Monday, December 10, 2007


I would like to share these photos and accompanying briefs of things seen and captured on camera on our recent trip to the legendary island of Langkawi in early December 2007. Much as most people thronged the island for the sights of aeronautic and maritime splendor of LIMA show held biennially, we took the opportunity to scour the countryside and discover many happenings and new found knowledge. With that of course comes some uncertain factors.

We realise that there has been quite a number of foreigners who fell for the serene beauty of the island and perhaps mesmerised by its legendary tales and friendly people. Thus many yacht and boat owners have made their temporary haven here. Others set up business in the culinary, spa and other touristic trades. While many locals had made their riches in the early years of the island's growth still many more seems to enjoy the passing of years with blissful quiet and idleness. Sadly too many pieces of landed properties seemed to transfer hands. Even 'Malay Reserves' nonchalantly got to become foreign owners' properties. How it is done and accomplished is no great secret.

Present land owners may continue to reap good Ringgit from the sale but imagine even ten years or less from now, we may see Langkawi just as the nearest populated island south of it. I could still imagine the tranquil sandy and picturesque landscape of Batu Feringgi Malay kampong of Nineteen Fifties, yet shocked and dismayed when RasaSayang one of the earliest hotel chain started the rebuilding of the area. Pantai Canang in Langkawi is a replica of what happened then. Penang story did not of course halt at Batu Feringgi alone. It continues throughout. Tanjung Bunga, Tanjung ToKong, Air Hitam and the far flung Balik Pulau saw demographic changes. It is a worrying and saddening scene for Langkawi too. Incidentally both earned free port status.

Unlike Penang, Langkawi however strongly attracts buyers from overseas. Swiss, Germans,Dutch, French, British, Australians make up the conglomerate of investors and new settlers. Their homes now form the quite landscape of the island. No brick and mortar buildings but instead the rustic Malay wooden houses became their choice. Old homes, remodelled and refurbished now stand amongst the rural and verdant padi fields and rubber land. Their spacious allocation from one and the other is a spark contrast from current compacted Malay homes on the island. Not single but two or three homes on a two or three acre land seems to provide the owner with luxury of space while harboring 'home stay' or 'guests homes' for visitors to Langkawi. Our visit to Ubud in Bali a few years back reminisced similar circumstances.

Our long attempt to secure one piece of landscape for a 'Home in Langkawi' was rewarded when we chanced upon a land broker and the property itself. Alas it was a short-lived piece of contentment. Two days later we were told that the deal was off since the owner had received a down payment from a buyer you know who. This is the sad story. How we wish our own people from the mainland with their extra savings or allocated facilities would grasp upon these chances while attainable and build for themselves and their children or future generation landed property on this holiday island promoted with all the modern and international facilities sparing none. For us we will continue to harbor such dream and hope it materialises soon. We will think of the financial side when we cross the path.

Friends, we seek you to come to Langkawi and find a soft spot here if not for yourselves but for your later generations. The seven generations of 'curse' as we know has been wiped off. There could be only years of progress and development. Now with UNESCO recognition for the island as a GEO park and more things on its trail, would you want to miss a small stake of paradise or see another island in the sun lost again but to new settlers from afar just because they see the unsurpassed beauty it holds and we are blinded by uncertainty and unfocused.

If you feel even a little spark of discomfort for such a predicament, join me in searching and carving our own mark on the island less Mahsuri laments the demise of her own generations from the island from which she had stuck out her guts and ancestors. Hopefully those in authorities too will discover means for a small if not larger preservation while pushing for investment and built-up which eventually benefit others largely.

One typical property ownership of a none Malaysian who has ventured to make the island his retiring home. The government through tourism has encouraged ' your home in Malaysia' concept

Vast stretches of open padi field skirted with rubber trees and roads once patched with marble remained true right to the moment. The cleared patch will soon see another home on its site. Areas around Makam Mahsuri is now hot property.

A pair of horn bills came calling just outside the verandah of our apartment at Chogam Villa near Kuah . This fruit tree 'Pokok Sukon' has always been a halting place for the duo. Only in Langkawi can you be awarded by such spectacle and see eagles sweeping in for their baits. Added to that fishing buffs and sailors would love the sea.

The owner of another house on the island nestled amidst open padi field has built this 'wakaf' or pavilion aside the 'sawah' and enjoys cool breeze day and night.

A search and adaptation of Malay domestic and traditional architecture with all its intricate carvings plus choice of quality timber seems to form the hallmarks of the new homes in Langkawi. Interior decoration too is a departure from the modern and contemporary always hinging to choice of ' seni ukiran kayu tradisi' or Malay traditional wood carvings. It certainly helps to promote the love and continuity of Malay traditional homes.

This article articulates for a stronger and definite ownership of land in Langkawi by the Bumiputras and not too ready to succumb to the escalating price of per foot square. Much as others have the right to own properties on the island and build their homes and thankfully adhering to Malay traditions we must ascertain that we continue to reap the harvest of investment and development in Langkawi. Langkawi will accelerate, continue to leap and bound. We need to be around. Regretfully we do not wish to hear the often familiar announcement " Itu hak Tok aku dahulu.Kami biasa tinggal disana dahulu".

It will be delightful and energatic to hear instead "Ini pondok kami. Kami dibesar disini dahulu. Sila masuk. Terima kasih kerana sudi menjenguk. Kami cintakan Langkawi. Saudara tak mahukah bermaustatin disini?"

1 comment:

Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...

Pak Non

The government's intention to develop Langkawi were noble. But sadly the people of Lamgkawi were not "prepared" properly to receive development and modernisation.

I remember seeing cheques to the tune of millions of ringgit prepared by the authority to buy over land from local Malays for touurism and urban development.

Stories of "get-rich-quick" Pak Ajis were abound. The money they would use to buy luxury cars, build new houses, do umrah, got themselves new wives or give to their chidren to be finished off.

After 1 or 2 years they got poor again.

Yes, culture shock, one might say. Reading your article, I think they are still not prepared and they will eventually lose everything. Deja vu...the curse all over again.