Langkawi close to losing Unesco status, says C4

PETALING JAYA: Langkawi is on the verge of losing its Unesco Global Geopark status, warns the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4).

C4 northern unit coordinator Sudhagaran Stanley said this was based on serious mismanagement and good governance issues addressed in the NGO’s report titled “Langkawi: Good Governance, The Pillar to a Successful Tourism Industry”, which was released today.

He claimed that the state is not doing its best to preserve the status, or educate locals who lacked awareness about the listing and the island’s heritage.

“We found a range of ‘ill-advised activities’ which could seriously jeopardise the environmental and tourism treasures of Langkawi, if left unchecked,” he said, adding that mega events might attract tourists and revenue, but micro-level issues were being neglected.

Stanley called for state authorities to hold constant meetings with local civil society and businesses to discuss what was needed for the island.

He said the Unesco status was not just about geological conservation but also about the communities and socio-economic activities there.

“Langkawi was once at risk of losing this status for non-compliance, and we are close to losing it once again,” Stanley said.

He added that C4’s report on Langkawi contained findings made from various parties in the public and private sectors.

“It is an eye-opening account of never-before published tales of the disparity between developments on the ground and the administration.

“It also highlights the lack of enforcement, high number of businesses operating illegally, alleged mismanagement of the IWK (Indah Water Konsortium) sewerage system, deforestation due to rapid development, wastage of public funds, the fast-paced hotel development and big GLCs moving in as key business players,” he said.

It was previously reported that an inspection mission conducted by Unesco’s representatives in 2011 found a number of shortcomings in the management of the island as a geopark. After an appeal from Malaysian authorities, Unesco allowed the status to continue.

Then in 2015, Unesco conducted another inspection and gave Langkawi a “green card” to keep the status.

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