Who says Penang is the pearl of the orient

CAP wishes to bring to the attention of the Tourism Ministry and the Penang State Government regarding the level of cleanliness and beauty of Penang which is very disappointing, and the naming of this island as Pearl of the Orient is just empty talk.

Recently, Jakob Von Uexkull from Sweden had visited Penang. He is the founder and Chairman of Right Livelihood Foundation which was established in 1980 and based in Sweden. Every year, this foundation gives the Right Livelihood Award in Sweden’s Parliament in appreciation and support of individuals who contribute ideas, views and plans towards challenging issues facing mankind. This award is regarded as the Alternative Nobel Award.

His disappointment towards the environment and beauty of Penang has his basis. The following are his observations and disappointments:-

Batu Ferringhi Beach
* The seawater which is terribly polluted as a result of sewage water being released into it. This pollution can be clearly seen with the naked eye.

* No effort has been done to clear the horse’s dung along the beach and the horses are a threat to children’s safety because they run in areas where the children play.

* Jet skis and speedboat are very close to the beach causing threat to the swimmers.

* Excessive harassment from water-sport peddlers. Forcing visitors to use their services.

Pedestrian walks around Penang
* No pedestrian walk/pavement and pedestrians are forced to walk along dirty roadsides which are heavily polluted with vehicle smoke and litter from stalls set up on the pavement. This is a potential threat to the safety of the public in view of vehicles traveling at high speed and target for snatch thieves because pedestrians must walk on the roadsides.

* The level of cleanliness of most restaurants is deplorable. Restaurants even exist beside sewerage system. Consideration is not taken of the level of cleanliness of those food stalls that are set up close to the main roads because the risk of the food being polluted with vehicle smoke is very high.

In the wake of the Penang State Government giving more attention to the heritage areas which were recognized by UNESCO, these problems are seemed not being addressed. A comparative/comprehensive and effective effort must be made and this involves the cooperation of the Tourism Ministry in handling this problem because the Batu Ferringhi area specifically and Penang generally is an international tourist attraction but its condition shows that the management, monitoring and enforcement to keep the island clean and safe are at the least to say at deplorable level.

Letter to the Editor, 31 January, 2009