopian future does occur, then where can we execute other policies if we have no proper land to do it?

We must prioritise efforts to care for the land we live on. This will then provide us a conducive and effective space to execute other areas of policies we may desire to.

In Malaysia, we are already witnessing the effects of climate change. Communities who do not have the privilege to live in cities where emergency facilities are available, or those who rely on traditional vegetation for food, will be the first to experience the harsh realities of worsening weather conditions.

The government must, therefore, act for we cannot afford to burn the future – yours and mine.