It is an unfortunate fact that Malaysians love to litter wherever they go. In fact, it is not uncommon to see the person walking in front of you suddenly throw a tissue or plastic bag on the ground. Sometimes while driving, I see people throwing out plastic bags and other rubbish out the window. Unfortunately, a lot of this waste is also found at the beach. Malaysian beaches are sometimes littered with plastic bags, food wrappers, and even glass bottles. These bottles post an additional danger to beachgoers as it can easily result in an injury. However, Pok Ku is helping to clean up our beaches with his love of bottles.
Pok Ku who is officially Tengku Mohammad Ali Mansor, is an elderly man in his late seventies living in Terengganu. Back in 2005, he set out on a mission to help clean up the beaches around him. His concern was particularly for any glass bottles washing up on shore due to the danger it poses. These glass bottles can easily break and cause an injury to any unsuspecting person.
However, as he continued to collect the bottles, he realised that each bottle was different and unique. This is especially so since the glass bottles wash up from different parts of the world. In fact, browsing through his collection will result in various types of bottles from China, Japan, Korea, and even Mexico. Sometimes there is also a message written and kept inside.
Our Beaches Today
Thanks to Pok Ku, our beaches are being cleaned up by many hardworking and kind people. Some will collect and donate the bottles to his collection out of the kindness of their hearts. As another way to encourage cleaning up, Pok Ku offers to pay children for each bottle they bring in.
As a result of this journey which spans over 15-years, he now has a collection of over 9,000 glass bottles, vials, jars, mugs, and containers. They come in all shapes and sizes, some even hiding secret love messages. Pok Ku takes care of these bottles and even whispers to them in order to create a bond of sorts. He proudly displays his collection in a gallery named Rumah Botol which he hopes will one day be part of his legacy.