By Vivien Lian
In the previous issue, I wrote about ‘Stop Using Caves As Temples!’ and this issue I’m continuing on a cave in Gunung Karang Besar which is in the process of housing a temple. The committee named it Siam Temple and it is yet to be registered, so I urge the state government to look into this matter before another beautiful cave is modified into a temple.
It is important to distinguish the need for development and its contribution to the state economy. Temples are available everywhere as long as there are worshippers but are limestone caves available in other states? Do temples attract the interest of general tourists or do our natural caves have more allure? Who brings in more income to the state? Tourists or worshippers?
I’m told that the budget of state tourism is currently insufficient to develop natural attractions into tourism attractions, plus I’m also aware of the safety risks for not adding infrastructure to the natural attractions. We can wait until the budget is available but meanwhile, can we have regulations imposed to protect the beautiful caves from individuals/companies who vandalise these caves out of self-interest?
The cave is also home to Monophyllaea whose the etymology comes from the Greek μονος, monos = single, and φυλλον, phyllon = leaf, referring to the single leaf of the plant. According to http://www.genera-gesneriaceae.at/genera/monophyllaea.htm, this plant grows mostly on limestone rocks, in shady forests, at cave entrances and below rocks. This plant glows whether in the light or in the dark. Not only that, the surrounding of Siam Temple looks like a film set of King Kong. Are we taking what Perak state is blessed for granted?