Archive for the ‘History of Sabah.’ Category

No time frame: Dr M

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government will work on returning equal rights to Sabah and Sarawak as soon as possible, but it cannot set a time frame for when this will take effect, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir, who had on Sunday night reiterated PH’s election manifesto promise to give the East Malaysian states recognition as per the Malaysia Agreement in 1963 (MA63), said it may take time to amend the Federal Constitution due to possible opposition in Parliament.

Anticipating a hard task in getting a two-thirds majority in the Parliament to pass amendments to the Federal Constitution for the changes that will be made in the MA63, he said: “Well, at the moment, we (Pakatan Harapan) do not have the two-thirds majority which we will need in order to change the Constitution. So we will have to figure out how we can achieve the two-thirds majority.

“We will find out whether we can go to the Parliament and get the two-thirds. When they (opposition MPs) talk they will say something, but when they are there (in the Parliament) they get the whip to tell them not to support and all that, which then we will have a problem,” he told reporters after having breakfast with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and other State Cabinet members, here, Monday.

Dr Mahathir said like recently when the PH Government wanted to repeal the Anti-Fake News Bill, “we thought they would support us but when we went to the Senate, we did not have the majority, so we lost.”

“In the meantime, we will study what are the things that have to be repealed and substituted with new provisions in the Constitution, with regards to the MA63.

“There will also be some loss which we will have to look at,” he said.

Asked whether it would involve health and education matters, Dr Mahathir said:

“Yes, I was told your schools are still made of wood which I think needs to be attended to. There are schools which still do not water supply or toilets, a lot of things need to be done here.”

On the time needed for the completion of the review on MA63, Dr Mahathir said it would depend on the people who are working on it and the push by Sabah and Sarawak.

“The discussion on the MA63 will be held as soon as possible, but it is the process to achieve an agreement that may take time.”

When asked on the equal partnership, Dr Mahathir said well, there are certain things which were decided in Kuala Lumpur by people who are not actually familiar with the conditions in Sabah and Sarawak which will have to be addressed.

“Either we will have more Sabahans and Sarawakians to work in the peninsula, in the Federal Government or else, we will need to have some of the decision-making transferred to Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said Sabah has the capability for rapid development having gone through much progress over the years.

He said he was impressed with Sabah’s landscape after arriving in the State capital on Sunday for the Malaysia Day celebration here Sunday night and believed the State had strong potentials to be a developed State.

“I have not been to Sabah for a long, long time…the town is now quite clean. What I think should be done (to develop Sabah further) is to identify assets of Sabah, which can be exploited. You have land, mountain, seas, beaches and low temperatures, which may be good for vegetable-growing,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also expressed concern for the high cost of living that the people in Sabah had to bear due to corruption in the previous administration, but did not deny that there were also other factors contributing to the high costs such as the implementation of the cabotage policy.

by Larry Ralon.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=127236

Don’t sideline Sabah in nation’s development: Syed Saddiq

Monday, September 17th, 2018
(File pix) “There must be greater focus in developing Sabah. When we invest in Sabah, Malaysia as a whole will benefit,” said Syed Saddiq. Pix by Malai Rosmah Tuah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah should be given greater focus in Malaysia’s development drive in order to propel the state to greater heights.

This is the stand of Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who said Sabah deserves the same attention as other states when it comes to development projects, especially ones which do not sideline youths.

“Development projects in the country need to be distributed fairly. Sabah, being a very large state, deserves attention.

“However, based on statistics, there are insufficient job opportunities in Sabah and the unemployment rate among young people is higher than the national average.

“There must be greater focus in developing Sabah. When we invest in Sabah, Malaysia as a whole will benefit,” he said.

Syed Saddiq was speaking to reporters after paying a courtesy call to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman paying a courtesy call to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal. Pix by Malai Rosmah Tuah

The Bersatu Youth Chief said he and the Sabah leader discussed youth development programmes and establishing strong ties between Bersatu and Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan), among other topics, during their meeting.

On infrastructure development in the state, he told reporters that problematic constructions will be reviewed, and there should be open tenders for projects.

By Avila Geraldine.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/412245/dont-sideline-sabah-nations-development-syed-saddiq

Big turnout at the first Malaysia Day celebration after the change of government

Monday, September 17th, 2018

More than 30,000 people from all walks of life have turned up for the national-level Malaysia Day celebration.

More than 30,000 people from all walks of life have turned up for the national-level Malaysia Day celebration at Padang Merdeka.

This is the first Malaysia Day celebration after the change of government at the federal and state levels.

People at the first Malaysia Day celebration after the change of government.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his spouse Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali  arrived at the venue at 8.08pm and the event officially kicked off with the arrival of The Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and his consort Toh Puan Norlidah R.M. Jasni.

Also present were Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal , federal and state ministers.

Performers welcoming the arrival of guests for the Malaysia Day celebration.

by Chok Sim Yee

Read more @ http://www.theborneopost.com/2018/09/16/big-turnout-at-the-first-malaysia-day-celebration-after-the-change-of-government/

‘Returning equal status’

Monday, September 17th, 2018
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at Malaysia Day celebrations in Kota Kinabalu yesterday. With him are Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin (third from right) and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (second from left). PIC BY EDMUND SAMUNTING

KOTA KINABALU: SABAH’S and Sarawak’s position in Malaysia as equal partners will be reinstated, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

He said the two states’ status would be reinstated once the review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) was completed.

Under the agreement, the Federation of Malaysia consists of the States of Malaya (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu), the Borneo states (Sabah and Sarawak) and Singapore. Singapore left the federation in 1965.

Dr Mahathir said returning Sabah’s and Sarawak’s rights, as enshrined in MA63, would give the country a strong foundation to bring the three regions closer.

“The need for development in Sabah and Sarawak must be given attention as there are still districts that are left behind and with less than satisfactory amenities.

“The study on MA63 will definitely create the need to reassess some (old) practices,” he said to thousands at the Malaysia Day celebrations here last night

He said the review must be done in the spirit of camaraderie and respect towards each other.

“Without such spirit, our unity as a nation will cease, and whatever we are enjoying now will be lost in future,” he said.

Present were Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, the committee chairman for the event.

Dr Mahathir said the Federal Government would never forget its responsibility towards Sabah and Sarawak, and would find a way to develop infrastructure based on the needs and wants of the people in both states.

At the same time, he was confident that there was a need for “reciprocity” between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak.

“Based on this spirit, leaders and people in Sabah and Sarawak must be aware there are states in the peninsula that are still lacking and in need of continuous assistance from the government.

“I am confident the people of Sabah and Sarawak feel at ease and accepted in the peninsula as their presence there has no restrictions or ‘encumbrances’.

“This, I believe, has brought the ties between people of Malaysia closer. It is this that has helped Malaysia to maintain as it is, despite differences of opinions between the leaders from the three territories.

“We had gone through so many things in the country we call Malaysia. Yes, the journey is not always smooth, and sometimes we slipped and lost our way.

“But what is important is to pick ourselves up and get back on the right track.”

He said the 14th General Election proved Malaysians’ ability to rise again after being diverted from the path formed years ago.

“We may have been diverted so far in the few years recently and the damage is big and difficult to repair, but we have no choice but to make efforts to restore things.

“Like it or not, we must correct them. If we quit and let it continue, our value as a free country will be lost.

“It means we had allowed those who betrayed our country to win. We cannot let this happen.”

By Kristy InusAvila Geraldine.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/412042/returning-equal-status

Key points from the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

Still unclear about what’s in the agreement? We’ve broken it down for you.

1. Unlike Malaysian laws, MA63 cannot be changed in the Malaysian Parliament This is because the MA63 is an international treaty, and not a piece of law legislated by the parliament. The only way the terms within MA63 can be amended is for all the signatory parties to sit down together as peers and amend it. In practice this would mean Sabah, Sarawak, the federal government and the United Kingdom would have to sit together and renegotiate the terms in order to change it.

2. Sabah and Sarawak are more than just states under Malaya Under the MA63, Sabah and Sarawak are equal partners in the formation of Malaysia and not individual peninsular states. This means Sabah and Sarawak have extra autonomy in the administration of land and immigration matters.

3. There should be no state religion Locals were concerned as to whether the role of Islam as the official religion of the Federation of Malaya would affect religious freedom if Sarawak became a part of Malaysia. It stated that that complete freedom of religion would be guaranteed in the Federal Constitution and that ‘Sarawak has at present no established religion and it would not be required to accept Islam as its State religion.’

4. Sabah and Sarawak have the right to use English in its state assembly and court proceedings Article 161(1) forbids any law restricting Sabah and Sarawak’s right to use English for official purposes until after 10 years from 16th September 1963. As of today the National Language Act 1963/1967 has not yet come into force in Sarawak. This means that it is still not mandatory for the state to use Bahasa Malaysia in government departments and state ministries.

5. Sarawak and Sabah have their own immigration law Sarawak and Sabah have the power to regulate immigration to their states. This is why Malaysians from the Peninsular require a permit if they want to work or study in Sarawak or Sabah, and those who are on a short visit to Sarawak and Sabah will have to fill an immigration form for a 90-day visit pass. This restriction is laid in Section 66 of the Immigration Act 1959/1963, and was included because of MA63.
Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/16/key-points-from-the-malaysia-agreement-1963-1-unlike-malaysian-laws-ma63-cannot-be-changed-in-the-ma/#cjf0o26OZTtf0mqS.99

The Malaysia Agreement disagreement

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

Today we celebrate our first Malaysia Day as a “new Malaysia”. But two of the three parties that helped create Malaysia might not have so much cause to celebrate.

FOR over 10 years, activist Zainnal Ajamain has been fighting a seemingly losing battle – to get his home state of Sabah the rights it was promised under the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 (MA63).

If MA63 had gone according to plan, Sabah and Sarawak wouldn’t even be states in Malaysia – they would be founding partners, with more autonomy than other Malaysian states.

They would also probably be way more wealthy and developed than they are now, because they were promised a higher share of their petroleum revenue.

But that’s not the case today.

Despite them currently producing 60% of Malaysia’s petroleum, worth an estimated RM38bil in 2017, they’re only getting 5% of the revenue each. The original deal? Sabah was to receive two-fifths (or 40%) of its own net revenue. Sarawak was promised annual grants that would increase from RM3.5mil to RM21mil over four years, and the amount would be reviewed “in later years”. It never was.

“I think we’ve been cheated for over 50 years,” says Zainnal. “We’ve been developing based on policies set by Kuala Lumpur, not by us.

“Based on those policies, Kuala Lumpur will allocate us our funding even though the money came from us in the first place, through our oil and gas, timber and our income tax.”

Today, Sabah is the second poorest state in the country after Kelantan. Both Sabah and Sarawak continue to suffer from under-development and a lack of accessible healthcare and education.

To understand just how this all came about, we have to go back to 1963.

How it all went down

In order to persuade the Borneo Territories of Sabah and Sarawak to join Malaysia, MA63 included provisions to ensure autonomy of civil services, freedom of religion, and their own immigration control, in addition to the promise of development.

As founding partners, they were assured that there would be a review in a decade, in order to ensure the partnership was going as planned.

But that meeting never took place. In fact, it has never taken place.

What did take place, however, was the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) being passed in 1974, giving Petronas sole and exclusive ownership over the country’s oil and gas, most of which comes from Sabah and Sarawak.

The oil-producing states would receive cash payments in return, amounting to the aforementioned 5%, and the rates would thereafter be decided by “relevant parties”.

However, the PDA also states that Petronas is subject to the control and direction of the Prime Minister, which means the Prime Minister is, in effect, the only person who can change the rates – and those rates have not changed since.

