From Noor Shamsiah Mohamed
KOREA : Malaysia on Monday gve the assurance that it will never sacrifice its natural environment well-endowed with flora and fauna in its eagerness to become a developed country. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government had taken various measures to protect the national treasure, including introducing laws and policies on conservation of the environment and biodiversity.
“We have also required states in the country which have jurisdiction over land and flora and fauna to undertake housing and industrial development without harming the environment,” he told Malaysian journalists after launching Malaysia Day and visiting the Malaysian Pavilion at the Expo 2012 Yeosu, here.
Also present were his wife, Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas, Malaysian Ambassador to South Korea Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim and Expo 2012 Yeosu Committee chairman Kang Dong-suk.
“The demand for development is always there, the demand for land utilisation in plantation areas is always there, but there must be a balance between development and conservation of the environment. This is the responsibility of not only the ministries and the government but also the states.
“In our eagerness to become a developed country, Malaysia will not sacrifice the environmental treasure we have,” he said.
He said the government was committed to ensuring that at least 50 per cent of the country remained environmentally green as agreed upon at the Rio Earth Summit 1992. Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said it was also important to educate the young to enable them realise the importance of protecting the environment.
“We know that there is lack of proper conservation of the environment in some places in Malaysia and this has to be attended to not only by the ministry and the government but also society,” he said.
Commenting on the country’s participation in the three-month expo, which will end on Aug 12, he said it helped Malaysia to display its rich biodiversity and culture and the government’s efforts to protect the environment. Furthermore, he said, visitors to the Malaysian pavilion would be able to get information on the various attractions in the country, including eco-tourism and homestay packages popular among South Korean tourists.
More than 230,000 people have visited the pavilion, which has the theme: Malaysia’s Biodiversity Haven: A Gift from Nature”, since it opened on May 11, the first day of the expo. Visitors to the pavilion will be treated to a Malaysian cultural performance for a week in conjunction with the Malaysia Day celebration.
Earlier, in his speech, Muhyiddin said Malaysia had taken earnest measures to take advantage of the richness of its natural environment to spur the national economy through the tourism sector.
“The tourism sector will continue to be the main driver of Malaysian economic development by providing people with jobs and an opportunity to boost their income,” he said.
So far, Malaysia is among the 11 most visited countries of the world, he said. Malaysia had 260,000 visitors from South Korea last year, he said. He also said that the government had set a target of 36 million tourist arrivals in 2020, with tourist spending to hit RM168 billion in that year.