Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spend money developing Mt Kinabalu, not 100-storey tower

By Queville To

KOTA KINABALU: Why are we creating costly artificial skyscrapers when we should be focusing on developing and promoting our natural wonders like Mount Kinabalu? That was the question posed by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).

Mt Kinabalu, a World Heritage Site and a tourism icon for Malaysia, for one could be better promoted if the government wants mega-scale eco-tourism development, instead of building a 100-storey tower that cost billions of ringgit, said SAPP information chief, Chong Pit Fah.

Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's announcement of the proposed RM5 billion Warisan Merdeka tower in Kuala Lumpur, he said: “Why spend billions of the taxpayers’ money to create a tourist attraction in the form of a 100-storey building, when God has given us such a magnificent natural tourist attraction which no building in the world is taller than?

“We are not Dubai or Las Vegas which are barren and devoid of any natural attractions that they need to create some man-made ones, instead.”

Chong was responding Najib's announcement while tabling the budget last Friday that the proposed 100-storey tower was expected to be ready by 2020.

Chong said the money could be better spent upgrading existing facilities and adding new attractions in the vicinity of the world-famous park.

He said that despite its world heritage status, the facilities at the Kinabalu Park leave so much to be desired.

“For so long such an important site for the country has seen little development,” he said.

Chong wanted to know how the proposed construction of the tower near Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur would benefit the people in Sabah.

Another white elephant

He reminded that the country already had the iconic Petronas Twin Towers which was funded by revenues derived from oil and gas in Sabah.

“It’s time for Sabah to get back what is due to it,” he stressed.

He said there were more important things to focus on like better education, better health care, better public transportation, safer neighbourhoods and cleaner water. There is no need for a taller building.

“We certainly don't need another white elephant. The government should prioritize the people's needs over the selfish needs of the privileged few.

"We saw too much mega projects during the era of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and today the rakyat are still
paying for them.

"We are at the brink of the country declared a bankrupt as was highlighted by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Idris Jala,” he noted.

Chong likened the government’s decision on the tower to historic blunders by governments at the expense of the people and such acts he added had sparked change.

He described it as a clear indication that the BN-led government had completely lost its direction.

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