Photographer clears the air over Sg Melaka reports

PETALING JAYA: The photographer whose viral pictures of a “clean and green” Sungai Melaka, which prompted news outlets to report that the river is now pristine due to the movement control order (MCO), has come out to clear the air.

Melaka-based photographer CJ Fen (pic) said he took the four pictures of Sungai Melaka at the end of February, before the MCO started on March 18.

The photos depict pristine water running over river rocks while small fish swim in the emerald green river, which previously had a reputation for being brown and polluted.

“When I posted the pictures on my Facebook page in February, they were shared by several Melaka-based Facebook pages.

“Then during the MCO, more people started sharing the photos. Even former Melaka chief minister Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam shared them and they went viral.

“Then recently, I saw that several news outlets had published articles claiming that the MCO had attributed to the river’s revival. Some had even used my photos.

“My initial reaction when I saw the news reports was to laugh because this was not true, the MCO did not cause the river to clear up.“It was already in that condition before the MCO. I can confirm this as I took the pictures in February, ” said the 38-year-old when contacted yesterday.

Last week, several news outlets reported that Sungai Melaka had become greener during the MCO, quoting locals who confirmed that the river was cleaner as there was less garbage being dumped into it.

Fen acknowledged that while the MCO might have helped to make the river cleaner, the river’s rehabilitation should be credited to years of effort by the authorities and locals.“Maybe it has become cleaner during the MCO, but not clearer because rehabilitation and redevelopment of the river was actually started in phases many years ago by the government.

“Since then, there have been improvements from the days when people would complain that the river was dirty and smelly, ” he said.

Taking good visuals of the river actually depends on the weather, said Fen.

The water would look clear and green after a few hot days with no rain, and would appear murky if it had rained previously, he added.

“I took more pictures of the river recently after it had rained and the water was murky, ” he said.

Fen did not blame the news outlets for using his pictures without crediting him as he understood that it would have been difficult to trace them back to him.

“The photos were shared so many times that it would be hard to identify the original source.

“I never used to watermark my photos as I usually take them using my phone. But now, I have started to watermark them, ” laughed Fen, who has been taking pictures of Melaka town as a hobby for some 10 years.

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