Daily Express
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OF EAST MALAYSIA
Established since 1963
Fast approval queried

Published on: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kudat: A former Town Board councillor has called on the State Local Government and Housing Ministry to review a joint-venture project on a prime land allegedly "approved faster than a speeding bullet" here.

OKK Haji Harun Bidin said he served as a councillor in the Kudat Town Board from 2008 until June 2013 and recalled that the issue of the abandoned Hotel Marudu project was raised on several occasions during full board meetings.

"No solution, despite being discussed on numerous occasions.

The reason for no positive action taken was because the Town Board lacked provision in its local ordinance to summon the present owner (a Singaporean) either to complete the building or to demolish it.

"Laws, enactment or ordinance are man-made. Hence, if there is no provision whatsoever to that effect, its only logical to quickly get the attention of the higher authority that is the Ministry.

"But sadly, the standard response is "sudah tulis belum jawap" (already written but no response). I'm very sceptical about the truth of the answer. I believe Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu is also facing the same phenomenon with Star City, but the line-up of their councillors (advisors) credentials convince me that the Star City stigma will be a thing of the past," he said.

Harun said he was dumbfounded that a development on the abandoned project site had suddenly appeared because up to his and Haji Gurahman Lolong (Umno Kudat treasurer and chief publicity officer) tenure as councillor expired it was never discussed.

"Meaning it must have been done between August and December 2013 to have everything in order i.e from planning, preparing of documents, referring to various departments for comments, EIA reports, brought to the Finance committee, approval by the full board, approval from the central board and for the final approval by the Ministry.

"It's a shock the manner the approval was obtained - faster than a speeding bullet!

I label it as super fast because normally an application even for a kitchen renovation alone gets a response "sudah tulis belum ada jawap" É and this can go on for years," he said.

Harun said he was not against development if it was done for public interest particularly the Kudat Town Board but to agree on a raw deal and side stepping public interest in the process was very unbecoming of the Town Board.

"I remember the Kudat Town Board has more than RM3 million stashed in fixed deposit.

Thus, I see no reason for them not to develop such prime land if the need arises.

"For that matter, Haji Gurahman, who is also a local entrepreneur has relayed to him that he is willing to top up whatever the designated developer has to offer to the Kudat Town Board. Isn't it worth considering?" he asked.

"I urge the Ministry to relook into this lopsided arrangement and nullify them immediately if unethical practice is uncovered. I've also been informed more than half the present councillors denied any knowledge of the purported joint-venture," he said.

On another note, Harun also called on the Ministry to strictly abide by the ordinance in appointing qualified councillors.

"Some faces have been there since 1994 but nothing that the stakeholders can vouch as progressive achievement except in exploiting the Kudat Town Board," he claimed.

He suggested that the authority limit the councillor's appointment to two terms.