Sunday, December 25, 2011

Heritage Sabah Submission to the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020

Submission by Heritage Sabah to the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020
13 December 2011


• This submission is made by the Heritage Sabah Community Group in response to the contents of the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020.


Who is making this submission?

• Heritage Sabah is a community group dedicated to advocating the architectural conservation of historical sites and buildings in Sabah. The organisation aims to educate and bring awareness to Sabahan of all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds about the importance of preserving built heritage in defining and consolidating the identity of Sabah.


The Heritage Sabah Community Group welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020 as part of its public consultation process. We fully support and commend Kota Kinabalu City Hall’s initiative to provide a platform for the general public to be more vocal of their needs and concerns about the future of Kota Kinabalu City development.

As a heritage organisation, we enthusiastically support the introduction of policies which relate to the protection of heritage, particularly Policy UD1, TOUR 1.1 and TOUR 2 of the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan (KKLP) 2020. The adoption of such policies is an important and positive step towards elevating the profile of heritage preservation as an urban theme that should not be neglected.

However, we feel that the subject of built heritage preservation is not adequately addressed in the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020 and that the actions and strategies proposed to carry the above policies through leave much to be desired.

We raise the following matters for Kota Kinabalu City Hall’s (KKCH) consideration:

1 Lack of consolidated policies for Heritage Preservation

It is set out in the Kota Kinabalu Structure Plan 2030 for Kota Kinabalu to be “a city which is built on its cultural and historical assets whether they are natural or manmade. A city which uses every occasion to make that connection between its peoples, natural and historical assets and where its cultural and historical heritage is expressed through its buildings, landscaping, signage and in the way it celebrates events.”

Given this vision, it is clear that there should be significant priority given to conserving and restoring both natural AND manmade heritage. However, the way in which this broad vision is addressed through supporting policies at the local level does not seem to reflect such a priority. We feel that although heritage preservation policies have been addressed among the Urban Design, Tourism, and Open Space and Recreation sections, there is lack of direction and an overall consolidation for the different aspects within the broad theme of heritage.

2 Heritage Preservation - Where to from here?

Moving forward from the overall broad objective of heritage preservation in the Kota Kinabalu Structure Plan 2030, we feel that there is a need for KKCH to inform the next steps to effectively enforce the stipulated policies within the Draft KKLP 2020. A detailed set of guidelines will avoid potential difficulties in achieving the full realisation of policy objectives.

3 Heritage Precincts

In reference to policy UDS1 and TOUR1.1, we strongly believe that the area covering Atkinson Clock tower, Padang Merdeka, Australia Place and the Sabah Tourism Board Building has great potential to become a heritage precinct for KK city, designed with a heritage walk that reflects the historical development of the city from Settlement to Present. We believe that a master plan should be put in place for the restoration and beautification of this precinct as well as all other sites of cultural and historical significance. This will create awareness and educate present and future generations of the essence of Kota Kinabalu City’s identity as well as return vibrant activity to the area.

It is important to add that Heritage Sabah does understand the fact that there may not be many heritage sites to be protected or restored within the Kota Kinabalu district to require a scope of work of such scale. However, we feel that such circumstances substantially justify that there should not be any excuse that potential heritage sites and precincts cannot be identified or at least more significantly indicated/highlighted in the Draft KKLP 2020. This will ensure a more beneficial and desirable outcome towards functional and sensitive designs for heritage sites.

4 Enforcement Measures

For any proposed (re)development of historically significant precincts and sites, we strongly believe that a heritage assessment and consultation should be a mandatory procedure when preparing Development Proposal Reports (See Part VIII: Development of Land, Memorandum, Draft KKLP 2020). However, in the proposed Draft KKLP 2020 Memorandum, there seems to be no specific mention for such procedures.

5 Other Aspects of Heritage Preservation to be considered

Apart from the preservation of historically significant built structures as heritage, we would also like to add that the preservation of Natural Heritage and Social/Cultural Heritage (as stated in i & ii below) are also vital to the preservation of the overall historical, ecological, and cultural significance of Kota Kinabalu.

i. Natural Heritage: Existing Mangrove or Swamps and Lagoons to be preserved and its ecological value enhanced. To conserve the existing flora and fauna apparent on-site.

ii. Cultural Heritage: Historical Settlement Patterns such as the water villages to be thoughtfully considered and integrated into the design of any redevelopment schemes proposed for places of such settlements (e.g. existing water villages). Redevelopment schemes consistent to the setting, character and context of the site will “respect and contribute positively to the character of natural landscapes” (Part E-2, Draft K.K.L.P. 2020). For example, a potential redevelopment effort of the Sembulan Water Village that takes into account the former character of settlement across water informs a distinctive design where the natural features of the site are integral to the redevelopment and gentrification of its place.

Although these areas of interests are not a primary focus of the Heritage Sabah Community Group advocacy activities, we nevertheless recognize the importance of these areas in relation to their important contribution towards the betterment of Kota Kinabalu city.

Heritage Sabah will be happy to work with KKCH and provide input in the development of any detailed guidelines or recommendations highlighted in this submission. We hope this is a good start for further discussions with the local authority to refine ideas and provisions in the Draft KKLP 2020.






A city which is built on its cultural and historical assets whether they are natural or man-made. A city which uses every occasion to make that connection between its peoples, natural and historical assets and where its cultural and historical heritage is expressed through its buildings, landscaping, signage and in the way it celebrates events.


8.3 TOURISM- Policies and strategies

Identify and fund the restoration of buildings and property that have historical heritage value to Kota Kinabalu City


Map 10.1

“The city’s many natural and man-made attractions will also be promoted”
“KKCH will aim to conserve and restore the few buildings and areas that survived the Allied bombings of the city at the end of the Second World War.”



