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.

 

Surprise Visit by Health Authorities to Pantai Hill Orchard Resort

Visit from NS Ministry of Health and Special water unit BKSA

Visit by Ministry of Health (NS) and BKSA (a licensing unit monitoring water usage from rivers)

Just when we thought the Malaysian rule of law was indeed a farce, these two governmental bodies turned up and caught us by surprise.

They requested to be shown our water source and pursued an investigation into water quality and water usage by all resorts and residents on Pantai Hill Orchard.

I guess the free and wild days of our spring water usage may be on its last legs, especially for resort operators. Other licensing issues and acts contravening land laws and penalties were highlighted. They have asked us to await their directive for the next steps forward.

We love this hill called Pantai Hill Orchard and we certainly hope that a little pain now will avert a catastrophic destruction later on.

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 Dusun – Successfully Taps JBA Water up Pantai Hill

Pantai Hill Resort water wars have eased slightly with the responsible and considerate approach The Dusun has taken. Together with the positive response SAINS (Syarikat Air Negeri Sembilan) has given, it paves the way for other resorts to follow a similar path and ease the burden on the Pantai Hill water tank.

This is how The Dusun experienced it:

SAINS helps out with a new pipe to overcome water tapping difficulties.

SAINS helps out with a new pipe to overcome water tapping difficulties.

 

In the ongoing water saga, there is one happy ending.

Two weeks ago, we made a successful application to tap into the Jabatan Berkalan Air (JBA) water pipe, which runs down Jalan Gunung. We are lucky to have land only a few meters from this pipe. David and Cee built a pump house, put in a large tank and installed the electric wiring and pipes needed to bring the water up to the top of our property. It cost a lot.

But there was no water! The JBA pipe was designed to serve Pantai town and other users way down the road. In the drought, the amount of water was so small and rushed by so fast, that it would not lift up into our tank.

Cee appealed to SAINS and met with one of their senior officers. Their attitude is that everyone has a right to water and it is their job to get it. They came to the site. They talked over the options. They explained (apologetically) that a solution might take 3 days. “Oh, that’s OK” says Cee.

Yesterday, a big gang came with a digger. They dug up the pipe, installed a valve, and we have water. So do Vijay and Prema and probably Mr Chong, Mr Kok and his neighbors a bit further down the road.

The responsiveness of SAINS is a very hopeful sign for the future. If the Pantai Hills community could get together and make the need here known to SAINS, it should be possible to design a system to bring water directly from the Loji to Pantai Hill’s users in a dedicated pipe. Issues of cost would have to be worked out with them.

Caveat: The Dusun will continue to tap water from our inlet in the jungle, as we have done for 30 years. SAINS water has to be paid for and will be for our houses and guests. We will no longer need to use water from the Pantai Hill’s reservoir but Cee and Haanim’s house on Lot 59 will keep their link in place for emergencies.

Pantai Hill Resort – Water Contamination

e-coli bacteria

e-coli bacteria

Ever since more residents and resorts arrived at Pantai Hill, water has become a scarce resource during the dry months. This year, weather has been rather wet and yet this ‘water shortage’ problem has reared its ugly head. We were quite surprised and have concluded the obvious, that more water is being used on the hill and the incoming source cannot cope with demand during these periods. This has become Pantai Hill’s annual water wars talked about in the previous article.

Adding more drama into the mix, Pantai Hill pioneer resort The Dusun – has tested the water from two sources – one from the jungle source and another from the water tank (Pantai Hill reservoir) and both have coliform bacteria levels that are unsafe to drink – according to the labs. Below is how The Dusun describes it:

For some time, David and I felt our water tasted “different”; not as good as before. So we had it tested – as it came out of the tap in Cee’s house on Lot 59. Water to Lot 59 comes from the Pantai Hill’s reservoir. The report from the BACFREE lab in Subang came back with a Coliform Count (Bacteria) of 20. The required coliform count for drinking water is zero; none whatever is allowed.

We have always filtered our drinking water – we have an RO system, which filters water from the pipe into water jars for drinking. This water comes from the Dusun water inlet in the jungle stream, not from the reservoir. So we sent water samples from before going into the filter and after it came out to Pathlab in Seremban. The results of both samples were the same. “Heavy growth of gram negative bacilli.” So both sources of water – from the reservoir and from the jungle stream – are contaminated.

20 parts per 100 milliliters is quite low. The standard for showers and swimming pools is less than 200. But for drinking water it should be zero.

