What actually lies behind the cultural facade of some of Malaysia’s top spots?
By Shin Yiing Lee
1. Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands, known for it’s cooling weather, strawberry farms, and tea plantations; is the best place to hide from the city swelter. Sadly, tree felling activities have increased to make way for new developments. Frequent visitor Ming Li Ho says “it’s just a matter of time before it becomes nothing more than empty land.”
2. Taman Negara National Park
Water pollution has always been a present problem in Malaysia, and It’s national park, Taman Negara, is not excepted. According to a 2013 report by the Department of Environment stated in a Rakyat Post article, 5.3% of 473 rivers in Malaysia are polluted, with 36.6% slightly polluted.
3. Langkawi Island
Langkawi is the place to be for beautiful beaches, mangrove forests, and best of all, duty-free shopping. In a twist of fate, major tourism campaigns have led the island to fall in the hands of “quick-buck tourism”, and now faces difficulties in keeping it’s UNESCO Geopark status, as reported by Post Magazine.
4. Kuala Lumpur City
Kuala Lumpur may be Malaysia’s most recommended place to visit, but it has a reputation for horrendous traffic congestion in the books of locals. “The opportunity cost of wasting 2 hours in the traffic is not worth the satisfaction gained from a day out in KL” says Jia-Hui Lee, 21.
5. Northern Fishing Villages
Behind the beauty of Malaysia’s old and rustic fishing villages in the North (Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu), fishermen are still being cheated and swindled in this day and age. Alongside facing issues such as trawlers fishing from these fishermen’s zones, youths are also fleeing from the tough profession, leaving the industry in danger.
6. Pahang ‘Orang Asli’ Settlements
As the descendants of the first human occupants in Malaysia, the ‘Orang Asli’ (meaning ‘original people’) have been robbed of their lands and given empty promises by local authorities since history could remember. All over the country, the Orang Asli are either living without water or electricity, or evicted from their homes.
7. Georgetown, Penang
In 2015, this famous “Little Children on a Bicycle” mural by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic was defaced by Bersih peace rally adversaries. “There is nothing to gain from vandalising the mural.” says Sasha Hanizam. The fight for justice in Malaysia carries on behind its seemingly regular art and culture scene.
“Nowadays, people capitalize so quickly on current trends without considering the cultural impact of their actions” says Loch Yeen, as he expresses dismay at Malacca’s cultural and historical decline. Trishaws back then were donned in fresh flowers and Malaysian flags, but are now being replaced by flashy Frozen trishaws blasting “Let It Go”.
Ipoh may be a small town, but it’s taxi fares match up to K.L.’s fares. Not all Ipoh taxi drivers seem to be honest, and overcharge their passengers. Some taxi drivers however, as reported by The Star, are supporting the pleas of locals and tourists to implement standard taxi meters.
These places may be buried behind faults, issues, and political corruption. However, Malaysia is still a beautiful country. With a rising art scene, well preserved parks alike Mount Kinabalu, well loved local foods; Malaysians will tell you that they truly love Malaysia and there is none like it.
*Note: Word count on WordPress counter is inaccurate. (569 words including strap and numbered titles)