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Friday, February 17, 2012

Let's keep Langkawi magical

Last week’s brutal attack on a German couple must be the last

Hubert Heiler and his wife Mariah Hease vowed this would be their last visit to Langkawi after a terrifying assault.
DURING my first visit to Langkawi more than 15 years ago, I met several Europeans who were "returning visitors" to the island. Some were even conversant in Bahasa Malaysia.
There were others already speaking in the northern dialect.

I understood why they chose to stay, or to make regular visits to Langkawi. The island, despite the fast-paced development, has retained much of its pristine quality. Besides, the locals are friendly.

All this must have been why Hubert Heiler, 70, and his wife Mariah Hease, 66, kept returning to Langkawi every year for the past 18 years to spend two months away from the cold winter of their native Germany. But this will be their last visit. They are not coming back. Neither would you if you were brutally attacked by machete-wielding men.

Last weekend, the couple was having an after-dinner stroll when they were set upon by three men along the main road to their hotel in Pantai Tengah.

Heiler and Hease were slashed on their arms and all five of Hease's fingers on her left hand were almost severed. Heiler also suffered similar injuries on three of his fingers.

The injured couple were rushed to hospital by passers-by.

Heiler said they would fly home to their hometown in Bielefeld, Germany once they were discharged.

Langkawi police chief Superintendent Harrith Kam Abdullah said they had arrested a suspect -- a local youth who is a drug addict -- in connection with the case.

I'm not sure whether or not the attack-cum-robbery was the first such incident in Langkawi.

 If it was, then it is the responsibility of the police to prevent a recurrence.

I'm sure the couple's story is big news among the residents, in particular visitors -- in the island. They must be worried because if the robbers are not caught, then a similar incident could occur, perhaps with a worse outcome. Anyone could be a victim.

Langkawi is internationally known, not just as a tourist attraction but a favourite venue for international conferences.

Although Langkawi is not unfamiliar to people the world over, if you're a prospective visitor, you'd still want to know more.

You'll find a website  describing the scenery of "magical Langkawi".

You'll be told it's "relatively a very safe place to visit" with "problems that come with being a developing area".

Also that the only major crimes are petty thefts "because there is a great contrast of wealthy tourists and poor locals".

Visitors should not avoid a trip, but take certain precautions "to ensure a safe visit" like not carrying large amounts of money, not wearing expensive jewellery or not looking flashy.

They also should not draw "un-needed attention" to themselves and try to blend in with the crowd.

Other complaints mentioned were car break-ins, rental car "scams" and cheeky monkeys that "regularly mug tourists for fruit, ice cream, etc".

At press time, I've not confirmed whether the Heilers have left Langkawi.

 They might have promised to not return but who knows, after they've got over their ordeal, they may remember the good things about the mystical isles in the sun. For now, I'd like to think that the Langkawi police would have intensified their search for the three men. Round up suspects if they must.

The Heilers have a horrific tale to tell when they get home. Let's hope it is not the only tale people will remember of Langkawi.

The authorities, including the police as well as the community, in Langkawi, should subscribe to the maxim -- a sensible response to a senseless crime.

Act swiftly to send a message that no one tolerates such brutality before Langkawi begins to assume a different reputation.

If what happened to the Heilers is consigned to the cold files, even loyal visitors from the Britain, Germany and elsewhere as well as Malaysians themselves may avoid the island like the plague.  Not even the friendly locals can beckon them back.

AL :-
A sad but true event. Its a shame event for Langkawi tourist have to get thru this incident. Eventhough the event happen last month. But for a local langkawian i need to give it a highlight. Not good for tourist but to aware the authourities, tourist & locals on what can happen to this magical island. Hopefully the culprit captured already & but them in bars..

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