Are we prepared to tackle climate change responsibly?
Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Opinion - New Straits Times
January 17, 2023
THE Batang Kali landslide is fading from the memories of Malaysians as they grapple with the challenges of the new year.
But the king is not forgetting it. He decreed that all hillslope projects be reviewed because "there are numerous ongoing projects, especially rampant farming in Cameron Highlands".
"Enough is enough. I have said it before and I am saying it now. Although the projects are approved, they must be reviewed.
"If not, this area will become barren ground and there won't be any greenery, jungles or hills any more," said the king after handing out contributions to victims of last month's mudslide in Kampung Raja in Cameron Highlands.
Similar concerns have been brought up by the people, but to no avail.
This happened despite the fact the United Nations Climate Change Conference was being held then.
Instead, the people were redirected to parochial issues that tended to divide rather than unite. We should have used the opportunity to develop awareness of environmental issues.
The contending parties and candidates could not sense the pulse on the ground. Let alone offer solutions to more sustainable living.
Media reports quoted residents of Kampung Raja as saying it was the first mudslide to ever hit the area.
This indicates the clearing of jungle could be the cause of the incident.
But they are still kept in the dark about it. Some 100 houses were damaged, about 20 badly.
The reports resonate with what the king said:
"Every time I fly over this area, (I see) there is always a hilly area being flattened."
He insisted that approvals in all areas in Cameron Highlands be suspended while the reviews are carried out.
Climate change and global warming must now be understood to mitigate the risk of disasters. Are we prepared for such changes?
The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector