Group claims terms of reference for Sabah beach resort approved without feedback

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 21 — A third draft of the Terms of Reference (ToR) for a proposed multi-billion ringgit beachfront development project has been approved without obtaining the necessary public feedback, claimed environmental group Tanjung Aru Action Group 2.0 (TAG 2.0)

According to the group a special panel committee comprising nongovernmental organisations and related government departments yesterday approved the ToR of the Tanjung Aru Eco Development, whose two earlier bids drew intense public criticism.

The approval means the project may now proceed to the Environmental Impact Assessment stage.

The first two were rejected by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) following submissions of comments from government agencies, NGOs, civil society and individuals.

“Members of the public have been left out of the loop to comment on this extremely high interest project that will impact a lot of users of Sabah’s iconic beach,” said spokesperson Harjinder Kaur Kler.

“This project is of high public interest so following due diligence in the process is important. We will be closely monitoring the Special Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) process as required under Sabah laws,” she said.

TAG 2.0 questioned the hasty approval and questioned the apparent rush in the state project, pointing out that previous drafts of the ToR were put up on the department’s website and time was given for public consultation.

“Now what is important is that the concerns brought up are addressed in the SEIA and ample time be given for the report to be viewed and feedback be allowed by the project proponents,” said Hajinder.

“We don’t want to lose our last natural beach in the city.”

The controversial RM7.1 billion project drew major public criticism when it was announced by the prime minister in 2013 over its opacity and potential environmental damage.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who is chairman of the project developer Tanjung Aru Eco Development Sdn Bhd, said the wholly state-owned project would attract investments of RM5 billion and raise Sabah’s eco tourism profile.

He also said the project will address years of erosion and pollution that has affected the beach, double the size of Prince Philip Park and create a new public promenade.

Covering 775 acres of the coastal Tanjung Aru bay, just outside Kota Kinabalu, it is expected to be replete with luxury condominiums and resorts, a marina, beach clubs, food and entertainment outlets and a golf course.

Source URL: The Malay Mail Online