It was with great interest that I read your front page article, “A Tropical Retreat Fit for a Prince”, in Issue 117 for as you may recall you published a review of my visit to Temenggor and the same Island over February and March last year. Furthermore, my friends and I also revisited the island and spent time in Royal Belum over the last Christmas period. It was therefore very easy to mentally share the Prince’s adventures in Northern Perak – until I discovered, with some mixed feelings, that the whole thing was an April Fool’s joke existing only in the mind of the author.
I have to say that the article was so well written that I fell straight into the trap you set. I would like to think that this was not because I was naïve, but because of my secondary interest in the article, the Prince himself, who I met on a few occasions while serving in the Royal Navy. He is a man for whom I have great respect. I remember him particularly as an outstanding helicopter pilot, who, during the Falklands war, deliberately put his life at risk to decoy missiles away from our ships. I was therefore very interested to hear his views of Temenggor and Royal Belum, when compared to mine, as reported in my review.
Here I believe the tone of your article was exactly as I would have expected him to respond – with justified and forthright expressions of regret about the litter at Pulau Banding jetty and the ugly government works in the Orang Asli village. Similarly, he would not have minced his words about the indiscriminate logging and destruction of the rainforests. Nonetheless, even though these were not his words, what saddens me is that, in reality, these blemishes on our landscape are still with us one year after I highlighted them. Surely, it is about time the, “powers that be” do something, at least about the litter and continued logging?
According to your author’s imagination the Prince ended his interview with the words “Whatever happens you must preserve your treasures – Belum and Temenggor.” I have no doubt that, as the caring man he is, this would have been his stance if he had actually visited us. Would anyone have listened? I doubt it, for a year ago I ended my review somewhat differently asking the people of Perak to do something to stop all these problems decimating our environment by supporting the relevant NGOs and employing democracy. It seems my pleas fell on deaf ears.
What is wrong with the society we live in? Don’t we care about the future of our world?