Two years later, the Federal Constitution was amended. Sabah and Sarawak, the original stakeholders of Malaysia, saw themselves “demoted” from founding partners to the 12th and 13th states of Malaysia.

“We formed Malaysia because we wanted to form Malaysia. But instead in 1976, the clever people in KL went and put Sabah and Sarawak in Malaya. That’s wrong,” says Zainnal.

Sabahan lawyer and former PKR supreme council member Ansari Abdullah thinks the Federal Government was not solely responsible for the “downgrade”.

“It was passed by Parliament,” he says.

“The Sabah MPs at the time should have objected. But the state government and our MPs kept quiet. Likewise, Sarawak. So you cannot blame anybody but our MPs and state government at that time.”

But that wasn’t the only limitation Kuala Lumpur would pose on Sabah and Sarawak’s autonomy.

In 2012, the Federal Government passed the Territorial Sea Act which limits Sabah and Sarawak’s jurisdiction over their waters to three nautical miles (5.5km) from the coastline, away from most of the oil and gas fields.

Sarawakian politician Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri says the change was not approved by the state government, and called on the new Pakatan Harapan Federal Government to review the act.

“We are not asking for more – we are only asking for what is ours,” says Nancy.

Reconciling with the past

In line with its 2018 general election manifesto, the Pakatan Harapan government announced their plans for a Special Cabinet Committee to review and propose measures to rectify the status of MA63.

But this plan, while laudable, isn’t anything new. There were multiple committees under the Barisan Nasional administration as well, including the 2015 National Steering Committee (of which Nancy was co-chairperson), but nothing changed.

“We’re immune to it (the promise of rectifying MA63),” says Lina Soo, president of the Sarawak Association for People’s Aspiration.

“But since the (previous) Federal Government hadn’t bothered to change anything for 55 years, we hope the Pakatan Harapan government will be better.”

Under the 2015 National Steering Committee, four Federal-level meetings were held and reports were submitted, including to then-Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, but the committee has been defunct ever since the change in government, according to Nancy.

While it might still be possible to rectify the status of MA63, fulfilling every single aspect of it might be impossible, according to Sarawakian James Chin, director of the Asia Institute in the University of Tasmania.

“If the financial arrangements weren’t followed since 1963, the Federal Government really can’t pay off the amount of money owed to Sabah and Sarawak,” says Chin, who has written in numerous academic journals about governance in Southeast Asia. “There’s no way they have that pot of money.”

A start, however, would be fulfilling the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, which promised to “increase petroleum royalty to Sabah and Sarawak to 20%”.

But in July, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the 20% would be on profit, not revenue, which sparked another round of debates on whether this would actually be an upgrade on the 5% of gross sales Sabah and Sarawak currently receive.

On top of that, the Special Cabinet Committee promised by the Pakatan government to review MA63 is still yet to be announced.

Parti Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking, who is also Minister of International Trade and Industry, isn’t giving up hope, despite having fought for Sabah’s oil royalty to be increased to 20% for years.

For change to happen, the PDA would have to be looked into and amended, he says.

Leiking had been trying to get answers from the former government about what the 5% figure meant in cash allocations to Sabah.

“I had been asking the government for seven years about why Sarawak got more money than Sabah, even though we’re both supposed to have 5%,” he says.

“I hope the committee will go into further details on how we can correct the revenue sharing and whether we have been treated fairly.”

Leiking has fought for years, but people in Peninsular Malaysia might not fully understand why. After all, not every state has oil royalties – why is it so important two states get all that money?

The problem is that many areas in Sabah and Sarawak still lack clean water, electricity, roads, healthcare and access to education.

According to the Report of the Director-General of Health Malaysia, basic healthcare and facilities are available to only 70% of the population in Sabah and Sarawak, compared to more than 95% in Peninsular Malaysia.

Similarly, literacy rates in Sabah and Sarawak are lagging behind at 79% and 72% respectively while the rest of Peninsular Malaysia had a 97.3% average in 2010.

