Malaysia: Floating rubbish putting off visitors at Marine Park

New Straits Times 26 Jan 13;

KOTA KINABALU: An Australian family was not happy when they were greeted by floating rubbish while on their way to Manukan Island, near here, last week.

The family was on holiday and one of the items in their travel itinerary was to visit the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP).

They, along with other visitors, had boarded a boat at the Jesselton Point jetty and the first few minutes of the ride was already an eyesore.

Andy Bennedict, 27, shared their sentiment and as a local and a friend who guided the family, he felt embarrassed.

"They asked where the rubbish came from and whether the government was doing anything about it. They were not happy because cleanliness is very much emphasised in Australia.

"A great journey should start with a clean view.

"The jetty is the starting point for tourists to go to TARP, so if the surrounding is already dirty from the beginning, tourists will not be excited," he said yesterday.

He said there were a lot of debris at the jetty and many were floating on the water surface close to the mainland while the cleanliness level at the TARP islands was satisfactory.

Recently, state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said rubbish pollution had reached an alarming level in Sabah and there were cases where tourists did not want to come here.

He said the sight of wastes at tourist spots could drive potential tourists away, adding that locals should play their role and participate in cleaning activity to maintain a clean environment.

Last year, City Hall had stepped up efforts to make Kota Kinabalu a clean city. These included the introduction of proper waste management programme to the people living on the islands and coastal areas within the city's jurisdiction.

Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir said City Hall had been carrying out various intensive cleanliness programmes on the mainland as well as nearby villages on Gaya Island.

He also gave an assurance that enforcement efforts would be intensified to curb the indiscriminate dumping of rubbish like plastic bags into the sea.

Dive operators in the state have also contributed to underwater conservation by implementing Project Aware.

The move by scuba divers have helped to keep the ocean clean from debris and it has been conducted here, on Mantanani Island, Mabul Island and in Semporna.

University Malaysia Sabah students had also taken the initiative to clean up beaches.

They spent three hours picking up rubbish along the bay in Likas here, last month.

More than 30 volunteers, comprising locals and foreigners, had joined in the effort to create a clean city environment.

In April, Astro would be attempting a Guiness World Record for the longest underwater clean-up project at 14 dive sites at TARP.

The Astro Kasih Beautiful Malaysia project hopes to create an awareness of marine conservation and, at the same time, engage with local community.

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