From First to Second Nature: Environmental Changes in Malaysia
Dari Alam Semulajadi kepada Alam Binaan: Perubahan Persekitaran di Malaysia
Keywords:First and second nature, environment, man-environment, change and degradation
This paper serves as an introduction to the transformation of the bio-physical environment of Malaysia by its people and their activities. Minding the fact that the world’s bio-sphere was created much earlier than the birth of human beings, the environment is there as the home base for them, utilizing what is made available to ensure their comfort, safety, health, and survival. The environment provides the material base for human beings’ everyday sustenance and no less what lies beyond that for their emotional and intellectual needs. Human beings thus learn to live in harmony with their environment. This simple relation is dynamic, ever changing. Transformation of the man-environment relations begin when the material components of the environment are seen as economic resources for the market while the non-material component as a commodity for aesthetic, emotional and intellectual needs of man. The environmental changes in Malaysia can be grouped to fall under two transitions; one from the changing nature of capital from the feudal state in pre-colonial intrusion of the Malay States time to the mercantile-colonial capital, and later on to capital associated with industrialism. Using the concept of sustainability defined as a process of development that goes for economic development for social welfare while protecting the environment for quality of not only the present generation but also the future, the transformation leads to the search for sustainability in a second environment.