Man at His Best

SPARK Foundation Aims to Restore Respect for Water

There's a looming crisis in 2030 if we continue to tap the stuff for profit.

BY Editors | Jan 25, 2018 | Culture

Alena Murang, indigenous artist, musician and activist and SPARK Foundation change agent, delivers the message.

The former GAB Foundation gets a new identity on its tenth anniversary year​. Say hello to ​SPARK Foundation. Its predecessor was established to support Heineken Malaysia’s corporate social responsibility activities, and SPARK Foundation comes a renewed vision to support local communities in environmental conservation and education.  

Speaking at the new entity’s launch recently, SPARK Foundation chairman Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon, said ​the new focus was on developing strategic partnerships​. “[E]ffective change does not happen in isolation,” he added, citing the example of the foundation’s W.A.T.E.R Project and English Enrichment Training Programme as smart partnerships with a “sustainable positive impact”.

A global water supply is projected to occur by 2030, and ​the SPARK Foundation ​places ​water and river conservation as one of its core activities. ​More than 90% of Malaysia’s water supply comes from rivers, but just 58% of the country’s rivers remain clean.

“We hope to get like-minded partners on board to ignite greater change. Through innovation and passion of our people and communities, most importantly millennials, we can spark a change for a better environment,” said Saw.

SPARK Foundation will promote the use of water conservation technologies to reduce stress on rivers, enhance wastewater management on project sites, partner with government on the River of Life Public Outreach programme and “empower stakeholders” on project sites via educational projects, especially millennials. The project sites include Sungai Penchala, areas in East Malaysia, and Sungai Selangor.

Making the world better, one millennial at a time. Master of ceremonies and SPARK Foundation change agent, Zher Peen (above).

According to SPARK Foundation trustee Renuka Indrarajah, who is also Heineken corporate affairs and legal director the key successes of the programmes in the last 10 years include transforming water quality of Sungei Way from Class IV-V to Class III, and establishing “River Care” communities along Sungai Way, Sungai Penchala, Sungai Senam, Sungai Buntong and Sungai Kledang. In addition, the English Enrichment Training Programme cover seven states and has recorded an improvement of between 40% - 60% in the areas of reading, listening and writing among students in three years. More than 465 educators from 230 schools were trained over the last six years. 

Indrarajah spoke of the iconic brewery’s connection with the SPARK Foundation via its sustainability initiatives, which Heineken calls “Brewing a Better World”.

Rivers are a source of life and were once the cradle of human civilisation. Today they supply 90 percent of Malaysia's potable water.

“One of the six pillars of [this] strategy is growing with communities. This is the mission of the SPARK Foundation,” said Indrarajah.

Datin Linda Ngiam, Datin Kathleen Chew, Renuka Indrarajah, Hans Essaadi, Tan Sri Saw Choo Boon.