----- Kota Kinabalu 17/10/2012: Several more State leaders on Tuesday voiced their support for the proposed coastal highway from Tuaran to Kudat, saying it would open up development and economic opportunities that could bring massive employment and wealth to the people.
Sabah Umno Deputy Chief Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said the highway, once completed, would make travelling to the various towns between Tuaran and Kudat a very pleasant journey.
"The coastal highway was mooted some time ago and we are thankful that the Prime Minister has acknowledged the need for such road communication in Sabah.
"Just like elsewhere, when new roads cut through the interior, business opportunities transformed the region and the people living close-by enjoyed the economic spin-offs.
"This would also happen along this region once this project becomes a reality," he said.
Salleh, who is also Sabah Legislative Assembly Speaker, said the highway was not a mere election pledge "as so far Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had made good every promise he made to Sabah".
"If he says this or he makes a pledge, then surely he will follow through.
Such a massive project would need a longer preparatory time as experts must be consulted and surveys done to find the most suitable route," he said.
Najib, on an official visit to Kudat on Sunday, said he was in favour of building the coastal highway and that the Federal Government would seriously look into its construction.
Touching on the economic opportunities that would follow the peace plan between the Philippines Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Salleh said Kudat would stand to gain with peace and stability in the region.
Apart from the highway and other projects promised by the Prime Minister, Kudat would also get a Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex that would help facilitate Kudat as a premier northern port in time to come.
The proposed highway would link Tuaran to Kudat via the towns of Kota Belud, as well as the coastal area of Matunggung.
"Most of the areas here are either fishing villages, farms or plantations while the highway could bring industries to the region," said Salleh.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, Datuk Bolkiah Ismail, said the coastal road would be a boon to tourism in the State's northern part.
"Resorts, golf courses and homestay enterprises would potentially crop up once the new road is completed," he said.
Bolkiah, who is also Pitas Assemblyman, said villagers along the road would economically benefit from the development, such as the opportunity to set up stalls.
"The public using the road would also get to enjoy the seaside environment, a picnic with the family or some peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city," he said.
He said the road would shorten the journey by about one hour, compared to the present route through Jalan Ulu Kukut which links Kota Belud to Kudat and Kota Marudu.
Meanwhile, Chairman of BIMP-EAGA Malaysia Business Council, Datuk Roslan Johar Mohamed, commenting on the coastal road, said:
"This is very good news because any new road construction is just like giving our people more exposure to opportunities.
"The sheer advantage of a new road en route is every landowners' dream.
Land, once idle, can now be opened up and be developed and fresh industries can take its place, not to mention enormous spin-off benefits.
"It was also such a wonderful feeling to see vast number of villagers who turned up by the thousands to welcome and shake hands with our beloved Prime Minister - the architect of the 1Malaysia concept and Sabah Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Musa Aman) in Kudat.
"They have shown their solid sincerity to support our leaders, as well as, express their gratitude to the Government. The highly charged ambience and the magnetism of our two leaders just leaves no desire unfulfilled," he said.