DAP calls on Malaysian Government not to boycott the Earth Summit in Brazil in June but to fully participate in the last world conference in this century on environment and sustainable development

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-Genral and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang,at the ‘Party Reform’ Negri Sembilan DAP State Committee meeting in Seremban on Tuesday, 24th March, 1992 at 8 pm.

DAP calls on Malaysian Government not to boycott the Earth Summit in Brazil in June but to fully participate in the last world conference in this century on environment and sustainable development.

In August last year, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, declared that Malaysia might boycott the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or Earth Summit in Brazil in June this year.

Dr. Mahathir has repeated this position in the past eight months saying that there was little point in attending the conference if it concentrated on the ‘wrongdoings’ of developing countries and focused only on the question of tropical forests.

He also said that Malaysia’s participation in UNCED would hinge on the outcome of two meetings preceding Earth Summit – the Prepcom IV or the fourth session of the UNCED’s Preparatory Committee in New York from 2nd March to 3rd April and the Second Ministerial Conference of Developing Countries on Development and Environment which Malaysia will play host next month.

The Earth Summit in Brazil marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. This means that it will the first world conference on the environment in the past twenty years and the last in the 20th century.

World environmental problems, which have got worse over the years, can only be resolved through international action and there can, be no justification whatsoever for Malaysia to stay away from the Earth Summit, which is the last chance for governments in the 20th century to collectively address the environmental issues of mankind.

The Earth Summit is in fact a gathering of governments although it will also take submissions from
non-government organisa¬tions.

Dr. Mahathir had said that if UNCED was “used to suppress the Third World, it would be better for these nations to hold their own meeting where the developed countries would be excluded”.

The Prime Minister should know that while developing coun¬tries can hold their own environment conference, like the one which would be hosted by Malaysia next month, such a conference will not be able to make any breakthroughs to deal with the many urgent environ¬mental problems of the world on their own.

DAP calls on Dr. Mahathir to make it very clear that Malay¬sia will be attending the Earth Summit in Brazil not only to raise the voice of the Third World, but also to play her role in the search for more equitable ways of sharing the world’s wealth without destroying the environment.

Malaysia must expect to be a target in Brazil for her logging policies, just as developed nations must expect themselves to be targets for being the main culprit of the world’s environmental problems, like the ‘greenhouse effect’, resulting in the depletion of the ozone layer, the warming of the Earth and climatic changes.

If the developed countries also say that they will boycott the Earth Summit unless they are not attacked
on these issues, then humanity will never achieve international accord to work out a common strategy to ensure environmentally sound and sustainable development for all countries and peoples in the world.

As the Malaysian Government said the international anti-Malaysian logging campaigns were misconceived and misinformed, then it should have greater reason to attend the Earth Summit to justify its policies.

Whatever its final outcome, it will be irresponsible for Malaysia to stay away from the Earth Summit
and refuse to participate in a common action programme to deal with such issues as atmospheric pollution, climatic change, deforestation, protection of marine living resources and management of hazardous wastes and to take part in a international programme for a global clean-up.

The developing countries have in fact a strong moral case at the Earth Summit as poverty and unbridled industrialisation are the major causes of environmental damage. The developed countries must be asked to make commitments at the Earth Summit to provide the develop¬ing countries with financial assistance as well as access to technology to carry out their responsibilities for environment and sustainable development