Water Hyacinths, Moss Roses Can Attract Visitors

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Promoting domestic tourism.

A large pond that serves as a water catchment at Taman Semabok Perdana in Melaka covered with water hyacinths in full bloom must have been an arresting sight. Large number of people were often gathered there without practising social distancing as required under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

Last Tuesday, a group of people found there was told to disperse but they stubbornly refused, forcing the police to detain all 38 of them, which included seven elderly folks, two teenagers, six children and three babies.

The other 20 individuals, aged between 19 and 55, were each issued a compound of RM1,000 for breaching Rule 7(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.

The current CMCO ends on June 9 and if not extended, the water hyacinth pond, which is larger than a football field, is bound to attract hordes of visitors. If not controlled, hawkers will also have a field day with litters strewn on the ground inviting flies, crows, and rats.

Water hyacinths grow fast naturally and spread rapidly. Decades ago, many pig farms have water hyacinth ponds as these plants can be chopped up as pig feed. I used to gather them in the 1960s to feed ducks, but these water birds prefer the earthworms that I dug up from the soil.

Nationwide, there are many ponds similar in size or larger than the one at Taman Semabok Perdana that can be made attractive by growing water hyacinths but with a caveat, as the floating weed can deprive other forms of life in the water, including fish.

Excess water hyacinths must be removed before they reach saturation point and these plants must not be allowed to escape into waterways as they can clog drains, canals and rivers, ruining paddy fields, fishing grounds and wetland ecosystem.

Decades ago, the disused mining pool at Jalan Ampang Hilir in Kuala Lumpur was choked with water hyacinths until the plants began to wither and became an ugly sight. Later, City Hall turned it into a park, maintained it well and ensured nothing grows on the water surface.

At places where they are slopes such as hillsides, I would recommend that moss roses be grown. This plant spreads itself flat on the ground and often with many flowers blossoming close together, making it a spectacular sight.

I still remember seeing the compound of a new village house in Pandamaran covered with moss roses in the 1950s. Although the makeshift house was a ramshackle, the occupants appreciated and enjoyed the beauty of nature.

In a gloomy world today, the breath-taking sight of a pond covered with water hyacinths in full bloom or an entire hillside carpeted with blossoming moss roses can certainly lift the spirits of onlookers. And these sites can promote domestic tourism by attracting large number of visitors.

The local authority can lease out a suitable piece of land for an entrepreneur to build a one-stop centre to house chalets, shops, restaurants, and public toilet facilities, and to ensure hygiene, safety, and security for the tourist site.

While many leisure activities do not require spending money, tourism is all about business and the main expenditures are in shopping, accommodation, food, and beverage. While nature can draw tourists, business is needed to sustain touristic sites.

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader YS Chan of Petaling Jaya.