Sunday, September 20

Rahman raises concerns over timing of RM7 bln project


KOTA KINABALU: The RM7 billion Sabah Foundation (YS) and Tegas Bangsa Sdn Bhd (TBSB) mixed development project in Putatan is void of affordable housing plans and risk failing in the volatile market conditions of the Covid-19 era, said Umno Supreme Council member and Tuaran Division chief Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

He said, foremost, the YS-TBSB project in Kg Meruntum, Lok Kawi would face the challenging market as the demands in real estate and housing market is not only slowing down in Sabah but worldwide.

“If it fails, YS will be entangled with a non-competitive project and the YS land will be tied to this project for many years.

“The project site needs an environmental impact assessment as it will be built on a seaside area as well as populated villages. Has there been an environmental impact assessment done? Have the villagers of Kg Meruntum been called for discussions?” he asked.

“This project sits in the air route of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. What about the security factors involved as well as the project’s marketability with the constant noise of airplanes in the air?

“The Bandar Malaysia project in Kuala Lumpur requires the company to construct affordable homes as reciprocity for the opportunity to develop the Bandar Malaysia project.

“Why didn’t the Sabah State Government put in the same requirement for Tegas Bangsa to build affordable homes around the project, seeing that many villagers will be forced to move out?” he questioned in a statement here yesterday.

Rahman also demanded the State Government to explain whether Syarikat Tegas Bangsa Sdn Bhd had requested the government to build infrastructure such as roads and entrance pathways around the project, undoubtedly would cost hundreds of millions, since infrastructure works fall under the responsibility of its Government.

“If yes, the Government’s fund must be spent appropriately to ease the burden of the rakyat who have lost their income due to Covid-19, and not to spend on a non-competitive mega project.

“Covid-19 will affect the theme park industry. Disneyland, Genting Highland and many more theme parks have suffered substantial losses. They have also admitted that the theme park business is not as lively as it used to be as people are afraid to go out for leisure.

“This means that the theme park industry is a weakening industry due to infectious diseases such as Covid-19. Everybody knows that diseases such as Covid-19 will disrupt and change the landscape of the world economy,” he added.

Rahman also raised concerns over the announced billion ringgit mega project for rail development between Kudat and Kota Kinabalu in 2019.

“Will the Kg Meruntum project suffer the same fate as that rail mega project? If the Kg Meruntum project fails, the RM200 million land owned by the Sabah Foundation will be tied for a long time. We can see many examples around the country where government lands ended up being endless problems when projects were abandoned,” he said.

“In the backdrop of today’s global economic downturn, it is highly irresponsible for the Sabah State Government to announce such a mega project that has the potential to burden the state economy if it fails.

“In this time of Covid-19, we have read many economic reports on the worrying number of unsold properties in Sabah. Why do we have to add on to an already worrying problem, and why now?

“While the rakyat are eagerly waiting for the short and medium-term plannings by the Sabah State Government to save hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses owned by Sabahans in the wake of Covid-19, the State Government should not have announced this long-term mega project which will only benefit big companies and the rich who would be able to afford it.

“Furthermore, the tourism industry is now facing a life and death situation due to Covid-19, and all countries have admitted that this industry will continue to suffer even after Covid-19 subsides. The Sabah Foundation is now facing financial problems to the extent it can’t even solve the financial and salary payments of the University College Sabah Foundation. Prioritise the people, not mega projects!

“Lastly, I hope the Sabah Foundation will reveal the agreement made with Tegas Bangsa Sdn Bhd so the rakyat can evaluate why the Sabah Foundation has approved this project during a time when the rakyat want a State Government that is empathetic with their plights and struggles due to Covid-19,” he concluded.