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TAED is a tourism game-changer
Published on: Sunday, December 01, 2019
By: Datuk John Lo


Datuk Shafie Apdal announced that TAED would go ahead as originally planned in his recently concluded Legislative Assembly winding up speech. Some oppositionists to TAED are up in arms over his decision.

A sensible balance and perspective in priority are important in our pursue of much needed economic development as Sabah is already very much behind other advance states. 

There is always a way “to have the cake and eat it”. TAED, like most things in life does not have to be an “either/or”, “do or die” situation. The paramount consideration is to ensure many Sabahans, not a selected few, can benefit. In this respect, we have elected leaders to make this sort of ultimate decisions. Bad decisions, we can boot them out in GE15. Correct decisions, we can reward them with another term.

Good statesmanship to continue TAED.

Let us not over indulge in polemics over TAED as it is not a moral/ideological issue. Nothing wrong to adopt a project proposal from the previous government. Deciding to proceed with TAED can reflect wisdom and good statesmanship. A lot of work has been done; much taxpayers’ money has been spent; Sabah needs a good project like TAED to drive the economy. 

Unless the oppositionists have extremely good extenuating reasons, let’s get on with TAED as it will add on to our overall tourism product range. TAED will attract more high value tourists to Sabah, will generate much needed jobs [especially for unemployed graduates] and many business opportunities for young Sabahans.

Singapore excels in economic statesmanship. It has done extensive reclamations over the last 30 years [27pc of Singapore is from reclamation] and most of which have become leading economic drivers like the East Coast Park, iconic tourist attraction, Marina Bay Sand, Marina Financial Hub, Changi Airport, HDB apartments.

All these have brought in tens of billions of revenues for Singaporeans each year. The island nation has achieved the ultimate economic/social balance and is enjoying, the highest GDP per capita in Asia which, to a large extent, due to the reclamations. The price of land in the Marina Financial Hub is S$1,200 per square foot.

Purpose designed and built tourist complexes are not new, many in Bali, Thailand and Maldives. Many more in USA and China. TAED is Sabah’s first tourism complex.

To give up TAED for political reason is bad statesmanship. Sabah needs implementation continuity of sound economic projects such as TAED.

Can oppositionists offer a better alternative?

With due respect to those opposing TAED, to be fair, they can produce a better alternative plan. 

Together as a society, it is logical we must look at social/economic returns of Tanjong Aru. It is an iconic site no doubt but it is also too valuable for us not to derive social/economic benefits from it. We must unlock its value, make it generate jobs, business opportunities for Sabahans. No point harping objections only while Tanjong Aru remains just being iconic.

The leaders are being irresponsible if they do not unlock Sabah’s valuable assets like Tanjong Aru to grow our economy. 

30pc to be sold, 70pc under government control.

Shafie has stated this 30pc:70pc ratio which is very attractive. If this can be achieved, it will produce tremendously valuable assets for our state. My worry is this ratio may not be achievable. 

A lot of thoughts must have gone into designing the business model for TAED to be able to achieve this ratio. To me, a 50:50 ratio would be good already.

TAED can be Sabah’s pride.

In its present stage, there is nothing for us to be proud of Tanjong Aru Beach. But when TAED has been fully implemented, it will be a great asset for Sabahans to be proud of. The TAED landscape design has received the GOLD award from Singapore Landscape Architecture Awards (SLAA) 2019 organized by the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects (SILA) last month. Singapore is well-known for its garden city concept. 

This gold award recognition is not to be taken lightly. When the landscape design is implemented fully, Sabahans will bask in satisfaction and tourists will appreciate it. 

http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/142410/tanjung-aru-development-project-strikes-gold-for-design/ 

Oppositionists have no mandate to speak on behalf of the people.

I respect the rights of those opposing TAED. With due respect, it is overly presumptuous of them to say [quote] “….the people had expected more of the Warisan led state government”. [unquote]. They have not been elected or mandated by the people to speak on their behalf. Their opinions are their personal views. The oppositionists are objecting from their perspectives. Other Sabahans may have different views.

On allegation of possible corruption in TAED.

100pc in support for the oppositionists to condemn alleged corruption, if any, in TAED. In fact, they would have committed an offence as accomplices under the law not to report to the authorities [MACC] if they have knowledge of corruption in TAED. Improper and unfair to just cast aspersions.

Environment impact study.

Environment objections, if any, are best left to the environment authorities and environmental experts/consultants to handle. 

We should accept the decisions of the state and federal environmental agencies on TAED just as we have accepted them for all other projects. 

Investment, job/business opportunities are hard to come by.

Let us go beyond objections and proceed with implementation of TAED with due haste. Sabah is facing many serious economic challenges from current very uncertain global situation, financial problems from within Malaysia, limited revenue sources in Sabah and highest rate of unemployed graduates. 

Objections don’t put food on the table. Need an expanding economy to do that. An investment of RM8 to 10 billion is not easy to come by, as are jobs/business opportunities.

Let’s unite to build a progressive economy for Sabah.

Sabah has suffered severe lack of positive social/economic developments for decades. Lest we forget, Sabah was from no. 2 when Tan Sri Harris was CM to bottom in GDP per capita ranking in Malaysia now. 

As a society, we ought to unite and focus our efforts on economic progress, build a progressive society for ourselves and future generations. Inconsequential objections will set us back socially and economically. TAED which is the single largest tourism project by far to be undertaken in Sabah, has taken some years to plan and is now ready for implementation. 

Though conceived by the previous government, those in authority now have recognized TAED’s meaningful social/economic benefits for Sabah. We should press ahead with TAED’s construction so that there will be better facilities for Sabahans, better tourism products, more jobs and business opportunities, most importantly, economic expansion 

May I remind the oppositionists to TAED and indeed all Sabahan leaders this harsh political reality “what does not matter economically hardly matters politically”. Sabah’s years of political irrelevance within Malaysia has been due to our own poor economic achievement which has resulted in inequitable federal budget allocation each year. 

Sabah’s economic irrelevance is best reflected in federal spending in Sabah vs Selangor, Penang, and other bigger Malayan states. So, if we want Sabah to have a strong political voice in Malaysia, we must strive to strengthen Sabah’s economy by implementing more economically impactful game-changer projects like TAED, SICC.





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