The Pantai Hill Orchard Resort – conflict and issues with resort operators

Here is a little summary of the on-going saga between residents and resort operators, played out on Pantai Hills Orchard Resort. We hope that – you – visitors – tourists – authorities – friends – families – workers may benefit from this information – and make informed choices to help this beleaguered community.

Little Background
Pantai Hill Orchard Resort – born in the early 1990’s, was originally a ‘Homestead’ concept for private home owners.

Developer of Pantai Hill Orchard Resort - advertising Homestead land for sale

Developer of Pantai Hill Orchard Resort – advertising Homestead land for sale

Here are some of Wiki’s definition of ‘Homestead’:

A homestead is a dwelling, especially a farmhouse, and adjacent outbuildings, typically on a large agricultural holding such as a ranch or station. Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs.”

Modern homesteaders often use renewable energy options including solar electricity and wind power and some even invent DIY cars. Many also choose to plant and grow heirloom vegetables and to raise heritage livestock. Homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.”

Today, the developers of this project – Intermewah Development Sdn Bhd no longer performs its responsibilities and has conveniently and discreetly exited the scene. They are still selling remaining land on Pantai Hills via a connected entity called SK Brothers.

Developer of Pantai Hill Orchard Resort - advertising 'Development land'!! for sale

Developer of Pantai Hill Orchard Resort – advertising ‘Development land’!! for sale

In their eagerness to sell their remaining land, they have turned a blind eye and contravened the very sale & purchase agreement and the accompanying schedules we all signed on – in good faith – when we purchased our ‘Homestead’ lots.

So now, far from being a ‘Homestead’ concept, Pantai Hills Orchard Resort has become a haven for – unregulated resort operations. Since 2011, five new private resort operators have mushroomed on the hill.

Initially the presence of resorts on the hill had little impact on the lives of private residents. We were friends with healthy neighbourly exchanges. As the popularity of the resorts grew – spurring expansions, it further taxed the shared resources and surrounding environment. This was when our neighbourly relationship began to change.

As communications broke down, naturally residents took to the law for action. We expected a slow process, but never anticipated a total indifference/blackout (even after receiving positive responses from their investigative teams who came to check the sites) by all the state agencies concerned. <<Check out the latest visit from authorities >>

Vandalism against residents have also increased in aggressiveness recently. All of our signages by the entrance gate were ripped out the very day it was installed. <<read about it here>> No words, no communication, just heavy handed bulldozing. What kind of civil society do we live in?


Conflicting Issues
Here is a summary of issues currently driving a wedge between Pantai Hill residents and resort operators:

1. Water
We collect spring water from a hill source, free for all to use. For 3-5 months in the year it is dry with little rain. Due to the gravity water system piping, resorts located at the top draws the already low volume of water, into their numerous water tanks during such periods of drought – depriving residents below of needed water. To further exacerbate the matter, several resorts have independently pulled their own private lines from the same spring source for themselves, depriving residents of this scarce resource. This ugly fight has become a free-for-all resource grabbing. Low water levels also promote higher bacteria presence in the water, being close to the sludge at the bottom of the main water tank, uncleaned for perhaps the last 15 years. A compromise for less visitors during this period was not negotiable (except **theDusun), no offered solutions, no communication and residents suffer at the expense of resort profit making. Despite this, resort expansion continues.

2. Noise & Big Groups
Several resorts have failed to control their noise emissions and have regularly affected their neighbours. Bookings of large groups to celebrate occasions have proven to be unsuitable for resorts operating from small land areas of 1 acre or with neighbours sharing a boundary. Parking spills over onto common roads, narrow roads become hazardous, narcotics and prostitution issues changes hill serenity. Unscrupulous resort operators continue their obnoxious and selfish behaviour. Meanwhile, resort expansion continues.

3. Wildlife & Environmental degradation
Rubbish – many bags strewn along the beautiful road leading up to the gates. Food wrappers and other accumulated construction material, thrashed everywhere by the entrance and road side. Toxic building materials dumped by the slopes of the river. Use of weed killers, food waste, noise and bright lights from over-lighting at night affects the surrounding natural habitat of wildlife, pollination and the earth we plant our food from. Meanwhile, resort expansion continues.

4. Safety
Open burning. Recent flash fires were a wakeup call. Still neighbours, construction workers and some resorts do not recognise this danger. Narrow roads leading up to the gates have increased in danger due to the heavier traffic created by resorts. Meanwhile, resort expansion continues.

5. Legality
The National land Code, the Sale & Purchase agreement on – non commercial use of agriculture land and size of structures have been contravened. The environmental act on noise, water & health have been compromised. State water and health department regulations broken. Unregulated resort operations and the careless degradation of our national forest reserves all add to drown this priceless venue. Meanwhile, resort expansion continues.

