PAM Sabah backs call to preserve Prince Philip Park.

KOTA KINABALU: PAM Sabah Chapter supports many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are voicing their concern over the likely disappearance of the historical Prince Philip Park in the future.

Its chairman, Ar Victor Wong, who has just returned from Kuala Lumpur after the PAM Council meeting, urged the authorities to preserve the park rather than re-zoning for private development.

He was commenting on the Draft KK Local Plan 2020, in which Prince Philip Park has been re-zoned into HR, or Hotel and Resorts.

According to Wong, not many people realize that the park was named after his royal highness, Prince Philip who visited Jesselton, North Borneo then in the 1950s. Many traditional huts and atap huts were constructed for the occasion, with indigenous folks from all over North Borneo then, to welcome the prince in a big, big way.

“As a school boy, it was my first cultural shock to see the so many natives in their traditional costumes, not seen before!” he said.

“I used to walk along the beach from Tanjung Aru to the Petagas River in an hour or so during the weekends. The long stretch of sandy beach was nice and beautiful, and occasionally ponies with riders were seen galloping along the beach” he added.

“However, it was most regrettable and unfortunate that the fate of our beaches has suffered a double blow since then. The first was during the 1970s when the beach was divided into two stretches by the airport runway, to create sufficient length for the Boeing aircraft. Then in the 1980s, the construction of the Tanjung Aru Beach Hotel further divided the northern stretch into two. As a result it is no longer possible to walk along the whole stretch of the beach from north to south,” he added.

Wong further commented that Prince Philip Park has been bestowed with the best sunset scene in the whole of Malaysia, where one can see the setting sun sinking gracefully below the water in the horizon.

“This God-given phenomenon is priceless and unique to Prince Philip Park that we should appreciate and be proud of. Thousands of tourists, especially those from the heartland of China who have not seen the sea in their entire life, are often seen flocking to the Tanjung Aru beach, to watch the setting sun, to have their feet getting wet in shallow water, and simply to listen to the sounds of the waves.

“Should we allow private development to take over Prince Philip Park and deprive the majority of the public to witness the sensational happening in nature?” he asked.

Wong stressed that Prince Philip Park has already become an important contributing factor in the promotion of tourism in the State, and brings in foreign revenues and exchanges, making our economics more dynamic and vibrant. Rightly so, Kota Kinabalu should be accorded as a “Beach City”. This will be the envy of our neighboring state, Sarawak, where its capital Kuching is sited along the Kuching River, with no beach fronting the city.

“The entire length of our beach is only approximately 3km, and this is very short compared to the 14km of Miami Beach, Florida and 40km of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The double blow as stated earlier was already bad enough, and any further reduction in the length of our beaches will reflect poor city planning,” he said.

“We should not allow the Prince Philip Park to disappear under private development,” he emphasized strongly.

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