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Leap supports conserving Tg Aru's natural beach for public
Published on: Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Local non-governmental organisation (NGO) Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap) supports the calls by WWF Malaysia and SOS Kota Kinabalu to scrap the controversial Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project, at least in the way it was planned.

Leap backs proposals to make the area between the beach and the road to Terminal 2 a public area and include new features such as a botanical park and cultural heritage area for the public to enjoy, as well as for proper maintenance and upgrading of the historic Prince Philip Park.

"Over 20,000 people from all walks of life in Kota Kinabalu and the rest of Sabah expressed their dismay and concern about the proposed project by signing the Stop Tanjung Aru Eco Development project petition, an unprecedented show of opposition to the project," Leap CEO Winnie Long said, adding that it was in favour of saving Kota Kinabalu's last remaining natural beach.

"The massive reclamation stretching out up to one kilometre from the existing beach and the dredging needed to create the 42-metre wide canal could be disastrous for the whole Tanjung Aru seafront and potentially impact the nearby Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

"The canal itself would effectively create a huge island with the proposed hotels, Prince Philip Park and new beach on it, with public access restricted to just two small bridges.

"Existing biodiversity from the stunning fig trees at Third Beach and the iconic Aru trees right along the shoreline to the thriving community of sand crabs on the beach would be at stake if the project were to go ahead.

It should never have been touted as an 'eco' project," said Leap Biodiversity Manager Sylvia Yorath.

"The problem of the hazardous drains pouring out into the sea there should be addressed at source ie upstream from the beach as well as at Tanjung Aru itself, in addition to systematically improving sewage, drainage and rubbish collection facilities at the beach and eating areas," she added.

Winnie welcomed investment in Sabah's infrastructure. "However, these should be on the scale we can afford and manage ourselves so that our heritage does not become owned by outside interests, who leave us with any problems these investments make.

"The current TAED plans require many billions of external investment: by inviting this we accept that all that money and profit will need to leave Sabah again.

"The current TAED design requires expensive foreign technical experts to even explain all the engineering needed on an on-going basis to prevent disaster for the project and neighbouring areas.

"Why should we make ourselves so dependent and vulnerable? We can create many more jobs with less risks using small to medium scale investments that will also attract less corruption," she said.

Winne added that Leap looks forward to a new era of inclusive and transparent decision making, where the diverse views of people from all sectors are valued and respected.

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