Monday, March 21, 2005

Turning mud into gold...

Sunset amongst dead mangroves in Morib (C) Lrong Lim

I hang out at Morib and the surroundings often when I return for a visit. Some years ago, Golden Hope Plantations and the Selangor State Government proposed a plan to develop the area into what was dubbed the Morib Beach Resort City.

Excepts from a Golden Hope report:
'This sea front resort township master plan has been approved by the Selangor State Government and will cover a land area of 1,417.5ha. The proposed development is expected to be launched within the financial year 2000/2001. This new development will feature a beachfront retreat, resort villas, a cultural and entertainment precinct, golf links, resort island and Golden Years precinct. The company will also develop Carey Island Resort Harbour City in Klang. "But it will not be so soon because there are many that need to be taken into consideration," Azmar said, adding that it is a long-term project for the company. This resort harbour city envisions, among others, a dedicated 810ha area of heritage land as well as plantation homestead, beach front developments, an international standard golf link, herbariums, a plantation heritage museum, research and development and education zone.'

Another report said:
'Golden Hope Development Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Golden Hope Plantation Bhd, has signed a joint venture agreement with Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB) to build an RM800mil beach resort in Morib over the next eight to ten years. The proposed project will cover about 323ha, of which 202ha will constitute Golden Hope land, 97ha reclaimed sea land and about 24ha an existing golf course on state land. Golden Hope Development currently owns about 688ha of plantation land in Morib. Golden Hope Development will own 70% of the joint venture company and PNSB the remaining 30%.'

Morib, in my humble opinion, is just a muddy beach. Full of sand flies. At low tide, you can almost see the mud or 'sand' if you like, as far as your eyes allow you to. At high tide, 'swimming' is hardly an option when you see the brownish seawater.

The one beautiful sight is the glorious sunset. Or, if you enjoy bird watching amongst the mangrove trees or if you love driving along kampong roads like I do, Morib is for you.

But making a 'Resort City' out of a muddy beach?

Well, as some may say, Kuala Lumpur was nothing but a muddy flat.

It is 2005 now, and thank god, Morib beach is still the same good old muddy Morib beach.

Today, it was reported in the news that the 'Selangor State Government is involved in a RM4bil project which covers a massive 1,492 hectares to turn the Sepang district coastline into a beach resort to rival the Gold Coast in Australia or even Miami Beach in Florida. The project hit a snag three weeks ago when contractors got into trouble with the local authorities for carrying out piling without following procedures. It is believed environmental concerns were raised during the meetings, including the danger of land reclamation damaging the eco-system in the area and the eventual destruction of mangrove swamps to make way for various attractions in Sepang Gold Coast. Based on this, the Sepang district council issued a stop-work order. The project, which will see the development of the beaches from Bagan Lalang to Tanjung Sepat, is a joint venture between state investment company Permodalan Negri Selangor Bhd and Sepang Bay Sdn. The exco members had even deliberated downsizing the ambitious project to about 200 hectares.'

A beach resort in the mud to rival the Gold Coast or Miami Beach? Are these people joking or what?

An odd thing is that the project owners had not even obtained the Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from the Department of Environment before starting the piling works.

How can this lapse of procedure occur, especially when the State government is involved?

The area (along with neighboring Morib?) is filled with mangrove swamps and is the only living delta in the state. It is also the only place in the state where rare clams can be found.

Anyway, I have a feeling that sooner rather than later, the mangroves will be gone while the shallows turn into reclaimed land.

Hopefully they will leave some 'space' for people like me to enjoy cruising along the kampong roads, bird watching in whatever is left of the mangroves.