Malaysian Government Says 'No!' to Box Jellyfish Research
It's official! The Malaysian Government is not at all interested in protecting the lives of its citizens and guests in relation to the threat of Box Jellyfish both now and into the future.
Not only have they ignored the problem, ignored the serious stings, ignored the deaths, they have swept the problem under the carpet and made it clear that they want nothing to do with it when they should in fact be setting up a safety awareness system without delay. Of course they will pour all of their resources and energies into tourism as that fits in easily and neatly with their policy on getting everyone rich quickly without worrying about details.
As we have discussed in this blog, lethal Box Jellyfish do exist in Malaysia and Langkawi in particular is a hot spot. People namely tourists are regularly stung - thankfully not fatally but it occurs. So what does the Malaysian Government do to help? Walk away.
You are on your own folks! The local tourist industry in some parts is trying though to what extent their methods are effective remains unclear.
Like any similar problems where no-one knows anything about the problem - what exactly are they, where are they, how many are there, etc - research is essential. Scientific research will answer the questions that matter most and paint a clear picture of the danger and the risk. Scientific research will then be able to provide those in other areas of government such as health and tourist officials with strong detailed information from which to form strategies and policies to protect those that use Malaysia's waters, those that are at risk of serious stings or death.
Malaysia has some expert marine scientists and they are more than willing to dedicate their time and knowledge and resources to this research. So much so that they have made numerous approaches to the government for assistance, they of course need funding, not much, they need to inform people of the danger and they need to analyse the problem.
The Malaysian Government has officially and categorically said NO.
Short-sighted in the extreme, this problem is expected to grow. While it is a problem now though not one that takes many lives, the danger signs are there staring these money-blinded officials in the face as many people are being seriously stung. It is expected, though no-one can tell for certain without research, that Box Jellyfish numbers in the area will increase with development and pollution. The risk will increase. The chances of more fatalities will rise.
This problem needs addressing NOW!
The Malaysian Government needs to be pro-active and provide their marine scientists with the proper support such as an ounce of encouragement and a generous allocation of money to get the ball rolling. They need a start, it must start somewhere before it is too late.
Firstly though, the Malaysian Government needs to pull its head out of the sand and acknowledge that there is a problem, that dangerous jellyfish live in Malaysian waters. They can't even bring themselves to that even though the evidence is damning. Thailand has done it. Thailand is taking action. Thailand can see the threat to the lives of people, the threat to their lucrative tourism industry. Thailand like Australia before it in the 1960/70s recognises that acknowledging the problem is in fact productive and will benefit tourism in the medium/long term.
Take care of yourselves people, because in Malaysia the irresponsible authorities who welcome your hard-earned cash will not lift a finger to help you in return.