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By Ignorance The Truth Is Known

Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh

Kuala Lumpur, 6 March 2007

In a powerful and impassioned speech at the launch of the Climate Change Week, YTL Corporation managing director Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh called for urgent response and action in a battle against climate change.

Text of speech by Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh:

Welcome to Climate Change Week and the Premier of the movie "An Inconvenient Truth".


Henry Suso said in the 14th Century "By ignorance the truth is known".


Tonight, let me take you back to the history of the slave trade some 200 years ago and how ignorance of this heinous trade has untold repercussions that reverberates to this day.


In 18th century, Britain was the biggest slaving nation. So integral to the British economy was the slave business that there were few men and institutions of wealth who did not want to invest in it, from the royal family and the Church of England downwards. Slavers could count on the Archbishop of Canterbury to defend them before God, and on politicians, like the young William Gladstone, himself the son of a plantation owner, to plead their case in Parliament.


Given how entrenched the slave trade was at the time, it is remarkable that a campaign to abolish it which began in 1787 succeeded only two decades later. It was about 200 years ago that a bill to abolish slavery got through its second, decisive reading in Parliament.
Ultimately it was the shame and degradation that the slave traffic brought to those involved, perpetrators as well as victims, that proved its undoing.


For most Europeans the existence of the slave trade, and slavery itself, was barely known. In England there was no slavery, so there was no particular reason for most people to face the ugly truth.


The means by which sugar lumps arrived on tables in polite society were carefully hidden. Those fine feelings were spared from reality by careful euphemisms. But there was still a pervasive feeling that, despite all the evasions, those involved in the trade were doing something deeply wrong.


This sense of guilt was to prove the Achilles heel of the slave trade in Europe. The task the abolitionists set themselves was to expose the reality of the trade to an ignorant public. They thought the moral sense of ordinary people would do the rest, and in part they were right. But lighting the spark of conscience needs brave individuals - like Thomas Clarkson, the moving spirit behind the founding of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of Slavery in 1787.


Britain was the big sea power of the day, it alone could enforce abolition throughout the world, as its navy resolutely tried to do for the rest of the 19th century. The European and American role in the slave trade is now well-known and their governments have apologised.


This historical event has parallels to what is happening to our world today in the area of global warming.


It is refreshing to know that Britain, the nation that brought an end to the slave trade is again playing a leading role in putting an end to the world’s ignorance on global warming. I applaud the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown amongst others.


It is also reassuring to note that an American in the carnation of the former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore is taking this important message to the world on the horrible effects of global warming. More importantly, Al Gore is engaging the Americans in this very important debate. These brave individuals may be our modern day Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce that could put an end to our ignorance of global warming. We are indeed here tonight to face up to this "Inconvenient Truth".


Albert Einstein said, "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough".


In 2005, there was speculation by scientists that the Apophis asteroid had a 1 in 37 chance of hitting the Earth. In Egyptian myth, Apophis was the ancient spirit of evil and destruction, a demon that was determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness. The threat of a collision in 2029 was eventually ruled out. Nasa has argued that a final decision on what to do about Apophis will have to be made in 2013. Apparently we have some time on our hand on this issue.


What is however not a scientific speculation, is that the recent United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change landmark study revealed that the world is at a tipping point. With a projection of 6-Centigrade rise in temperature by the end of the century, humanity is in fact sitting on a ticking time bomb – with just 10 years to avert major catastrophes that could send our entire planet into a tailspin of unmitigated disasters. On this issue, ladies and gentlemen, we definitely do not have time on our hands!


The report also claimed that humans are 90% responsible for global warming in the last 50 years. Effectively, this means we can no longer blame natural disasters on "natural causes" or God’s will. Augustine said," Without God we cannot, without us God will not."


Every individual ignorant of the consequences of Global Warming on this Earth, is actually unwittingly a mini Aphophis asteroid that is plunging this world into eternal darkness and destruction.


God made us individually into a masterpiece from dust of the Earth and to dust we shall all return. It is good to remind ourselves of our humble beginnings. The word "Humble" itself comes from the Latin humus, which means "fertile ground" and that is why tonight all of us should be more down to earth.


We should not be taking our good Earth that has always been with us for granted.


Let us in full repentance and full humility, be fertile ground and stop this wanton destruction and corruption of this Earth and transform it into a power of life and a new possibility of creativeness. The world prospered on without the slave trade in the past and our world will prosper on without global warming in the future.


