The placing of 11 replicas of Asean monuments on the seabed near Pulau Bidong off the coast of Terengganu is a shockingly dumb move.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture reportedly spent RM300,000 from the Asean Cultural Fund to place the replicas on the seabed at this popular world diving spot.
Conservationists are right in condemning this irresponsible action by the authorities as the project goes against the basic principles of marine tourism. The money spent should have been used to protect the ecosystem.
As Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (Ecomy) CEO Andrew Sebastian painfully pointed out, this “circus” is a “visual desecration”.
Any responsible mind would know that “divers don’t come to see underwater replicas of buildings,” he said. Such foolish action “stands to impede coral growth”.
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Asean nations must protest because the monuments of their respective countries must also not be desecrated in such a manner which also degrades nature in its pristine state.
The 11 underwater monuments are the Petronas Twin Towers of Malaysia, the Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque of Brunei, the Jose Rizal Monument of the Philippines, the Merlion of Singapore, the Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan of Thailand, the Tran Quoc Pagoda of Vietnam, the Shwedagon Pagoda of Myanmar, the Patuxai Monument of Laos, the Indonesian National Monument and Cambodia’s Independence Monument.
To top it all, an object apparently to signify the “togetherness of Asean countries” – the “Asean Symbol of Unity Monument” – was also placed.
If no member nation protests over this foolish move, then they must share in this collective irresponsibility, which would cause long-term injury to our precious marine heritage.