Malaysia's 1st waterpark in the sea runs into a storm

GEORGE TOWN: Visitors are having fun at Penang's Wet World Wild Adventure Park - the country's first marine theme park - but some netizens are pouring cold water on the newly-opened park in Batu Ferringhi.

The critics are unhappy that they have to pay to use the facilities, which they claimed is located in a public area.

Located at Moonlight Bay, the park features 10 inflatables that mimic sports like rock climbing and trampolines.

The floating theme park, which opened on Christmas Day, charges RM40 (S$15) for adults while entry fee for children is RM30.

"How can one close an area that belongs to the public and charge people for entry? The beach should be a free public space for all," said netizen Kevin on, a public interest news site.

Another person named Yang posted that "public places like the beach, sea and open spaces are the people's domain and any development must be for public benefit."

Some postings even called it "cheap and tacky".

Activist Anil Netto said he did not want to influence public opinion in his posting. On his site, he had asked: "What do you think of such theme parks? Will they be beneficial for ordinary Penangites in the long run?"

"I am surprised by the passion of their responses," he said.

Theme Park Concepts and Services Sdn Bhd, the operator of Wet World Wild, described the comments as "strange".

"We've had about 800 visitors so far and they all loved it," said its regional account director Melvin Kuo.

Kuo also said two fishermen tried to cast their nets next to the park's floating ramp yesterday.

"They don't understand that we took a lease for the sea off Moonlight Bay and kept insisting the sea is public property," he said.

"We are paying almost RM8,000 a year to the state government to lease about 1ha of land and sea surface," he said.

However, there are fans of the park as well.

A commenter, Jack K, wrote "you cannot have development and wish it will be like the good old days".

"It won't, but a lot of good planning helps. We can then have theme parks and also free open spaces for everyone," he said.

Another supporter, Sunny Ooi, said those who found fault with theme parks on the island should also "demand that the bridges and ferry terminal be demolished so Penang would stay natural and exclusive."