GEORGE TOWN, Jul 10 – Air Terjun Bayan Lepas, or better known by the locals as Air Terjun Pak Lah (Pak Lah Waterfall), a place where former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi used to spend his childhood swimming is now dirty and serves as a dump site.
According to locals, some seven years ago, while Abdullah was still the Prime Minister, the water used to be crystal clear and many people came to spend their time picnicking and swimming at the waterfall. Mohamad Ishak Ismail, 58, who has been living in the vicinity of the waterfall for the past 35 years, said that no one had ever tried to conserve the place even though it is one of the few waterfalls left in the state.
“It is sad to see the waterfall in this current state as no one cares about it. The place used to be very beautiful, families came to spend time together and the water could flow freely. The condition of the waterfall changed drastically when the land there was privatised and that the water quality had dropped gradually after development took place next to the water source. II wonder how can such development be approved when it is located next to a water source,” Ishak said.
Checks by Bernama found that there were several high rise-high density projects under construction next to the waterfall and all had been approval by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP). Previously, the council and Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) and had promised to oversee the location and to beautify it following a landslide incident in 2013.
However, the effort from both parties does not seem to be done continuously as the site is now filled with rubbish and the facilities built are now abandoned completely. Not only the waterfall has turned into a dump site, locals were also worried that the area has turned into a place conquered by foreigners and a drug spot for addicts as the place is isolated from the public.
Siti Salimah Kassim, 44, said that people were scared to go to the waterfall anymore because there were too many foreigners living near the waterfall. She said they have no idea if the foreigners are in the country legally or not as sometimes they see them carrying children and babies. She said all they know is that the foreigners might be working as construction workers.
“I feared the area had turned into a drug spot especially for those who sniff glue. My son once told me that he saw several tins of glue on top of the waterfall. in the meantime, I have also prohibited him from going there anymore, fearing for his safety,” she said.
She said she wish the local council and other local authorities could do something to prevent unwanted incidents to occur in the neighbourhood. The sole main waterfall left protected in the state is in the Botanical Gardens while others had either dried up or become polluted. — Bernama