Rural Water Park In Kedah With 'Muslim-Only' Access Sparks Debate

The policy is said to prevent visitors from wearing swimming attire that goes against the local community's sentiments.

Cover image via Adie Zulkifli/New Straits Times & Berangan Pool Cottage (Facebook)

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A small water park in Kedah is attracting attention on social media due to its policy exclusively catering to Muslim families, which restricts access for non-Muslim patrons

The water park, Berangan Aqua Park, is located in Kampung Kelang Makau and is about a 20-minute drive from the city of Sungai Petani.

According to Google Reviews, it is a simple park with only one big knee-deep pool with some water features, and a single water slide for young children.

The entrance fee is RM9 for adults and children, and free for children below three years old.

The New Straits Times reported that the water park can only accommodate up to 250 patrons at a time.

While the water park has been open since 2021, it recently attracted criticism after social media users discovered that the park was openly promoting itself as "Muslim-only"

In an interview with the New Straits Times, Berangan Aqua Park manager Mohd Fikri Mohd Fadzil confirmed that the park only admits Muslim patrons and that it caters mostly to Muslim families with young children.

"We are not here to compete with big-time players. We are offering an option for families looking for a cheaper alternative to spend time with their young children," said Fikri.

"When we designed the business model, the company owner's priority was to make sure that it suited the surroundings, which have about 300 Malay households.

"We also have Islamic religious and tahfiz schools operating in Permatang Berangan, so we had to take that into consideration," he explained.

He said the company also decided to become Muslim-only to prevent visitors from wearing swimming attire that went against the local community's sentiments.

"Our priority is to develop a sustainable business model that is suitable for the close-knit Malay-Muslim community. We have explained this to non-Muslims visitors and most of them understood our stand," he added.

However, Fikri said Berangan Aqua Park is open to all visitors regardless of race and religion under group bookings

"We welcome group bookings by patrons of different races, either as a corporate organisation, association, resident association, or Rukun Tetangga.

"In fact, we have hosted group events made up of multi-ethnic participants. It is easier to manage people in groups compared to walk-in patrons," he explained.

Despite the justification, many social users opined that the move to restrict access to Muslims alone is discriminatory

Civil society organisation Pusat KOMAS condemned the park's decision to restrict the park to Muslims, saying that its reason for doing so is "backward and racist".

"A business entity that is operated and promoted as a tourism attraction should not be opened to a singular race only," it said.

Image via @pusatkomas (X)

"This is religious apartheid. It shouldn't be allowed to be practised in Malaysia," said another X user.

Image via X

Meanwhile, another netizen said the park operator should include a 'no bikini' disclaimer on its website if it was concerned about inappropriate swim attire.

"'Muslim-only' for a recreational water park is discriminatory," they said.

Image via X

However, there were many others who defended the water park's decision to stay Muslim-only as it is located in a small community

"For non-Muslims, you have better options. Visit the nearby ESCAPE Penang or Bertam Water Park. They are bigger and offer a variety of water slides.

"As for Berangan Aqua Park, it only caters to a small community. Just think of it as a kampung water park, okay?" suggested a Facebook user.

Image via Facebook

Meanwhile, another said, "You guys are only concerned about your rights, but I'm a Muslim girl who finds it difficult to enter many hotel swimming pools because we don't wear [the usual] swimming attire.

"There are plenty of water parks you can go. This one caters to a rural area and you guys want to make noise... We live in a multicultural and multi-religious country, let's respect each other."

Image via Facebook

"All this fuss about nothing. It's the business owner's prerogative. He's catering to the majority and I hope they succeed," opined another.

Image via Facebook

Last year, a Malaysian student questioned whether an afterparty organised by the Malaysian Society of the University of Nottingham at a nightclub was deemed inclusive:

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