The Star Online, Aug 28, 2019. Bandar Permaisuri | As a way of ushering in Malaysia’s 62nd National Day celebrations, 120 scuba divers took part in the Bidong Merdeka Dive 2019 to clean up the coral reefs and fly the Jalur Gemilang underwater to show their love for the country and its natural beauty. Co-organised by the Terengganu office of the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), the four-day programme, which began on Aug 22 with the theme “Dive For Debris”, was initiated in line with the theme of this year’s celebrations – “Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih” (Love Our Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia).
Terengganu Motac director and one of the divers, Zanariah Zakaria, said the programme also aimed to raise awareness and gain support from the public and relevant organisations to play a role in conserving the coral reef ecosystem and clean debris and garbage from it.
“We are aware that a lot of trash gets thrown into the ocean every day and threatens the marine life, so we must do our part in keeping our coral reefs clean from debris that might jeopardise the marine ecosystem. There are many beautiful islands in Terengganu which are an important asset to the state, especially in terms of attracting more tourists, so we need to continue to maintain their beauty, ” Zanariah added.
UMT deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mazlan Abd Ghaffar said this event had become a main programme for the university and was conducted annually in Bidong island, which belongs to and is strictly conserved by UMT. He pointed out that the island has a unique history as it was once a campsite for 18,000 Vietnamese refugees who had fled a war and were looking for a safe haven at the time between 1978 and 1990.
Among the debris found and removed by the participants were the usual culprits: plastic, old tin cans and fishing traps.
The Bidong Merdeka Dive programme, which entered its 11th year, was organised as one of the events in the Bidong Dive Week calendar focusing on conservation efforts of the marine ecosystem and natural environment …