BY SM MUTHU AND JEFFERI CHANG
COMMENT: We would like to appeal to the new Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Apdal to reverse the revoke order by the former Chief Minister Musa Aman, the Sutera Harbour Land Reserved for Public Park (Lot No. 012 (Lot No. 01200859 of Plan No. 901500008) on 19th May 2016.
The 4.5-acre public park is believed to be part of the open space requirement of the Sutera Harbour development plan, launched in August 1994.
Henry Chok, the first Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) president had led its members, among them SM Muthu, to the developer’s office for a briefing. They were told that the public would have access to the sea view by way of a public park of about 14 acres.
We hope Kota Kinabalu Mayor Yeo Boon Hai can enlighten the State government and the public on this issue.
Some 24 years later, this public park has been revoked and allegedly earmarked for a commercial luxury condominium development project known as Coral Bay Sutera Harbour Boulevard. (https://coralbay-sutera.com)
We are worried that the previous government had converted many of these gazetted public areas into commercial areas especially the 85-acre Tanjung Aru Beach foreshore reserve (Survey No 12946, Gazette Notification S38 in 1963) which was surrendered under Government Gazette (No. JKM. PHB. 600-1/6/189/(57) on 5th March 2014.
This is unethical, whatever the legal avenues used.
The assets of a state or nation belong to all its citizens. And one of the primary objectives of any government is to protect their assets from unscrupulous people.
We also urge Shafie to look into all other gazetted public and park areas, and in all other localities that have been converted for reasons known only to the previous decision makers.
A city and its citizens need breathing space and recreational areas. The stress of modern day life requires more gardens and parks for relaxation. No one wants to see people jumping off buildings due to a lack of recreational space to relieve stress.
The government in fact should, due to increasing population, create more open spaces and recreational reserves.
Development doesn’t only mean building more commercial and luxury structure, but it is the ability of the government to provide parks and spaces for its citizens for recreational activities.
We call upon all citizens and residents of Sabah to join us in urging the State Government not to privatize or rezone the existing public and park areas.
SM Muthu and Jefferi Chang are Coordinators for Save Open Space, Kota Kinabalu