To sea or not to sea?
When the Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, announced the approval of the 3,200ha reclamation project off Lukut this week, it was big news - let me repeat that, it was big, big, big, big news!
In fact it was more than big news, it was freaking enormous news!
Does anyone know the exact whereabouts of the 32 square kilometres of ocean that will be reclaimed. The Straits of Malacca are roughly 60kms wide from Port Dickson, so does this mean the reclamation will make Malaysia become physically closer to Sumatra, Indonesia - will the reclamation go 32 km out to sea or is the majority of reclamation going to be in and around the low-land wetlands of Jimah?
It is an incredibly large project, almost double the size of the Penang reclamation project which Prime Minister Najib Razak recently withdrew Federal support, mainly due to concerns over local fisherman losing their livelihood.
The project will definitely give Port Dickson the potential to grow into one of Negeri Sembilan's, and Malaysia's, hotspots for tourism as PD is currently a beacon for large crowds during the weekend with visitors mostly from Kuala Lumpur enjoying its wonderful beaches.
It is not beyond possibility that Port Dickson will become the Malaysian equivalent of Australia's Gold Coast, a stretch of long white sandy beaches, just south of the major city of Brisbane, that sees millions of tourists flock there from within and outside of Australia.
"We need to build more houses so more people can live here. We need to make Port Dickson more vibrant," said MB, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, according to newspaper reports.
"The state government needs to reclaim the area to build more dwellings and create tourism opportunities. We have no choice but to do so as we cannot develop the existing town which had been poorly planned," said Mohamad to the media recently.
"We want to turn it into a populated city, with visitors crowding the beach resorts everyday, not just on weekends or holiday season."
According to Mohamad the project will not disrupt river and sea flow, as regulated in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports, “We will not compromise on this matter,” he said.
Both State and Federal Governments cannot afford to fall short on enforcing the right ecological track, as there is a long list of adverse impacts and pitfalls that could happen if the project is not planned or completed to the highest standards.
According to an abstract paper overview of Coastal Reclamation Projects in Malaysia by Ir. Hj. Abd Rahim Kaparawi & Ir. Ziauddin Abdul Latif of the Coastal Engineering Division Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia, if correct procedure in reclamations are not followed you can get a full or partial loss of recreational beaches, interference with the normal coastal processes resulting in erosion or siltation, interference of the natural drainage of the hinterland areas, destruction of mangrove forests, pollution of coastal waters, complete or partial loss of aquaculture, siltation of navigation channels and fish landing harbours.
The Malaysian Vision Valley project is a massive task, and this project is designed for the future benefit of all Malaysian's.
As MB Mohamad Hasan says, "It is only right that we get ready from now."