We have all seen this kind of business operations before. A popular tourist destination, destroyed by over eager businesses with selfish and short term visions. Eventually a beautiful venue and a national treasure, becomes over built, used and decimated – sucked dry with only a fraction of its wonder left to enjoy.

Residents have the right to protect – a comfortable and serene livelihood on Pantai Hills that is fair to all parties concerned. It is sad that we have to fight for it – tooth & nail in an environment of educated higher-middle class Malaysians. Scums, cheats, robbers, egos, profit and lack of empathy are stubborn and ugly traits some resort operators struggle with, in-fact we all do in our journey of life.

We have observed this phenomenon happen all over the world, in varying degrees. Not because its an inevitable human trait. But more so because of the system and the social & environmental influences we all grow up in. This heavily shapes our code of conduct and response to the outside world.


Potential Solution
We respect the ambitions of resort operators. So, in the hope that we can perhaps flourish together, lets consider this.

As the saying goes: “In every crisis, there is an opportunity”. The opportunity may present itself as a chance for the Malaysian or Negeri Sembilan state tourism to :

1. Show that they are concerned about correcting old tourism business models that leave a trail of destruction & depletion of our country’s natural resources.

2. Show that they are progressive, by supporting ‘real’ sustainable tourism models – making Pantai Hills a pilot project for sustainable tourism in Negeri Sembilan and eventually Malaysia.

3. Show that they understand the new generation of tourists and how an experiential/caring/inclusive business model works out better in the long-term. One that enriches all Malaysians and not only businesses.

4. Become a leader in sustainable tourism models that can then be replicated throughout Malaysia.

Meanwhile
Regulate resort operators on Pantai Hills and show Malaysians that the state of Negeri Sembilan proudly upholds state & national laws and runs a responsible & respectable administration for the benefit of civil society.

**The Dusun
thedusun.com.my
Operates on 13 acres of land. Maintains hill tranquility with small group bookings. Operates on sustainable principals respected by residents. Always willing to work with residents to solve shared infrastructure problems and community issues.

 

Pantai Hill Orchard Wars – the fight over water and noise

Pantai Hill residents want peace

We want peace but it looks impossible to achieve

The last few weeks on Pantai Hill has been stressful. We have seen an escalation of conflict between residents and resort operators. The issues once again revolved around water and noise. The stubborn hazy-dry weather, over consumption of water, aggressive vandalism and selfish behaviour of some resorts and individuals have sparked another heated exchange – ending with very little to show – as the call of peace was quietly rejected.

A resident and resort proposed a newly re-worked Community Agreement but this was also dead in the water.

Dear visitors and guests to Pantai Hill Orchard. Let me be clear. There is tension in these hills. Please be aware of angry residents who may not welcome you because – certain resorts you may be staying at are behaving SELFISHLY and are irresponsible as a member of the Pantai Hill Orchard Resort community.

There is an an ongoing legal battle, noise issues are inadequately addressed and issues with the quality of the water (right now) is problematic, because the levels are so low that most of the water coming through the pipes are a-washed in mud and slush from our main tank.

Some recently unacceptable actions by the Pantai Hill Orchard Resort Community:
1. Water shortage has pushed Awanmulan to collect water above the Pantai community line – compromising our water collection.
2. Awanmulan defended their actions by pointing fingers at another resort and arrogantly left us in the dark regarding their water collection
3. Breakdown in community communication has resulted in, inefficient and haphazard water collection methods, undermining the stability of our water collection and basic living for residents.
4. Vandalism of The Dusun’s water pipe – slashed/punctured and stuffed with plastics.
5. Noise complaints by residents not respected by resort operators – push residents to react directly at their guests. Serenity Sanctuary and The Shorea have been very poor in their response to residents affected by their oversight.
6. Quality of water and its origins are not clearly made known to visitors. The risk factor has increased due to persistently low water levels.(compounded by our community conflict)

Dear visitors, as you can see – these are unresolved issues leading to high tensions on Pantai Hill. As paying guests, you should be aware of what you are signing up to, paying for and the kind of environment you are coming into at Pantai Hill Orchard Resort.

There were also calls and offers to host a ‘Peace Talk’ by some residents but it seems – that to is fading into oblivion. Just like most things – majority will not do anything until something DRASTIC happens. Peace is not always the obvious choice when profit and ego is around 😦

 

The Shorea Techno Party – Police Investigation & Urine Testing

This techno party, hosted by The Shorea on Pantai Hill resorts- started in the late afternoon of 29 June 2015. As the repetitive music bounced and banged its way through the jungle trees and the serene valley below, guests from other nearby resorts and resident neighbours felt its over bearing imposition. THIS is MADNESS!

