From Jalur Gemilang flag to Malaysia’s tiger coat of arms and national flower Bunga Raya (hibiscus), it is time to welcome a new Malaysia’s symbol this Merdeka month − and that is our national tree Merbau.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced today (Aug 23) that Merbau, an indigenous hardwood species, was chosen as a national symbol because it represents the national pride and the government’s commitment towards sustainability, Malay Mail reported.
“I would like to take the opportunity to announce that the Merbau tree (Malacca teak) has been chosen as our National Tree.
“With its hardy nature, I believe that all Malaysians, can take the Merbau as a symbol of national pride,” said the 94-year-old premier at Hutan Kita (Our Forests) exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Tower today.
“The Merbau tree is also a symbol of the importance of the forest to the country’s industries and the economy.”
A quick search on Google Image, Merbau woods are often used in house furnishings and various furniture.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir also assured that Malaysia would maintain a 50% forested land nationwide and dismissed palm oil plantations are affecting the sustainability of its rainforest ecosystem.
“I hereby reaffirm Malaysia’s commitment to maintaining at least 50 per cent of our land area under forest cover in accordance with our commitment made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
“I am indeed confident that the ‘Hutan Kita’ Exhibition will be a catalyst in increasing awareness among us with regards to our forest. It is our forest and therefore we are responsible for it,” he said.
The premier said the Western’s criticism on the negative effect of palm oil plantation is baseless and unjustified, adding that such claims are affecting socio-economic of Malaysia and the national agenda to achieve sustainable development goals.
“It has also significant detrimental effects on oil palm growers which include 650,000 smallholders as well as another 1.5 million people employed throughout the palm oil supply chain,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the palm oil industry in Malaysia is developed sustainably and responsibly without causing environmental degradation.
“The government will outline eight key actions that will be implemented to enhance Malaysia’s efforts in sustainable forest management and mainstreaming biodiversity in Malaysia’s socio-economic development agenda in the era of post-2020.
“On the global front, as one of the world’s most biodiverse nations, Malaysia takes its commitment to conservation seriously and is proud to be a signatory to an extensive list of global treaties on conservation, wildlife, forestry and the environment,” The Star quoted him as saying.
Do you think you would be able to recognize our new national tree?
What are your thoughts on this new national symbol? Let us know in the comments below.