Goodbye to kelongs in Mersing
FISHING enthusiasts from Singapore who enjoy heading to kelongs in Mersing, where one collapsed on Aug 25, can no longer do so. All three remaining kelongs - Ah Fatt, Hot Boys and Ah Ngan - have ceased operations as of today.
The kelongs, popular with anglers here, were served eviction notices by the Malaysian authorities earlier on Aug 20, when their operators were told to dismantle their kelongs within 14 days.
Failure to comply with the notices of the Mersing land office would result in a fine not exceeding RM10,000 (S$3,900), a jail term not more than one year, or both.
The notice said that the kelong premises would be forcibly removed if not cleared by the deadline. However, the deadline came and went, and it was only last Tuesday that the kelong operators were told they had till today to close.
On Saturday, Ah Fatt Kelong took to Facebook and its website to confirm its closure. In a note to patrons, the kelong's operator said it was given "no room for discussion and consultation" and had no choice but to pack up and leave.
"I can't accept that more than 20 years of my blood and sweat has gone up in smoke," said the operator in the note.
When contacted by My Paper, Ah Fatt Kelong owner He Yu Hock, 50, said they had been "forced" out.
Hot Boys Kelong also posted on its Facebook page that yesterday was its "last day" and that it will be "permanently closed". Its operator said the best word to describe its feelings would be "reluctant".
Ah Ngan Kelong - also known as Wing Sing Kelong - could not be reached for comment.
A fourth kelong, Ah Yew Kelong, collapsed more than a month ago after a thunderstorm weakened its already-damaged foundation.
Malaysian Chinese newspaper Oriental Daily reported on Friday that the Malaysian authorities' move to evict the kelongs was understood to have likely been made to conserve the ecosystem where the kelongs are sited.
Deputy project manager Low Yew Huat, 59, said there were fewer than 40 people at Hot Boys Kelong last weekend, and they were mostly regulars who had gone to say goodbye to kelong staff.
Mr Low said fishing enthusiasts like him will now have to head farther up Johor or to Indonesia for their fishing fix.
Chef Martin Von Gnechten, 56, said he was not surprised by the news as he heard of closure rumours about a year ago, but was still disappointed.
The Singapore permanent resident, who was on Ah Yew Kelong when it collapsed, said: "It is going to affect a lot of people's livelihoods - the kelong staff and people selling fishing equipment."