Rubbish may scare away tourists – Masidi

KOTA KINABALU: Tourists might decide to skip Sabah in favour of Indonesia or the Philippines if the rubbish issue here remains unresolved, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

He said neighbouring countries, the Philippines and Indonesia, were also developing their tourism facilities at a rapid pace.

The southern Philippines, for example, also has diving sites as good as the Sipidan Island in Sabah, he said.

“The only problem is security in the Southern Philippines; and Indonesia has yet to come up with better management of its island resources,” he said.

He said tourists would soon have a choice whether to come to Sabah, or to Indonesia or the Philippines.

“Sooner or later, tourists may decide to skip Sabah, not because we do not have beautiful mountain and sea, but because they cannot stand the rubbish that is all over the place,” he warned when officiating at the first installation ceremony of the Sabah Construction and Domestic Waste Management Association (SCDWA) here yesterday.

He said Kota Kinabalu was developing rapidly with buildings mushrooming all over the city, and having the highest rate of property value appreciation in Malaysia.

“Unfortunately, we have a big price to pay – the waste.”

Masidi said the people should take ownership of the rubbish problem and clean up their own waste products.

He said rubbish could be seen along the beach at Likas Bay and worse, all over the places around the houses on stilts at Sembulan.

“We try to portray or sell Sabah as a tourism destination. We have beautiful mountain, forest, beaches, islands and crystal clear water.

“Some of the best Malaysians are in Sabah.

“Although we are good Malaysians, we are also good in throwing rubbish,” he said.

While a substantial amount of rubbish comes from Gaya Island, Masidi said the biggest polluters were actually people living on the mainland.

“Whenever people talk about rubbish, our fingers straightaway point to Pulau Gaya.”

He said rubbish seen at coastal areas actually came from people living along rivers and waterways, who deemed rivers as their ‘movable dustbin’.

As a result, the waste dumped into the river was carried back by waves to the land and beaches, he said.

“So do not get angry with DBKK (City Hall) when our sea or beaches are full of rubbish. We are responsible for it.

“Some throw rubbish (and reasoned that) otherwise DBKK has no work (to do).”

Furthermore, Masidi said a study by City Hall showed that 70 per cent of the rubbish in the city were thrown out from moving vehicles, or as he pointed out, from Mercedez Benz and Proton.

“I don’t think those in Pulau Gaya drive a Proton or Mercedez,” he said.

Therefore, Masidi said the government needed non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals to keep the environment clean.

“When individuals and NGOs come into the picture, that means we take ownership of the problem,” he said, adding that the involvement of NGOs would enhance the effectiveness of maintaining the cleanliness of the State.

“I am happy that the association (SCDWA) is taking up the courage to sort out the problem (waste management).”

Masidi also encouraged the Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI), Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Shareda) and other associations related to construction to create a unit to tackle waste management.

He said the people should clean up their own waste and make cleanliness a part of their culture, while educating people not to litter as well.

The enforcement agency would also need to step up its effort, he said.

“It will be difficult to tell the world we are beautiful. Yes, physically the people of Sabah are beautiful, but our behaviour is less so.

“We need to change our behaviour. It starts from us,” he stressed.

Also present at the event were Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, KKCCCI president Datuk Michael Lui Yen Sang, Sabah West Coast, Kudat and Interior Residencies Tyre Dealers’ Association president Candy Wong and SCDWA chairman Steve Yeo Lip Koh.

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