MP hopes Sabah govt serious about developing Tawau as border town


KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Christina Liew welcomes the Sabah government's plans to step up the development of Tawau as a border town to reap the benefits of Indonesia's imminent relocation of its capital to East Kalimantan.

The Tawau MP and former deputy chief minister said, however, that she hoped the statement by state Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun would not be mere lip service.

"Now is the time to implement the plans. If not now, when? In this respect, we hope the government means business," she said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 16).

Masidi had said on Friday (Aug 12) that developing Tawau as a border town was seen as preferable than building a new "border town" to leverage on the establishment of Nusantara, Indonesia's planned new capital.

She said the previous Barisan Nasional government had talked about addressing Tawau's water woes in the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015).

"And today in the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025) (12MP), we are still discussing the issue because there has not been much headway.

"We understand that the Tawau Dam that was launched in 2017 is scheduled for completion only in 2024.

"Similarly, the upgrading of Hospital Tawau announced in the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) is still ongoing in 12MP," she said.

Liew said road connectivity and air links in Sabah must also be improved for the state to tap the huge economic potential of current development in the context of BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia & the Philippines-East Asean Growth Area).

She also agreed with Masidi that it was imperative for the proposed Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex to be built in Serudong in Kalabakan district.

This would serve as an entry point to Simanggaris, Kalimantan in Indonesia for cross-border inspections.

Liew also stressed the need to expand Tawau Airport and upgrade it to international airport standard.

In March 2019, she led a delegation to the Transport Ministry in Putrajaya to discuss the expansion, considering that Tawau then topped the list of six airports in the country that had been earmarked for expansion and development.

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