“Our tropical rainforests, our pride!”

Letter to Editor

First, allow me to congratulate Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail and his new state exco, especially the newly-minted state exco in charge of unity, tourism, and culture, Leong Yu Man.

The state of Pahang has a lot to catch up on with the rest of the country in terms of development and infrastructure.

To many of us who are living in the city, the moment we talk about Pahang, we think of the many beautiful eco-tourist destinations such as Tasik Cini, Taman Negara, the Cameron Highlands, and Pulau Tioman.

Recently, when chatting with friends from Singapore about spending their holiday in Malaysia, I realised that many of them had never even experienced living in an eco-tourist resort.

Our Singaporean friends, who are only familiar with the concrete jungle, are seriously considering staying at one of the eco-tourist resorts that I have previously featured in Voiz.Asia.

They were mesmerised by the fact that one can enjoy a stress-free and peaceful holiday even in the pristine tropical rainforest of Malaysia.

Pahang, the ‘tropical rainforest hub’

(Photo credit: Dreamstime)

Unless we preserve our national heritage, we will be losing one of the oldest tropical forests that is so rich in biodiversity. The tropical rainforest in Pahang is reputed to be even older than the Amazon rainforests.

Pahang, the Peninsula’s largest state, has approximately 2 million hectares of natural forest. Malaysians must realise that the natural rainforest becomes an important buffer for any drastic climatic change in the country. 

This explains why Pahang is so dear to many of us. For this reason, we travel to the Cameron Highlands from all over the country just to spend our holidays; but sadly, many of the eco-tourist resorts in Pahang are losing their lustre.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tasik Cini and Taman Negara have suffered badly due to low tourist arrivals. A lot of efforts need to be made to rebuild the state’s eco-tourism sector and capitalise on its rich heritage. Once destroyed, the tropical rainforest is irreplaceable.

Pahang is also the home state of our Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah, which my Singaporean friends heard so much about during the political impasse just before Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was appointed as the country’s tenth prime minister based on the Agong’s wisdom.

Sadly, however, I have to admit that when I tried to help my friends in Singapore get more information from one of the eco-resorts, Tanah Aina, about which I have shared some information in an article I wrote a few years ago, I have to admit that I was truly shocked when one of the staff told me that the authority has sent a letter saying that they would not extend the business licence to this resort.

When I inquired further about the “rumours,” the owner refused to provide any additional information, except to say that she had no choice but to pursue legal action against the state government because she had written numerous letters of appeal.

I feel sad that this has to happen for the sake of the eco-tourism industry in Malaysia, and I therefore appeal to all the parties involved in rebuilding the Malaysian economy to look seriously into this matter with some urgent attention.

Knowing the proprietor, Pelindung Khazanah Alam (PEKA) for president Puan Seri Sabrina Syed Akil, for over 10 years now, I can attest that the she is a woman who adores the tropical rainforest. And, whenever I went to her Tanah Aina café, the Puan Seri, of all people, would be serving her customers. 

It would be ashamed if a resort like Tanah Aina, in which she had invested so much money, was shut down, especially since it had won some 19 international accolades, which again, I am sure the resort had worked hard for.

Please do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, because there is really nothing like Pahang for eco-tourism. It is when these resorts thrive that the state of Pahang will be placed on the map as an eco-tourism destination.

It is, in fact, the national hub for eco-tourism that can attract both local and international tourists from Singapore and as far away as the Middle East and the West if only some proper efforts are made to promote the eco-resorts. I see potential in this sector of the tourism industry.

With this, I hope the Menteri Besar Wan Rosdy, State Exco Leong Yu Man, and Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing would lend a helping hand to resolve the matter once and for all and allow not only Tanah Aina, but other eco-tourist resorts in Pahang to help boost the country’s economy.

Would it be too much if I were to also ask the Prime Minister to talk about our eco-tourism attractions to his counterparts around the world so that he can bring in tourists from around the globe to spend time in our tropical rainforest, which existed more than 130 million years ago during the Jurassic age when dinosaurs once roamed the earth? — Dec 16, 2022

Stephen Ng
Kuala Lumpur 

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main photo credit: Encyclopedia Britannica 

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