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Gaya Island's image tarnished by rubbish dumping into sea
Published on: Monday, June 15, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: Gaya Island, the largest of five islands which forms Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is conveniently located just 6.8 kilometres or 10-minutes' boat ride off the city here.

The island not only has a police station, two five-star resorts and a Marine Ecology Research Centre but is also home to some 6,000 people living in water villages and tons of rubbish on the island and its coastal area.

Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Edward Yong on Sunday said cleanliness is among issues which receives much attention by the State government.

"We are aware of litterbugs who throw rubbish everywhere, in this context it is dumping one's litter into the sea," he said when officiating at the Kasih Sayang Programme jointly organised by City Hall, Health Department and the police especially for the community in Gaya Island.

"Irresponsible attitude and not having enough knowledge about rubbish pollution will cause certain places to be dirty and polluted, and this is exactly what is happening on this island," he said.

He said if the island was not tarnished with rubbish, it could be as beautiful or perhaps even better compared to the other islands in the park.

"City Hall started this programme in 2011 in collaboration with the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation where free medical examinations were given to the island community and in 2013 City Hall again organised the same programme this time in collaboration with the police and 1,200 volunteers.

"This year, City Hall organised the Kasih Sayang Programme together with the Health Department and the police, and I hope this time around we can achieve better results in terms of cleanliness on the island," he said.

To encourage community involvement on the island, City Hall has also organised a 'Kampung Contoh' (Exemplary Village) competition which will be held until the year end, after which the cleanest village will receive grand prize in the form of cash.

Also present were Tourism, Cultural and Environment Ministry Permanent Secretary Ginun Yangus, City Hall Director-General Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, Kota Kinabalu Health Officer Dr Mohd Saffree Jeffrie who represented Health Department Sabah Director Dr. Christina Rundi and Deputy City Police Chief Supt Mohd Azhar Hamin who represented State Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman.

The programme also witnessed the handing over of a catamaran called Debris Skimmer and a mother boat, also a catamaran, under a joint project called NOW (No More Plastic Waste in Our Waters) to Sabah Parks represented by Sabah Parks Board of Trustees Chairman Tengku Datuk Zainal Adlin.

The Public-Private Partnership initiative to clean up Sabah's tourism hotspots is a collaborative effort involving the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Gaya Recycle, City Hall, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Blue Life Ecoservices Bhd, Environmental Action Centre, Environment Protection Department, Humana Child Aid Society and Daily Express as the media partner.

NOW Director Marinah Harris Embiricos who is Gaya Recycle Sdn Bhd Co-Chairman said it was very encouraging that City Hall and leaders who are responsible for these areas are taking action to work with the community.

"After all, the community is the biggest stakeholder in this type of initiative because if you want to clean the rubbish and get rid of the litter whether it is from land or from the marine, we need to ensure that they are behind us, because they are the ones doing all the actions as far as cleaning up or throwing the dumps.

"Without the community, we won't be successful at all. I see today the reaction was very good, they are excited, the fact that the leaders have said that they are going to be the community 'Kampung Contoh' which gave them the big boost that they need to showcase their village.

"You can see that the village chiefs have already started rallying their community to try and win this prestigious Kampung Contoh title.

"I feel that overall the event was good and I am very happy because we handed over the skimmer boat and the mother boat to Sabah Parks. This is a big forward step into NOW's project.

"I hope that the momentum would continue and of course we will keep pushing and hope to make a difference," said Marinah.

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