Monday, April 27, 2009
These “special status” villages or Kampung Warisan, according to the GM of the museum board, are in line with the Chief Minister’s vision to enhance the development of Malacca as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The two villages – Banda Kaba and Bukit Cina - totaling some 280 families are two of the oldest settlements in the historic city. Once they are listed under the Malacca Conservation Enactment 1993, the villages join Kampung Morten, Kampung Chetti and Portuguese Settlement and Chinatown enclaves in Heeren Street and Jonker Walk to be accorded the special status.
Khamis is adamant that by enlisting the villages, it would go a long way to preserve the quaint kampong surrounding and the century old Malay attap houses. And this being Malacca, the move he adds would be a boon to tourist arrival in the areas.
This surprising turn of event may be the lifeline the residents in the affected areas are waiting for.
Because of its proximity to the town center, the population consisting of mostly wage earners and small petty traders has for decades lived without knowing when the juggernaut of development will strike their stilted homes next.
This previously peaceful racially mix settlement lost its earlier charm when public flats and other property projects made inroads into their neighborhood. In the pipeline, a condominium is set to cast its domineering shadow over Banda Kaba .
Those who lived their life here can vouch for what they see as a threat to the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood. Residents suffer unbearable ding from traffic jams and the narrow roads are choked with outstation vehicles.
However, the affected residents could face tougher headaches if they plan to renovate their homes under the new regime. The state is also unashamedly vague on this crucial matters because many of houses are weathered and battered, and in dire needs of repair.
Already the residents have been ‘advised’ that they must seek special permission from the City Hall and PERZIM for approval if they plan to uplift their homes. Like so many urban villages all over the world, their trouble is far from over yet. Sadly, the fate and the future of the affected villagers are in a limbo too.
In the end, they maybe just mere pawn in a bureaucratic nightmare created by the authority to juggle between conservation and money making ventures disguised as tourism.
Friday, April 10, 2009
The ground breaking of the RM85 million Casa del Rio Hotel in February 2009 at a former godown site near the Malacca River marks the beginning of an ambitious but a foolhardy plan by the state to build similar riverfront accommodations.
Instead of preserving the unique river barter trade, the authority deems it fit to stop Sumateran schooners and purple colored fishing trawlers from berthing at its banks. Unfortunately, at a stroke of pen, the soul of the river is forever lost.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
All flights at this former Portuguese enclave depend on the single elevated runway above the Pearl River Delta.
Not wanting to take any chance, the airport has brought in three Rosenbauer state-of-the-art rescue and fire fighting vehicle in Nov. 2007.
In Oct. 08, I saw one of the Austrian-made vehicle- Unit #11 -parked at the runway edge from inside Air Asia A320. (main picture top above)
The performance spec. for the Rosenbauer Panther 6X6 is impressive. It can reach a top speed of 120km/h and cruising at that speed the fire truck could cover the entire length of the runway under the stipulated international response time of 3 minute or less. The CAT C-18 6 cylinders engine also gives enough power to hit 0-80km/h in 29 seconds.
One of the vehicle (not sure which?) comes with a telesquirt or a long arm gadgetry to help fight fiery clash. The new generation fire truck has water and foam tanks carrying up to 12,500 litres and 1,500 litres respectively to help it take on missions successfully and make Macau Airport one of the safest too.
In every corner of the historical town, tourism driven projects superseded conservation efforts and permanently marred the original cityscape. For too long now, the state exhibited a disturbing keenness to replace the town’s colorful past with artificial attractions in the forms of mechanical joy rides and flickering neon lights.
Hence, the unfavorable notion that the town has turned into a ‘Disneyland’ and commercialization has bred its ugly heads.
This alarming review by the widely circulated travel publication has inevitably thrown a spanner to the state tourism promotion plan. It is a critical wake up call for the state to revamp its approach to reap benefits from tourism and not to conjure an unsettling cocktail of happy hours with history.
The authority should also be mindful of the damages brought by these short sighted tourism projects to the historical enclave, and a theme park setting within the fragile environment is a sure way to dilute and threaten its unique features.
All stakeholders, from the Chief Minister to the lay men of the streets must acknowledge the extent of the damages caused by these overzealous attempts and take heed to arrest further the downgrading of Malacca Old Town.
A list of 109 historic places from over the world was compiled and rated in the NGT issue; Malacca was positioned at 98th. whilst Georgetown fared slightly better at 68th.
Below is the excerpt from NGT.
Malaysia: Old port of Malacca
"One of the most fascinating destinations in Asia. It is rich in history as a gateway into Asia for early Europeans. The old churches, China Town, and vernacular Malay houses are beautifully maintained."
"The major problem for Malacca is the incredible extent of the land reclamation that has taken place at the mouth of the historic river, now heavily developed with high-rise residential and commercial buildings. As a result, the historic connection between Malacca and the sea, which is fundamental to its significance, has been almost totally obscured."
"There is very little left in Malacca that is authentic. The city has been Disneyfied and commercialized to a degree that has to be seen to be believed."
"Landfill on the town side of the Straits has forever altered the historic connection with the Straits."
"You have to make an extra effort to find 'authentic' Malacca behind the very carefully manicured heritage facade."