In Sabah Baru, A New Approach Is Needed; Allowances For The Pastors

WHILE WE ARE NOT TOO SURE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE BEACH AFTER THE TAED NONSENSE, WHAT MUST BE SEEN AS A TOP PRIORITY BY ALL CONCERNED IS FOR THE BEACH TO BE REFURBISHED AND REHABILITATED

COMMENT: It is natural for people to want to see things done at a lighting speed.

Especially, when there is a change in government. At the same time, people too are aware of the constraints faced by the new government.

Often it is about money and personnel; slowly but surely things will fall in place.

We have to be patient, no.

Some ministries are seen to be up and running, some are still waiting for inspiration.

Minister of Agriculture, Junz Wong, for example has been looking into ways to freeze export of crabs out of Tawau and Semporna as part of preserving Sabah as a seafood paradise for locals and tourists.

Junz Wong is looking at stopping the export of lobster and crabs from Sabah so as to develop Tawau as a seafood hub.

Like anything else he has to look for a proper balance, a win-win situation is a must for the stakeholders.

Our Deputy Chief Minister-cum Tourism Minister, Christina Liew has been busy too.

She has been paying attention to our tourism service providers like the Immigration Department and Malaysia Airport Bhd (MAB); yes, time for these agencies to do their work properly and efficiently, sloppy work should not be tolerated and if she has to kick more butts, so be it.

And thank goodness, she has not ignored products like the Lok Kawi zoo and our famous Tanjung Aru beach.

Christina Liew, second from left, has been paying particular attention to Tanjung Aru beach.

The beach is loved and close to the hearts of all Sabahans; its seen as the rakyat beach.

As much as the authorities have to be careful with Mount Kinabalu, so as not to upset the people with any planning up there, the beach is in the same category.

The plan by the former government to develop and reclaim the natural beach and replace it with an artificial beach and a build concrete city under TAED (Tanjung Aru Eco Development) was seen as a betrayal of the peoples trust and disagreed by all and sundry.

The open space beach with its natural beauty and its million dollar sunset must be enjoyed by all like it has been for generations, and not by a privileged few; and foreigners at that, after all they are the ones who can afford the out-of-price real estate to be built on the beach.

Christina seems to understand the emotional attachment of the people to the beach. Good on her.

Sunset at Tanjung Aru beach. – Photo courtesy of Daphne Wong

She was quick to visit the beach and had told the City Hall to keep it clean. The beach was left in an unkempt state previously by TAED even though there was an agreement and even the title was transferred to TAED.

Now, we see more rubbish bins around the place and its generally cleaner and a general improvement all around.

With big crowds consisting of locals and tourists watching the sunset every evening, the beach must be maintained all the time and not left it to the dogs like previously.

While Christina did say it was not wise to bring back beverage and food stalls to the area for the time being, that has not stopped some enterprising people from setting food stalls up.

A hawker has set up a stall to sell drinks.

The big crowds need food and drinks now. They are not going to wait for yes or no decision.

The temporary answer is maybe for City Hall to allow food trucks into the area.

Let us go back to the days of old where you can find jagung, air kelapa and kacang rebus until late at night while the people shoot the breeze.

While we are not too sure what is going to happen to the beach after the TAED nonsense; and who makes what decisions; what must be seen as a top priority by all concerned is for the beach to be refurbished and rehabilitated.

Of immediate importance is the sewage from the surrounding buildings must be treated and not discharged untreated so that beachgoers can go swimming in the sea once again.

We know money is the issue, it was thoughtful of Christina to suggest that she would talk to Junz, who is also the Tanjung Aru Assemblyman on how to find funds to further beautify the place.

Large crowds of people, especially tourists from China still visit the beach at Tanjung Aru but there’s nothing else for them to do as the food stalls have been prematurely taken down. – Photo courtesy of Daphne Wong

How about crowdfunding?

We can replicate the New Zealand experience where people donated to buy the Awaroa beach in the Abel Tasman National Park, on South Island.

Then after listing our beach under the Heritage Ordinance with the people as the owners, we will then allow it to be run by a national park?

Of course, a proper mechanism has to be worked out. People don’t mind playing their part to ensure that the beach is theirs until kingdom cometh.

The government doesn’t have to worry about it anymore, and people will be very happy .

In new Sabah, we need a new approach.

THE SABAH GOVERNMENT, BESIDES SPENDING MONEY ON ISLAM AS THE OFFICIAL RELIGION, HAS ALSO SPENT BIG ON OTHER FAITHS AS A WAY OF SHOWING THAT FREEDOM OF RELIGION EXISTED UNDER THEIR ADMINISTRATION

There has never been a proper conversation on this.

Is it right for the government to spend tax-payers money on religion?

UPKO’s Madius Tangau with the leaders of some of the Sabah churches. – Photo courtesy of Rayner Majantin

The previous BN government thought it was alright to do so.

Besides spending money on Islam as the official religion, it also spent big on other faiths as a way of showing that freedom of religion existed under their administration.

Now UPKO, which is a part of the state government has offered to play the role of a bridge and as a voice for churches in the State vis-a-vis the new State Government.

What does this mean?

More religion in politics, when it is between you and your God? Are all the churches in agreement on this offer? Or, they would leave it to the status quo where the state government would handle it as usual without any particular preference for a political party to play the lead role?

The Chief Minister, Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal did say he would look into giving allowances to pastors and priests. While this is not necessarily a bad idea as the Muslim institutions have been getting theirs, then would the churches agree, as their independence could be compromised?

If church pastors are given allowances, what about the priests that serve the temples and Gurdwara? Would they too get paid?

You don’t normally bite the hand that feeds you.

Did the Muslim clerics make any noise when the country was robbed blind by those in power in the last administration?

The churches must think deep on this matter. All religions teach their followers to be on the right path.

There should not be any compromises on what is right and what is wrong.

Those who wear the religious cloak are expected to be better than the normal person; after all they serve a higher power.

Then if the allowance idea is going to go ahead, what about the Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and others?

You have to be fair to all. It is a lot of tax payers money, no?