The key areas which are strategic to Urban Design in KK City are:
-Landmark buildings


POLICY UD1- KKCH to identify key structural assets of the city and articulate the ‘vision’ for their preservation and enhancement.

Actions & strategies:

UD1.1 KKCH will work in consultation with Muzium Department, PAM Sabah Chapter and relevant NGO’s to identify buildings, structures and places to be conserved.


KKCH will:

-Fund the restoration of buildings and properties having historical heritage value


POLICY TOUR1.1-KKCH shall concentrate efforts on:

-Identifying one or more heritage trails in Kota Kinabalu CBD
-Creating an urban trail such as a cultural/historic route

-‘Interpreting’ places where visitors stop and congregate such as parks, streets, civic places, significant heritage sites, rest stops, roadhouses, key vistas and lookouts.


POLICY TOUR2 – Identify and fund the restoration of buildings and property that have historical heritage value to Kota Kinabalu City

Actions & strategies:

TOUR2.1 KKCH shall:

· Identify, retain and preserve materials and features of significant buildings.

· Consider funding the replacement of extensively deteriorated features of significant buildings that are valuable

· Re-create missing features on significant buildings where practical

· Energy efficiency/ accessibility considerations/ health and safety code considerations


“Conservation” means an area set apart for the purpose of the conservation or preservation of natural and/or cultural values.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Heritage Sabah group meet DBKK, submit objection form for local planning

PRESS RELEASE: 24-12-2011

Kota Kinabalu (24 December 2011) – Representatives of Heritage Sabah, a group of concerned public citizens who are opposing an unpopular commercial project next to the historical Atkinson Clock Tower have submitted their objections of the DBKK Local Draft Plan 2020 during the Public Consultation period that supposed to ends on 26th December 2011 but was extended to 26th January 2012

The group also attended DBKK Meet the Client Session on 21st December 2011 and was represented by activist Jefferi Chang. Among the questions asked by Heritage Sabah via Chang to the KK Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir was whether DBKK would outright reject the 16-storey project next to the city’s oldest historical monument.

KK City Mayor replied that “He would write to seek further details from state town planning as to what the status is concerning the 16 storey project.

However, his reply was received with mixed reviews by the group.

“By seeking further details from the state town planning authorities it shows that DBKK is relying on the State Town and Regional Planning Department for advice when in fact they have their own Town Planning Department and a City Planning Committee that approved the plan”, commented local heritage advocate Richard Nelson Sokial, spokesperson for the group.

“From what we understand, the only body other than City Hall itself that can be asked for advice should be the Central Town and County Planning Board”.

He added that “Heritage Sabah has taken note that our new city Mayor has inherited important issues that need to be decided for the good of KK city and its citizens. We hope he will make the right decision for the Atkinson Clock Tower and not be pressured to be a rubber stamp for people in high places”.

“If you want the people of Sabah to love Kota Kinabalu, please protect our city history”.

The group also questioned the wisdom of the zoning of the Atkinson Clock Tower and its surrounding area – Town Padang, Australia Place, KK Community Hall and Gaya Street under ‘Commercial Zone’ and during the recent Sabah State Planning Standards Workshop held on last week, Heritage Sabah reps suggested for special controls to be implemented for all known historical sites and buildings so that their integrity and intrinsic value would not be compromised by uncontrolled commercial developments.

“It would be wiser to consider rezoning this stretch of area as a “historical preservation district”. Having a Historical Preservation District would add more variety and interest to our city, which will be 113 years old in 2012”, Sokial said.

“There needs to be a conscious effort made by the local authorities to preserve Kota Kinabalu’s city history. A city that neglects its historical sites and buildings loses a lot of its attractions”, he said regarding Sabah’s state capital that was established as Jesselton township in 1899.


Thursday, December 15, 2011



KOTA KINABALU, Thursday, 15th December 2011- Members of Heritage Sabah welcomed the Director Sabah Town and Regional Planning Department Encik Mursidi Sapie’s statement that the Central Board had rejected the project near Atkinson Clock Tower. However, the group is just as concerned now as it has always been regarding plans for future development on lands adjoining and near the Atkinson Clock Tower and Padang Merdeka.

They referred in particular to Mursidi’s comment that the developers can appeal upon fulfilling the requirements of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report as well as museum and tourism authorities’ conditions. They wondered who would be considering the appeal and whether or not the same people, departments and agencies involved in the approval of the development in the first place would once again be involved in considering the appeal.

Mr. Chang Chiew Kok @ Jefferi Johan, a representative of Heritage Sabah thanked the Planning Department’s Director Mursidi Hj. Sapie for recognizing the group as key stakeholders and inviting them to the Sabah Planning Standards Workshop held on the 13th and 14th of December at Palace Hotel.

The group felt they were given an opportunity to make several important recommendations among which were that the protection of heritage sites needed to be written into policy, clearly identified on plans, and further supported by proper controls and processes. The same controls should also apply to adjoining buildings and sites to ensure that the objectives for heritage preservation are not compromised.

The group is now waiting anxiously to see if and how their recommendations will be handled by the Town and Regional Planning Department, Central Board and local authorities in Sabah. They are looking forward to the new guidelines that the Sabah Town & Regional Planning Department promised to draw up and hope proper public and key stakeholder consultation on these guidelines will be followed by these heritage sites and their immediate surrounding areas being gazetted in reference to their historical context.

On a related matter, Chang also informed that the Heritage Sabah group is also currently studying the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020 and will object to the plan if it thinks that heritage sites in Kota Kinabalu will not be properly protected.