“Why should Mother Nature become sacrificial lamb for the sake of nation-building?”

AS a resident of a densely populated region in the middle of a concrete jungle, I believe that a natural setting with plenty of greenery and fresh air on a hillside should be the fad among city residents and nature enthusiasts.

The roar of the deep blue waves and whiteness of the fine sand on the beach, if not for the atmosphere of the hillside, is a sight desired by city residents who are “drowning” because they have been “suppressed” for so long.

The link between the pleasure of viewing nature and the sense of love is not new. It is, in fact, a well-worn theory. Humans were designed to rule over nature from the moment Earth was formed. Each religion and ethnicity are also given its own set of instructions on how to deal with nature.

Mountains and hills serve as anchors for Earth’s stability. Rivers and lakes support a diverse range of flora and fauna species. Fishermen rely on the wide seas and pristine beaches for a living, while nature lovers find serenity in them.

Human beings are undeniably reliant on nature to fulfil their varied needs. The desire to be in good health, joyful and to instill morale and influence in people’s minds. The platform maintains a calm, green environment that is home to tropical vegetation and wildlife.

This is why it is uncommon to find a national building center in the heart of a skyscraper. Far away, nation-building camp sites were often built in the midst of nature rather than in a city, or in other words, as an iron and concrete forest.

I am pretty sure that the desire to embrace outdoors appears irresistible after almost two years of living in a succession of movement control order (MCO), working and studying from home. There are moments throughout this almost two-year period where we experienced chest tightness and shortness of breath because we are unable to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Therefore, it is no surprise that an increasing number of individuals are becoming physically or psychologically sick. Over time, the city’s residents seem to have developed a strong need for tranquility, clean air and the greenery offered by Mother Nature. This is a source of serenity capable of dispelling the tension brought by getting fired from your job, having your income reduced or having your company shut down.

Selangor locals breathed a sigh of relief last month when the MCO period was eliminated in 34 districts throughout the state. The ability to move and work may add to a person’s appreciation of nature. I suppose the view along the highway right now is similar to visiting a forest reserve or a sandy beach!

From dawn to dusk, the North South Highway, which is my primary route to work, would be a wonderful treat for me. The sight of lush green trees and a broad expanse of clouds stretching out in front of the vehicle’s windscreen.

Tearing down natural beauty for advertisement  

All expectations, however, were shattered as I drove my car along the highway. What is given to commuters along the route from the capital to the suburbs is no longer a supper of tranquilly. All that is left is a signboard advertising a variety of products, none of which are guaranteed to work.

There is a product which might be comparable to the Spanish Fly! There are also face whitening products too. Why do individuals living near the equator have such a strong need for fairer skin tone? Do they wish they weren’t brown-skinned and had big noses?

I am curious again; how many people consider masculinity to be the ultimate aim of life and source of pleasure, to the point where these billboards have to erected on the hillsides along our capital’s highways?

Such circumstances reveal that a number of us still lack understanding on how connected we are with nature. Such situations show the degree of knowledge and accountability of those in charge, who are more concerned with marketing product and services, instead of educating people on the physical and emotional rewards nature has to offer.

Do we not have enough hills being levelled for such matters? Why do we keep destroying our forests, with so many animals being slaughtered? Aren’t there already enough negative consequences from flash floods on the local population in communities when trees are illegally logged?

Is it not enough to exploit nature that taxpayers’ rights are also violated by being compelled to read cheap product advertisements along the country’s highways? Where is the concern for drivers who should be concentrating on driving rather than the goods which are strewn over our highways?

Regrettably, while taking a nation-building course, the environment and natural resources are getting exploited. And once a country is established, its identity and responsibilities will disappear into the woods.

This year marks the 64th anniversary of our country’s Independence. However, the 64-year-old Malaysia has yet to convince its people to acknowledge and reconcile with nature. – Sept 12, 2021


Assoc Prof Nor Zalina Harun is a senior research fellow at the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.


The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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