TASIK CINI, which has long associated with myths and legends and also revered by the orang asli in Pahang, was cleaned up by the local community and its supporters recently.
Sustainable Development Network (Susden) had been mobilising volunteers to work with the orang asli in cleaning the lake when news arrived in June that it was engulfed by the parasitic water plant know locally as “misai kucing.”
Susden president Bishan Singh said the lake, also known as the Wonder of Pahang, was a tourist attraction and a source of livelihood for orang asli settlers.
“When we explained to the settlers the need to rehabilitate and conserve the lake, they participated actively in our programme,” Bishan said in an interview recently.
He said the condition of the lake improved in areas where the parasitic plants were removed.
He said Susden was educating the orang asli not to dump sewage and rubbish into the lake.
“We advised them not to pluck lotus flowers on the lake to decorate their hats as the flower had commercial value and its growth should be monitored as a measure of preservation.”
Bishan said orang asli from five settlements located around the lake were told to set up their own committees on “Saving Tasik Cini.”
“The committees were to adopt the theme Sustainable Village Initiative to look after the well being of the lake and increase the settlers' sources of income and quality of life,” he said.
Bishan said at a recent meeting with orang asli settlers of Kampung Gumum, Kampung Ulu Gumum, Kampung Chendahan, Kampung Tanjung Puput and Kampung Melai, that the village heads had proposed they should look into other economic activities to increase income.
They also wanted to create greater awareness on the sensitivity of the environment of Tasik Cini, he said.
“The proposal led to the formation of the Tasik Cini working committee, which comprises the village development and security committee head Ismail Muhammad, the heads of the five villages, Susden representative Baharin Sunta and Tok Batin Awang Alok and Cini state assemblyman Abu Bakar Harun as adviser.”
The committee is mulling over a homestay programme for students to learn about the heritage of the orang asli in relation to the lake.
“Most of the orang asli are akin to the lake as they have been living on its shores since their forefathers' time. They believe the spirits of their forefathers still roam the area,” said Bishan.
He said that Susden was in the midst of organising the first anniversary celebration of the Save Tasik Cini Campaign.
A forum and workshop have been planned for July 30 at Vistana Hotel followed by a dinner by Friends of Tasik Cini Network, a coalition of 14 organisations and 20 active environmentalists.
There will also be a field trip to the lake on July 31 and Susden has invited Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to launch Phase Two of the campaign.