Friday, April 10, 2009

Hotels Development a Peril At Malacca River.

The recent ground breaking of the Rio Hotel across the river from the Maritime Museum marks the beginning of an ambitious plan by the state authority to follow suits with similar hotels along the Malacca River.

The chief minister has announced that the Plaza Inn, abandoned over the last decade will take a new shape in 2009. The state has bought and completed the renovation of the 3-star hotel opposite the old Cathay cinema, and according to the CM, it will offer visitors unobstructed view of the river at an affordable price.

My guess is that the state aims to seize on the opportunity that come with the completion of River Beautification Project in late 2007. So far, the project seems to have an upper hand to eradicate some of the earlier concerns about pollution in the river but the verdict is still far from over.

In my view the project has many flaws and it has struck a final nail to the coffin to the river historical link to malacca's hey day as a powerful maritime state. Taking away the unique character of river barter trade and stopping Sumateran schooners and purple fishing trawlers to berth is to deprive the river from functioning naturally.

At this rate, parts of the river within the Malacca historical enclave would soon be home to multi level concrete structures. If the development of the hotels are left unchecked, it would pose serious threat to the classic chinatown ambience which the enclave is so famous and attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.

The Rio Hotel, spotting an Iberarian architecture and building more cubic shaped hotels in the enclave are only affront to the heritage legacy in the old town and also an eye sore. The plan to build more hotels is also a sickening similarity with Singapore.

Unfortunately, modern visitors staying in hotels at the Malacca River will see nothing of its vibrant past and what they will find is a largely a mundane canal waterways with unimpressive views of river life.

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