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Melaka has lost its charm again

Neon lighted river bank does not project a true historic Melaka River. I remember the river is vibrant with traditional barter trading and fishing boats berthing before the river was transformed to a concrete drain. The river used to be a natural habitat for wildlife like crab, monitor lizard, mudskipper, etc. but now all that is becoming another history in the historic city.

This kind of haphazard commercialized project may be a money spinner in the short-term, but it brings adverse consequences to Melaka long-term sustainable tourism. Why people revisit Melaka to see another concrete jungle?

Melaka government is slaughtering a goose for its golden eggs by destroying Melaka river and its city own unique historical and charming elements.

These few photos I took in 2006 are more historical in nature.

Melaka River-‘Money Spinner’ For Heritage City

By Mohamad Bakri Darus

(BERNAMA will come out with more features in conjunction of ‘1State 1 River’ programme which will be launched in October)

MELAKA, Oct 1 (Bernama) — A holiday in Melaka is considered as ‘incomplete’ without getting on a cruise along Sungai Melaka that snakes through this historical city.

The beauty of this river, enhanced via efforts of the state authorities, exudes more brilliance at night due to the thousands of lighted bulbs strung on new and heritage buildings as well as on trees that lined the 4.5km stretch of the river right from the ‘spice park’ to the estuary.

Tourists can hop on 40 boats provided by Melaka River Cruise, a company owned by the Melaka River and Coast Development Corporation (PPSPM). The cruise is on from 9.30am until midnight daily.

“More than 40,000 tourists visited the river each month and they enjoy taking the river cruise”, PPSPM Chief Executive Officer Baharom Majid told Bernama here.


Baharom said the Melaka River Cruise began as a commercial venture in 2006 with two boats which saw the service attracting 3,290 passengers that year. The figure shot to 51,100 visitors in 2007 with 12 boats in service, followed by 350,000 people in 2008 with 20 boats available.

The figure for 2009 was 591,000 people with 30 boats in use.

He said the PPSPM targets 600,000 visitors (with 40 boats in service) this year.

Baharom said the number of visitors is expected to increase due to the intensive roadshows staged by the PPSPM locally and abroad with collaboration of the state and tourism authorities including Tourism Malaysia.

Various packages are on offer for tourists like that for holding dinners and wedding functions on the boats. Tourist guides well-versed in the history of Melaka and also on facts of the river are also provided.

The Melaka River Carnival held annually has also attracted both the domestic and foreign tourists, he added.


Among the objects that lined the riverbanks which captured the tourists’ attention and their cameras are the mural paintings on walls of buildings as well as the Melaka tree, from where the state got its name.

Soon the visitors would be able to enjoy the river’s beauty on rides in the monorail coaches over a stretch of 1.6km from the Jebat Station in Taman Rempah until Tuah Station near the Eye On Melaka, another tourist attraction.

The transformation of Sungai Melaka can be tagged as ‘out of the ordinary’.

From a river which was once muddy and choked with floating garbage, Sungai Melaka has been transformed into a clean and beautiful river.

No more of the dirty backyards of shops and houses. No more of the rather repulsing or revolting scenarios where rubbish was seen dumped into the river. Instead there are stunning landscapes that attract the attention of the camera-happy tourists on the rivercruise boats.

Now Sungai Melaka is a major tourist attraction for this world heritage city and also part of Melaka’s economic cake.


The Melaka River Beautification Programme was inspired by a similar effort done on San Antonio river in Texas, United States which is famous for its beauty and able to draw some 13 million tourists a year.

The programme to enhance the beauty of Melaka river was implemented under four phases at the cost of RM30 million that began in 2002.

PPSPM was given the task of regaining the glory of Melaka river, once known as the ‘Venice of the East’ when it became the trading point for merchants from the East and West.

Sungai Melaka’s estuary is at Bandar Hilir here and the river flows into the Melaka Straits. The river, which was at the peak of its glory during the Melaka Malay Sultanate, gradually lost its lustre under the rule of the colonialists – Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese.


The pro-active measures implemented by the Melaka government. spearheaded by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, in the development of Sungai Melaka over the past decade had ignited and catalysed new economic activities along the river stretch.

Mohd Ali who expressed confidence in the river’s potential has invited entrepreneurs to establish, among others, hotels, restaurants and gift shops along the river, at the cost expected to reach more than RM1.0 billion.

