KOTA KINABALU July 23, 2012: Senator Datuk Paul Kong has called for the setting up of a special task force looking into the relocation of those living in water villages in the city and its surrounding areas.
According to Kong, the relocation of these residents must be done within 10 years so that a massive and concerted clean-up effort can be carried out in the state capital.
Kong was debating the Environmental Quality (Amendment) Bill 2012 which was presented by Tan Sri Joseph Kurup in the Dewan Negara last week.
Kong was of the opinion that the problems and damage to the sea and environment in the state capital were caused by the inhabitants of water villages which have mushroomed in Pulau Gaya, Sembulan, Tanjung Aru, Likas, Putatan and Kinarut over the past 40 years or so.
“They have turned our sea within the ‘nature city’ Kota Kinabalu into rubbish dump, toilets and bathrooms. These water villagers are also an eyesore to people visiting the state.
“For those reasons, I have proposed in my debate that a special task force be urgently formed to relocate those inhabitants in all those water villages to an inland location within a 10-year time frame.
“Thereafter a massive and concerted effort and programme to clean up the sea and shores within the Kota Kinabalu vicinity should be carried out in order to redeem the status of Kota Kinabalu as a ‘nature city’ as it has been claimed to be,” he said.
If kept unchecked, the authorities could find the problem arising from the water villages spreading like cancer and the city will be nothing more than a rubbish dump, he lamented.
The Sabah MCA Liaison deputy chairman also suggested the government should ensure that Kota Kinabalu has a permanent shoreline.
“Upon the setting of a permanent shoreline, no more further reclamation of the sea within Kota Kinabalu city will be allowed. As of now, as much as half of Kota Kinabalu is already built on reclaimed land which had already greatly affected and damaged the marine life and eco-system surrounding it,” he stressed.
“The third suggestion I made was on the several approvals which have been granted by the state government to reclaim several thousand acres of ‘land in the sea’, from Likas to Kinarut. I suggested that the state government review all these approvals with a view to cancel them, or if cannot be cancelled, stringent terms and conditions should be imposed when the owners decide to go ahead with their reclamation works.
“I am sure all these reclamation works, if allowed to proceed, will further harm our marine life and the sea’s eco-system within the vicinity of Kota Kinabalu,” Kong stressed.
Kong who also debated the Minimum Retirement Age Bill 2012 which was presented to the Dewan Negara by Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr Subramaniam said he agreed that employees be allowed to work until they are 60.
“I agreed with the this Bill which will allow our people to work until age 60 while giving them the option to retire earlier based on the terms and conditions stipulated in their employment contract or agreement.
“To extend the retirement age to 60, we will be able to retain our healthy and still-active ‘senior’ workers to help Malaysia attains the high-income nation status by 2020. I also suggest that since human beings are just like machines, our people are not allowed to work ‘over-time’ for more than three hours in a day. This will give people more time to relax, do more things on their own and spend more time with their families,” he said.
by Nancy Lai