A GROUP of Bruneians have banded together, calling on their fellow countrymen to participate in this year's upcoming Earth Hour, and have sought the local authorities' coordination to "switch off one of Brunei's icons" in a bid to be internationally recognised for the country's contribution to the world event.
The Sultanate with a population of more than 400,000 people will be among 17 countries and regions whose participation will be recognised for the first time by Earth Hour's organisers and initiators, Earth Hour Global, which are based in Australia.
The energy-awareness initiative began in 2007 when 2.2 million homes and businesses in Sydney switched off lights simultaneously to highlight the cause of combating climate change.
Not to be shadowed by prominent nations such as America and Australia, which have manifested their commitment to Earth Hour by switching off lights at landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Sydney Opera House, the Earth Hour Global representatives in Brunei are hoping to work with the authorities to switch off an equivalent icon here.
"For Brunei to be officially recognised, one of the criteria is that we need an official icon that represents Brunei to be switched off," said Mohd Rimey, a coordinator and one of the representatives of Brunei's Earth Hour initiative.
In an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday, he said they were in talks with the authorities to switch off "one of the Sultanate's icons" during Earth Hour, which takes place from 8.30pm to 9.30pm (local time) on March 27.
However, since the decision awaits approval, Mohd Rimey did not disclose the exact "icon" proposed but it is hoped that it would be a significant building in the Brunei-Muara District.
Although, the blackout, as well as all other Earth Hour initiatives that take place, will have to be done voluntarily, otherwise it will not count, he explained. "It has to be from their own free will," said Mohd Rimey.
If authorised, supporters of Brunei's participation in Earth Hour will gather at the icon representing the Sultanate, while others will switch off non-essential lights and appliances to mark the one-hour event.
The Brunei representatives have drawn mass interest from the local public through their online social-network accounts at Facebook (Earth Hour Brunei) and Twitter (earthhourbrunei). As at press time yesterday, their Facebook site had listed some 1,579 members.
Private and public institutions have also joined and supported the global cause in past Earth Hour events, when Bruneians joined in unofficially on an individual basis. HSBC Brunei's Corporate Sustainability Manager Lim Boon Teck posted the bank's support on the Facebook site yesterday.
"HSBC Brunei is in on Earth Hour. As per last year, all lights at our BSB (Bandar Seri Begawan) branch will be off. We need more people to participate," he posted.
Mohd Rimey remarked that the real message behind Earth Hour was not limited to switching off lights but extended to other relevant energy-saving initiatives and the fight against climate change.
"Earth Hour, by definition, is much more symbolic. It's about consuming less energy and lowering our carbon footprint," he said.
"We want to tell the world that Brunei cares as well," he added. "This year we want to be recognised as a group of Bruneians, for Brunei to be recognised (as taking part in Earth Hour)".
Those interested in joining Earth Hour can register through the Earth Hour Global website, earthhour.org, or enlist through the Earth Hour Brunei Facebook account.
Mohd Rimey said that they registered themselves to Earth Hour Global in mid-February this year and started with about 10 official representatives for Brunei and have since been recruiting more members.
The founding group hopes the activities conducted to commemorate Earth Hour will be showcased online through the Earth Hour website.
The Brunei Times
Thursday, March 11, 2010
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