The inaugural conference brought together MNS Branches as well as esteemed personalities, such as Merdeka Award winners, to share information on past, present and future conservation efforts, towards the formulation of the MNS Strategic Plan 2018-2030. The conference was opened by MNS President Henry Goh, followed by the Opening Address by Guest of Honours Dato’ Azizan Noordin, CEO of the Langkawi Development Authority, who spoke about LADA’s efforts in striking a balance between development and environmental protection in Langkawi; and Vinayagan Dharmarajah, BirdLife International Regional Director, who shared BirdLife’s work alongside MNS on Malaysia’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas.
In session one, titled “Learning From the Masters”, the audience heard from 2016 Merdeka Award Winner Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor, former MNS President and current Senior Advisor; 2015 Merdeka Award Winner Emeritus Professor Dato’ Dr Abdul Latiff Mohamad, Honorary Editor of the Malayan Nature Journal; 2014 Merdeka Award Winner Mohd Khan Momin Khan, former Director-General of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia; and Professor Dr Ahmad Ismail, former MNS Vice-President and current Environmental Education Division Advisor.
Session two, “MNS Nature & Conservation – Moving Through Time”, featured presentations by MNS Branches, namely Langkawi, Kedah, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan/Melaka, Johor, Miri and Sandakan, and the Herpetofauna Special Interest Group from MNS Selangor Branch. In session three, “Cherish the Past & Looking Forward to the Future”, the audience participated in raising concerns to be pursued by MNS towards strengthening the Society, playing on its 75 years of environmental advocacy and its ambitions to safeguard Malaysia’s biodiversity.
Goh said this cooperation was an important element towards strengthening civil societies’ role in effecting green policies for the country. “With MNS being the oldest and largest membership-based environmental NGO in Malaysia, its Branches are the key to success in promoting the study, appreciation, conservation and protection of Malaysia’s natural heritage. MNS has been the main force behind the protection of many key habitats, as well as national, marine and state parks in Malaysia, and this conference has greatly assisted in the Society’s road map for its future conservation efforts,” he said, adding that he was heartened by the Members’ response to the Conference, which is slated to become an annual event. “This shows commitment, and the willingness to keep MNS as a relevant part of policy decisions for the country.”