FOLKS in Cameron Highlands are concerned over the proposed plan for an outdoor theme park.
Those interviewed by StarMetro felt that the project to be developed by Sim Leisure Group was not the right fit.
Trader Hafizah Abdul Malek said such a development was not needed as the highlands was known more for its sights such as tea plantations and strawberry farms.
“As a local born and raised here, I think the project will do more harm than good.
“There are already so many cases of pollution and multiple landslide incidents here,” said the 29-year-old.
“I think we need to promote the Orang Asli culture instead of building a theme park,” she added.
A retiree, who wished to be known only as Sim, is worried the development will damage the environment.
“The construction may require clearing of areas and felling of big trees, which will then affect our water source,” he said.
Plans for the nature-based adventure park were made known after a video went viral, sparking discussions on multiple social media platforms.
The first phase of the theme park, spanning a 24.3ha valley at an elevation of 220m, is scheduled to open in the first half of 2023.
It was also reported that the European-themed development will be the first of its kind in the region to offer an outdoor ski attraction.
An online petition was initiated recently to stop the project.
The park developer, Sim Leisure Group, was quoted in the media on Aug 3 giving assurance that the theme park would preserve the natural environment of the highlands with a low impact development approach in design and execution.
Non-governmental organisation MyHutan campaigner Aidil Iman Aidid, 22, said that although the developer promised to preserve the environment, the ecosystem could still be altered.
“Nature is best protected when it is left alone.
“Cameron Highlands’ high rainfall, fuelled further by climate change, may result in landslides.
“We don’t need another theme park. The highlands should retain its tranquility,” he said.
Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia president Andrew Sebastian said he was shocked that the project would be developed on an already ecologically strained and erosion-prone area.
“We can only wait for the Environmental Impact Assessment report,” he said.
When contacted, Sim Leisure Group founder and chief executive Sim Choo Kheng said they would continue to uphold the assurance given about the project.
“We understand the environmental concerns expressed by the public, but we assure the public of our long-term commitment to preserving the environment, not only in Cameron Highlands but across all our projects as well.
“We will take the same approach we had in Penang to address the concerns in Cameron Highland for this project.
“While the project has been referenced as a theme park development, it is in fact a nature-based adventure park,” he added.
It was reported that the project marked the third Escape brand of theme parks in Malaysia, after Escape Penang and Escape Challenge in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Sim had also said that the decision to build a theme park in Cameron Highlands was because of the destination’s untapped potential, adding that it had more to offer than “just nice weather, vegetables and strawberries”.