Multimillion-ringgit idleness

Impressive but a flop: Not a single soul at the Sungai Merah Heritage Walk.

SIBU: A number of multimillion-ringgit recreational facilities here are underutilised.

Local Government and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh expressed his regret that these projects had been left idle by folk.

“These projects only look good but people are not patronising them,” he said at Sibu Municipal Council’s (SMC) annual dinner on Thursday.

Wong said he had personally gone to see some of the facilities and was shocked.

“I have done some soul searching of Sibu on its past, present and future.

“However, we do not have enough activities to complement these facilities and now they are being left idle like the Sungai Merah Heritage Walk.

“Before we embark on this (heritage walk) project, I had approached the late Datuk Sulaiman Daud who was then the minister in charge of drainage and irrigation.

“He gave us RM20mil of which RM17mil was tendered out for the project,” he said.

Wong said three days ago, he went to the site, which was built some 10 years ago.

“I went around in the morning, afternoon and evening.

“There was not even a single soul there. Of course, we can’t blame the people as there is no activity for them to do there.”

Wong also singled out the RM50mil Buddhist temple in Mile 17, Jalan Oya, which he deemed as another white elephant.

The temple, which sits on a 7ha land, is said to be the largest in Southeast Asia.

“Even people from China had been impressed by the temple buildings,” said Wong, adding that sadly the place had not been frequented by locals.

“This is just another example. There are still many places in town which are deserted by the people.”

Wong urged SMC to work with corporate bodies and social organisations to carry out activities at these places to make them lively and vibrant to attract more visitors.

Separately, he said, it was only right that the jurisdiction of SMC be redelineated to cover a larger area, one which would go beyond the airport area.

“It is time now that we redraw the boundary of SMC to also cover the airport area, which is currently under the Sibu Rural District Council, to befit its role of taking care of more rural areas.”

While congratulating SMC for its many successes over the years with the implementation of mammoth projects that made the town fully ready for the development of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, he also wanted the council to continue working even harder than before.

“We have done well. It is the end of the year now. We need to relook at what we have done. Don’t feel complacent and rest on your laurels. Instead, we must look forward and chart our path for the future to make Sibu a greater and better place to live in,” he underlined.

SMC, under its present chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King, celebrated its 30th anniversary last year.

Prior to that, it was known as Sibu Urban District Council.

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