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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blighted Jewel of Kedah ~ Letter to editor THe Star

I WOULD like to congratulate StarMetro North for publishing several articles on protecting Langkawi’s natural treasures. I have sent you a photo on the famous Pantai Cenang in Langkawi. There was an open burning of plastic and rubbish on the beach. Hundreds of tourists walked past the fire and the rubbish. Most of them were shocked. And rightly so. My husband and I came to Langkawi to escape the winter cold in Europe. It was our first visit to the island and will probably be our last.
We had heard so much about the pristine natural environment and read all the descriptions of the Unesco Geopark but when we finally got to Langkawi, we found that the reality of this ‘paradise island’ is very different.

Even from the airport runway when we got down from the plane, one of the first things we noticed were the hills in the distance where the rainforest trees have been stripped away.
We were shocked by the amount of rubbish almost everywhere on the island; big piles of stinking garbage lie on the sides of the road almost everywhere.
We visited the famous Seven Wells’ Waterfall and were horrified to see how much rubbish was floating in the water and thrown around the surrounding jungle. Local teenagers were washing their hair using shampoo in the water — something we would never see in Europe.
One woman changed her baby’s nappy and just left it on a rock and then washed the baby’s dirty bottom in the water beside some swimming tourists. When they protested, she just looked at them as if there was nothing wrong.

SMS to The Star
Anaklangkawi :-
I suggest authorities should take note of the comment by tourist very seriously. It supposed to be a good memories when they go back home but instate they bring horror stories about environmental pollution in Langkawi which were created by ourself. 

And i do know the number of box jellyfish increases due to water quality of the surrounding sea depleted. Please do sometimes before thing get worst. 

p/s: Last time i've highlighted rubbish issue.. its not uncommon if someone starts to make excuses.

Another day, we drove our hired car to the north of the island to a small beach where locals were picnicking. Again, there were ghastly piles of rubbish. Some of the families even lit fires to burn their plastic bags and polystyrene picnic boxes. They seemed to have no idea how dangerous and toxic the fumes can be and even had their children playing nearby.
The most shocking though was on Pantai Cenang. Our guesthouse owner had already warned us that 200 boxes of jellyfish had been cleared from the water earlier in the week, so we certainly didn’t risk swimming. Even without the jellyfish, it was too dangerous with noisy jet-skis and ‘banana-boats’ spoiling any peace and quiet.

The local boys ride their motor bikes along the beach and we even saw two cars passing by.
My husband and I have travelled to many places but never have we seen open burning of plastic on the beaches. It seems to be a Langkawi speciality (along with filthy smelly public toilets). I for one won’t be recommending Langkawi to any of my environmentally conscious friends.
Langkawi sells itself on its natural beauty, and it’s true that the island is beautiful. But it’s a shame that the locals seem to take so little pride in their island and keep it clean for their visitors.
Tourism brings a lot of people and money to the island, but if Langkawi doesn’t clean up its image soon, then people are going to start going elsewhere.
Imagine our surprise when we got to Penang and found that plastic bags are completely banned here. If Penang can do it with such a larger population, then surely Langkawi can ban plastic bags too.

Mary Adams
The Star

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