KOTA KINABALU: Despite losing the nation’s last Sumatran rhino Iman on Saturday, Malaysia should not lose hope in pursuing regional conservation efforts, said former state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.
“(Iman’s) egg cell is still available and I hope the current minister (Datuk Christina Liew) and federal counterpart will continue talks with Indonesia.
“There’s a lesson to be learnt; that each country needs to look at itself as custodian of iconic animals.
“It’s our duty to cooperate to ensure their survival. What’s important is that we must put our personal pride in the pocket and see it as contribution to mankind. It matters to our country.
"Having said this, we should not lose hope but look beyond Iman’s death,” he said.
Masidi said Malaysia was close to sealing a bilateral agreement with Indonesia on Sumatran rhino conservation collaboration during a working visit to Jakarta by the then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was however taken out of the agenda at the last minute.
“During my tenure (as the minister), the nearest effort was the signing of MoU, but the Indonesian official was not ready to sign at the last hour. Our officials were already in Jakarta (for the signing of MoU).
“It was supposed to be among the MoUs to be signed during the visit of the then Prime Minister and before the President of Indonesia. However, that specific MoU was taken out at the eleventh hour,” Masidi told reporters when met after the launching of Jelajah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Sabah programme here, today.
He was commenting on efforts done to push for rhino conservation during his time as a state minister in charge of tourism, culture and environment.
He however declined to elaborate on reasons the Malaysia-Indonesia MoU agenda was removed.
Aked when Malaysia or Sabah government first initiates effort to collaborate with Indonesia, he said it was when Tan Sri Musa Hitam was Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) council chairman.
“He was a good friend of Dr Emil Salim (the then Indonesian Environment Minister) and managed to talk to him about establishing the MoU. Efforts have been taken, but unfortunately did not materialise,” he said.
According to Borneo Rhino Sanctuary quarterly report (July-December 2013) made available on Borneo Rhino Alliance’s (Bora) website, it states meetings were held in Jakarta on Dec 5, 2013, through the keen interest and good offices of Musa and Emil for matters pertaining to collaboration with Indonesia.
The meeting involved YSD, Bora, and Minister of Forestry Indonesia, with a view to arranging for an agreement to be made on collaboration of Sumatran rhino, between Indonesia and Malaysia, at the annual meeting of the leaders of the two nations in Jakarta on Dec19.
The report noted Malaysia was ready to sign a MoU or joint statement, but Indonesia was unable to do so.