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Cultivating the Green Party of Malaysia

Struggle to bring environmental issues into politics

Cultivating the Green Party of Malaysia
A screen shot of a Youtube video promoting the Green Party of Malaysia
Lucia Lai, Penang

March 23, 2012

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If Azlan Adnan had his way, he would register the first political party in the country that would focus on the environment and sustainability. The Green Party of Malaysia, as it is called, was formed two years ago, but it remains an online virtual movement. “We have changed the natural environment so much and in such a negative manner that it is no longer sustainable, or even natural. We’ve changed it for short-term gain so much that we jeopardize the long-term future,” said Azlan, a 53-year-old entrepreneur and activist. Presently, Azlan relies on social media to promote his party’s cause. The Green Party of Malaysia on Facebook has more than 800 members, and its YouTube channel  has posted more than 70 videos on environmental and social justice issues facing Malaysians. Explaining why he wants to turn his online movement into a political party, Azlan said: “In Malaysia in the past 50 years, we have had political parties based along racial lines, ethnic lines and religious lines. It is increasingly clear now that this is not viable. It is divisive and quite destructive.” He said political parties need to appeal to both urban and rural people, rich and poor, young and old, and all races who are concerned about the collective future, which includes for humans, animals and plants. Although there is a lot of good work done by environmental NGOs, their scope is limited, he added. He hopes to bring the environmental agenda into the political arena and into peoples’ consciousness by having the Green Party of Malaysia registered as a political party. The process has been slow, however. To register a party, he needs seven active members to be in the Pro-Tem Committee in at least seven of Malaysia’s 14 states and territories. “I'm planning capacity-building and fund-raising training. In the meantime, I shall continue producing videos to help the public understand environmental issues and how the directly impact them,” he said. Jimmy Lim, pro-tem chairman for Penang state, said:  “In the relentless pursuit of profit, businesses and governments rush headlong for development, which often is detrimental to the environment. The Green Party of Malaysia is here to ensure that only sustainable development takes place.” Sou Jin Hou, a movement activist, said he is disappointed that the government prioritizes GDP growth above environmental sustainability. “It is our responsibility as caretakers of God's creation to stop plundering the environment in the name of profit.” He explained that by supporting the Green Party of Malaysia, he hopes to help avert impending environmental disaster predicted by climate scientists and change the economic system so that “the wealth that God so willingly bestowed upon mankind is not concentrated only in the hands of the few.” Ryan Albrey, another supporter, said he wants to work toward a style of politics in Malaysia that is not just based on race and religion. “Ordinary Malaysians need to stop fighting amongst themselves, worrying about who has more and who has less, and start worrying about the fact that the rich are destroying the environment to get even richer.” Azlan is not discouraged by political analysts who feel Malaysians are not environmentally conscious and therefore not ready for a Green Party. He pointed out that on February 26, around 20,000 Malaysians rallied against Lynas Corporation, an Australian rare earths mining company that is constructing a refining facility in Pahang state. “We will run campaigns that our core members are passionate about -- things that pose a danger to our health and quality of life. We will continue with these public education efforts,” Azlan said.  
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