|The Eye draws 3.5 million visitors annually|
New Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz hasn't made any public statement on the so-called Malaysia Truly Asia theme park they want to build near Parliament and the National Monument, but he will (have to). Blogger Apanama's latest revelation is that the 26.3 ha park will wash away too much of our heritage. It's hard to make economic sense of it, too.
The office that houses the ISIS office, for example, was the official residence of the Dewan Rakyat Speaker. Between 1959 and 1964, the House Speaker was Noah Omar, the grandfather of present PM Najib Razak. Noah was also our delegate to the UN General Assembly in 1958. He addressed the world body twice: the first time on apartheid in South Africa and the second on the plight of Palestinian refugees, both of which have remained central in Malaysia's foreign policies till today.
|Noah (right) at theSpeaker's home, about 50 years ago|
(pic taken from The Thee Swans by Fawzia Abdullah)
But history isn't the only reason why the ministry's officials are going around asking questions about the theme park.
If it's supposed to be a major tourist attraction as claimed, their new Minister would want every claim to be backed up by details. "It won't be business as usual, if you know what I mean." And as Apanama has lamented, there's very little anybody know about the project. For all you know, the theme is a front - an excuse - for the developers to build high-end condos and colossal commercial havens for the benefit of a few.
The claim that foreign tourists will now need to spend just 2-3 hours at the theme park to know Malaysia and to love Malaysia is also a worrying - even disturbing - prospect as far as tourism is concerned. "Do these people know what they're doing? We want tourists to stay 2-3 weeks here so they spend money, lots of money. If they only need 2 or 3 hours, Singapore and Thailand will say thank you very much to us as the tourist will spend more time with them instead of with us."
Me, I think we need to avoid building another white elephant like the mini-Asean village
(or is it mini-Malaysia). If we really need to have one, then it certainly does not need to be in the heart of the city and at the expense of one of its last gasps of green lungs.
Not "business as usual" under Nazri ..
Learn from the Londoners. When they wanted a world-class tourist attraction, they built the Eye. They didn't touch a grass at Hyde Park or Kensington or any of the city's gardens and green lungs because they knew they wouldn't get near any of it. Since 2000, the London Eye has been attracting some 3.5 million visitors a year.