Tengku Idaura’s short stint as ‘pengarah’ of the Penang Botanic Garden was “truly outstanding in the face of little official support, no expert botanist staff, despite many requests, and often virtual daily insubordination”.
The Garden was in turmoil when she took over. According to the Penang Forum:
The public in Penang were outraged at the obliteration of the Formal Gardens, the mismanagement of the Fern House, the construction of meaningless and inappropriate structures throughout the previously pristine site, the bambusetum with no bamboo, the eco-stream walk that resembled a neglected drain, the general lack of maintenance and the non-existence of any botanic enhancement, expansion or progress. Coupled with this was a total abandonment of any pretense of public participation, committee consensus or expert consultation.
Thanks to Tengku Idaura’s efforts,
… the Formal Gardens have been re-installed, the Herb Garden has been protected from pillaging wild boar, the Fern House is looking quite respectable, the Botanika Shop has been renovated and upgraded and is all set for a whole new era, the main entrance has been cleared of old bus stops, telephone booths and various paraphernalia, new interpretation signs have been put up, the site of the arches has been re-engineered and most importantly, no new structures have been allowed to be built.
But with few capable dedicated staff to support her, Tengku Idaura left. And who can blame her? Two months have passed – and what has happened?
already the lily ponds at the entrance are covered with a film of water fungus, the water is stagnant and the plants are slowly but surely deteriorating, the show-piece of giant Amazonian Lilies have not been fertilized and are shrinking instead of expanding, the eco-stream walk is filled with rubbish, as is the storm drain next to the lily ponds.
The lack of maintenance culture is rearing its ugly head with fallen branches and trees lying unattended for weeks, hawkers are starting to come back to the entrance, banners are starting to be put up illegally, the so-called Visitor Centre continues to have no electricity and no qualified botanists or experts have been formally appointed to take over the helm of the Gardens.
Penang Forum has urged the relevant authorities to immediately appoint a qualified and competent person to head the Gardens. And a qualified botanist on contract if necessary or second an experienced administrator to helm the Gardens or change the Gardens portfolio to another Exco member.
It’s incredible that the Botanic Garden does not have a qualified botanist when the Singapore equivalent has a whole team of them.
See the full statement on the Penang Forum website.