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Nation’s oldest airport an illegal dumpsite

by December 31, 2016 General

Mohd Radzi Mat Aripin shows the area of the airport where rubbish is being dumped. — Picture by Marcus PheongMohd Radzi Mat Aripin shows the area of the airport where rubbish is being dumped. — Picture by Marcus PheongTAIPING, Dec 31 — Malaysia’s oldest airport, the Taiping Airport, is in a state of disrepair and has been turned into an illegal dumpsite.

Malay Mail found rubbish on part of the airstrip, about half the size of a football field.

Retired army officer Mohd Radzi Mat Aripin, 54, said the illegal dumping had been going on for more than five years.

“I have lodged several complaints with the Taiping Municipal Council, but the problem has persisted,” he said.

Radzi, who operates a vegetable and chicken farm near the airstrip, said after each complaint, council personnel would clean up the area.

“But litterbugs return and start dumping at the site again,” he said.

Calling for a permanent solution, Radzi said the authorities could consider closing the airport compound.

“It is a shame the country’s first airport is treated this way. It could have been a tourist attraction,” he said.

Radzi said before the illegal dumping started, locals used the area for recreational activities.

“People cycled, jogged, practised martial arts, flew kites or remote-controlled planes,” he said.

“When the illegal dumping started, people stopped coming because of the smell and flies.”

Radzi said scavengers who came to collect scrap metal would sometimes set fire to the rubbish.

“There had been minor explosions because there were gas cylinders among the rubbish,” he said.

Taiping Airport was built by the British in 1929 for non-military use.

The Taiping Airport and the Alor Star airport, which was built in the same year, are among the earliest airports in Malaysia.

In 1933, more airports were built in Singapore, Selangor and Penang.

In February 2007, the airport was chosen to be the hub for the medical charity Global Flying Hospitals (GFH).

However, in July the same year, GFH decided the airport was not suitable for the purpose and a new location outside Malaysia was selected.

Since then, the airport has only been used by security forces to conduct small aircraft training and aerial activities such as skydiving and paragliding.