TAED – Interests Of The People Come First, Pledges Chief Minister

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KOTA KINABALU: The Tanjung Aru Eco Development will undergo a major review as the State government works out the best possible solution for the people as well as the stakeholders.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said the State administration has to consider public interest apart from the benefits, in particular tourism and creation of jobs.

Shafie told the Sabah State Assembly on Wednesday that there is no need to hasten the project, hatched under the previous government.

“We are considering several approaches, including whether to continue or downsize it. We have to look at how to appease the investors, locals, tourists and also mitigate the money that the state government has already invested.

“There is also significant public protest, so much so that they have sent us a letter that we have to consider. We must listen to the people at large but at the same time we must balance progress especially for tourism, which is big for us,” he said during Question Time at the State Assembly sitting.

The malaymailonline portal quoted Shafie saying that before giving the greenlight for the mega project, they will also be scrutinising it for financial leakages, after RM60 million was poured into it to date.

Shafie was replying Luyang assemblyman Phoong Jin Zhe who asked him of the status of the project.

The chief minister said the state government has already spent some RM60 million on the project so far, although no actual reclamation or building works is seen to have been carried out.

“The new government will review meticulously before deciding. Downsizing it can mitigate the complaints of the people. We have yet to finalise it, but we are not in a hurry. We have to think about how to manage investors, but not at the expense of public interest or the environment,” he said.

Among the concerns of the highly controversial RM3 billion project is that a part of its RM500 million allocation from the federal government might be stunted as part of a major cost-cutting exercise by the new government.

“A lot of projects including the Pan Borneo highway is on the list to be scrapped but I’ve said that it’s important and must proceed.

“We can go ahead, but we have to make sure there are no wastages. There is a lot of wastage. To ensure we do this properly, we cannot do this in a rush. I want to look into this meticulously first,” the portal quoted Shafie.

The integrated tourism project which was proposed to develop some 348 hectares of land including the reclamation of 252 hectares was mooted in 2013 and gained controversy due to environmental issues as well as public concerns that it would no longer be accessible to the average man on the street.

Development was expected in phases but has been put off due repeatedly to planning and approval issues. It was last said that works would begin in early 2018 but so far, little works has been carried out, but existing vendors were told to vacate the premises.