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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Making Redang high-end getaway is not a sustainable solution

The recent suggestion by the Terengganu Mentri Besar that Pulau Redang should be turned into an exclusive getaway for the rich and famous must have peeved many average Malaysians who are left wondering what good would that do.

He also went on to say that new hotels must charge RM1,599 a night, ostensibly to protect the environment.

While the reason may be quite noble as he pointed out the need to protect the island’s natural habitat and marine life, turning it into a high-end escapade for only “the haves” will not guarantee that it will remain an unspoilt nature’s paradise.

Of course, we should not tolerate irresponsible visitors who litter the beach, step on corals, chase after or catch the fishes and other marine life, and breaking marine park regulations.

Although turning Pulau Redang into a high-end vacation paradise only for the rich may sound like a speedy and effortless solution for the state government, it is certainly not a sustainable solution.

The seemingly short-cut solution by barring the average visitors and “the non-rich and non-famous” from stepping on the island is not the answer to resolve the problem.

We cannot assume that the rich and famous are all well behaved and will be civic conscious to safeguard the island’s natural beauty.

We just need to turn the pages of the celebrity magazines and newspapers to know that they are also only human and have many faults and shortcomings.

How many times have we seen people in big expensive cars throwing their cigarette butts or rubbish from their speeding vehicles? Of course, people in other cars are also guilty of such uncivic behaviour.

Instead of assuming that the lower-income group and average people are the culprits for the deterioration of the island’s cleanliness and natural habitat, there should be more pro-active measures to inculcate the right attitude among the people to take care of the island’s surroundings and natural environment.

A more permanent solution will be to conduct a real study on why some visitors don’t behave civilly when on the island and flout the rules, whether written or unwritten.

Drawing up and implementing policies to protect and preserve the island’s natural environment will ensure visitors from all walks of life will toe the line and get to enjoy the island’s beauty.

A list of dos and don’ts while on the island will be a good start and it should be distributed to all visitors upon arrival.

Enforcement, including spot checks, should be conducted regularly to ensure those who break the rules are fined heavily, visitors included.

Resort operators should throw in their support and adopt more green-friendly operating measures. They can also adopt or foster certain parts of the island to ensure its proper maintenance and upkeep.

Ultimately, it boils down to the need to educate our people about the importance of civic consciousness and putting in their share to care for our natural environment.

Schools will be the right place to train our young ones on the need to respect and care for Mother Nature.

Adults, especially parents, are in many ways the resource centres for children and they should always set the right example and be the role models for the young to emulate.

Malaysia has many natural places of attractions and they are for everybody to appreciate and enjoy. All of us have a stake in helping to take good care of them for the benefit of future generations.

So, let’s start by being more civic conscious and do our part for Mother Nature.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng believes by keeping the country’s natural attractions open to all, the people will benefit in terms of stronger ties and respect for each other, regardless of their stature.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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