SUNGAI PETANI: The parliamentary constituency of Merbok is set to get a boost in terms of tourism and education, thanks to the Federal Government's projects in these sectors. Merbok sits close to the famed archeological site of Bujang Valley where recent discoveries at Sungai Batu suggest that the area could be the birthplace of early civilisation in Southeast Asia.
The Sungai Batu archaeological site, one of 154 sites, tangible and intangible objects and distinguished individuals declared as the country's national heritage by Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim recently, will be developed as a tourist attraction.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Global Archaeological Research Centre (PPAG) director Assoc Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin said the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry had plans to turn Sungai Batu into the Bujang Valley Archaeological Heritage Park so that the country's historical heritage could be well preserved.
He said that for a start the ministry would set up a gallery, expected to be ready by mid-2013. "We have started discussions, and the ministry has an allocation of RM20mil under the 10th Malaysia Plan, half of which will be used to buy land and the remainder to build the gallery," he said, adding that Sungai Batu had great potential to become a valuable tourism product.
To further intensify the tourism industry in Merbok when the Sungai Batu development project materialises, the Federal Government also plans to improve the living conditions of the poor there through the Sungai Merbok Floating Chalet Project.
Merbok Area Farmers Association (PPK) economic affairs assistant Rostam Abd Ghani said the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry had provided a RM1.1mil grant to implement the project.
Rostam said 111 selected poor residents would be given dividends from profits of the project to raise the economic status.
"The Merbok PPK was chosen to implement the project for e-Kasih and Azam Tani participants, whereby each person is given RM10,000 but not in cash. They consist of 73 people from Merbok, 24 from Sungai Petani and 14 from Kuala Muda Selatan who will receive 70 per cent of the net profits from the floating chalet business," he said.
Meanwhile, Merbok parliamentary constituency coordinator Datuk Tajul Urus Md Zain said Merbok would also be developed into an education hub in line with the flourishing growth of educational institutions in the area.
"Currently, Bujang Valley, stretching from Pekan Semeling to Kampung Bujang, houses the AIMST University, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) and, recently, a primary and secondary school for the disabled," he said.
Tajul Urus said he had proposed to the Higher Education Ministry for a community college in Merbok and another national school, following an increase in the population. The growth of educational institutions will indirectly promote Merbok and its development to the rest of the country, as well as improve the local economy. - Bernama
Did you find this article insightful?