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‘Minimum development’ planned in Sipadan

PULAU SIPADAN: Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said he wanted to see “minimum development” and restoration of a long beach front here.

“I want minimum cutting (of trees), if possible, no cutting and buildings pushed well behind the beach,” he said during an official visit to the island, Friday, to identify sites for the Federal-funded ‘Proposed Development of Quarters for the Army, Police, Park Rangers, Resting Facilities and Toilets’ for divers.

His entourage included the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datuk Monica Chia, top-notch Sabah Parks officers, CEOs of diving resorts and senior officers from the National Security Department in the Prime Minister’s Department.

“Overall, I don’t want structures along the beach,” said Chong, citing erosion and loss of aesthetic values they caused.

In terms of facilities for divers, Ir Mohd Zakir bin Kamunri, of Perunding Jasareka, said two separate “resting” places capable of accommodating 60 divers each are part of the proposed development.

Mohd Zakir assured Chong that 90 per cent of the materials used would be light while concrete will be used only in wet areas. He said the proposed development would be based on the “protect, preserve and maintain” concept.

While stressing simplicity and minimum disturbance to Sipadan’s ecosystem, Chong said it didn’t amount to sacrificing “decent” quality and “comfort” for all – divers and protectors alike. There will be no more accommodation facilities for tourists in Sipadan.

Instead, “resting” facilities will be built for them.

Chong said he wanted to see a “proper entrance” to “good, decent and spacious” resting facilities in the proposed development as these constitute the first experience of Sipadan island itself for divers from all over the world.

Chong also said he wanted to give “focus” to two essential components, namely the “security aspect” and environmental protection.

Learning from the April 2000 kidnapping incident, he said he would like to see the army and police installations to be as “inconspicuous” as possible yet “not very far” so they function effectively in denying “easy landing” from “undesirable elements” from outside.

As such, he said “our people” (army, police and park rangers) who are Sipadan’s protectors should also be provided “comfortable” though very simple accommodation facilities.

On the environmental imperative, Chong said he wanted focus be given to how to avoid pollutants and discharges by the use of a good sewerage and septic system.

“I would like to see minimum or no discharge at all.”

Chong said he hoped the “no operator” in Sipadan should prompt operators to “spread out” and “sell more than Sipadan”, citing the existence of “many beautiful islands” in Sabah yet to be opened up.

Chong paid tribute to the Sabah diving fraternity for being “very good” in terms of willingness to invest big sums of money, their approach to problems facing their business and their cooperative attitude towards the Government.

The entourage later visited the Kapalai Resort which, though built up over a large patch of shallow sea, the water remains pristine and spotless.


Full Information on the dive sites of Sipadan:
Scuba Diving in Sipadan

For more on Sipadan’s colourful history see here:
A Brief History of Pulau Sipadan

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