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Oleh/By		: 	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue 	:	CROWN PRINCESS HOTEL, 
			KUALA LUMPUR (K.L) 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	27/04/92 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 2ND 
			MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE OF 
			DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ON ENVIRONMENT 
			AND DEVELOPMENT 



 
    I  wish you a very warm welcome to Malaysia.  My fellow
Malaysians and I are honoured to have  this  opportunity  to
host  the  Second Ministerial Conference of Developing Coun-
tries on Environment and Development.
2.   It is truly regrettable that despite two years of prep-
arations for the UNCED meeting, major  issues  and  problems
have  yet to be resolved.  I was made to understand that the
fourth and final UNCED Preparatory Committee Meeting,  which
ended  in  New York earlier this month, was not quite satis-
factory in terms of commitment.  Though there has been iden-
tifiable progress on some  aspects  there  is,  as  yet,  no
balanced  platter  on the issues of environment and develop-
ment.
3.   The financial issue remains unresolved.  The South  are
very disappointed that the North is unwilling to respond ei-
ther  in terms of quantum or other tangible commitments.  If
the rich North expects the poor  to  foot  the  bill  for  a
cleaner  environment, Rio would become an exercise in futil-
ity.  It must be remembered the UNCED is also about develop-
ment.  There will be no development if  the  poor  countries
are  not  allowed to extract their natural wealth.  The only
way for them to develop and yet avoid damage to the environ-
ment is for them to receive substantial material help.    To
ask  the  poor to help the rich is against all human princi-
ples of charity and fairness.
4.  Also progress on this issue is compromised by the insis-
tence of the North that the  Global  Environmental  Facility
(GEF)  be  the  sole  mechanism  for  funding  environmental
projects within the framework of decisions to  be  taken  at
Rio,  as  well  as for the Conventions on Climate Change and
Biological Diversity.  The issue of governance is a critical
area under negotiation.  If the GEF is to be another  appro-
priate  funding  mechanism  after Rio, there must be a major
transformation of the GEF to make it  more  democratic  with
universal  membership encouraged and access and disbursement
provided under agreed criteria.
5.   It can be argued perhaps that the UNCED  is  too  ambi-
tious  for total meaningful agreements to be achieved by the
time of the Rio Summit.  Certainly, the issues involved  are
extremely  complex  and  Heads of Government meetings cannot
resolve complex details.  They, the Heads, do  not  normally
negotiate the terms of treaties or agreements.  They usually
endorse  and  formalise  what has already been negotiated by
their  experts  and  officials  and  fine-tuned   by   their
ministers.  The preparatory meetings are therefore more cru-
cial  than the ceremonials of a Heads of Government meeting.
Failure at the preparatory stage will endanger the whole ex-
ercise.
6.   If we think the success of UNCED is debatable, then why
do we meet here?  We meet here because the UNCED can  be  at
least  partially  saved if the developing countries are able
to have a clear view of what to expect and what common stand
to take.
7.   The basic reference point for the South would be the UN
consensus resolution 44/228 which clearly signposted the ex-
pected global package; a World Charter of  high  declaratory
import;  a  global  programme  of action called Agenda 21; a
specific decision on additional financial resources to  fund
Agenda 21; a decision on technology transfer at preferential
rates; a statement of principles governing the management of
all forests and an intergovernmental institutional structure
to  monitor  the  follow-up  to  the UNCED.   There was also
agreement that by the time of  Rio,  negotiations  for  con-
ventions  on Climate Change and Biodiversity would have been
completed.  The success of the Rio Summit can only be  meas-
ured  given  significant achievements in all of these areas,
in the context of a global package, not in terms of the  ad-
vancement  of  one  issue  and  the neglect of another.   An
intergovernmental institutional structure under the aegis of
the United Nations would be of no value if there was no real
agreement to all the critical issues above.  For that matter
too, what use is there of an Earth Charter if  there  is  no
real  advance on the critical issues of finance and technol-
ogy?
8.   In essence, the negotiations to prepare for Rio reflect
the continuing attempt by the South to bring  the  North  to
the  table  to  overcome over four decades of neglect on the
growth and development of the South.  Fear by the  North  of
environmental  degradation  provides  the South the leverage
that did not exist before.  It is fully justified for us  to
approach it this way.  Unless there is a sharing of the con-
trols  in a broader based and more democratic control struc-
ture  and   a   more   supportive   economic   international
environment,  forever  the playing field will not be a level
one.  Forever will the South be at the bottom of the heap.