While Malaysia has prospered off the backs of Sabahan and Sarawakian oil, much of their population have continued to live in poverty.

“Time has stood still for the past 55 years,” says Soo. “The oil revenue has not returned to Sarawak. Everything has gone to Petronas and the Federal Government to fund the massive development in Malaya, but in our rural areas, our schools are collapsing, our school children study by candlelight.”

Leiking entreated people across Malaysia to learn about the history of how the country was founded, saying there is a “disconnect” between east and west Malaysia.

“As long as the disconnect continues, the people of Sabah, the people of Sarawak will never be satisfied and there will always be growing resentment towards west Malaysians.”

Understanding our origins

According to Chin, our history textbooks in schools simply don’t educate Malaysians enough about how their country was founded.

The way it is taught in school does not reflect the complexity of the country’s formation, or the contributions made by Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, he says.

“The historical grievances can’t be undone,” he says.

“What you have to do is actually confront it and reflect on it so future generations will not make the same mistakes.”

Public education is the key to bringing balance back in the relationship between east and west Malaysia, he said.

“There’s really no understanding of the Malaysia Agreement. We really need the population of Malaysia to understand its own history and not allow it to be hijacked by vested interests.”

That’s what Zainnal has been trying to do for the past decade. To educate Malaysians about our history, beginning with East Malaysians themselves, through a set of modules he has developed over the past five years.

by chen yih wen and johenson goh
Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/16/the-malaysia-agreement-disagreement/#Fcm5xf7ApeeusCFP.99

50% of country’s poor are from Sabah – IDS chairman

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

Simon Sipaun

KOTA KINABALU: Although Sabah is rich in natural resources, 50 percent of the country’s poorest people are found in the state.

Institute of Development Studies (IDS) chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun finds this ironic and states that there were no reason why the people of Sabah should be poor since that state is endowed with natural resources such as oil, gas, timber and fertile soil.

He cited that Sabah has been shortchanged and questioned why Sabah’s gas was being transported 512 kilometers away for processing via gas pipeline costing billions of ringgit.

“Conventional economic and business wisdom tells me that raw materials should be processed as near as possible to their source,” he said at the Youth Unemployment seminar held at the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu yesterday.

He added that the endeavor could have created enormous job opportunities for local Sabahans, had a gas processing plant been located in Kimanis.

“It represented a lost opportunity for Sabah,” he said.

Sipaun also said oil was discovered in Sabah much earlier than Terengganu, yet Sabah does not have an oil refinery like Terengganu.

“Sabah only has petrol stations,” he chided.

He also said it was unfair that for every 100 barrels of oil produced by Sabah, only the value of five barrels goes back to Sabah.

“Is this fair to Sabah? I do not think so. It is high time Sabah is treated in a fair manner,” he stressed.

In his speech, Sipaun also mentioned that Sabah has the highest rate of unemployment in the country at 13.5 percent as compared to Melaka which only has 2.9 percent unemployment rate in 2017.

He stressed the need to address the unemployment in Sabah, stressing that unemployed youth meant wasted human capital.

“Many youths have left the state to work elsewhere – to Malaya, to New Zealand and to Australia.”

He said he hoped the new government would be able to change the situation for the better.

He also said the creation of job opportunities would require Sabah becoming attractive to investors, both locally and from outside.

“Our infrastructure must be adequate,” he said, stressing that the water and power disruptions must be addressed as well as skilled labour being made available.

He also stressed the need to have zero tolerance for corruption.

by Jenne Lajiun.

Read more @ http://www.theborneopost.com/2018/09/14/50-of-countrys-poor-are-from-sabah-ids-chairman/

World’s new tallest tree in Tawau Hills Park

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Tawau: The Tawau Hills Park, located some 24 kilometres from town here, is home to giant tropical trees and the world’s new tallest tropical tree at 96.9 metres.

The tree of Shorea faguetiana species from the Diptercarpaceae family, located about 9.5km from the Park’s main station, was discovered on May 28, this year.

