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Fraser's Hill's Newest Addition Sparks Outrage Among Local Residents And Environmentalists

Local residents were initially uninformed about the development of the 15-storey resort and spa.

Cover image via Farizul Hafiz Awang/New Straits Times & PAWBF/Facebook

UPDATE: Construction of Fraser's Hill Resort and Spa has since been suspended. Read the full story here.

Construction of 15-storey Fraser's Hill Resort and Spa atop the popular hill station was recently given the green light, sparking concern among environmentalists and nearby communities

New Straits Times reported that having obtained approval from the Raub District Council early last year, the project would be proceeding according to schedule.

A source told the English daily that engineers from the land and district office will be sent to ensure guidelines are being adhered to during construction of the 181-room resort.

An aerial shot of the 15-storey Fraser Hill Resort and Spa construction site in Raub.

Image via Farizul Hafiz Awang/New Straits Times

Late last month, local residents were shocked to find that colonial bungalow Maybank Lodge and Jelai Resort had been torn down

Maybank Lodge prior to demolition.

Image via PAWBF/Facebook

Maybank Lodge being torn down.

Image via PAWBF/Facebook

Persatuan Alam & Warisan Bukit Fraser (PAWBF), a society dedicated to promoting and preserving Fraser Hill's nature and heritage, noted that people were kept in the dark about the new resort.

In a statement released on 30 July, PAWBF said, "There is no signboard up to this day to explain about the project nor has there been a dialogue or even an announcement about the plant (sic)."

It was only four days ago, on 6 August, that public signage detailing plans for the high-rise development was spotted by PAWBF.

Image via PAWBF/Facebook

"A resort [and] spa could add value to the hill, however a [15-storey] building with 181 rooms and with a design and scale that do not fit the location is extremely worrying," the group added.

The National Heritage Department were similarly unaware of the demolition until they had received complaints from the public

Though Maybank Lodge is of particular historical value, the building is not gazetted as a heritage site under Act 645 of the National Heritage Act 2005. A development order was, therefore, not required. 

A separate report by New Straits Times revealed that the National Heritage Department is currently conducting an investigation into the matter.

Set to be completed by 2026, Fraser's Hill Resort and Spa risks long-term environmental impact

A birdwatcher's paradise, the lush hill stands to lose its biodiversity as a result of the impeding construction.

Dubbed the 'Little England of Malaysia', Fraser's Hill is one of the last remaining hill stations in the country, well-known for its pleasant cool weather and wildlife.

According to WWF, Fraser's Hill is home to 275 bird, 52 mammal, 27 reptile, and 26 amphibian species.

Image via Tourism Pahang

The 30 July statement by PAWBF stated, "Fraser's Hill has never seen a construction this tall. Thanks to the efforts of WWF and [Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia], Fraser's Hill is on its way to achieving State Park status because of its rich Forest Complex."

For over 30 years, droves of birdwatchers flocked to the hill for Fraser's Hill International Bird Race.

However, with the new resort and spa set to occupy a popular birdwatching zone, bird enthusiasts will soon be unable to frequent the site.

On top of that, the project will affect Fraser's Hill's only lake, Allan's Water, causing major soil movement in the area

Already prone to landslides, construction could be detrimental to surrounding plant life, smaller buildings, and the two water catchment areas, Sungai Pahang and Sungai Selangor.

In an interview with Juliet Jacobs and Tee Shiao Eek of BFM Radio, PAWBF chairman Nik Jassmin Hew claimed that an Environmental Impact Assessment had not been done prior to demolition.

However, Nik relayed that they were told an assessment was not required as the project did not involve steep slope or land-clearing.

With construction underway, PAWBF fears forthcoming development projects in other parts of Fraser's Hill

Their statement read, "We would hate to see further destruction especially now that it has come to light that iKHASAS (the construction company responsible) has acquired another heritage bungalow, namely Mallaig Bungalow, which belonged to the Shell Company."

In an article written by Nik and published on The Star, the hill station has also seen the fall of two other bungalows, Mentakab Bungalow and Bishop House, which made way for Silver Park Resort.

A golf course had similarly overtaken Jeriau Waterfall in the past.

A petition calling for a review of Fraser's Hill Resort and Spa's development plans has already garnered over 7,700 signatures at the time of writing this

Image via Change.org

PAWBF has engaged with government officials and iKHASAS on the matter, but are urging the public to sign and share the petition.

Aside from that, a virtual town hall will be held on PAWBF's Facebook tomorrow, 11 August, at 3.30pm.

Read PAWBF's full statement here:

After much concern, iKHASAS was presented with a stop-work order, halting construction:

In February, thousands of Malaysians signed a petition calling on the Selangor government to reject a proposal to degazette forest land:

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