A rushed project at this popular destination suggests a lack of appreciation for the importance of balancing physical structures with the surrounding physical environment, Mustafa K Anuar writes.
It is commendable that Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa recently announced his ministry’s commitment towards safeguarding and promoting green zones, such as public parks, in the city of Kuala Lumpur.
Such environmental priority, however, contrasts starkly with what happened recently to a popular tourist spot about two hours’ drive away from Kuala Lumpur: the tiny mountain town of Fraser’s Hill in Pahang.
Only brickbats befit the misconduct of parties responsible for desecrating in indecent haste the natural and peaceful ambience and demolishing two quaint lodges on Fraser’s Hill recently. Last month, an English-style cottage built in the 1960s was bulldozed along with popular birdwatching site, Jelai Resort, to make way for a 14-storey resort complex.
It is worth reminding that Fraser’s Hill is one of Malaysia’s leading locations for birdwatching, making itself attractive to keen birdwatchers as it is home to more than 250 species of birds. This is apart from the fact that the place is rich in biodiversity, which attracts nature lovers and researchers.
The proposed resort complex will purportedly cater to the needs of tourists, the number of which, developers expect, will increase in the future.
It is unsurprising that, because residents are up in arms against this project, the developers, according to environmental group Persatuan Alam dan Warisan Bukit Fraser (PAWBF), have yet to reveal a report of its environmental impact assessment. PAWBF chairman Nik Jassmin Hew said the planning permission for the 180-room resort project was granted without a submission of the report to the Department of Environment.
Residents have a right to know about developments that are about to take place in their beloved town, especially if such developments have the tendency to disrupt their lifestyle and prized heritage. And the residents’ voices must be heard as well.
There is also concern that the construction might ruin a nearby lake, Allan’s Water, popular with tourists.
This rushed project suggests a lack of appreciation for the importance of balancing physical structures with the surrounding physical environment. In other words, the aesthetics of the locale have been sorely neglected.
As it is, a resident complained that the temperature on the hill has been getting warmer as the years go by as a result of the many trees being cut down.
The increased temperature and periodic traffic jams in Cameron Highlands should be a grim reminder of the nightmare that awaits this tiny town should its planners and developers opt for a future that is unpleasant and environmentally unfriendly.
Crass materialism, which has taken hold of many other tourist spots in the country, will blunt the uniqueness of Fraser’s Hill.
The fact that many tourists, particularly those from Western countries, prefer to visit places that are well-endowed in natural heritage seems to have been lost on most of our developers, who conveniently equate progress with material construction.
What is also downplayed is the fact that no amount of money can salvage a natural heritage that is lost, which is an immense loss to the entire nation.