KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is truly a remarkable jewel in Malaysia’s crown.
Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said Sabah has an abundance of indigenous flora and fauna.
“In Sabah, you can visit 400 million year old rainforests and some of the richest reefs on the planet on the same day.
“In Sabah you can come face to face with orang-utans in the oldest rain forests on our planet, or swim with turtles and whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea within ten minutes of Sabah’s capital KK.
“And you can explore coral reefs teeming with marine life or climb to the summit of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu, home to the greatest variety of plants in the world.
Plastic pollution is a threat to Sabah Beauty
Joniton, who is also a Kiulu assemblyman, said , however, natural heritage is under threat and one of those scourges is plastic pollution.
Environmental problems related to plastic waste have become a major problem in Malaysia where it has been ranked as 8th among the top ten countries with mismanaged plastic waste in the worldMalaysia’s Roadmap Towards Zero Single-Use Plastics 2018-2030 published by the then Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology,Environment and Climate Change.
One of the studies conducted estimated that Malaysia had produced 0.94 million tons of mismanaged plastic wastes, of which 0.14 to 0.37 million tons may have been washed into the oceans
Some studies have “highlighted the potential health effects of single-use plastics on human and animals”.
Joniston added that the key challenges faced by Sabah is the single-use plastic.
“Although quantitative data is lacking on the use of single-use plastic in this state, this problem is apparent in many places.
“This issue could be attributed to public apathy. When the public lacks the concern in managing
waste properly and solely depending on the government to solve it, the problem will remain.’
Proactive measures by Sabah government
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment will conduct Environmental education programmes in schools and communities to create awareness on the impacts of single-use plastics and actions
that can be taken to reduce waste in line with the Sabah Environmental Education Policy.
“Various government agencies and NGOs have been working together through the Sabah Environmental Education Network (SEEN) to implement education programmes related to single-use plastic at all levels of society.
“The Sabah Government is also very happy to support campaigns such as Blu Hope designed to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment and the ways that collectively the
government, businesses and individuals can change our consumer behaviour to stop plastic pollution reaching the environment and our ocean.
“Education and Awareness – and spreading the good word – starting with youth is absolutely key – so its great to hear about Plastic Oceans series in Bahasa Malay with Maya Karin,” he said adding he hopes this campaign can be rolled out across all Sabah’s schools soon.
State Policy safeguards environment
The Sabah State Policy on the Environment 2017 was launched in April 2017 of which Sabah is the first state in Malaysia to have her own environmental policy.
To ensure the Policy is implemented effectively, Action Plans have been formulated based on sustainable development principles.
One of the action plans emphasised on the pertinent need to address waste management issues.
Sabah State Secretary has issued a Circular entitled “Surat Pekeliling Am Bilangan 1 Tahun 2019 – Pelaksanaan Amalan Hindari Penggunaan Plastik Sekali Guna (Single-use plastics) di Kementerian dan Agensi Kerajaan Negeri” dated 1 November 2019 for all government ministries, departments and
agencies as a start of an initiative to avoid or reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Sabah’s achievement to date.
Schools involved in our Sekolah Rakan Alam Sekitar (SERASI) programme are actively reducing the use of single-use plastics in their activities and implementing 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle).
Some of these schools have received national and international recognitions of their efforts in environmental education (for example SM St. Michael, Penampang, SK Babagon Toki, etc).
The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry and agencies will lead from the front and have started initiatives to reduce the use of single-use plastics during our internal programmes and meetings.
“We will continue to intensify our strategies and efforts to curb and address this issue that is affecting all of us.
“We all need to take concerted efforts to address this problem. As this will involve many government and non-government stakeholders my Ministry has applied for the required budget to conduct “A Study on the Status oSingle-Use Plastic Usage and its Alternatives in Sabah”.
For the medium-term solution, Sabah government also hopes to set up a recycling facility in the state.
We look forward to working with Sabahans and the Sabah team at Blu Hope to deliver Sabah Plastic Neutral in our state.