In search of environmental justice in Malaysia: the cases of Broga and Bukit Merah

  • Li Kheng Poh

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The thesis examines two environmental campaigns in Malaysia in order to consider their significance in relation to conceptualising ideas of environmental justice and citizenship. The first campaign, the Broga anti-incinerator campaign is compared and contrasted to the second campaign, the Bukit Merah anti-radioactive waste campaign. Using a qualitative approach, the thesis examines how campaigners made use of a wide range of international environmental justice concepts and discourses, and campaigning strategies. These were locally adapted to fit the Malaysian political and social context, so that campaigners could demand their rights and challenge the responsibilities of the state and business interests. Campaigners made their demands for accountability not only through the law courts, but also through using discourses and strategies of environmentalism, rights to information and participation, citizen science, and lobbying internationally via transnational advocacy networks. Collectively, these actions brought both internal and external pressures to bear on the state and business interests, and created new spaces for dissent and for the construction of rights and entitlements. While actual material gains were not substantial, there were gradual incremental changes in feelings of personal empowerment and political consciousness, and in institutional health and safety processes. From this, I argue that conceptual links should be made between ideas of environmental justice and environmental citizenship. Concepts of environmental citizenship help to strengthen arguments for environmental justice, and vice versa.
Date of AwardJan 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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