PD’s rollercoaster fate to mirror Anwar’s own

10-Oct-2018 Intellasia | Malay Mail | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Formerly Malaysia’s “premier beach town”, Port Dickson (PD) lost its attraction in the last two decades before it came under the media spotlight again this month for the forced by-election contested by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Singapore’s Straits Times (ST) reported that PD’s decline was precipitated by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, mirroring Anwar’s political slide in 1998 from the country’s deputy prime minister to being jailed twice.

Prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was ostensibly responsible for both of the unrelated events.

ST reported that PD has been eclipsed by Langkawi as the country’s No. 1 destination for beach holidays after Dr Mahathir poured development funds into his native northern state during his previous administration.

“Langkawi is more famous than us because Tun Mahathir has built so many attractions there. Anwar is not inferior to Tun, I’m sure he will be able to turn PD into a travellers’ paradise too,” shop assistant Hashim Mohammad, 45, was quoted saying.

The report said that development of PD took off in the late 1980s, and it became a weekend getaway destination for the growing middle class in the Klang Valley.

But the growing numbers of visitors prompted backlash over beaches that were overcrowded during weekends, and which were dirty and poorly-maintained.

A combination of events from the late 90s turned visitors away from PD: drying up of funding for big projects from the financial crisis, the deadly outbreak of Nipah virus in pig farms nearby in 1999, haze blowing over from Indonesia, and the rise of budget airlines which opened up opportunities for travellers to head to overseas destinations like Phuket and Bali.

In his bid to return to Parliament, Anwar has offered promises to develop the constituency, including in tourism and jobs in the airline industry.

He previously said in a ceramah that an unnamed hotel operator has agreed to build a five-star luxury hotel there.

“Port Dickson has big potential. An hour from Kuala Lumpur, three hours from Singapore. If we manage it well, clean up the beaches, improve the infrastructure a bit… I want to make Port Dickson a great regional tourism centre,” he was reported saying by the ST.

This time around, Dr Mahathir himself has chipped in: thousands attended to watch him campaign for foe-turned-friend Anwar last night, with Pakatan Harapan hopeful it would boost voter turnout deemed essential for Anwar to win the seven-cornered fight.



Category: Malaysia

Print This Post