According to studies, the reason why giant trees can grow to such extreme height at the Park is because of its rich, fertile volcanic soil and high volume of rainfall.

For many years, the world’s tallest tropical tree has been recognised in the Tawau Hills Park at a height of 88.32m (Shorea faguetiana family: Dipterocarpaceae), which is located 900 metres from the Park’s main station.

Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew launched the new discovery after visiting the Park on Friday, accompanied by Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais.

Sabah has always been known to harbour giant tropical trees in the world, with the two records in the Tawau Hill Parks, apart from similar species of slightly taller tree (89.5m) found at the Maliau Basin Conservation Area in 2016.

Also, in 2016, the then tallest tree in the world was found at the Danum Valley Conservation Area at 94.1 metres.

The Tawau Hills Park, with a total area of 27, 972 hectares, was gazetted in 1979.

The primary aims of its gazettement are to protect the water catchment for the people of Tawau and Semporna peninsula, to preserve the forests for wildlife sanctuary and to preserve areas of scenic beauty for amenity and recreational purposes.

There are three main peaks in the form of extinct volcanoes, which were last active about 27,000 years ago, namely Mt Magdalena (1,310m), Mt Lucia (1,201m) and Mt Maria (1,020m).

The Park, also popularly known as Table among locals here, recorded a total of 63,357 visitor arrivals in 2017, comprising 62,087 Malaysians and 1, 270 foreigners.

The number was lower compared to 2016, which recorded 67,693 visitors comprising 66,571 Malaysians and 1, 122 foreigners.

Meanwhile, the Park’s spokesperson said Sabah Parks commissioned a management plan study for the Tawau Hills Park in 2015, conducted by the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Sabah, where the management plan will be re-evaluated this year to implement some of the medium-term development plan.

Four development plans to be re-evaluated are:

- First: The enhancement and beautification of the entrance complex and the recreation area for creating an attractive boulevard tree-lined entry road.

- Second: Upgrading of the network of trails leading to the natural pool of hot water springs, upgrading the trail from Park’s main station to the Sulphur Hot Spring by introducing good buggy car and cycling tract and introducing attractive sign boards offering interpretation nature at the park.

- Third: Redevelopment of the recreation area as a Boutique Natural Hit Springs Resort and the facility be developed to a high standard with the appeal to both international and domestic markets.

by Lagatah Toyos.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=125818

The Green Gold of Borneo: an exciting environmental docufiction by Sabahan writer

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Emin Madi’s new release English book titled “The Green Gold of Borneo (GGoB)”, is not only an adventure-packed documentary fiction, but also provides an insight into Sabah’s phenomenal achievement  in forest conservation efforts.

The protagonist of the 145-page literary work is a strong-willed journalist obsessed to uncover the secrets of the unexplored saucer-like summit in the middle of the famous Maliau Basin Conservation Area (MBCA), also known as Sabah’s Lost World.

The fictional journalist did not heed a Murut shaman’s advice and later encountered unusual happenings and strange events in very unlikely situations.

“In many ways, although the plot is mostly fictionalised, GGoB is all about natural environment, particularly the fate of the last remaining undisturbed rain forest in Malaysia and Sabah in particular.

“I came to realise that natural wonders, and in this case the totally protected forest in Sabah, is a very interesting topic for book writing.

“I was very fortunate to have participated in many resource and wildlife surveys inside Sabah’s last remaining natural wonders and I thought I should write something more interesting, such as documentary-adventure-fiction.

“It took me the whole year of 2016 to complete the manuscript for GGoB , after which my former colleague, Zahir Ahmad, edited the first copy before sending it to the UK-based Austin Macauley Publishers,” the veteran journalist told Bernama.

The Bernama freelance reporter’s first foray into environmental reporting was in 1980’s when he participated in a scientific expedition in the now world renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area in Lahad Datu, Sabah, involving local and foreign researchers, including the Royal Society, UK.