“Apart from the existing ones, more hotels will be built along Sungai Melaka including that by Uda Holdings Berhad,” he said.

He also said the residents of Kampung Morten, the old Malay settlement in the heart of this world heritage city, would soon be selling souvenirs to tourists.

Kampung Morten is among the popular stops by visitors to Sungai Melaka as this settlement showcases the Malay traditional houses in their originality.

It is like a package for these visitors who can also make stopovers at Jonker Walk, Taming Sari Tower, Merdeka Memorial, A Famosa fortress, Stadthuys, Padang Nyiru, Taman Rempah and the theme park during their visits to the river.

Tourists can also shop at the commercial zone nearby like the Dataran Pahlawan Mega Mall.

The river had also created a mark in Malaysia’s modern history when in 2005, during the Rulers Conference on Nov 21-24, the Malay rulers accompanied by dignitaries took a recreational cruise along the stretch of Sungai Melaka.


The comment board with Facebook account.
Gambit says:

Very soon foreign tourists will flock to Singapore Peranakan Museum to savour the experience of baba & nyonya culture. Melaka will be by-passed soon.

Dabangg of Muar says:

Melaka appeals to Cuti Cuti Msia folks but very likely no repeat visits from foreigners. Words of mouth is strong that Melaka’s intital tourism is claimed successful becoz tonnes of taxpayers being poured in. This cannot be sustained hence many white elephants.

My Penang friend said if Penang has that kind of $resources then a lot more can be done to appeal to more backpackers coming to the islands.

Both Melaka & penang seem to appeal to budget conscious tourists that do not bring in a lot of foreign exchanges to the country. What say you ?

nkkhoo says:

How can Penang attracts Japanese and Europe high-end tourists with its dirty and polluted beaches?

Rustam is wasting taxpayers’ money for all nonsense tourist products like monorail, bird park, Hang Tuah memorial hall, etc.

See a letter in the Star from MNS on Rustam’s bird park.

The museums in Melaka all in the rundown conditions, only good for tourists in 70s and 80s with low expectation for museum presentation.

Ravi says:

Rustam has stopped the monorail operation for safety reason?

Or no money to buy the spare parts?

nkkhoo says:

He threatened Chinese manufacturer that he will buy new monorail from Europe if the service cannot resume in a week. This was last news I heard.

The monorail can be converted to Rustam’s giant tombstone after his death.

Ravi says:

good one. afterall he should not suffer like Hang Tuah who left the legacy without a tombstone.

Mashita says:

On today’s The Star someone wrote to the readers page complaining that the Melaka monorail is still not in operation although it is heavily promoted in the tourism brochure (to cheat the foreign tourists?). They still light up the station to waste electricity to glorify this white elephant. Melaka Boleh! Rustam memang Boleh!

S Paul says:

I TOOK some foreign friends to historical Malacca recently.

At one of the tourist information centres, we chanced upon a colourful brochure “Come and experience Melaka’s attractions” where the 1.6km monorail service was highlighted.

The exact wordings were “Come and experience the spectacular and panoramic view of Melaka – Unesco World Heritage City – from a height of 80 metres, the Taming Sari Tower and also the beauty of scenes of Melaka River and Morten Village with our Melaka River Monorail”.

We got excited and quickly headed for the Hang Jebat Monorail Station.

We were welcomed with a huge banner displaying the operational hours.

We headed for the first floor to purchase our tickets and found the whole place clean and well maintained but there was hardly anybody there.

The station was fully lighted up and even the escalator to the first floor was operational.

Nobody was at the ticket counter on the first floor.

We went up to the second floor and saw the monorail train waiting with its doors wide open but neither the driver nor passengers were in sight.

We went down again to the first floor to wait for the ticket seller but there was no sign of him or her.

We then asked the vendors on the ground floor and they gave us a surprised look, saying; “Don’t you know that the train stopped operations the day it started?”

My question is why advertise the attraction when it is no longer in operation and give the impression at the station that all is well.

The brochures should have been withdrawn and there should be a notice at the station informing tourists that the monorail service is no longer operational.

What I was most concerned with was the wastage of electricity as the station was fully lit up and the escalator was in operation. What a waste of resources!

nkkhoo says:

See my posting in

You missed the story about monorail was kaput from day one.’s-monorail-service-comes-to-a-stop/

Melaka government is suck from day one. I have written two complaining letters to Ths Star about their poor performance in travel promotion.