KOTA KINABALU: A non-governmental organisation has urged the Sabah government to engage in open and direct discussions with civil society, especially in the redevelopment of the Tanjung Aru beach.
Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) chief executive Cynthia Ong said it fully supported a review of the project, but added that it should include greater involvement of civil society.
NGOs said that such discussions were necessary especially after the state government disclosed plans to re-study the Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED) project pushed by the previous Barisan Nasional administration.
Ong, whose NGO was among several civil society groups campaigning against the redevelopment of Tanjung Aru, said input from civil society was necessary as based on existing TAED plans, it would "physically and culturally transform Sabah's iconic Tanjung Aru beach and limit public access."
"We welcome the full study and would like to be at the discussion table and once again share the outcomes of public forums that were organised in the past.
"We are also prepared to support the process by convening more public forums to hear from a wider segment of stakeholders," she said in a statement Saturday (Jan 19).
Last week, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew's said the state government was not doing a U-turn on its electoral promise to scrap the TAED project but they were still studying and reviewing the project.
The Parti Warisan Sabah-led coalition government had campaigned to scrap the TAED project during the May 9 general election.
However, to-date, it has yet to make any decision on the future of the project.
Liew was reported as saying that the state government was now studying whether it could proceed with amendments that would work best for the people, the government and the community in the area.
Ong said any redevelopment project at the beach must be carried out in a sensitive and thoughtful manner, and that a revitalisation programme must take into account the people's involvement.
She said that Tanjung Aru was a cultural site that has been part of Sabahan identity for generations and the move to push ahead with TAED development plan would more or less surrender it to outside forces.
She added that the TAED plan would also undermine an already fragile coastal ecosystem.
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