In 2013, Emin, 69, who hails from Kampung Bayangan, Keningau, Sabah,  spent 10 days in the deep jungle of MBCA with local researchers who were carrying out resource and wildlife survey.

“It was at Maliau Basin that I felt a deep urge to write an environmental-based documentary fiction, especially after some expedition participants related to me many mysterious events that took place around the area.

“So I got an idea to start writing GGoB using MBCA as a central theme and also based on my own experiences working alongside scientists and researchers.

“From my own observation, the findings from the field work are very important as it could be used to communicate using facts and information about the stature of Sabah’s protected forest.

“On top of that, I was also very motivated by the tremendous and commendable efforts undertaken by the Sabah Forestry Department with the strong support of the previous state government to protect the state’s natural heritage.

“Moving forward, I hope the current government will have strong commitment to protect our pristine and undisturbed forest as well as to continue and encourage more research activities and international research collaboration,” he said.

As at November 2016, Sabah’s Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) was 1,874,061 hectares or 25.46 percent of the state total land area.

In 1997, the Sabah State Assembly elevated the Maliau Basin Conservation Area into Class 1 Protection Forest Reserve and increased its size from 39,000 to 58,000  hectares to include the outer northern and eastern escarpments and Lake Linumunsut, the largest lake in Sabah.

According to record, Maliau Basin was spotted in 1947, when a British pilot flying from the West Coast of Sabah to Tawau in the east coast, nearly crashed into the steep cliffs rising over 915 meters above the jungle floor.

BERNAMA.

Read more @ http://www.theborneopost.com/2018/07/13/the-green-gold-of-borneo-an-exciting-environmental-docufiction-by-sabahan-writer/

Tawau as next tourist destination

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Tawau: The Tawau Tourism Packages, which offers more than 30 tour packages involving 23 travel agents, was launched Friday with the hope of turning the district into a popular tourist destination.

Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew, who officiated at the launch, hoped the initiative taken by the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) would bring development for Tawau and boost its tourism industry.

“The time has come for Tawau to be active in the field even though it’s quite late,” she said.

She said tourism is the only industry that employs 90 per cent of locals and that is what the ministry wants to promote so that it could offer job opportunities for locals.

“You can’t find any industry apart from tourism with so many local workers.

In the plantation and construction industries, we have many foreign workers but in tourism we have locals,” she said, adding that she felt sad Sabahans needed to go outside of the State to work in factories.

Christina said the launching of the Tourism Packages in the “Visit Tawau 2018/2019″ was in line with the target to promote domestic tourism among Malaysians that includes Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah before going to push Tawau for international tourism next year, especially among Chinese and European tourists.

She said she is confident of Tawau meeting the international tourism target but is a little worried if it is ready to accommodate the needs of foreign tourists such as hotel rooms and tour guides.

“I know Tawau has what it takes. It has its own unique attractions that other places do not have.

Like this morning when I visited the Tawau Hills Park, I was honestly impressed… I didn’t even know that we have such a beautiful natural beauty,” she said.

She added that the existence of the tallest tropical tree in the world (96.9 metres) at Tawau Hill Park will be also part of the tourism packages that will boost international tourism here.

Earlier in her speech, the Tawau MP said one of the most effective ways to attract visitors to Tawau is for the locals to invest more in tourism infrastructure.

“They should spruce up the existing facilities and beatify the town such as by applying a fresh coat of paint on those that have faded and plant more trees and flowers to add colour and vibrancy to the town,” she said.

She also assured that the State Government would provide the necessary support to make Tawau a tourism hotspot in Borneo.

Matta President Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the Tawau tour packages span a wide area, from Maliau Basin at the north-west of Tawau to Semporna on the east, which include wide ranging products offered by many tour and transport operators, accommodation providers, restaurants, attractions, cottage industries and shops.

He said the packages, which cater for China, Europe and domestic tourists, are available through travel agents’ distribution channels and e-marketing.

by Lagatah Toyos.

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