Berangan Aqua Park in Kedah has become the center of a social discussion due to its policy of restricting pool usage to Muslim patrons, raising questions about inclusivity and tourism ethics.
A water park has stirred public attention not for its water attractions but for its exclusive policy that limits pool access to Muslims.
This policy at Berangan Aqua Park, a half-hour journey from Sungai Petani, has prompted curiosity and concern among netizens and locals alike.
As reported by The Vibes, the park has been candidly confirmed by the staff to cater primarily to the local Muslim community.
The facility’s size and the demographic of Kuala Muda have been cited as reasons for this exclusivity.
Managing Visitor Flow and Park Identity: The Story of a Unique Water Theme Park
The park opened its doors in 2021 and was initially designed to accommodate 50,000 visitors yearly.
However, this number was scaled down during the pandemic.
The Berangan Group, a local conglomerate, manages the park with an eye on maintaining a manageable flow of visitors to ensure a quality experience.
Online platforms had labelled the park as “Muslim only,” a designation that has since been removed after scrutiny.
A promotional video on YouTube also describes the park as the first Muslim water theme park in northern Peninsular Malaysia.
The Implications of Exclusive Policies on Malaysia’s Tourism and Society
This unique positioning has sparked a debate on social media and among the travel trade community regarding the implications for tourism and Malaysia’s multicultural society.
While private entities like clubs may set access rules, tourism ventures typically welcome a broad audience without religious restrictions.
Legal perspectives suggest that such a policy might conflict with the inclusive spirit of Malaysia’s multi-ethnic nationhood and the ‘Madani’ ethos promoted by the government, which aims at fostering understanding and goodwill.
@jason.yew 'Melayu malas, Cina & India tidak taat kepada negara' adalah pemikiran lapuk yang merosakkan negara – PM Anwar Ibrahim #AIuntukRakyat #PMX #anwaribrahim #MalaysiaMADANI #kerajaanperpaduan #keadilanuntuksemua ♬ original sound – JASON Update
Meanwhile, social media continues to buzz with discussions about the implications of such policies on Malaysia’s image as a welcoming destination for all.
The controversy surrounding the Muslim-only laundromat in 2017 and last year continues to resonate, prompting Malaysian society to reflect on its core values and the principles it seeks to uphold in business and community matters.
The laundromat incident sparked heated debate regarding discrimination, unity and the secular constitution that protects religious freedom, even prompting intervention from Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.
Proponents argue that shared spaces like laundromats, pools and beaches should remain open to all ethnicities and faiths, bringing Malaysians together rather than driving them apart.
Though some businesses justify restrictions based on cultural sensitivities and religious modesty norms, critics counter that the country’s diversity must be respected in the public square.
The coming discourse will check the conscience of a multicultural people striving for tolerance.
We condemn Berangan Aqua Park’s business decision to open the park to only Muslims. The justification behind the decision is backwards and racist. A business entity that is operated and promoted as a tourism attraction should not be opened to a singular race only.— Pusat KOMAS (@pusatkomas) February 2, 2024