Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reclamation Kills Historic Malacca Town?

The historic town is increasing its size by leaps and bounds due to rampant reclamation in progress.

Reclamation not only alter permanently the coastal contours of Malacca but put an abrupt end to any hope of discovering treasures in an area acknowledged internationally as some of the finest graveyards of sea vessels in the country.

Looking under the sea beds may reveal fascinating historical links to a turbulent past when Malacca - the strategic seaport was a favorite grab of maritime superpowers.

This notion, however, has little followers. The historical values that the warring vessels hold are not good enough to entice modern day prospectors more keen to reap quick buck from properties that mushroom in this reclaimed parcels.

Think of the hugely unpopular Talam-led Pulau Melaka project (the man-made islet connected by a bridge on the Google satellite map), and unplanned reclamation and its devastation unfold before your eyes. Its consequences are the massive silting of Malacca seas adjacent to Century Mahkota Hotel and Malacca River.

The entire area is slowly turning into swamps and now a favorite with migrating egrets. Ancient Malacca shore lines were the entire stretch from present day Equatorial Hotel to Malacca River mouth where the Tourism Malaysia office is now situated. (Indicated by the red line on the Google satellite photo)
It would not be too hard to imagine that many great European Men-of-War like the Flor De la Mar made its port calls where Hilton Hotel or Mahkota Parade stand today. Portuguese maritime annals would revealed how the pride of the Portuguese fleet arrived with hundreds of sepoys and captained by Albuquerque’s men.

It purportedly left with war spoilt from the defeated Malacca Malay sultanate. Its short glorious stint was then cut short when it sank with all its treasures when freak storm hit the unexpected crew.

Malaysia's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had urged a thorough magnomatic survey of the various potential sites when the idea for the massive reclamation project was mooted by the state in the late 90s.

Unfortunately, the technology prescribed concluded nothing significant, and the Chief Minister was adamant that the project should proceed.

Yet for sometime, local dailies had articles highlighting fishermen and those who fish for leisure would often show up with pieces of broken china, old coins and the musket balls during their outings in the same areas.

As a teenager, I too have my share of adventures at the edge of the reclaimed land before developers changed the landscape forever with the likes of Mahkota Parade and Melaka Raya.

As a matter of fact, I own a few of the musket bullets and broken china I dug out myself from the muddy soil.

Unfortunately, the state prefers to ignore the urgent need to find and identify the sunken treasures. Instead it has adopted a negligent attitude to concerned calls urging restrain in its reclamation project.

End of the story?

The same authority, however has shown remarkable enthusiasm to spend millions of ringgit for large scale projects supposedly to draw more tourist traffic - The Eye of Malaysia in Kota Laksamana – (The same Eye from KL by the way), The Taming Sari Revolving Tower and Malacca Skytrain but fail to appreciate the exquisite heritage and conservation value Malacca has to offer to its people and the world.

No comments: