Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ministry of Tourism to upgrade Malaysia's Parks and Gardens

The Minister of Tourism, Ng Yen Yen, who is a very keen gardener, has decided to use tourism to drive the upgrading of parks and gardens in Malaysia. In August 2010 the Ministry appointed me as Consultant for Parks and Gardens. Since then I have been involved in many site visits and meetings.

My first task was a 'hot potato': to steer the redevelopment of the Water Mall at the Penang Botanic Gardens into a water garden. The grant money had been spend on poorly conceived structures, as a result of which public opinion had turned negative. The Ministry was stung and I had only six months to redevelop the area using the small amount of money left. I hope by June this year to have Victoria lilies and other water plants fully established, and to have a respectable water garden on show.

Next are public gardens in Malacca, Fraser's Hill, Cameron Highlands and Raub to be upgraded. I hear there still others in the pipeline.

I hope, during my tenure, to get botanists appointed to take charge of the botanic gardens. We now have public 'botanic gardens' in Penang, Malacca, and Kuala Lumpur that are only botanic in name. With no botanists in charge there are no programmes for research, conservation, interpretation or education.

I also want to establish apprentice training schemes for gardeners so as to upgrade gardening as a creative profession.


Autumn Belle said...

Congratulations on your new appointment! This is certainly a wise decision by the Ministry of Tourism. I first heard about the interest to promote this area during Dr. Mahadhir's time as our PM. I am aware that there are still many Malaysians who do not know that we have Botanical Gardens in our own country! It was how they lamented after visiting those in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

Training schemes to upgrade gardeners is good. Dr. Ng Yen Yen did mentioned about Garden Technicians courses (instead of Tukang Kebun) as reported in the press. What about Master Gardener's courses for the public e.g. home gardeners and hobyists who are not graduates in Botany?

Autumn Belle said...

Dr. Ng,

Happy Chinese New Year 2011 to you and your family!

May you be blessed with health, wealth and prosperity, 兔tu-day, 兔tu-morrow and thereafter and where happiness comes in 兔tu-s.

Dr Francis Ng said...

To all those who celebrate Chinese New Year, I wish 'gong xi fa cai'. This is the time of the year when lots of flowering plants are offered for sale and I marvel at the ingenuity of the growers in getting plants to flower just in time for this festival.

J.C. said...

Dear Dr Ng,

Gong Xi Fa Cai. Happy Chinese New Year to you and family.

I am looking forward to seeing beautiful public botanical garden in my hometown Melaka!

I concur with Autumn Bell. How about getting the Ministry of Tourism to have NParks like Singapore that conducts gardening sessions for fellow gardening enthusiasts? As such, the govt can encourage more Malaysians to have gardening as a hobby and beautify our home or residential areas making them more attractive for visitors of our country?

Retinal Vision said...

Hi, Im a budding garderner and am in need of direction. Do you conduct courses? Dr Ron

Dr Francis Ng said...

I am building a training component into the gardens sponsored by the Ministry. Such training will be for the garden staff. For example, staff in Penang Botanic Garden will be trained to look after the water garden sponsored by the Ministry. At Fraser's Hill I am trying to arrange for training in tropical montane gardening.

For the general public, we have no courses and no plans yet.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Ng,

Why is the Penang Botanical Garden's Waterlily ponds in such a dreadful state?

The Amazonicas are shrinking and dying, the waterlilies are not flowering, nothing special or outstanding has been planted, in fact some of the waterlilies are common to our padi fields.

So sad that the Tourism Ministry has wasted so much of the taxpayers' money.

Dr Francis Ng said...

Dear Anon
I was wrong about what the Ministry of Tourism can do from Kuala Lumpur. A garden needs continuous on-site attention by dedicated staff, who will look for new plants to introduce and conduct experiments to discover the best ways to grow them. Every site is different, and every garden should be an evolving and improving masterpiece. The garden should be headed by an experienced botanist who will provide confident professional leadership. People in Penang should lobby for this.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Francis Ng

You wrote re establishing apprentice training schemes for gardeners so as to upgrade gardening as a creative profession.

May I know whether you have kick-start this scheme? If yes, how does one enrol? I am very keen in this area of profession.

Many thanks.
SC, Kuala Lumpur

Dr Francis Ng said...

We need a training place, ideally a functioning botanic garden, and a team of experts to conduct the course. So far, no luck.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply, Dr Francis.

I am looking into alternative options, to gain experience in this area.

And would welcome your advice. Could we communicate more via my email

Looking forward to hearing from you.