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Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Apparently Mukhriz is able to do things for Kedah. He has dreams. This article is meant for him to consider to boost Kedah's vast riceland for added practical use and agrotourism. If we do not try to beautify and enhance the mundane rice landscape many of the young may opt for life in urban areas to get jobs and better quality of life. This would lead to a diminishing rice bowl area.  Padi farming is still a back breaking job, dusts get into the eyes and clothes get dirty although mechanisation has alleviated some of the hardships.

This post is a reproduction of 'Dreams unfinished - Venice, klongs and inland waterway' of 28 Dec 2011.

Malaysia is blessed with vast bodies of water rendered alive by high rainfall throughout the year. So much water make some people feel that water is a nuisance. Many a time we see projects filling in the drains, swampy lands and lakes in the name of development. But development can go hand-in-hand with conservation.

We do not undestand how to make the best use of water to conserve and live with it unlike the Melanaus in the heartland of sago, Mukah, Sarawak. They plant sago in swampy areas, transport sago logs by means of inter-connected water ways (ditches and rivers) to the factories sited along rivers. They live, move around, and bath by the rivers.

The British at one time proposed to build the Kra canal linking the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea. They were in control of India, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, and China was their majoir trading partner. The canal would be of vested interest to shorten shipping time.

Would the current geopolitics make the Kra canal feasible? Countries spanning from India/Sri lanka to China-Japan-Russia stand to gain  in terms of shorter sea journey.

What are the other ramifications:
i) Langkawi need to develop a port. Tanjung Pelepas and Klang port activities reduced.
ii) Rangoon and Bangkok will become bustling ports.
iii) Singapore's entrepot trade reduced.
iv) Thailand may face increased security problem in the south unless Pattani is granted autonomy.

The Kedah Plain stretching from Sg Petani to Alor Star-Jitra where our rice bowl is located presents a suitable region to develop canals and inland waterway. This may not for economic reasons so much but to make use of the abundant water in the rivers, irrigation-drainage canals, lakes, wetlands and ditches - for beautification of the rice landscape, for tourist attraction and to instill love of water for generations to come.

TS Sanusi Junid has this dream of Venice of the East. I has this dream too since two decades ago when frequenting that part of the country. I squirmed on seeing roadside drains and canals being filled up with soil, rubbish and poorly maintained.

Tunku was a brave man to dream of a massive transformation of the Kedah Plain by damming up-river and channel the water for rice cultivation. His was not run-of-the mill type of thinking and leadership. This is one of his legacies to the people.

A comprehensive and detail study should be made in the planning to develop an intricate inland waterway. There are examples in many countries like England and Europe maintaining complex inland waterways for transport and recreation.

Locks and bridges built should allow boats to pass through/under.

Venice (pic), main canal and gondola.

Do we know who and how the Italians built the complicated canal system and water control?

Klongs at Bangkok on the Menam Chao Phraya.

Practical usage for business and transport of the river system commit maintenance, conservation and sustainable living.

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