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.