Monday, November 22, 2010

Of recent changes in Pangkor from an insider's view

"Nothing ever built to last" - How true it is. Changes is necessary for sake the of growth and sustainability. For example, if human being don't grow old, fall sick and die, the human population will precipitously explode, and thus become not sustainable, in terms of food supply, job employment, lands for shelters, transportation and so on.

My hometown, Pulau Pangkor is of no escape from changes too. Here goes my anthropological study about this wonderful island.

Changes was once gradual, not until Dato' Seri Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir was made the menteri besar of Perak in 2009. Under his leadership, it is without reasonable doubt that a lot of money has since been injected to upgrade the aging infrastructure and facilities on the island, including a modern incinerator, fire station, police station, jetties, road, the street lights and so on. While the Pangkor people are happy to see all these changes, the health care and hospital facility, which are what we truly need, are literally left unattended to. (Well, perhaps just so little has been done about them.) In the event of emergency, there is always much delay to send the sicks/woundeds across the sea to the better hospital(s) in mainland. Such delays have claimed lives on many occasions. This is a major problem which the authority should look into as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary loss of lives. Despite a rather small population, we definitely need a few experienced paramedics to provide on-the-spot treatment to stabilise patients. Besides, we also need a fast and efficient means to send the patients across to mainland. Both of these can really make a difference between life and death.

Demographically, there is an evident outflow of young people seeking opportunities outside, in pursuit of eduction and career. Such trend is especially profound among the Chinese community in their twenties. Immigrants like Thai, Indonesian, Myanmar have been imported for the jobs in fishing boats as well as construction sites. Interestingly, there is also quite a number of men who have gotten themselves the Vietnamese wives. I believe the size of population has been going down but the diversity of community is growing. I hope the social security and peace will always be maintained and intact.

On the economy aspect, fishery has long been the primary economic thrust. Tourism is increasingly gaining ground as Pangkor has long established its name for both local and international tourists. However, the fact that it is very seasonal, as crowds are only seen on festivals and public holidays, has capped its potential to becoming a bigger contributor to local economy mix. I hope the authority will have more dustbins placed along the beaches and arrange regular clean-up, as the beachside (especially near the Pasir Bogak) are always heavily littered as a result of mass tourism. Ask yourself, if the people cannot find any dustbin in the vicinity, how do you expect them to "manage" the rubbish? On the other hand, some businesses, especially food stalls/outlets, have vanished, either because of the operators passed away/became unfit/retired or due to low market activity. There is no many new businesses. I am actually quite worried that it may become an old folks island ten years down the road.

The cost of living has been affordably high (due to transport fee as it's isolated from the mainland) and it is on the rise gradually in light of nationwide inflation. I don't see much reform regarding the education system. There is a couple of excellent SPM students every year and some occurrences of disciplinary problems. Something different from the old days is that there is more and more people going for tertiary education. The use of Internet has also been widespread among the young people in recent years. I hope the "Window" can leverage them to world of knowledge keeping them on track with the ever changing world. Facebook is definitely one of the emerging trend here too. Moreover, the island is considerably safe as there is almost negligible criminal cases thus far, except for several cases of snatch thefts. Road accident rate is pretty low too.

As to the environmental aspect, deforestation has been observed taking place actively. Trees are being cut down to make way for development. This has raised quite a considerable concern. It is feared that if such action go uncontrolled, it can potentially pose some threats to the community, such as flash flood, landslide, warmer weather, destroy of scenic view of nature and so on. This activity has to be monitored and afforestation should be carried out simultaneously too. Furthermore, it has also been observed that the beachside are being gradually eroded by rough sea condition as well as rising sea water level. This is a slow process but its impacts will become pronounced from one decade to another. Hence, beach preservation and restoration efforts are important.

Changes are intended for betterment. Pangkor is inarguably very much liveable to the locals, as well as being a terrific touristic spot for a weekend getaway. Its slow pace of life, relatively complete infrastructure, smooth traffic, scenic seaview, fresh air and clean environment, island-kind-of weather and so on are among the good mix for such an amazing place. I hope the authority will always check their works and really go near the community to seek their opinions regarding the development/changes/upgrade that are most relevant to them, embracing all-inclusive policy.