LABUAN: It was once the pride of Labuan. But the 10-storey Hotel Labuan has become an eyesore after it was abandoned in 1997.
Labuan’s first multi-storey landmark is now smeared with illegal drawings by so-called “street artists”, with the graffiti also affecting the adjoining Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) substation.
The 150-room Hotel Labuan, formerly owned by the family of former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Harris Mohd Salleh, was closed down by the Labuan Development Authority, which also ordered the owners to repair the building to make it safe or risk demolition.
Labuan police chief Supt Muhamad Farid Ahmad said the illegal graffiti might be the work of locals.
“We have mobilised our patrol teams to look after the giant murals on old buildings as part of our efforts to preserve them ahead of the Visit Malaysia 2020.
“However, we face difficulties in tracking down those involved in the illegal graffiti on the Hotel Labuan building, as the closed-circuit television failed to record the illegal street artists,” he told Bernama.
Labuan Corporation (LC) chief executive officer Dr Fary Akmal Osman said the Ministry of Finance (MOF) had offered to sell Hotel Labuan to a property developer but the latter had decided to terminate the agreement last year.
She said the Ministry of Federal Territories early this year suggested that LC apply to lease it from the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources, the landlord of the Hotel Labuan building.
“Following the ministry’s suggestion, LC had submitted an application for leasing to develop the land for a four-star hotel and commercial development in the first quarter of this year,” she said
She said LC would open the request for proposal (RFP) in the second or third quarter of 2020 for the proposed development project.
“The Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources is in the midst of preparing a paper for cabinet approval on the leasing of the property to LC, and it is likely to be known early next year,” she said.
Dr Fary admitted that the current state the building is an eyesore and the agency has spent some money to do hoarding on the property to prevent the public from entering.
“However, certain parts of it have been vandalised, but our enforcement unit is doing its best to ensure the property is secure,” she said.
“We urge people to help ensure Labuan is a liveable island, preserving the landscape, the cleanliness, amenities. And we hope people will give suggestions to further improve Labuan,” she said.
Another ill-fated hotel, Billion Resort Hotel, formerly known as Waterfront Hotel, is also an eyesore.
It was bought over by a local tycoon and is understood to have been taken back by a bank.
The four-star hotel is left unattended, with bushes growing and rubbish scattered all over the compound and worse, its swimming pool has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
These buildings, located in the heart of the town, have marred the image of Labuan as an international business financial centre (IBFC) and an oil and gas hub.