Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia will not be successful as a developed nation, if it did not balance physical development with the preservation of nature and maintaining the existing environment.
The Prime Minister said preserving nature and the environment for today's generation, as well as for future generations, was both a personal and collective responsibility, and that responsibility should be carried out relentlessly, whatever the circumstances.“We have seen the effects of irregular development that only emphasise on the profit factor alone.
“We need to realise that our efforts to become a developed nation will not be achieved or recognised, if what we can show is only skyscrapers but our rivers are polluted, only barren land is left out of our wilderness and the air we breathe is badly polluted,” he said at the Earth Day celebration in Taman Tugu, here on Saturday (April 20).
Dr Mahathir was accompanied by his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali.
Also present were Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abd Samad and Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar.
Commenting on Earth Day that is celebrated internationally on April 22, Dr Mahathir said awareness on environmental conservation should be applied and shared by everyone from all walks of life.
He said the Earth Day celebration at Taman Tugu, a 26.7 hectare jungle garden located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, demonstrated the government's commitment towards ensuring the right balance between physical development and environmental preservation."The Taman Tugu garden is a manifestation of our commitment in ensuring that the physical development is in harmony with the preservation of the environment. It is understood that about 4,000 Malaysian native rain forest trees have been planted around this Taman Tugu.
"This is an addition to the existing original 1,000 trees here that have been well maintained, so the selection of Taman Tugu as the venue for the Earth Day celebration this year is quite meaningful and symbolic," he said.
The Taman Tugu project was also aimed at producing more nature lovers through public education programmes conducted especially on weekends, he said.
"I was informed that since it was opened to the public in August 2018, Taman Tugu has attracted some 30,000 visitors from within and outside the country.
"Of course, if every visitor coming to Taman Tugu can bring back the same message to their family members and friends about the importance of preserving the environment and protecting green areas, I believe with the increase in the awareness level, it will eventually become something spontaneous and no longer necessary to hold any campaigns and reminders," he added.
Among the programmes held in conjunction with the Earth Day celebration today included guided jungle trekking, cycling workshops, zumba and a performance by singer Datuk Zainal Abidin.
Taman Tugu project is a Khazanah Nasional Berhad corporate social responsibility initiative with the support of several ministries and government agencies as well as private companies and non-governmental organisations.
Thus far, about 16.18 hectares of the total 26.7 hectares including 4km of jungle trails are open to the public for free from 7am to 6.30pm daily.
For the remaining of 10.52 hectares, there will be camping sites, hall, surau, a Hindu temple, which will be developed in stages starting this year until early next year.
The Taman Tugu will be handed over to the National Heritage Trust (AWAN) to be managed and protected as a public green area.