Tanjung Aru belongs to the people

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tanjung Aru holds fond memories for the people of Kota Kinabalu and should not be sold out as an exclusive area.

KOTA KINABALU: The 2,000 people who gathered at the ‘Big Beach Gathering’ in Tanjung Aru’s Prince Philip Park in support of the Save Tangjung Aru campaign is testimony of how the people feel about the open space and the state’s plan to ‘limit access’ to the public beach by building hotels, golf courses, marinas and luxury condominiums.

“Before this, people only dared to voice their anger via social media such as Facebook but never had the courage to show up in person.

“The Big Beach Gathering (last Sunday), organised by Papi Johntoy John showed that people are starting to be more active in making a stand,” said former Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) secretary general SM Muthu.

Muthu, who is also Save Open Space Kota Kinabalu (SOS KK) co-founder, said the public should continue enjoying the beach in Tanjung Aru as it is a place of memories for the locals.

“The architects working on the project have brilliant ideas, but it is not for Tanjung Aru beach and should be taken to somewhere else.”

“Whatever development that is planned for Tanjung Aru should be people-centric. It should be for the recreational benefit of local citizens and residents.

“The excuse of using the building of hotels and resorts to prevent soil erosion and reclaim the land is not a justifiable one.

“If there is the problem of soil erosion, then there should be a litigation against it.”

“The state government should not be encouraging development for self interests,” said Muthu.

Former president of the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) Ho Jia Lit concurred with Muthu’s views adding that it is “very important to provide direct access” to sea for the public.

“As a responsible planner and citizen, we must encourage development.

“It is very important to provide a direct road access and view of the sea to give the public a psychological sense of entering a public place,” he said.

Ho said the current draft plan showed that all the public spaces were taken over and replaced by replaced by golf courses, marinas and high class condos.

“These areas are better used as public parks for the general public access to use and should not be limited to rich members usage only.” he said.

In the public draft of the 2020 Kota Kinabalu Local Plan displayed by the Kota Kinabalu City Hall, it is shown that public will lose access to the Tanjung Beach.

Three areas on water had been zoned as ‘Hotels and Resorts’.

The draft plan had meant that the Tanjung Aru beach would no longer be accessible to the public and that access would be limited to a higher-income crowd.

Following a public outcru, Kota Kinabalu City Hall mayor Abidin Madingkir reportedly said the Prince Philip Park and the Tanjung Aru beach would still remain as public recreational grounds but the details were yet to be ‘included in the released draft plan’.

Last Sunday’s gathering also saw a signature campaign against TAED and a beach clean-up activity.

A second Big Beach Gathering is set to be held on June 22.


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