Party at The Shorea

The Shorea – hosting a techno party in Pantai Hill resorts. High volume of cars parked outside with no consideration for noise affecting neighbours

How can this happen again!!?? Don’t The Shorea owners have any consideration for their neighbours? or are they so blinded by  capitalist rewards $$$$$$$$ that their hearts have been hardened into stone…till they feel nothing, like a serial rapist picking on another victim… with no remorse.

Calls and smses to the owners of The Shorea did not yield any response. The manager of The Shorea said she received NO instructions from the owners to do anything about the noise.

Police arriving to investigate The Shorea premise

Police arriving to investigate extreme noise complaints and drug use from party goers at The Shorea

Desperate, some neighbours visited The Shorea to intervene directly. It was obvious then that these young kids were high on ‘party drugs’. They agreed to turn the music down, but soon after, the volume was back up and it went on till midnight. The local Police came to investigate, after they left the music came back albeit ‘softer’ and went on all night.

At 8.30am this morning the music volume was bumped up again!!!

The Police have now sent in a narcotics team for urine testing.

Police truck for urine test

The Police truck arrives to haul-up party goers at The Shorea for urine testing.

Pantai Hill Resort – Gate signage for visitors

Two signs designed to speak directly to Pantai Hill resort visitors were installed at the main gate yesterday. We hope that visitors will become more aware of hill politics, their own footprints and self-regulate in light of some resorts refusing to be in communication or act in a responsible way.

Visitor signs

Pantai hill watch signage for resort visitors at the main gates.

Visitor signs at gate

Pantai hill watch signage on both sides of the gate.

 

Pantai Hill resort Noise Levels

thWe have written about the issue of ‘noise’ is our section concerning resorts. <<read the full description here>>

In summary, here are the pertinent facts again. The Malaysian Department of Environment and also a reference to internationally accepted levels – state that:

1. Rural areas with no major roads nearby: 45dbA
2. Quiet suburban neighbourhood, not close to major roads, little night time activity: 50 -55dbA
3. Noise sensitive areas, low density residential: 50dbA (7am-10pm) and 40dbA (10pm-7am)
4. Suburban residential (medium density), parks, recreational areas: 50dbA (7am-10pm) and 40dbA (10pm-7am)

The anticipated community response to noise: An allowance – amount – exceeding noise criteron in (dbA).Stochastic_Resonance_High_Noise_Level

by 5dbA – sporadic complaints
by 10dbA – widespread comlpaints
by 15dbA – threats of community action
by 20dbA – vigorous community action

In other words, if noise on the hill reaches 70dbA between 7am-10pm and 60dbA between 10pm-7am, the Department of Environment expects a BIG reaction from the community affected. (But i think we have been tolerating higher levels without much reaction)

Why do we even bother with these benchmark numbers? Well, it gives us some kind of guide to what is reasonable. And since it is easy to download a ‘sound meter app’ into our phones, we can easily test noise levels in a very rudimentary way. (Just keep in mind that we need to stay clear of objects that will bounce the sound waves directly into our phone’s mic and thus giving us a much higher reading. So an adequately open space would be best to do any testing)


Please bear in mind:

The Local Government Act 1976 and the various Town Board Enactment also contain provisions enabling due action to be taken against, including prosecution of owners or occupiers of premises, whether public or private, emitting noise that are deemed to be a nuisance.

Minor Offences Ordinance 1953 prohibits noise after 11.00 p.m., and the police are empowered to act forthwith on complains.

Seremban Getaways – Pantai Hill Orchard

Several Malaysian media outlets both online and print versions have highlighted amazing getaways in Malaysia. It is great to know that resorts from Pantai Hill have been featured in these publications. For the media to recognise and highlight these Seremban getaways, it shows that Pantai Hill does genuinely offer a valued getaway destination.

However, we would like to add our (resident) opinions to what these media outlets have perhaps missed out in their quick and short description of such vacation destinations.


Peaceful Getaways in Malaysia

Published by: The Edge Travel Focus

Here is what they said:

Tired of congested tourist spots?Here are some off-the-beaten-track destinations where you can de-stress and rejuvenate…Several retreat bungalows and boutique hotels such as The Dusun, Awanmulan and The Shorea, offer visitors spectacular views of majestic trees and mountains.

