Thorough studies on Langkawi reclamation needed

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by BERNAMA

THE massive RM40 billion mixed-development proposal in Langkawi, Kedah, by Widad Business Group Sdn Bhd may threaten the island’s nature and heritage, environmentalists said.

The Malaysian Nature Society president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail said authorities need to conduct detailed studies on Langkawi geoparks and the effect of the development.

“If we care about nature for tourism, then we need to consider any development proposed. The authorities involved in Langkawi’s related tourism activities should have long-term planning,” Ahmad told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

He said Langkawi is becoming an attractive tourist destination in the world because of its natural beauty, such as beaches, corals and geoparks which the authorities must take into account.

In 2007, Langkawi was awarded Unesco Global Geopark status, the first Global Geopark in SouthEast Asia, and is one of only 147 worldwide to date, according to its website.

Langkawi Unesco Global Geopark comprises Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park and Kubang Badak BioGeo Trail.

Langkawi archipelago boasts the oldest and most complete Palaeozoic (540 million to 250 million years ago) geological record in the region.

Environmental Protection Society Malaysia president Nithi Nesadurai said the size of the development is over-the-top for Langkawi and it is uncertain who will be benefitting the most out of the project.

“It will have the effects of ruining Langkawi’s attractions as a tourism destination. It is grandiose and not clear who is going to benefit from this development.

“The man-made island should not even be considered given there is enough land in Langkawi for sustainable development,” Nesadurai told TMR.

Widad recently said in a statement that it planned to build “Widad@Langkasuka” in Langkawi with an estimated gross development value of RM40 billion that features a modern development with an Islamic and tropical vernacular concept.

The group said almost 90% of the 1,979 acres (800.9ha) site consists of the ocean.

Widad intends to erect a manmade island that will eventually span about 1,000 acres or 50% of the entire area.

Once the project is completed, the Widad@Langkasuka will house five- and six-star hotels and resorts, an international golf course located beside the Marina Yacht Club, an international business and office complex, shopping malls, higher learning institutions, healthcare facilities and luxury residences.

The company also plans to organise annual events such as Redbull air race, power boat race, jet ski race, international fireworks festivals, and other culture and art showcases to promote tourism in Langkawi.

Nesadurai said a project with that scale risks ruining Langkawi’s biodiversity, ecotourism, geoparks and sea, which are the strengths of the island as a popular tourism spot in the country.

He further said the development should not even be proposed given the soft sentiments in the travel industry at present due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Having this kind of large-scale mass tourism facility will eventually ruin Langkawi and kill the goose which is laying the golden eggs,” he added.


Read our earlier report

Widad plans to build RM40b development in Langkawi