KUCHING: The state government is identifying more areas here which could be developed into recreational parks with natural forest settings.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said that as the Sama Jaya Forest Park in Tabuan Jaya had become a popular recreational centre for city folks, he was exploring other areas to be developed and equipped with similar recreational activities.
“Kuching people now like to walk in the jungle,” he said at the opening ceremony of the “Living Garden Cities” national conference at the Crowne Plaza Riverside Hotel yesterday.
Several international and local experts are presenting papers at the two-day event jointly organised by the Malaysian Institute of Planners, Sarawak and Sabah Chapter, the Sarawak Planning and Resource Management Ministry,Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry and Sarawak Development Institute.
The 39.7ha Sama Jaya Forest Park was created out of the Stutong Forest Reserve and is one of the very few primary forests in the city.
Facilities at the park include forest jogging tracks, a reflexology footpath, a forest biology museum, a timber products museum, a bamboo museum and other recreational facilities.
Taib said the state government had declared more areas for national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and green lungs.
He said it wanted to ensure that in any new development in Kuching, ample space would be provided for greenery and recreational facilities.
He said parks and recreational areas would be the best places for people to meet and interact in a comfortable way.
“Kuching has to be a clean, safe and cultural city that makes living conducive. We need to emphasise inter-cultural interaction among the people,” he added.
Taib said that as more rural people were migrating to cities and towns, they needed to cultivate social discipline.
He also said that as it would be expensive to upgrade the land public transport system, the city had to develop its river transport network.
He suggested the introduction of river buses to ferry people between the north and south areas.
Rural migrants dependent on river transport could cope better with such public services, he said.
On the development of the state’s major towns including Kuching, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu, Taib said they should have their own character which reflects their people's identity.
Earlier in his speech, Malaysian Institute of Planners, Sarawak and Sabah Chapter chairman Ar Odita said Kuching could easily pride itself as a true example of a city in the garden.
“Kuching is endowed with near-perfect physical conditions and sufficient infrastructure,” he said.