Reclaiming Malacca’s coast but losing the people’s faith

Hasnoor Hussain

A COUPLE walk along Klebang Beach passing other local tourists enjoying the breeze of the Straits of Malacca as the sun sets.

The picturesque landscape with white sand attracts people to the artificial beach, hundreds of metres away from the beach’s initial location. However, for Klebang folk who rely on the sea, the reclamation is robbing them of their sustenance. To produce cencaluk and belacan, they have to use imported small shrimps called udang geragau from Batam as the seafood no longer exists there after the reclamation.

Thousands more coastal fishermen from other parts of Malacca share the same problem. Fishermen from the Kristang community of Ujong Pasir frequently return from sea empty-handed. For a better catch, they have to travel further but they are not able to do that for two reasons. Firstly, they will enter international waters and second, it is not safe for the fishermen on small boats to cast their nets at one of the busiest straits in the world.

Despite the uproar voices of the coastal community, the Malacca government in April proposed a new Malacca Waterfront Economic Zone, which covered 10,117ha and 33km of stretch from northern Malacca near Sg Udang to the south in Umbai. This economic zone will require a new reclamation, in addition to the 1,327ha of existing reclaimed land.

Yet, only 8% of the land are being developed. – November 18, 2021.

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