Monday, November 15, 2010

Heritage Sabah Repeats Call to Stop Project at Clock Tower Site


KOTA KINABALU (14th Nov 2010): The Sabah State Government must scrap plans to build a 16-storey hotel cum shopping mall at Signal Hill, metres away from the 105-year old Atkinson Clock Tower.

Heritage Sabah, a group that is speaking up against the project, said it was still waiting for a decision to be made in response to the proposed development.

“The recent Batu Sapi by-election may have been the focus of the general public but it has not swayed our attention from this issue that threatens the future heritage of our city and consequently the state of Sabah”, said the group’s spokeperson Richard Nelson Sokial.

“We are awaiting the decision of the Central Town and Planning Board in response to this issue. A majority of Sabahans and Kota Kinabalu city folk are strongly opposed to the project.

“A better option is to preserve the pristine surroundings of the heritage site as a public park for the city,” Sokial said in a statement.

An online petition opposing the controversial project has garnered over 2,000 signatures since news broke about the development.

Sokial said a majority of petition signers argued that there is no need for yet another commercial shopping mall as there is an excess of empty shoplots in existing commercial areas in the city.

Some commented that the proposed commercial building threatens to block views of the historic clock tower and diminish its heritage value.

Heritage Sabah said though the controversial issue has made headlines, there has been little effort on the part of City Hall to clean-up and beautify the existing hillside.

“Our city’s Atkinson Clock Tower was voted 5th of 94 tower sites in Asia by Lonely Planet, the world’s best travel guide. It has been internationally recognized as a tourist attraction of our city.

“But it is extremely disappointing that since the issue was raised, neither City Hall nor the Central Board has offered to put up proper garbage bins for locals and visitors to the clock tower, which is Kota Kinabalu city’s most enduring landmark and a tourist attraction in the city.

“And yet, the reason given by some parties eager to develop this hillside is based on excuses that the place is dirty and ill-maintained,” he said.

He added that the Board has boasted it has at least RM50 million ringgit in its coffers and that it should out of goodwill buy some dustbins.

“As proud citizens of the city, we are confident that locals and visitors passing regularly through the site will gladly help to ensure the cleanliness of the place by disposing garbage properly if dustbins are made available on the hillside,” added Sokial. 

A surviving relic of WWII, the Atkinson Clock Tower built in 1905 has seen the rise of Sabah’s capital from a sleepy township called Jesselton into a modern city.

“Decentralization would be the best option for the Board and its developer partner. Propose a land swap and build the commercial shopping mall elsewhere outside the city limits in a non-heritage area. It will be in line with the Board’s actual role and responsibilities to develop new townships outside of Kota Kinabalu,” he said.


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