Malaysia: Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior docks in Port Klang to spread environmental awareness

Tharanya Arumugam Straits Times 2 Jun 18;

PORT KLANG: Greenpeace’s iconic ship the Rainbow Warrior made its maiden port-of-call here today on a goodwill mission to raise awareness on environmental issues, particularly on plastic pollution.

Greenpeace Malaysia spokesperson Jacqueline Yew said the Rainbow Warrior calls on Malaysians to take meaningful action against plastic pollution threatening ocean and sea life.

“The Rainbow Warrior’s first official visit to Malaysia serves as a platform to announce Greenpeace’s physical presence here as well as to create greater awareness on environmental protection.

“We want to engage with local partners and supporters to act against plastic pollution. More than 90 per cent of plastic waste in the world is never recycled because it is non-biodegradable.

“We are currently undertaking a plastic scoping research work and we will share our findings with the relevant agencies upon completion. Our focus is on tackling single use plastics such as straws and plastic bags,” she told reporters when met on the ship, here, today.

Yew, who is also Greenpeace Southeast Asia deputy fundraising director said the organisation would also focus on addressing deforestation in the region, including Malaysia.

In a recent study by Science Magazine, Malaysia was named the 8th worst country in the world for plastic waste, producing almost one million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste in 2010, but other Southeast Asian nations were no better, with Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam in the top five of the same list.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño said they hoped to work with the government to raise awareness and educate Malaysians on matters related to climate change, plastic pollution, deforestation, energy systems and systemic problems that reinforce these environmental issues, like corruption and short-sighted industry mindsets.

“There is much work to be done especially with regard to plastic pollution, one of Malaysia’s most pressing environmental problems.

“While we are encouraged by the recent plastic ban in Malaysian Federal territories like Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur, we need to take more proactive steps toward curbing plastic waste.”

Meanwhile, Rainbow Warrior Captain Peter Willcox said people needed to take collective action through long-term solutions.

Problems like plastic pollution, deforestation, or climate change, he said, were not confined to national borders.

“It affects everyone and anyone on this planet. This is why the tour is happening and this is why we are in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia. The Rainbow Warrior is a symbol of hope and solidarity for a better world, and it is our wish that in Malaysia we can help spread this message.”

The Rainbow Warrior is on a five-month tour in Southeast Asia. The ship, which had previously visited the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore will be anchored-at-sea in Port Klang (Kompleks Dato Shaari Jihin South Port) from June 2 to June 5, and is open to the public.

There are some 15 crew members from 10 countries aboard the ship, namely from the United States of America, Spain, Ukraine, Netherlands, Lebanon, France, Turkey, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Farhan Nasa, a 26-year-old medical graduate from Subang is the only Malaysian aboard.

Farhan, who had always been passionate about the environment was a Greenpeace volunteer for about three years before embarking on this journey.

“It is my first time aboard a ship and it is very exciting and certainly a new learning experience. I am lucky and grateful to Greenpeace for being selected to be part of the crew.

“I have worked on environmental causes in the past, but this time around I wanted to be in the field (or in the sea) to observe and learn from the knowledgeable and experienced crew.

“I am part of the medical team here so I do a lot of work on the deck and also help out the medical staff.”

Rainbow Warrior visits M’sia
mei mei chu The Star 3 Jun 18;

PORT KLANG: Farhan Nasa was yearning for new expe­riences in life after medical school. So, he decided to volunteer on board Greenpeace’s ship, the Rainbow Warrior, as a deckhand and as part of its medical team.

On his very first day at work, he attended to two cases of heat exhaustion.

“The most difficult thing about being onboard is that it involves very physically de­­man­ding work.

“I have never done this kind of hard work before,” said the Malaysian from Subang Jaya, Selangor.

Farhan, 26, is part of a 15-strong crew on Rainbow Warrior that is now docked in Malaysia for the first time in history.

He represents a generation of young acti­vists who are joining established names such as Capt Peter Wilcox in its mission to expose global environmental abuses.

“When I first started sailing we used paper charts for navigation; now we have all these technology,” Wilcox said of the electronic chart display system on the vessel.

Wilcox, 65, has been sailing for 45 years. He has gone through much, his life threatened during a 1985 bombing in New Zealand and when he was arrested and detained for two months by Russian military in 2013.

Yet, Wilcox has never surrendered the fight for environmental protection.

“Climate change is not a distant problem our children have to deal with,” Wilcox said, highlighting that 80% of the reefs in Indonesia were facing coral bleaching.

He said three major practices that were severely hurting the planet – fossil fuels, overfishing and single use plastics.

“Soon, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Already fish are dying in the ocean, birds are dying eating plastic,” he said.

“We have got to change the way we are li­­ving on the planet, or our planet won’t support us.”

Wilcox said his activism felt like a losing battle and that he was disappointed to see the health degradation of the planet.

However, he chose to remain hopeful.

“In 20 years, when my grandchildren are saying ‘how do you mess up the planet so badly?’, I’ll be able to say ‘I tried, I wasn’t very successful, but I tried’. That’s why I don’t regret it,” he said.

The Rainbow Warrior, one of three Green­peace ships aside from the Arctic Sunrise and the Esperanza, has successfully helped end nuclear testing in the Pacific, blocked coal ports and closed down destructive fishing operations.

It will be in Port Klang until Thursday to raise greater awareness on environmental protection and to engage with local partners and supporters for a meaningful action on plastic pollution.