Published on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun is confident that matters related to "public access to the beach" following the implementation of Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) will not become an issue.
He said the blueprint of the proposed development shows over 50 per cent of the area involved would be for public use and this include the famous Prince Philip Park (First Beach).
He was responding to Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) which raised the concern Monday saying it has been inundated with calls and emails about continued public access to the beach since the Prime Minister launched the said project on Sept 16.
The association had said people are understandably concerned, having already experienced losing public spaces to tourism like Pantai Dalit in Tuaran and climbing Mount Kinabalu before the accommodation was privatised and prices rose astronomically during the rotation of one of the previous Chief Ministers.
"Will Tanjung Aru Beach become a playground for only the rich?" asked Sepa President Lanash Thanda, saying the number one question Sepa was asked is if the public would continue to have access to the beach once the hotels are built.
She said it seems the only information the public has had access to is the concept map published in the local newspaper and a giant signboard that states "Returning Tanjung Aru to the people of Sabah: Rehabilitating the Beach, Regenerating the Park, Rejuvenating Tourism".
"How can you 'return' something the public already understands they have?
And does this mean that that Prince Philip Park will be given more space?" he asked.
Most of the concerns, she noted, were raised based on the concept which showed that there would be 10 tourism projects that includes brand name hotels, service apartments and a marina.
There also seem to be different versions of the concept map with slightly different designs and one which includes a golf course, he said, while urging that a Special EIA be conducted due to the sensitivity of this issue, as this is the era of public participation.
Masidi, when asked on this, said why not just refer to the official blueprint, which were made available during the launching day, as all the details are there.