Green Voters 2.0 movement launched

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A broad-ranging environmental movement calling itself Green Voters 2.0 was launched on 1 October to call on elected reps to declare their stand on various environmental issues.

Once in every five years the silent majority of Malaysia emerge on polling day as super heroes to determine the fate and destiny of our nation. Our choice of representatives and leaders will determine if our children will inherit a land where the natural environment is unspoilt and where people, business and the natural environment are in harmony with each other.

We are all for sustainable development of our country not ad hoc development.

Since 2000, when we entered into the 21st Century, we have actually moved from a production-based economy into a knowledge-driven economy and very swiftly now into the green economy. Considering that we spent nearly 100 years in the production economy, moving into two economies within a short time span of a decade indicates the swiftness of change occurring around us and the realignment of society paradigms.

The most fundamental issue driving this shift would be climate change, and the world is meeting once again next year at the RIO+20 Earth Summit to reassess our efforts in saving our planet. Companies have also changed their process to ensure that they make profits without damaging the environment while contributing to the social well-being. They are now measured on the triple-bottom line of profits, planet and people.

Green Voters signal the emergence of green consumers and citizens. When we make demands for environmentally friendly products, we are making a stand as green consumers. When we are making demands that our country enter into the green economy and adopt more environment friendly industries, we are making a stand as green citizens.

Today we are here as green voters, ensuring that our stand is made known to the next team of leaders we are electing. We are looking for honest and principled politicians who will put the rakyat’s interest first by ensuring that we pursue Sustainable Development NOT Development. They must ensure a balance between People, Planet and Profits (in this order).

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If we are to judge the “developments” that have occurred in recent years, it has caused many of us green citizens to be concerned. Instead of moving into the Clean Green Economy, we seem to have shifted into high gear towards a dirty economy.

For a few simple examples, we cite the Lynas rare earth facility in Gebeng, Kuantan. This is a project against the wishes of the people. It is being implemented after a tragic adventure into rare earth processing at Bukit Merah, Perak. It is also a strange coincidence that after 30 years, Mitsubishi has returned quietly to spend RM100m to clean up the contaminated soil. Rare earth processing is a dirty industry. The price of rare earth is sky rocketing; the purchasers of this material will use it for high value processes. We on the other hand are at the low end of the process; we are trading current profits in exchange for a polluted land. Go back to Bukit Merah, no one can stay in that area for many centuries. A big price for our children to pay for small short-term profits.

The devastation of large tracts of forests in Sarawak and Sabah for palm oil and latex timber clone are making us lose biodiversity and the potential to control climate change.

The pursuit of ad-hoc development instead of Sustainable Development has made city dwellers miserable with the long traffic snarls we face daily.

The oversupply of clean hydro energy created the need to bring in dirty aluminium smelting companies that will guzzle up all these excess energies. Adding to this environment damage is an environmental justice issue: indigenous people have lost their home and means of livelihood.

With these green concerns, we green voters pledge to elect politicians who are supportive of the need to protect the environment and who will help to bring about structural changes that will allow green citizens, environmental NGOs and civil society to work on the protection of the environment in their local community.

We green citizens also want our elected leaders to institutionalise a public engagement platform where we can work together with the authorities to conserve and protect our environment.

We do not want to be passive observers of development by the government; we want to be active participants in the SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS.

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Green voters demands

Our demands are as follows:

In order to build a democratic and harmonious Malaysia, we caring citizens undertake to be part of a responsible community; we will seek to understand national and local issues and to vote responsibly for an honest and principled people’s representative.

The demands below are the minimum requirements that our Member of Parliament/State Assembly person (MP/Adun) will commit to implement.

Local Council Elections within the first year after the election

Green demands

1. Provide access to information through the Freedom of Information Bill
2. Enable public participation through institutionalising Local Agenda 21 in all local councils.
3. Move towards a Green Economy by improving human capital, rejecting the establishment of dirty industries, exploiting the new sources of renewal energy, and rejecting nuclear energy.

Local community demands
1.
2.
3.

When I am elected to office, I pledge to work towards the achievement of the above voter demands until they are realised. I will also provide quarterly updates of the progress to my constituents.

Signature
Candidate Name:
National IC No.:
Standing for – State / Parliament (Please circle)
Political Party:
Address:
Office Tel No: Office Fax No:
Website / Blog site address URL:
E-mail:
Mobile Number:

Reasons for the three green demands and local council elections

Freedom of Information Bill

Whether it is about property development in hill-slope areas or the extermination of virgin jungles for plantations, little information is made known to the public. In cases of residents protesting against a potentially environmentally unfriendly project, even the request and insistence for information is frustrated or plainly denied.

When Information become a right of citizens, the chances of environmentally damaging projects can be avoided.

We demand that Freedom of Information statutes be enacted at the national and state levels.
(Currently Selangor is the only state that has enacted a Freedom of Information Bill).

Public participation through Local Agenda 21

Public engagement and consultation, while required in many statutes, is often poorly implemented and enforced. Local Agenda 21 is adopted by the Federal Government, and Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan has encouraged all councils to implement it. This, however, has been done on a superficial level and has deprived citizens of a platform to engage with the local council on local development matters.

We demand that Local Agenda 21 be institutionalised in all local councils with a committee represented by the residents and civil society and reporting to the YDPs of the respective councils.

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Green economy

Of late we can see that Malaysia has lost its global competitiveness and while other countries are moving towards renewal energy, we have returned to dirty industries. The clean hydro-electric energy of Sarawak now needs the dirty aluminium smelting plants to use up the surplus energy, while large swaths of forests with rich biodiversity give way to monoculture palm oil and latex timber clone plantations.

Of concern is also the rare earth plant in Kuantan which evokes memories of the Asian Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah, which closed in 1992 and for which Mitsubishi is spend RM100m to clean up, with the most recent clean up in 2011.

The Access Initiative Malaysia (TAI Malaysia) have undertaken a study of 16 cases in Malaysia and in all cases there were three common points: lack of access to information, justice and public engagement. This was also apparent in the other South-East Asian studies.

Our demands are also consistent with Principle 10 of the Earth Summit (1992).

Local council elections

Local council elections give citizens the democratic right to vote for their representatives in the third tier of government.

We demand the restoration of local council elections and that local councils provide capacity building to the public as part of the local council election process.

The process:

We are seeking

  1. green citizen voters from all state constituencies in Malaysia to contact us to work towards setting up the constituency voters committee;
  2. to work with these committees to finalise their list of community demands;
  3. to engage all residents in their communities in the process;
  4. to document all environmental threats in all constituencies on the www.green-voters.org portal;
  5. to finalise the dates for all people-meet-election-candidates session in all constituencies (after the election date is announced);
  6. to provide to all voters the stand of the election candidates with regard to environmental demands and a complete relevant profile of the candidates ensuring that all voters will vote based on facts and not rhetoric.

Initiating coalitions:

  • Coalition of Good Governance
  • Steering Committee Members
  • Friends of Kota Damansara
  • Empower
  • Komas
  • Suaram
  • Centre for Independent Journalism
  • Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
  • People’s Green Coalition

For more information:
Selangor – Jeffrey Phang 012-2347223
Penang – Dr Khim Pa

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