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Memorial park finally
Published on: Thursday, January 18, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The State Capital has undergone rapid development since it was upgraded to city status on Feb 2, 2000, transforming it into a vibrant city.

This has inevitably caused land in the city, especially those situated at strategic locations, to become increasingly scarce, even for cemeteries and memorial parks.

The Empire Paradise Memorial Park here, meant for Christians, is thus foreseen as an ideal resting place for the departed, considering its location within the city's perimeters.

When aspiring property developer Jeffery Wong bought the 2.15-acre plot at Taman Century Baru, along Jalan Penampang Baru back in 1995, he never thought that he would end up developing a memorial park.

The piece of land was originally planned for a housing development.

However, due to its close proximity to the existing Roman Catholic cemetery, Wong soon realised that housing may not be a good idea after all. He thus changed his plan and decided to turn it into a memorial park, instead.

This is how the Empire Paradise Christian Memorial Park, touted as the only "eco-friendly green memorial park" in the city, came about.

However, the development of the memorial park was a tough and challenging one, especially when it faced strong protest from the surrounding residents who felt uneasy with the idea of hearses and funeral processions passing through their housing estate. The bank which gave the loans for the memorial park project also threatened to withdraw the facility in 2001. This eventually led to a 16-year-long legal tussle between Jeffrey and the bank.

In the meantime, the said project was temporarily shelved.

Then in February 2017, the Kota Kinabalu High Court ruled in favour of Jeffrey and Empire Treasure Club Sdn Bhd, the joint-venture developer of the memorial park, and both parties subsequently reached a settlement on the loan issue.

As for the access road issue which nearby residents protested, it too was resolved by using the existing access road which is being used by the Roman Catholic cemetery. The memorial park project resumed last August.

Wong said the development of this memorial park is based on eco-friendly concept that has been tested-and-proven to work well in Taiwan, with emphasis on greening of the surrounding environment to enhance both its ecology and aesthetic value.

"A memorial park within the perimeter of the city is also consistent with our national landscape policy to increase greenery within the city.

"No chemical fertiliser is allowed, only organic fertilisers will be used for grass and flowers.

The burial system is also designed to protect the local water sources, both surface and ground," he said.

"We are grateful that the State Government had in 2001 approved this memorial park project, which we believe could be the last and the only one within the city perimeter," he added.

The park, with 1,000 burial lots, is being divided into two phases. There are two types of burial plots i.e. the tomb type and the single and double (companion) plots. Currently, under Phase One, the developer has completed 98 burial plots. This park only caters for Christians of all denominations.

"We provide year-round maintenance for all the facilities in the memorial park. For sale of every burial plot, RM3,000 will be set aside from the purchase price for the Lifetime Maintenance Fund.

"A local church will be appointed as trustee by the developer to manage the fund and undertake to upkeep year-round maintenance works of the memorial park. Besides, 24-hour security is also provided to prevent desecration and vandalism from taking place," he said.

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