Let us in humility open our good Earth to the sunshine and to the rain and be ready to receive any seed we sow tonight capable of bringing it a hundredfold of productive endeavour for the sake of our present and future generations.


But, most of all, let us in total humility do it for the Glory of God.


I thank my Lord Jesus for blessing this event. Thank you very much and God bless all of you.


Speech by:

Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh

Managing Director, YTL Corporation Berhad

at the Malaysian premier of “An Inconvenient Truth”

The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, Kuala Lumpur

on 6 March 2007, 8.30pm

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From left: Ruth Yeoh, Dr Kenny Tang, Dato' Seri Azmi Khalid and Tan Sri Francis Yeoh at the launch of the book.

Wake up call at YTL Climate Change Week

YTL launched the Climate Change Week with the global book launch of 'Cut Carbon, Grow Profits', and the Malaysian premiere screening of 'An Inconvenient Truth.' The event was graced by the Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Dato' Seri Azmi Khalid, who was accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Normala Shamsuddin.

In his speech, Dato' Seri Azmi revealed that his passion for the environment had been inspired by a visit to YTL's Pangkor Laut Resort about ten years ago. At the island resort, Dato' Seri Azmi had observed that there was a hole in the road to allow a tree to grow. He was impressed with the lengths the developer had gone through to preserve the tree. He further reiterated that Al Gore's comment that the environment was "not a political issue, but a moral issue", and everyone needs to be more passionate about the environment. The Minister lauded corporates like YTL and individuals for their efforts and called for everybody to start being responsible for their own actions instead of waiting for the government, the authorities or corporations to take action.

Climate Change Week, happening March 6-9, 2007, is part of YTL's long-standing involvement and commitment to environmental protection. Designed to raise the level of environmental consciousness amongst Malaysians, it features a week of  exciting programmes and activities for Malaysians. 
The evening started off with the global book launch of 'Cut Carbon, Grow Profits', a book for forward thinking industry leaders looking for business strategies to manage climate change and sustainability.

The book is co-edited by Ruth Yeoh, Finance Director of YTL Corporation and Dr. Kenny Tang, CEO of Oxbridge Climate Capital, the leading UK experts in the fields of carbon reduction and clean technology. It includes more than 20 examples and case studies from various corporate leaders and experts, and features forewords by Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Margaret Beckett MP, British Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs.

Guests were later treated to the Malaysian premiere screening of 'An Inconvenient Truth', the Oscar-winning documentary starring former US Vice-President Al Gore who exposes the myths and misconceptions surrounding global warming. The documentary recently won two Oscar awards for Best Documentary Feature and Original Song.

And as part of Climate Change Week, YTL is sponsoring free public screenings of 'An Inconvenient Truth' where hundreds of lucky Malaysians had logged onto the YTL Community website and claimed their free passes to catch the screening of the documentary that will be held at The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac). Originally the screenings were for March 8 and 9 but due to the overwhelming response for the documentary, there will be additional screenings on March 11, 2007.

On this note, Tan Sri (Dr) Francis further added, "I must admit that when we were planning for this, all that we had was a hope that our dream would be achieved. And I am proud to say that the response to Climate Change Week has exceeded our expectations.

"3,000 tickets to the public screenings of 'An Inconvenient Truth' were snapped up within 3 days! In response to this overwhelming demand, we have decided to open additional screenings on March 11, allowing another 1,000 Malaysians to watch the movie that will change the way they view the world."

Recognising the importance for the younger generation to be involved in the fight against global warming, Climate Change Week had also organised a college student competition via The Star R.AGE that is distributed at the local and international colleges as well as universities.

Overwhelming responses from environmental NGOs like the Malaysian Nature Society, TREES (Treat Every Environment Special), WWF-Malaysia, Global Environment Centre and Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM) have also led to their involvement in Climate Change Week.

The 'Cut Carbon, Grow Profits' Conference at The Ritz-Carlton Conference Centre will be held on March 8th. The one-day climate change business strategy conference is targeted at forward-thinking global chief executives and senior managers, focusing on how to operate in a low-carbon economy, while focusing on bottom lines and long-term solutions. Here, Malaysian companies will be able to learn how to adopt 'clean' environmentally friendly technology and still achieve profitability.

To read the speech by Ruth Yeoh, please click here.


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