9.   Whether we like it or not the developed  North,  having
destroyed  their heritage, will want to declare that what is
left intact in the  developing  countries  also  belongs  to
them.   Consequently they are going to insist on having more
than just a say in the management of these remaining ecolog-
ical assets of the world.    And  when  the  powerful  North
speak, the voice of the individual developing countries will
be  drowned.    It  will be different if they speak together
with one strong voice in Rio.
10.  To illustrate this let us take the case of the  logging
of  tropical timber.   The developed countries have no trop-
ical forest but by involving environmental issues they  wish
to  control  the exploitation of forests in developing coun-
tries.  We in Malaysia are fully aware of the role that  the
tropical forests are playing in preserving the delicate bal-
ance  in the environment.  We are aware too of the thousands
of species of flora and fauna that are to be found  only  in
our  forests.  We are aware that trees absorb carbon dioxide
and give back the precious oxygen without which we will  all
drop dead.
11.  But  we are also acutely conscious that we are a devel-
oping country which needs the wealth afforded  by  our  for-
ests.    We  do  not  cut down our trees foolishly.  We need
living space, we need space for agriculture, and we need the
money from the sale of our timber.  If it is in the interest
of the rich that we do not cut down our trees then they must
compensate us for the loss of income.  The democratic  North
talk  incessantly of fair compensation.  They tell our work-
ers to go on strike for "fair" compensation even if  it  de-
stroys our economy.  Well, if we have to service the world's
need  for  oxygen,  for  ecological balance, then we must be
fairly compensated.  Or else allow us our right to our  tim-
ber wealth.
12.  But  instead what have the North done?  They launched a
boycott of our timber.  They reason that if they do not  buy
we  will  stop cutting our timber.  It is so simple that is,
if you can ignore the hundreds of thousands of people  whose
lives  depend  on the timber industry, and if you can ignore
the loss of Government revenue with which we  subsidise  and
support  our  people, particularly the poor.  What the North
is doing is not just to preserve  the  forest  but  to  make
Malaysians pay for it.  Is this equitable?
13.  Yet  the  extraction  of  timber  can easily be reduced
without making us pay for it.  If the rich  will  pay  twice
the  price, logging can be reduced by half.  It is as simple
as that.
14.  They say most of the money in the  timber  industry  is
made  in the rich North.  Malaysia gets very little from the
export of raw logs.  So why export timber?    We  agree  en-
tirely.   But the solution is not to stop logging but to re-
locate the processing industries to Malaysia so that we  can
earn more added value.  We can then cut down even less trees
without losing income.  The boycott of Malaysian timber will
help  nothing.   Indeed, if our timber is of no value to us,
we might as well cut down the trees  for  fuel  and  release
land for agriculture.
15.  Once upon a time this planet was almost completely cov-
ered  by forests.   We are told that the deserts under which
vast reservoirs of petroleum are found were once swamps  and
tropical  forests.    If  we sincerely believe in equity and
burden sharing, why not reafforest the deserts of the  world
and  the  vast  farms  in  Europe  and America which produce
subsidised food the world does not need?  If you can draw up
ground water to build exclusive golf courses in the  deserts
of California, if you can create huge lakes in the middle of
the  desert on which to build luxury hotels, can you not use
the same technique to water the desert  and  reafforest  it?
New  tropical  forests  can  be  recreated complete with the
flora and fauna transplanted from our tropical forests.  Why
should only the  people  in  the  tropics  harbour  disease-
bearing insects for the world?
16.  We  do  not  want  to  obliterate  all  our deserts, of
course.  One cannot know what disaster will follow if we  do
this.  But the farms of Europe and America which were hacked
from  the hard and soft wood forests of yesteryear and which
today produce food inefficiently, can very well be  returned
to  their  pristine  condition.   The planting material, the
technology and the experts are all available  to  make  this
project a success.
17.  Let  it  be  remembered  always that it is not only the
tropical trees which can absorb carbon dioxide and give  out
oxygen.   All trees, including those in tree estates, do the
job equally well.
18.  Many tropical trees possess  medicinal  properties  and
must therefore be preserved.  Again it is the rich who bene-
fit  because they have the technology to extract and to iso-
late the active substance.  Are the poor tropical  countries
expected  to  preserve their forests for the rich to exploit
through their mastery of the science?    What  compensations
are  being  considered in return?  In the negotiations for a
Convention on Biodiversity, the North have not  been  forth-
coming  on  proposals  for joint research in gene-rich coun-
tries to benefit from biotechnology.   As things  stand  the
poor may not extract timber and wealth from their own forest
because  the  North  would like to gain financially from the
medical potentials of the tropical trees.