Gram negative bacilli, coliform bacteria and e-coli bacteria mean much the same thing. The coliform count indicates the amount of fecal matter in the water. This can come from animal or human shit and even from plants and soil. The layer of mud in the reservoir could be one cause. Or animals and birds defecating in the stream which feeds it.

Scientists measure e-coli as an “indicator” for other more serious pathogens, also found in faeces, which are harder to test. According to the Business Dictionary (Google), “coliform bacteria are a group of gram negative bacteria (of which the most common is e-coli) found in the intestinal tract (and therefore in faeces) of humans and other animals. These rod-shaped microorganisms aid in digestion and are largely harmless. However, if ingested through contaminated food or water, they may cause bacterial or viral gastroenteritis, hepatitis A, typhoid fever or other complications.

The usual filter systems do not remove bacteria. The only solution is ultra violet or ozone treatment of the water. These devices, which kill all bacteria, can be bought in Seremban.

Since receiving this report The Dusun has stopped using Pantai Hill’s water for drinking. We buy 5 gallon bottles from an RO supplier in Seremban and each house has a water dispenser with a bottle on it. So this is SAINS water (treated) put through the reverse osmosis filters. It is hard work – we have to make several trips a week to change the bottles. Long term, we are hoping to get our water supply from SAINS.

Pantai Hill Resort – Water Wars

Water tank zero

Pantai Hill Resort water tank totally empty

Dear visitors and resort guests, we would like to share with you a recent incident involving water supply on Pantai Hill – how some residents and the 4 resorts (The Shorea, Cabinzcottage, The Dusun and Awanmulan) behaved in view of this recent water shortage event.

First, a bit of background – Pantai Hill Resort draws its water from a creek near the top of the hill. It is then stored in a big tank supposedly enough to supply to about 80 homes. However, the volume of this in-coming water varies with the weather patterns and does not allow adequate water supply all year round.

We currently have 24 homes on the hill, out of which 7 are used for resort operations. The tank water is suppose to feed 80 homes, but even at current numbers (24) we already have problems. Put in another way, occupancy rate based on lots available (inside Pantai Hill Resort gated community) is only 30% and yet there is already water shortage problems during certain months.

Out of the 24 homes, only 4 homes have residents who permanently live on the hill. These 4 homes have a total of only 9 people. If the average water usage in a household per person is 220 liters/day (Malaysian usage, highest in SE Asia) – 9 permanent residents would use an average of 1980 liters/day.

Assuming the water tank holds about 500,000 liters when full and the recent emptying of the water tank took 10 days to happen from one quarter level of tank (ie. 125,000 liters and no new water flows in). The 9 permanent residents would use 19,800 liters in 10 days, representing 16% total of water usage.

This implies that 84% of tank water is predominantly used by and for construction activities, resort operations, resort guests, visitors and visiting residents.

Now back to the story…

10 days ago, we (permanent residents the 16%) sent out 4 emails cautioning non-permanent residents and resort operators that the water level in the tank was getting critically low. Yesterday water went totally empty. These were the replies several days before water was completely emptied:

From users who make up 84% of tank water usage:

1. Non-permanent residents: ALL were silent as usual (except for Chandran and Julliet who offered to alert her contractor and for them to conserve water over this period)

2. Awanmulan: “We better pray…” (resort continued operations with no compromise)

3. Cabinzcottage: “So!….i’ve got my own water line wat?!” (resort continued operations with no compromise)

4. The Shorea: They remained silent and went on to operate an on-site concrete mixer for 2 days non-stop at the peak of this water crisis. (resort continued operations with no compromise)

5. The Dusun: “The Dusun will not be using water from the Pantai Hills reservoir as of tomorrow afternoon. We will arrange alternative source until this water crisis is over.”

(People with their own lines (from the same source) do not lift much burden from the Pantai Hill Tank, because they still use the main tank water until it runs out before switching over to their reserve lines. The only effective way is like The Dusun’s example – stopping usage and arranging alternative sources)

From users who make-up 16% of tank water usage:

1.. Permanent resident Rafi: “I have cancelled my hari raya celebrations this saturday and informed my guests..”


So, dear Pantai Hill visitors and resort guests. The summary above gives you an idea of the water shortage problem on the hill and also how much empathy and foresight each individual and resorts have for permanent residents of Pantai Hill.

Please choose your resorts carefully and please do not support ones who blatantly ignore and exclude themselves from communal hill responsibilities especially – if they are a core contributor to the 84%….at the expense of the 16%.

The story of ‘WATER’ is a major one. It doesn’t end here. More to come.