MALAYSIA, in its pursuit to become a developed and high-income nation, will not pursue the goal at the cost of the environment and its natural treasure, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday.
He said the government had introduced various laws and policies to preserve the country's fauna and flora, including the implementation of the National Policy on Biological Diversity and Common Vision on Biodiversity.
"We also have strategic and long-term plans to help conserve our biodiversity and we are also committed to ensure that at least 50 per cent of our land remain under forest cover as pledged in the Rio Summit in 1992," said Muhyiddin to reporters after visiting the Malaysian pavilion at the Yeosu Expo 2012.
Therefore, Muhyiddin urged all parties -- state governments, local authorities and the public -- to support sustainable development to ensure that the environment would not be affected by rapid progress.
"It is important for us to consider the long-term impact of any development projects so that future generations will not suffer.
"The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, in particular, has various plans to ensure that development does not adversely affect the environment."
Muhyiddin, who is also the education minister, said that the younger generation must be taught the importance of biodiversity and the ecosystem so that they would appreciate the environment.
Earlier, when launching the Malaysia Day celebration at the expo hall, Muhyiddin said the sustainability of natural resources was important as no country should adopt the "grow first, clean later" model of development.
"Malaysia is recognised as one of the world's 12 mega-diverse countries which together house 60 per cent of the earth's species, some not to be found anywhere else on this planet.
"Malaysia is also home to an extensive network of coral reefs and globally significant marine biodiversity," he said to rousing applause from the packed hall.
Present were Muhyiddin's wife, Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas, Malaysian ambassador to South Korea Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim and expo organising committee chairman Kang Dong-suk.
Muhyiddin said Malaysia's participation in the three-month expo, which ends on Aug 12, enabled the country to showcase its rich bio-diversity and culture apart from highlighting the government's efforts to protect the environment.
At the same time, visitors to the Malaysian pavilion would also be exposed to various attractions in the country, including eco-tourism destinations and packages.
About 230,000 people have visited the Malaysian pavilion, themed "Malaysia's biodiversity haven: a gift of nature", since its launch on May 11.
Visitors will be entertained by cultural performances at strategic locations throughout the week-long Malaysia Day celebrations-NST