By HWN YAUL LEN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Pahang is located at a unique geographical area, as the Titiwangsa backbone mountain range provides it with rich natural resources and beautiful landscapes. There are dense forests, national parks, green hills and natural lakes of various sizes.
However, excessive development, such as logging, mining and land exploitation for large scale plantations, has resulted in serious lake and water contamination, while the environment is damaged and ecological balance is affected.
Two days ago, Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) warned that if uncontrolled logging and mining activities continue, Tasik Chini, the second largest fresh water lake in Malaysia, could die by 2030.
Tasik Chini is located some 100 kilometres from Kuantan, and it is a string of 12 connected lakes.
The ancient legend about a dragon inhabits in it has made it mysterious enough to attract many nature explorers. Many visitors are impressed when they see thousands of lotus flowers covering the surface sway in the wind.
It is understood that the lake will be covered by white and pink lotus flowers from every July to January the next year, which is also the best time for visitors to admire the beauty of the lake on boats.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of environmental protection, the lotus flowers have stopped growing and replaced by other wild plants. We might never see again the beauty of the lake with blossomed lotus flowers.
In addition to a fishing paradise, it is also a reservoir, and an important area to maintain ecological balance. It is a water and livelihood source for the Jakun community who view the lake as their "sea".
However, the uncontrolled development has contaminated the water and the dam built in 1995 has also affected the ecology. Environmentalists are worried that the "sea" might one day become a swamp.
They are also worried that if the reservoir turns into a swamp or even worse, dries up, the plantation and mining activities will further exacerbate flooding problems in its surrounding region, while destroying the fresh water ecosystem.
In fact, it is not new to have such major economic developments that cause damages to environment. Not only Tasik Chini, but other places in the state, or even other parts of the country, have been harmed.
Pahang is blessed with rich natural resources. However, the resources will soon be consumed if excessive exploitation continues without a set of good and sound environmental protection measures. Regardless of whether it is a forest, water source or natural lake, once it is damaged, it can never be restored to its original state. Instead, endless troubles will follow.
Tasik Chini is estimated to "die" in 20 years and environmentalists are now working on their best to extend its life. The most important key, however, lies on whether the state government attaches more importance to economic development, or ecological protection.