Malaysia: Environmentalists seek legal help to fight Tanjung Aru project

STEPHANIE LEE The Star 12 Dec 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Environ­mentalists in Sabah are calling on lawyers to fight for the cancellation or relocation of the multi-billion-ringgit Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project, which is set to commence in March next year.

Activist SM Muthu said the project was pushed through without taking public concerns into account.

“We are still in shock as to why the government needs to turn Tanjung Aru into a high-end area while there are still many locations in Sabah for that purpose,” he said.

He urged lawyers familiar with environmental and other related issues to come forward to fight for the cause and help Sabahans to voice out their concerns.

The redevelopment project includes a large public park, a 133ha golf course designed by Australian professional golfer Greg Norman, seven hotels with 1,800 rooms, and about 5,000 apartment and condominium units.

Meanwhile, other environmentalists felt that Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) was not sincere in listening to public concerns and views.

Online environmental petitioners Save Open Space Kota Kinabalu claimed the consultation and public forums were carried out in an unprofessional manner.

Its representative Annabelle Funk said in a statement that the consultation process showed conflict of interest, which was unprofessional and unethical.

The fact that members of TAED’s board of directors were also among the members of the project’s approval authority was unacceptable, she said.

“For the sake of public interest, such conflicts cannot be accepted because the commercial project sits on an open space in a gazetted foreshore reserve,” said Funk.

She was also doubtful of Kota Kinabalu mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai’s recent statement that the government had taken public interest into consideration.

She claimed that past consultation and meetings with DBKK showed that many of the issues and worries were ignored and whitewashed.

She noted that the city hall should have published all information on its official website and social media accounts for the convenience of those who were not able to visit the exhibition.

She warned that the public would suffer and “pay billions for additional cost” should the project fail to deliver its promises.

To date, the “Stop the Tanjung Aru Eco Development Sdn Bhd (TAED) Project” online petition has gathered over 2,500 signatures.