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| February 17, 2012 Originally published by FMT. This version edited for clarity and accuracy.
Party founder Azlan Adnan says that more time and resources are required before the Green Party can contest in an election.
PETALING JAYA: The soon-to-be-registered Green Party of Malaysia will most likely not be fielding any candidates for the upcoming general elections.
The party’s founder, Azlan Adnan, told FMT that the party was still in its infancy and required more time and resources.
“Forming this party is a long-term plan to change the political landscape, a general election is a short-term thing,” he said.
Azlan said that to win a seat, it was the bare minimum to “cultivate” a constituency for at least a year and spend RM1 million to fund ceramah, donating to funerals and other welfare work.
“Because I don’t have RM1 million to spare and neither have I identified a constituency, it is unlikely for me to stand at this moment. There is no point standing and losing; and losing the deposit as well. It is not an ego trip to stand as a candidate.
“We are not in politics to make money. Others may become MPs just because they get certain privileges and to be privy to certain information… which they can turn into money. We, on the other hand, are here to make a difference,” he added.
Asked about the party’s alignment, Azlan said that at present, the Green Party was more inclined towards Pakatan Rakyat.
On how he differentiated his party from other environmental NGOs, the father of two said he would still continue to work with them and build on the good work of environmental NGOs.
“But because they are NGOs, there are boundaries to what they can do, primarily because they are funded by government grants. So as to not jeopardise these grants, they can’t be too vocal on certain issues. Their mentality is to do some good work rather than making too much noise and not getting any grants and can’t do any work at all,” he said.
Azlan said that as a political force, he wanted the Green Party to influence public policies which were often “already written about and researched by the NGOs themselves but not implemented because of the lack of political will”.
“For example, there have been things written about sustainable public transport, which is the industry with the biggest usage of energy. If we can have more sustainable transport, then you consume less energy and become more green,” he added. Nuclear is not the way forward
Azlan said Malaysia could also change the way it managed its energy production to renewable energy.
“For a long time, I really believed that nuclear energy was the future and that it would save us. But look at the Fukushima disaster in Japan, a country where everything is so orderly and we know there is really so much unpredictability that it is not worth the risks,” he added.
He said renewable energies were the way forward, but this should be limited to small-scale projects such as solar, mini hydro and wind energy and “not like the big Bakun Dam project which is increasingly proving to be a white elephant”.
“When you flood an area of forest as big as Singapore to make a dam, what it really means is that there is land as big as Singapore ripe for clear cutting for someone to make money from timber,” he added.
Azlan said that a hydro-electric system, called the Gorlov Helical Turbine, could even be inserted into normal SYABAS water pipelines.
“These are very efficient, do-able, things but the present goverment does not have the political will to make it happen. So these things have to be people-driven, you have to demand it,” he said.
Lynas the first battle Asked about the political party’s first agenda, Azlan said it would definitely be the Lynas rare earth plant in Kuantan.
“There is a war and Lynas will be our first priority. The Lynas project is symptomatic of bigger problems. It will affect health and you are contaminating the environment,” he said, noting that the 1987 Bukit Merah disaster was still undergoing a RM300 million clean-up.
Other issues the Green Party would take up include food security, water, housing, poverty and other basic human needs.
“Food security is not a national priority in Malaysia, it is very sad. When there is flood in Thailand, food prices here go up. We should be insulated from that but we are so dependent on Thailand,” he said.
Azlan said that big companies like Sime Darby had enough resources to go into full-scale food farming but were only interested in the more lucrative oil palm.
“We should have these big companies diversify into other food, including fruit, items. An example is mangosteen; it is not grown commercially because it takes around eight years to harvest. But if we continue that (thinking), it will become extinct,” he said.
Azlan said, among other things, Malaysia should explore other sources of food that were available, adding that there were numerous indigenous food sources consumed but not sold commercially.
“There are so many things grown in the kampungs but not sold in the market, whereas there are some things not grown here but flown in halfway across the world. Malaysia should be exploring plants which are growing in the local habitat and then we'll have real organic food,” he said.
Azlan said he did not consider “organic” food to be green if it is packaged in plastic and shipped around the world.
Change in mindset needed On the logging situation in the country, the Green Party leader said what Malaysian companies were doing was not “forestry” but “timber mining”.
“It is not ecologically sound to be cutting down the forest which has 800 species of trees per acre and only replant with one species, which is usually going to be oil palm. We are actually changing the physical landscape and the ecosystem,” he said.
Azlan said one of the main goals of the Green Party was simply to “make things work”.
“Because when things don’t work, we have a lot of wastage; we want to be more efficient and use our resources more optimally,” he added.
“Take a Coke can. You use a lot of energy to process aluminium, ship it and put sugar, water and caffeine into the cans. Contrast that with coconut water, which is in a biodegradable container. The coconut water is so sterile that in an emergency you can inject it into someone in lieu of glucose. It is also isotonic and has some electrolytes,” he added.
Azlan said the nation needed a change in mindset and must develop a “LOHAS” (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) mentality.
He said right now, the Green Party’s main task was to disseminate more information to more people.
“Knowledge empowers. You want people to be aware and make right decisions. At the end of the day, we want a better place and if everybody is green, we can have a better place to live in,” he said.