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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sipitang looks set to welcome it's honorable guest - Prime Minister, Dato Seri Najib Tun Abd Razak

This is the first ever visit by a Prime Minister; none of our previous Prime Ministers had ever visited Sipitang.

By Amde Sidik

Sipitang looks set to welcome it's honorable guest - Prime Minister, Dato Seri Najib Tun Abd Razak on 30 of July in conjunction with Sipitang's Gasing and Tamu Besar also known as Gata, a biennial feastivity since 2003.

This is the first ever visit by a Prime Minister; none of our previous Prime Ministers had ever visited Sipitang.

Sipitang, the durian town of Sabah, is also the gateway for people from Sarawak and Brunei to visit Sabah situated about 8 kilometers from the Sabah and Sarawak border.

The Prime Minister is expected to officiate a RM10 million Sipitang esplanade.

He would be in Sipitang town by noon traveling from Tenom via a new high road which takes less than 2 hours' driving from Tenom.

Sipitang has about 30,000 people. About 60% of Sipitang's population is made up of the Kadayan community; 30% is Lundayeh and Murut and the rest are Brunei, Chinese and others for 10%.

The main employment provider is a paper and pulp factory also called the Sabah Forest Industry which was set up during the Berjaya government in the 70's but sold to an Indian company in the year 2005.

Sipitang, a coastal town situated at Brunei Bay, historically had abundant fish and marine life but now all are rapidly dissipated. The dramatic reduction of the quality of marine life is suspected to be due to the toxic disposal from SFI to the sea. Some years ago, our Malaysian writer who happens to be Sipitang-born, questioned SFI about this which infuriated the then SFI Public Relation Officer at that time.

Sipitang has changed from all wooden buildings to now of mostly concrete. But like any other towns in the state, the design and planning of the town is typically done haphazardly which will take many more years to meet European standards. If Kota Kinabalu is still trying, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Sipitang fail.

Sipitang may change its composition in future. This was highlighted recently in the local media with regards to the increased number of foreigners buying local Native Title Land by dubious means. The most common modus operandi is by the use of local proxy. The case in hand, eleven acres of land in Kg Ulu Naparan was bought by forty foreigners who raised up a fund of RM280,000; they used one Kadayan on their behalf, then allotted one lot for him to build a house as an enticement.

The Kadayans and Brunaians alike in the surrounding areas are furious at some of these Kadayans taking advantage of the situation and some local leaders are still investigating to bring the matter up to a higher authority.

Sipitang town may look pretty for a short while. Others argue it wouldn't cater to provide employment which the district is in dire need of. A half million ringgit to build an arch erected with donations by the Sabah Land Development is a very questionable way of spending public money. Apart from it being badly designed, it creates unnecessary congestion long before it should.

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