Langkawi – short development history
Pirates could move from islet to islet without being detected, and once on land, the lush tropical jungles would no doubt protect them from prying eyes and the long arm of the law. In a sense, Langkawi seems to have experienced a complete reversal in its fortunes – it is today an extremely popular holiday retreat amongst wealthy tourists. This is very evident in the fact that the newest area being developed, Datai Bay, or Teluk Datai to locals, and Tanjung Rhu, caters to every comfort that the rich and affluent could wish for in a holiday – luxury amidst nature. Visitors to Langkawi may be caught off-guard by its rusticity and slow pace of life. Most of its inhabitants still retain their traditional ways of living – going to sea and reaping their hard-earned harvest from the ground.
At present, it is not as well developed as Penang, another popular tourist destination in the northern region of Malaysia, although it is larger. In fact, Langkawi is almost as big as Singapore, Malaysia’s neighbour down south. Langkawi’s past is said to have controlled its destiny for the last two hundred years or so. It is widely believed that its present underdeveloped state was brought about by the curse of an innocent woman, lusted after by a man and envied by his wife. This is the legend that is Langkawi. The Langkawi of old is all padi fields, kampung (village) style living, complete with laidback atmosphere, bullock carts and dirt roads. It is also of fascinating plants and creatures, beautiful beaches, fishermen and stagnant development.
It was only when Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, (who was also a member of the Kedah royal family), served as a District Officer in Kedah that Langkawi started on its long road to modernisation and growth. The island then captured the imagination of the current Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, with its charm, history and potential as a tourist destination. After becoming Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir, who had served in Langkawi as a young doctor, proceeded to actively develop Langkawi together with the Kedah government and there are plans to turn Langkawi into a premier tourist destination in Malaysia. The Langkawi of today boasts of many modern amenities and infrastructure while still retaining its traditional facade. World class resorts and golf courses have been built alongside the more traditional accommodation of chalets and resthouses. An international airport services tourists with direct flights to the island, and as for sailing enthusiasts or the affluent who own luxury yachts, Langkawi has now several marinas where they can anchor their boats.
C-Right 2014 by Langkawi Gazette