The world including Malaysia is facing or going to face perhaps one of the worst unemployment challenges in history.
The Department of Statistics has stated that the nation’s unemployment figures have risen 16.2 per cent in the month of March 2020, which is approximately 610,000 unemployed people. Although we do not have the figures for the subsequent months, we do not have to say much as we have been hearing companies closing down, small businesses deciding to stop operating, foreign companies pulling back from Malaysia. The figures will just keep increasing.
The Government has since then initiated plans to revive the job sector, such as incentives for companies that hire or sustain their employees. Or plans to re-skill and upskill workers. These are all very typical ways of assisting the businesses and keeping people employed.
But have we thought about creating jobs, assisting the economy, but sustaining our environment too? Have we thought about taking this opportunity to generate and boost the green economy? Why don’t we push for a Green Deal for Malaysia?
In my previous article, I have written that Covid-19 is a prequel to the global climate crisis. I cannot deny that today’s priority is to prevent and to cure the people from Covid-19, but we must not also forget that climate change is an imminent danger. Charitable organisations and people were kind enough to donate foods to the poor during the pandemic, but they forgot that they are using single-use plastics in their packaging. And we haven’t even counted the delivery packages that we ordered every day. I believe that amounts to tens of thousands of plastic packaging daily. That is something we can avoid, but we forgot.
Back to the Green Deal for Malaysia, the Government must introduce a package that addresses the financial crises as well as the environmental issues that we are facing.
The Government can take the lead to invest in the development of alternative energies. The research and development efforts will create jobs for scientists and engineers. Development of the infrastructure for alternative energy also generates jobs for the skilled workers.
When the purported leader of all nations, the United States of America, with a President that decides to protect the coal industry which creates a carbon footprint; why not Asia lead the way in alternative energy?
We know that our country’s economy depends a lot on oil, but what if Petronas invests part of its profits into the development of alternative energy? That would be a positive step for an oil & gas company. Besides, oil is a resource that will end someday. And that someday, we will need renewable energy, why not do it now, then to wait until it is critical.
The Government should also introduce low-carbon infrastructure redevelopment. Instead of using the same old materials, public infrastructures that need to be redeveloped should be done in an environmentally-friendly manner. To save more cost and reduce carbon footprint in the long-run, we have to invest efficiently. These would create more jobs when the redevelopment efforts are initiated, but at the same time, we have to avoid the cronies to profit from it.
This can also include overhauling our transportation system to an energy-efficiency method. By systematically changing our public transportation to an energy-friendly system, we will need employees to implement the initiatives. If we provide incentives for the automobile industry to research environmentally-friendly cars, we will need more engineers, skilled workers to run this project.
The Government can also provide extra financial incentives for startups that focus on the green economy. New ideas and business will then generate more jobs. This could also lead to the encouragement of social enterprises.
Now, some may think this is such a huge effort and it is too big for a country like Malaysia to implement. But if we don’t imagine, we won’t even start to work for it. Nobody has ever thought that Malaysia would ever have one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, nobody would have thought Malaysia would be able to send their man to space.
Can we begin to imagine a Green Deal for Malaysia?