Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don’t end up like Keningau, Masidi advises Penampang

22nd November, 2008
Sumber: New Sabah Times

PENAMPANG: Development plan in every district should be based on a proper zoning to ensure it does not destroy the natural beauty of the environment. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said yesterday that construction of facilities should be carried out to complement the natural beauty of the area involved and not destroy it.

Having a natural beauty with a countryside setting that could be a potential attraction for tourists, Masidi said Penampang has so much to offer but need to be careful not to end up in a similar fate like Keningau.

Keningau, he said, was an example of development gone wrong and should serve as clear testament of the need for every district to properly plan their development so as to not compromise the environment.

He said Penampang should learn from Keningau's mistake and not to mess up its development plan to end up becoming another "concrete jungle with no soul". "No offence to Keningau folks but I think the district's development was planned wrongly. It is what I call a "rojak town" (messed-up). In my view, it is difficult to manage, just look at the traffic flow there," he said.

Speaking at the soft opening of DD Hotel, a Bumiputera-run boutique hotel here, Masidi said Penampang used to have a vast area of paddy fields but they are now sadly disappearing and being replaced by housing estates and commercial properties.

"I remember in a visit to Bali (in Indonesia) going to a restaurant in the middle of a sprawling paddy field. Visitors there were marveling at the beauty and this is the added value that I think the district of Penampang should strive to offer to tourists," he said. Masidi added that such an environment where many open spaces were preserved to complement the development around it was not only for tourists but also good for the locals.

"Do you know why Australia has such a high quality of living? It is because every one or two miles of housing or commercial area, there is a park. But here (in Sabah), there are people who seem to lose sleep if they cannot develop an open space area," he said. In addition to preserving open spaces, Masidi suggested that the district aggressively incorporate its local identity into its development in line with its efforts to emerge as a tourist destination.

He said Penampang is known as the heartland of the Kadazans and thus cultural aspects should be included as the main feature in promoting the area. "If local cultures were not emphasised, not only will visitors be unaware about it but there was a possibility that it could even be lost." Touching on the importance of cleanliness, Masidi said it is one aspect that is not only important in tourism development but in improving the standard of living of the local populace.

"I am from Ranau and from observation it is "bersih sedikit" (a bit cleaner) than Penampang…I know the D.O (District Officer) William Sampil, is trying his best to address this matter but I think more should be done," he said.

He disclosed that next year, cleanliness would be among the main focus of his ministry. A special focus would be given on reducing the use of plastic bags and polystyrene containers, a main concern in dealing with pollution, he said. He said effort would be carried out to encourage the public to use paper bags or other materials which are degradable.

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