PETALING JAYA: A group of environmental lawyers is suggesting that Parliament introduce laws that allow future generations – the unborn, infants and children – to file suits to preserve nature.
The yet-to-be registered group, Lawyers for The Environment (LFE), also wants legislation to be passed to allow individuals and interest groups to file suits on behalf of non-living entities, such as rivers, trees and mountains.
“Such litigation is now a norm in India and should be allowed in Malaysia,” the group said in a statement in conjunction with Earth Day today.
The statement, supported by 11 lawyers led by its chief co-ordinator Roger Chan Weng Kang, said apart from India, the right to sue on behalf of future generations and nature was practised in the Philippines, New Zealand and Ecuador.
The statement said it was important for intergenerational rights to be introduced into “the Malaysian environmental regime” in relation to the decisions of the legislature, executive and judiciary.
“The intergenerational rights test should be the threshold for all matters relating to the environment to ensure sustainability,” it said.
The group said the significance of Earth Day grew with each passing year as the global climate crisis worsened.
“Climate change is a global phenomenon and Malaysia is no exception in facing critical issues such as global warming, pollution, and the vanishing forest,” it said.
The group said mere compliance with national laws on logging, mining and industrialisation did not mean compliance with higher standards of social and environmental sustainability.
“LFE, on the occasion of Earth Day 2021, calls on the public to demonstrate solidarity, take action and send a clear message to the government to act,” it said.
The group said the right to a clean environment had been made indelibly clear by the Court of Appeal in a ruling 25 years ago in the case of Tan Tek Seng v Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Pendidikan & Anor.
“It includes the right to live in a reasonably healthy and pollution-free environment,” it added.