Saturday, January 23

Damai Resort City project master plan not set in stone, says SEDC chairman

0

Abdul Aziz speaking to reporters during a press conference at the Damai Cultural Village, Santubong here today. – Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Nov 27): The Damai Resort City project master plan is not yet set in stone, said Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain over concerns on the impact of the proposed projects on the environment.

He said the corporation would have to conduct a comprehensive study first to find out if the proposed projects in the master plan would be beneficial to the state’s tourism industry, or would bring irreversible damage to the environment there.

“We have our own environmental study that is included in the masterplan. The masterplan takes into account not only the environmental, heritage, social, benefits to the people and things like that,” he said.

Among the projects proposed for the Damai Resort City project were new resorts, theme parks, cable car, jungle trails and trekking facilities, wellness and health enclaves, marina, and commercial and residential properties, Abdul Aziz revealed earlier during a press conference at the Sarawak Cultural Village here.

The proposed cable car projects up to Mount Santubong, which has been shelved for about a decade, has been opposed by many as it may cause ecological damage to the Santubong forest and its surroundings.

A petition was even set up back in 2012, directed at the then-chief minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and some state ministers to halt the cable car project.

The petition highlighted that the proposed cable car project lacked commercial viability, would have negative impact on the tourism industry as the cable car structures would degrade the natural views of the surroundings, and could cause social and ecological damage to the surroundings of Santubong.

Abdul Aziz assured that SEDC’s consultants for the proposed projects would conduct interviews with those who would be affected by the projects, and assured that the projects under the Damai Resort City master plan would not be carried out, or alternatives would be implemented if it indeed would not be beneficial.

“To some extent I do agree with them (environmentalists). So we have to find alternative ways or means to get this place to be more attractive and more accessible to the people.

“Is the cable car one of them? I’m not sure too until we are done with the study. And of course our consultants will interview these people.

“We need a very comprehensive study because we don’t want to do something only to find that it’s not right, difficult to retract, and spoiling the environment,” he said.

During a press conference earlier, Abdul Aziz said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in Nov 2019 announced that the state government had appointed SEDC to head the development of tourism products in the state including construction of new hotels and update existing ones.

In conjunction with that, Abdul Aziz said SEDC was expected to invest substantially to develop the Damai Peninsular into a major tourist destination based on the tourism master plan to develop the location with new attractions and other development initiatives.

With the proposed name Damai Resort City project, the development plan included several projects like construction of new resorts, theme parks, cable car, jungle trails and trekking facilities, wellness and health enclaves, marina, and commercial and residential properties.