We don’t have a problem with publications promoting  ‘off-the-beaten-track destinations’. However, certain resort operators are not conscious of – the impact of their operations on the surrounding environment. When capitalist oriented individuals sell out to – the ‘Priority of Profit’, such mentality overpowers community well being. This is exactly the kind of irresponsible behaviour that destroys relationships with local community and worst, destroys the very place that is suppose to bring a ‘Peaceful Getaway’. (This is the most common result of how places of natural beauty gets destroyed, all over the world)


7 Amazing Places to Vacation at in Malaysia

Published by http://www.femalemag.com.my

They featured 6 destinations in different states. What they failed to recognise is the difference in actual operational status of each resort/hotel destination. Ones in Ipoh, KL, Penang, Melaka and Serendah are proper commercial outlets with hotel licences. The Shorea, featured under Seremban does not have such an operational license and worst still The Shorea’s operations in-fringes on the comfort and peace of their neighbours – partly because of how they have built their structures and how they ignore noise complaints by their neighbours.

Here is what they said:

The Shorea – Built within a tropical forest reserve, the resort is an appreciation of nature itself. Build mostly from recycled shorea timber, it’s a great place for some R&R with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.

We can’t blame femalemag for doing so (because how would they know?). In our experience we find that The Shorea does not appreciate nature. Owners of The Shorea do not respect their surroundings and do not respect nature and they have had multiple run-ins with neighbours regarding water drainage, water usage, water preservation, rubbish disposal in nature, noise, building materials spillage and trash.


10 Retreats Under RM250 per night

Published by http://www.thestar.com.my

Here is what they said:

…family-owned business, which was started over 30 years ago, seeks to promote sustainable farming and jungle conservation…There are five houses — Berembun, Emas, Sora, Perling and Tembusu, which combine elements of Malay and orang asli architecture….This is a perfect spot to marvel at nature, whether a waterfall or the beautiful hills. There are several swimming spots as well as jungle trekking and guided walks to experience kampung life.

We find this short reporting by the star to be fairly accurate. This family owned resort were the pioneers of resort business on Pantai Hill and have lived up to their ‘kampung life and jungle conservation’ attributes. They have always responded well to community needs and have earned the respect from the orang Asli community they employ. Residents on Pantai Hill do not have a problem dealing with them.


Romantic Highland Honemoon Getaway in Malaysia

Published by http://www.planyourwedding.my

Here is what they said:

Located on the hills hidden deep in the heart of Negeri Sembilan, The Shorea was built in a tropical forest reserve, making it an exclusively tranquil place to spend your honeymoon. If you and your spouse are nature lovers or you seeking for some peaceful rejuvenation, probably even a taste of Balinese honeymoon away from the crowd in Malaysia, this is the ideal forest getaway.

If you are a honeymoon couple looking for a tranquil place, we doubt that The Shorea will give you tranquility and peaceful rejuvenation they claim. The reason we say this is because as residents, what we have often observed large group bookings into The Shorea. If you read reviews from Tripadvisor.com.my you will find that people complain about how close their ‘Villas’ (which are actually- small rooms) are to each other and if you are a couple on honeymoon, it is certainly not a choice spot for you.


10 Secluded Forest Resorts in Malaysia for a Relaxing Getaway

Published by http://www.Lipstiq.com

Here is what they said:

AwanMulan is a cozy family run retreat located in Negeri Sembilan. Above the hills, and amidst the clouds, it’s not only a romantic getaway, but a perfect stop for family or friends

We do agree that Awanmulan is a cozy family run resort. And especially during rainy days there are many misty pockets in the hills around. In our opinion, it is a great place for family and friends only if the numbers are kept low. Just like The Shorea, Awanmulan is located on a residential hill. There are neighbours close by. Due to the open architecture plans favoured by residents on the hill – sound travels intact and easily reaches into the homes of others. Unlike The Shorea owners, the Awanmulan family have left their doors a little open for negotiation and do respond when taken to task. They are also quite professional in their dealings. Our message to Awanmulan is to please watch your numbers so the noise does not put a bad mark on your operations. To potential guests please regulate yourself – noise penetrates deep and we can hear almost every word (although muffled from time to time).


Best weekend getaways: Two-day trips

Published by http://www.timeout.com

Here is what they said:

A nature lover’s dream, the well-hidden property is mainly constructed using recycled shorea timber (hence its name)… Staff at The Shorea are known for their personalised service – city-dwelling families and couples looking for a relaxing forest retreat will not be disappointed.

We have already highlighted issues regarding The Shorea’s behaviour and it’s standing within the local community of Pantai Hill above. However, visitors to The Shorea will be rudely shocked, that for such a beautiful location that it commands, the owners have ‘overbuilt’. If visitors come today, you will observe a large unsightly construction going on behind the resort. When completed, this add on wing will make The Shorea into a large concrete building with water features that will heavily impose on Pantai Hill’s water demands. <<Take a look at what they are building>>