Thursday, April 9, 2009

Malacca Gets Thumb Down in a Damning Report.

The popular National Geographic Traveler(NGT)Nov/Dec 08 issue decries at the over-development inside the Malacca’s historical enclave. It further adds that if it is left unchecked this iconic Malaysian city may face a bleak future.

A distressing development is creeping over the entire town. Tourism facades have superseded conservation efforts and permanently marred the original cityscape. The culprit is the chief minister in guise of state development agencies and they are relentless in their new pursue.

They are known to embrace a worrisome keenness to replace the town’s colorful past with artificial attractions, mechanical joy rides and flickering neon lights in place of colonial ruins.

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 to leave the historical heritage unmolested.

The authority should also be mindful of the damages brought by these short term tourism projects and the impact to the historical enclave.

A theme park setting within Malacca’s fragile environment will dilute and worst, threaten unique historical features. To rely on these man-made trump cards would only incur further wraths for damning and jeopardizing Malacca’s fabulous past.

All stakeholders, from the Chief Minister to the lay men on the streets must acknowledge the extent of the damages caused by these overzealous attempts. They must 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
Score: 50

"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."

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