conglomerate and family

Selamat datang daripada Langkawi,

      This is the story of two businesses in competition with each other. On the southern end of a peninsula – on Pulau Langkawi in northern Malaysia – is Tanjung Puteri Motel, run by a family who has invested everything into starting from scratch, to catch the boom in tourism on the island. They built a modest resort here about five years ago. At the northern end of the same beach, the globalised conglomerate Four Seasons have been allowed to buy up more than one kilometre of prime real estate, right on the tidal interface. They built a resort there, about five years ago or perhaps a little longer. It’s a large concern.

seems like a nice place, right?

     Right at the northern promontory, Four Seasons have built an artificial groyne (a breakwater comprised of large rocks). This apparently serves to demarcate their northern boundary but it’s impossible for anyone other than boaters to reach the beach from that side anyway. There was another motivation.

artificial groyne upsets the longshore drift

    The groyne has upset the natural longshore drift cycle of the beach over the intervening five years. The predictable (desired) effect of the positioning of the groyne has been to interfere (deliberately and knowingly, I would say) with the normal erosion/transportation/deposition workings of the surf. End result? The southern end of the beach is narrowing (more erosion than deposition now) whilst the northern end is widening (more deposition than erosion).

two ends of the same beach

The beach outside Four Seasons is now more than fifty metres wide. Farther south, the beach is narrowing (visibly in fact) so that big storms cause gouging. At high tide, the beach is 15 metres wide and getting steeper by the day. Many landholders there are having to build sea walls and desperately plant deep-rooted sand-growing plants to stave off the inevitable. Tanjung Puteri’s proprietor, Mr Ghani points to his rocky foreshore and says “was sandy 20 metres wide”. 

Sand has been eroded from here and deposited at the other end of the beach.
beach erosion between the two

      Halfway between the two is another business, struggling to cope with the damage to their prime asset. This is the improbably named Scarborough Fish ‘n’ Chip. This is a restaurant right on the beach, with a magnificent view of the archipelago. The proprietors are a young family, putting everything into the quality of their product and their range. Linda says, “globalisation is alright so long as I can have a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc”. But she also recognises the uncomfortable fact that globalisation is responsible now for changes to the beach morphology which threaten the very existence of this business itself, through no fault of their own.

Remediation work will be short-lived.

     This is the story of how one business’s decision affects a whole lot of other innocent stakeholders, including the environment itself. Where is the corporate social responsibility? What happened to ethics? Where is the monitoring authority, defending the public interest? Where is the morality of their actions?

    When I pointed this circumstance out to Ghani, he said, “big company . . .  problem . . . what we do?” Indeed, what can we do,  dear reader?
Perpisahan daripada Langkawi


Other photos from hereabouts

a private beach??
The end is in sight for this beach.
Compare the two ends of the same beach.
view from the groyne
paradise lost

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