Preserving Kuala Selangor’s status as natural attraction

The Kuala Selangor District Council’s application for upgrade to municipality status has been approved by the state government but the final decision lies with the local authority. — Photos: ART CHEN/The Star

AS THE Kuala Selangor District Council (MDKS) awaits the decision from the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government (KPKT) Ministry to be elevated to municipality status, residents want natural attractions here retained and the pathway to progress be kept as sustainable as possible.

The upgrade from district to municipality for MDKS, which covers 1,194.52 sq km, is expected to take place this year.

The application process is in its final stages.

In the past, MDKS had submitted a similar application to be upgraded but it was rejected by the Selangor government due to insufficient documentation.

This time, however, the state government has approved the application for the status upgrade but the final decision is with KPKT.

Seafood hubFor fishmonger Lim Hian Leng, 33, a longtime resident of Pasir Penambang, a healthy ecosystem has been vital in enabling his

family’s wholesale seafood business to grow from a yearly turnover of RM50,000 in 2015 to RM1mil last year.

But the father of three, who used to earn his school pocket money by looking for cockles along the Sungai Selangor estuary, knows how delicate this balance is.

“When I was 15, we could come home with bags of cockles. These past seven years, we would consider ourselves lucky to get 6kg of cockles a day.

“I fear unchecked pollution, development and the clearing of mangroves will affect the fishing industry here, ” said Lim.

What draws visitors to Pasir Penambang is the wet market and seafood restaurants. So fresh is the fish that some of them are still twitching at the fishmongers’ stalls.

This explains why many retailers prefer this fishing village over its southern counterparts.

They say its location further up north, away from busy port traffic, makes water conditions more ideal for fish, with some attesting that the flesh of seafood caught here is sweeter in taste and firmer in texture.

One of the spin-offs from the fishing industry is the knife-making trade. Tucked along a row of shophouses along Jalan Besar are knife smiths who still hammer, grind and forge steel blades out of lorry coil and leaf springs by hand.

The current knife makers here, despite being in their golden years, are said to be the best and they are often sought by fishmongers like Lim and anyone else whose trade depends on a sharp and hardy blade.

Natural attractions

Nature is also Kuala Selangor’s top tourist attraction.

The Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP), managed by the Malaysian Nature Society who saved it from being converted into a golf course in 1987, is a sanctuary for the endangered silvered leaf monkey.

Seven nautical miles from Kampung Sasaran, there is a hidden sandbank roughly about the size of 100 football fields in the middle of the Straits of Melaka.

It emerges at low tide as the Sky Mirror for tourists to take selfies and for naturists to wonder at the teeming marine life of soft corals and scurrying crabs.

In this district, fireflies light the river path during boat rides.

The bright glow of these soft-bodied beetles looks as if someone had plucked the twinkling stars from the sky and placed them among the branches of the mangrove trees by the riverbanks.

From the entrepreneurial perspective, it had spurred Azmi Janom, the owner of a firefly resort in Kampung Bukit Belimbing, to invest close to RM3mil into building his business over 20 years.

This outlay included a fleet of 20 silent, battery-powered boats that do not discharge effluents.

The district’s natural attractions have also resulted in budget hotels investing some 1,200 rooms in the district over the past 10 years.

As such, Malaysia Budget Hotels Association Selangor chairman Ng Hong Keat is hoping that tourism promotion programmes and new ideas will come together with the status upgrade.

“Crucial to the success of these programmes is proper management.

“Those chosen for the job must be experienced, properly trained and their appointments must be transparent via open tender.

“When done this way, good ideas will come through, ” he said.

Big on tourism

On tourism revenue, MDKS president Rahilah Rahmat pointed out the firefly phenomenon alone attracted 57,028 people, netting RM71,2850 for the Fireflies Sanctuary in Kampung Kuantan in 2019.

To further encourage growth in this sector, MDKS will kick-start its tourism promotion campaign once the interstate and district travel ban is lifted, said Rahilah.

It will be a concerted exercise with the cooperation of Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Selangor.