19.  Last year vast tracts of forests  in  Indonesia  caught
fire and burned for months.   The whole of Malaysia was cov-
ered  in haze.   More than logging, forest fires destroy ev-
erything.  Nothing is left.   Trees, animals,  insects,  and
even humans are exterminated.
20.  If   the  tropical  forests  are  so  precious  to  the
erstwhile  environmentalists  then  the  fire  should  cause
greater  alarm  among them than the controlled extraction of
timber.  Governments and NGOs should have rushed to put  out
the fires.  But there was not a squeak.  The excuse was that
they  were  not  asked.   Were they asked to agitate against
logging?  Yet they mounted a massive campaign  against  log-
ging.
21.  A  lot  can  be done to prevent and fight forest fires.
The rich have spy satellites to locate the fires  precisely.
They  have sophisticated and expensive fire-fighthing equip-
ment.  They have experts who can put  out  even  the  raging
infernoes  of Kuwait.  But they did nothing to save the for-
ests they claim to love so much.  We cannot be blamed if  we
think  the  campaign against tropical timber is because they
compete too successfully with the temperate climate  timber.
Tropical timber destroyed by fire pose no threat to the sale
of  temperate climate timber but carefully logged timber do.
So the forest fires are ignored while bitter condemnation is
directed at the logging of tropical forests.
22.  When the anti-tropical timber campaign did not  attract
sufficient  attention,  a  human  face was added to it.  The
Penans are a gentle law-abiding people numbering  about  ten
thousand.    They  are  originally  shifting cultivators and
hunters.  But some nine thousand of them have  already  set-
tled  down  on permanent farms or as wage-earners.  Only one
thousand are still in the jungle.  If they should choose  to
stay  in  the  forests,  it is a choice which the government
will respect but this choice must be well considered.   This
choice  must not be a part of the North's anti-tropical tim-
ber campaign.
23.  The anti-tropical timber activists see in the Penans an
opportunity to put  a  human  face  to  their  campaign  for
temperate  timber.  And so the gentle Penans are urged to be
militant, to protest, to erect blockades, and defy  the  au-
thorities.
24.  Stop  making an issue of the Penans.  Promote temperate
timber if you must but accept competition by  tropical  tim-
ber.  You advocate open markets and free trade.  Now live up
to your own creed.  Stop linking trade and aid to developing
countries with environmental issues.  Stop arm twisting.
25.  On  the  other hand let us work together to protect and
resuscitate the environment.  Close down  inefficient  farms
and  polluting  industries and reafforest the land released.
Move the processing of primary products to developing  coun-
tries  so as to maximise their development.  Help reafforest
the deserts in the rich  as  well  as  the  poor  countries.
Organise  and  coordinate  the  prevention and fight against
forest fires worldwide.  Pay more for tropical timber.
26.  These are all positive things that can be done if there
is sincerity in the campaign to preserve tropical forest.
27.  The campaign against tropical trees is a clear case  of
an  opportunistic  use  of the environmental issues.  If not
for opportunism the energy of the environmentalists  can  be
rewardingly  focused on other pollutants.  Take the CFCs and
the spray-cans.  There are many non-polluting ways of spray-
ing.  Use biodegradable vegetable oil-based plastics instead
of petroleum-based plastics.  Reduce the use of fuel oils in
transportation and electric generation.    Allow  reasonable
hydro-electric projects to go on.
28.  Stop  the  use  of  nuclear fuels for power.  Above all
outlaw the manufacture, storage and use of nuclear weapons.
29.  If the environment is going to be cleaned,  those  most
responsible  for  polluting  it must act.  80 percent of the
pollution is due to activities in the industrially developed
North.  They must first clean up their backyard.  Their NGOs
should stay at home and apply pressure on their own  Govern-
ments, their industrialists and their military leaders.
30.  The  developing  countries  must of course do their bit
too.  The first thing is for them to come together to debate
on a common stand.  Let there be no break in our ranks  when
we  talk  about  the environment.   We will share the burden
strictly in proportion with our culpability and  our  capac-
ity.  By no means can we accept that we sacrifice our devel-
opment  in  order  that  the rich and the powerful can enjoy
ever improving standards of living.  Indeed, it is the  rich
who  must be prepared to sacrifice their progress in the in-
terest of our development.
