Diving activities allowed to resume in Sabah, says Masidi

KOTA KINABALU: Diving activities have been allowed to resume in Sabah by the Sabah government but with certain conditions imposed, says Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Calling it good news for the diving industry here, the state Local Government and Housing Minister said the proposal had been agreed on during the National Security Council (MKN) special session.

“The justification is because scuba diving is categorised as a sports and recreation activity that does not require physical touch.

“The diving activities are allowed with the condition that the boat ferrying the divers to the diving sites uses not more than 30% of the vessel's carrying capacity to ensure physical distancing.

“Specific standard procedures (SOPs) for diving activities will be released by the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, ” he said when giving the daily Covid-19 updates for Sabah on Monday (Nov 30).

At present, the conditional MCO is in force state-wide until Dec 6. However, most businesses are allowed to open with certain health and safety protocols enforced.

On a question whether divers can travel across districts for this purpose, Masidi said it was not possible as the travel ban is still being enforced.

“So while we do allow diving even in red zones within the parameters of the respective district, divers are not allowed to travel to another district, ” he explained.

In another development, when asked if it was advisable for the Bugaya by-election to be held amid the pandemic as it was set for January, Masidi reiterated that the constitution required the state seat to be filled following the death of its representative, the late Manis Muka Mohd Darah.

However, he stressed that their top priority remains managing the pandemic in Sabah and hoped the by-election could be delayed, taking a cue from the handling of the Batu Sapi seat.

“If we take Batu Sapi as an example, there is a way to avoid by-elections now.

“We hope the Election Commission (EC) will look into this as an option that can be considered, but we are aware the power to announce a State of Emergency is with the Agong, following advice from the government.

“Politics can wait. We tackle the pandemic first, ” said Masidi.

Meanwhile, commenting on the increase in clinical waste following the high number of cases in Sabah, Masidi said this is being monitored by the state government via the Environmental Department.

He was responding to concerns raised about medical waste piling up outside a clinical waste disposal company’s compound in Lok Kawi, awaiting disposal.

Masidi said monitoring has been done since March this year when the virus spread, where one company (Sedafiat Sdn Bhd), has been licensed to treat and dispose the clinical waste.

“The company collects about six to 13 metric tonnes of clinical waste per day from the 45 quarantine centres in Sabah.

“As a step to expedite the disposal of the waste, the Environmental Department has permitted the company to have the clinical waste disposed of in Peninsular Malaysia, ” said Masidi, where the Health Ministry was to assist in expediting the logistics of the containers carrying the clinical waste at points of ports.

The government has also ordered the company to expedite building an incinerator for disposal purposes in Sabah, he added.

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