Due attention will also be given to the Freshwater Fish Park, which has been closed due to maintenance, external factors such as wildlife permits, land issues and high operation costs.

“MDKS has invited interested parties to invest in the redevelopment and operation of the closed park but this exercise has not been successful so far, ” said Rahilah.

In regards to development, Kuala Selangor has seven housing areas and six industrial zones.

In 2020, MDKS collected over RM31mil in assessment tax.

The area which contributed the highest revenue of over RM6.3mil is Puncak Alam, a satellite town in Ijok.

Served by the Kepong-Kuala Selangor Expressway, four of the district’s six industrial areas are located here.

The largest in Taman Industri Alam Jaya has 150 factories making products from tile adhesive to

bakery supplies, chemicals, packaging, aromatic tissues and health food.

Of the seven housing areas under the purview of MDKS, Alam Perdana, Eco Grandeur, Puncak Bestari 2, Hillpark are located here.

Bandar Puncak Alam has the highest population at 110,630 followed by Alam Perdana (62,620) and Eco Grandeur at 58,545.

Good infrastructure

The district is connected by the West Coast Expressway which rests on Federal Route 5 and two main roads in Jalan Rawang-Bestari Jaya and Jalan Kuala Selangor.

Future road projects will include a new exit from the Puncak Alam industrial area to the Kuala Lumpur-Kuala Selangor Express-way (Latar) and upgrades to pedestrian walkways in the old part of the town owing to its proximity to Bukit Melawati, a tourist attraction.

Under the council’s special local plan (Rancangan Kawasan Khas), upgrades will be in the form of zebra crossings, bollards and new signage.

Rahilah assured that there would not be an immediate hike on assessment tax after the status upgrade as the council was still using the 1997 valuation.

Where facilities are concerned, residents say they are satisfied for now.

At the Kampung Sungai Gulang Gulang, padi farmer Tumiran Mohd Senam, who spent the last 23 years on his 6.07 ha plot, said there was nothing more he wanted.

“We have WiFi, and even a beauty salon here. I am most thankful that our community, which is largely made up of Javanese, is also a harmonious one.

“Even the grocery shop owner who is Chinese, can speak fluent Javanese, ” he pointed out.

Higher education facility

For medical attention, there is the Tanjung Karang Hospital, which is just seven minutes away.

Another half an hour’s drive is the Bestari Jaya campus of Univer-siti Selangor (Unisel). The Puncak Alam campus of Universiti Tekno-logi Mara (UiTM) is another hour away.

Should the father of five decide that he would like a bit of adrenaline rush, he can even head to a go-kart circuit owned by his childhood friend Asmawi Askor.

Located at Jalan Stadium just 20 minutes away, the place is touted to become a hotspot for the advancement of grassroots motorsports.

Incidentally, Asmawi, a native of Kampung Sungai Kajang who used to live at Kampung Kuantan, Klang, decided to move back to Kuala Selangor in 2015 because he felt it would be a good place to raise his four children.

There is one common complaint though.

Residents say waste collection needs to be improved, especially at the Pasir Penambang wet market and traditional villages.

At Pasir Penambang, market traders say rubbish overflow is a common issue as nearby restaurants are also dumping their waste into the bins at the market.

In traditional villages, illegal dumping is rife.

At Kampung Bukit Belimbing, for example, visitors are greeted by a mound of rubbish just metres away from a firefly resort.

The operator said despite having brought up the matter various times with the village head, the problem has persisted for the past four years.

To solve matters, he had to hire a backhoe several times to deal with the eyesore himself.

In response, MDKS said it had appointed KDEB Waste Manage-ment to handle domestic waste collection in commercial areas and traditional villages.

The council had also distributed two-wheel bins, contributed by the state government, at several commercial areas.

At the Pasir Penambang wet market, the leach bins were provided by the council.

“It is the responsibility of commercial premises owners to take care of hygiene.

“The provision of bins under the council rubbish collection and disposal by-laws states that every house or shoplot should have a covered bin which must be maintained in good condition.

“For traditional villages, rubbish collection is funded by the state government, ” said Rahilah.

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