: Scuba divers from various parts of the country gathered on the picturesque island of Tioman, Pahang recently to celebrate Malaysia’s 56th Merdeka Day.
Organized by Pahang Tourism and Culture Office with cooperation from Damai Tioman Resort and Island Message Dive Centre, the three day event starting from 23 till 25 August 2013 saw a total of 55 scuba divers converging on the rustic island village of Kampong Genting in Tioman.
Participating under a recently launched “Voluntourism” package, scuba divers not only paid to enjoy leisure dives at the many interesting dive sites that Tioman has to offer but also participated in volunteer work such as underwater cleanups. Also in attendance were Joe and Black, two members of Malaysia’s legendary rock band Wings. Both avid scuba divers, the two musicians are active volunteers in marine conservation work around the waters of Malaysia.
Throughout the event, participants also handed out the Jalur Gemilang flag to villagers around the island in the spirit of Merdeka Day.
Under Malaysia’s National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) programme which aims to promote inter-agency communication and cooperation, two other events were also held in conjunction with Merdeka Dive Tioman Island.
A Crown of Thorns (COT) reef cleanup event was organized by the Department of Marine Park Malaysia, Pahang whereby large, multiple-armed starfishes known as Crown of Thorns were collected underwater and disposed of on land. Highly venomous, these starfishes usually prey upon hard or stony coral polyps and if left unchecked can be detrimental to Tioman’s healthy coral reefs.
Answering the Government’s call to address its growing rat problem, a rat-catching and gotong-royong event was held by Tioman Development Authority at Asah Waterfall, a popular tourist spot on the island. Both events saw participation from Merdeka Dive Tioman Island divers.
The director of Pahang Tourism and Culture Office, Haji Idros Yahya stated that he was pleased by the level of participation from attending scuba divers and the cooperation shown between the various agencies. Although some dives were troubled by uncharacteristically poor visibility underwater, this did not dampen the divers’ patriotic spirits. He also added that more similar “Voluntourism” events should be held around Pahang’s various tourism attractions.