Premis perlancongan di Batu Feringgi diroboh kerajaan DAP P.Pinang
There was a fire at Sunset Bistro five days before the demolition crew showed up. — Pictures by Asman Ibrahim
GEORGE TOWN:The fate of several bars, bistros and guesthouses along the famous Batu Feringghi beachfront hangs in the balance following the demolition of the popular Sunset Bistro last Saturday.
About a dozen operators in the area, and regular patrons, are hoping that their establishments do not suffer the same fate.
The district office is said to have ordered the demolition because the bistro was not licensed and was squatting on state government land.
Mohd Zahrain Kamil, 22, the operator of Marina guesthouse located near Sunset Bistro, is worried that his premises would also be demolished.
"I am praying that I will get to stay on. We have been contributing to the booming tourism industry here and pose no obstacles to anyone," Zahrain said.
Another operator, Mohd Danial Abu Bakar, 29, of Danial Beach Guest House, is also worried for his future.
"We are fearful that we will suffer the same fate as Sunset Bistro. The demolition on Saturday has cast a shadow over our businesses."
Zulhaar Mohd Ali, 41, operator of D'Beach Bistro, said the demolition had undermined the Batu Feringghi tourism industry.
Richard Patrick, a British expatriate who has been frequenting Sunset Bistro since it opened in 2005, said: "It has been the most happening venue in Batu Feringghi beachfront and has been highlighted in the travel guides and Facebook.
"I like to hang out at the bistro after work because of its relaxed ambience. I do not understand why the local authorities have resorted to such a drastic action," he said.
Patrick also said he was surprised that the demolition took place just five days after an alleged arson attack at the bistro.
A pre-dawn fire broke out last Tuesday, destroying the bistro's island bar and long bar, which were located inside attap shacks.
Although no one was injured in the incident, it raised questions about public safety at such premises and there were fears that it would affect the tourism industry.
The operator, Melinda Soon, 50, has not ruled out the possibility that the fire was due to business rivalry.
Patrick said the Batu Feringghi tourism industry was bound to take a beating after last Saturday's demolition.
Another patron, Jackie Honey, 56, also from Britain, lashed out at the local authorities for showing no mercy to the operator.The state authorities have so far remained silent on what it plans to do with the other illegal operators.
The demolition of the Sunset Bistro was carried out on the orders of the district office.