Published on: Monday, March 24, 2014
Labuan: PAS suggests that Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) close its division here since its President Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan is unsupportive of the proposed Labuan-Menumbok bridge despite Labuan folks, including thousands of Sabahans, clamoring for the link for years.
PAS Deputy Chief Hadnan Mohd said this in reference to Pairin's brushing aside of the bridge proposal by saying that the bridge needed to be carefully studied and whether it would benefit Sabah.
Hadnan said: "Such a view is selfish thinking considering that Labuan is Sabah's closest neighbour and like a little brother. Labuan has also been under Sabah jurisdiction before and many here still have ancestral and other ties with Sabah.
"The bridge is for the future of Sabah and Labuan, many in Sabah also want the project and everyone would benefit, except perhaps for a few," said Hadnan.
Pairin during his recent visit here, in response to a question, had remarked negatively on the bridge proposal.
Hadnan said infrastructure development such as roads and bridges help boost the economy and ultimately spins out benefits, idle land in coastal towns would suddenly have a value. He said Johore prospered because of the link-up with Singapore and Penang is now having its second 23.5km bridge costing RM4.5 billion.
Hadnan added that when the bridge became a reality, sleepy towns like Kuala Penyu, Menumbok would have heir local economies galvanised.
"People here may chose to take up residence in the nearby mainland towns and drive to Labuan daily for work and new townships would develop."
On Sabah, Hadnan added the State was already booming with oil palm, cocoa exports, soaring tourism with many direct flights from foreign destinations, adding to this it has new-found wealth through the discoveries of new oil and gas field and Petronas was pumping RM45 billion on various gas-related projects.
"Sabah has no valid reason to feel threatened by the Labuan bridge. Labuan could not over-shadow the State," said Hadnan.
The PAS Deputy Chief also said that it is strange that only now Sabah was showing reservations on the bridge project when there was an interested developer.
"If the bridge plan was not a good idea, why was this not opposed earlier, at the initial stages.
"The project was already made known in 1977 through Labuan Development Plan (1997-2015) and discussed in Parliament by the previous MPs. There was plenty of opportunities to object to the plan, but instead support was shown."
Hadnan recalled that in 2006, there as also a royal endorsement to the projects by the visiting Yang Dipertua Agong who said efforts should be continued to convince the Federal Government.
Further to this, Hadnan added that in 2010, at a cost of RM5 million, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) made a feasibility study on the project and recommended the connection be established.
Adding to this, in March 2009 the former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi while performing the ground breaking ceremony for the Halal hub had assured the bridge would become a reality and the next day, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman supported it by saying that the connection would not only facilitate more travel but also help boost business and trade links between Sabah and Labuan, said Hadnan.
Hadnan said many could not understand the sudden about turn by Sabah leaders over the projects.