31.  We have a  heavy  responsibility  to  ensure  that  the
South-South cooperation is effective in the area of environ-
ment  and  development.    The  South must identify specific
areas  of  cooperation  and  interaction,  particularly   in
forestry,  technology  transfer and sound environmental man-
agement.  The South must set an example of international co-
operation and evenhandedness  as  its  own  contribution  to
UNCED.    It  is  also important that we continue to consult
with each other in the post Rio period.
32.  I sincerely hope that the historic opportunity  at  Rio
will  not be wasted.  Rio can be the occasion to take impor-
tant historic steps for a  true  global  partnership.    The
South  has  suffered enough.   It is wrong that we should be
made scapegoats for the past sins of the North.   The  South
cannot  remain the repository of the resources for the North
including locking up its forest to serve as the global green
lung and its genetic resource laboratory.   The  North  must
help  the South to develop for it is in their environmental,
economic and security interest that they do so.
33.  Freedom is a commodity much touted by the North.    Woe
betide  any  country  in the developing world which does not
grant freedom to its citizens.   Yet the North  consider  it
right  and  proper  to  deprive the people in the developing
countries of their freedom  to  exploit  their  own  natural
wealth.  In  campaigning against tropical timber and in boy-
cotting it, they are denying us our freedom to make  a  liv-
ing,  to  extract  what  little  wealth we have, and to free
ourselves from hunger, disease and poverty.   How  can  they
still  talk  of  freedom  when  it is they who deprive us of
freedom?  When we achieved independence we thought we  would
be  free.   But the North is still subjecting us to imperial
pressures.  The late Indonesian President Sukarno was  right
when he talked of Neo-colonialism.
34.  Development  and economic growth cannot but be accompa-
nied by some undesirable effect on the environment.    While
the  developed countries had already damaged fully their en-
vironment, this is no reason for preventing developing coun-
tries from seeking to develop.  If environmental  damage  is
to  be  minimised, then the developed countries must be pre-
pared to subsidise the cost.  If the cost of development  is
higher  because of present environmental considerations then
the  developing  countries  of  today  are  being   unfairly
penalised.  This is unacceptable.
35.  Malaysia would like to propose to the world community a
comprehensive environmentally beneficial programme involving
the  greening  of the world.   As a first step, we call upon
the global community to target at least 30  percent  of  the
Earth's  terrestrial  area  to  be greened by the year 2000.
The world now has 27.6 percent  of  its  land  under  forest
cover and we need only increase this by 2.4 percent over the
next  eight years.  This is clearly not an unreasonable tar-
get.  All nations must set  national  greening  targets  and
those  which  have no suitable land must contribute adequate
funds to developing countries with available land.
36.  The North, in particular, should not find  this  diffi-
cult  because  it  has the funds, the technology and the re-
sources.    They  can  divert  the   subsidies   for   their
inefficient  farms  towards  a  massive  reafforestration of
these farm lands  instead.    No  new  funds  are  therefore
needed, and yet the result will be a greener and bigger car-
bon sink.
37.  As  for Malaysia I wish to announce that the Government
of Malaysia undertakes to ensure that at least 50  per  cent
of our land area will remain permanently under forest cover.
38.  I call upon the world community to urgently establish a
Global  Fund  to  support  this global greening target.  The
Fund would serve to finance reforestation and  afforestation
programmes as well as forest rehabilitation and maintenance.
Contributions to the fund should be based on the population,
wealth,  and the ability to meet greening targets as well as
other relevant factors.  Countries which have levels of car-
bon dioxide emissions that exceed a defined threshold should
pay on the basis of an agreed schedule.  However nothing  in
these  proposals must compromise the principle of the sover-
eign right to development.
39.  The greening of the world will hopefully inspire a  new
spirit of international cooperation and partnership in which
global  resources are fairly shared.  If successful we would
have solved at least partially  an  important  environmental
problem.
40.  For our part, Malaysia has undertaken a number of meas-
ures  towards  ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment.
These include the creation of awareness among the people and
towards this end we have prepared a video film entitled  "An
Initiative  for  the  Greening  of the World" which reflects
Malaysia's commitment and desire for a greener world.   This
video film will be shown to you shortly.
41.  I  wish  you  all  a successful meeting and I hope that
your stay in green Kuala Lumpur and greener Malaysia will be
a pleasant one.

 
 



 
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