By Chris Maskilone
KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal denied going back on his words pertaining to the Tanjung Aru Eco-Development project since he never said he opposed to it in the first place.
“No, I didn’t say, stop the project. I said we have to look into it where it can benefit the people at large – that’s why we downsized it.
“If you look into the previous plan, we have adjusted it. Even the location of a school, we’re looking into an area where we can relocate it.
“And also the first beach will not be touched,” he said when met after attending a Hari Raya open house hosted by Law and Native Affairs Minister Aidi Moktar at Wisma Muis here today.
Shafie who is Parti Warisan Sabah president acknowledged strong objections to the mega project mostly from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) but “what was important is for us to look into the interest of all.”
He was asked to comment on Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony who stated in his speech two days ago that the Papar Dam is needed to cater for the projected increased in demand for water since the TAED project would proceed coupled with the expected population increased in the very near future.
Shafie concurred with Peter that there was a necessity to go ahead with the project as it would supply water and generate electricity not only for Papar and Penampang but also the state capital.
“So I think we need to seriously look into where it can benefit the state as a whole and not just a particular area. There’s a strong kind of demand for us to realise this,” he said.
It might be difficult for people to accept this for now, he said.
“I think we have to condition the mind, to rationalise. I believe there were so many people objecting to the Bakun Dam at one stage, but now, if you can imagine, they are supplying electric to Brunei and selling to Sabah.
“Sarawak is enjoying, bearing the fruits of what they have done before but that was through a bold move because they knew that it’s beneficial in the long run,” he said.
He added that he has collected feedback from Moyog state assemblywoman Jenifer Lasimbang and Kepayan assemblywoman Jannie Lasimbang, whose constituencies located within the Penampang parliamentary area.
“There are considerations the YBs (elected representatives) wanted but we can’t realise it for the interest of many,” he said.
The initial TAED project was launched on Sept 16, 2013 with an estimated cost of RM7.1 billion
aimed at raising Sabah’s eco-tourism profile, attracting investments and addressing the problems of pollution and erosion that the Tanjung Aru area has suffered for years.
The proposed TAED will sit on largely reclaimed land and will have 4,500 apartments, 150 villas, 475 terraced houses, six hotels and 60,000 square metres of retail space.
Right after the 14th General Election, then Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai announced that the TAED project has been put on hold until the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) receives a directive from the new state government administration.