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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Multi-billion ringgit Tanjung Aru project a bane for rep


KOTA KINABALU: Tanjong Aru assemblyman Edward Yong Oui Fah has his work cut out for him ahead of the next general election (GE14) as he tries to soften resistance to a multi-billion ringgit development project in his constituency.
Local NGOs and opposition politicians have been resisting the 348-hectare Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED), insisting the public will lose their access to the beach and voicing concerns over environment destruction.
The TAED project aims to turn the coastal town into a premier international green tourism destination and a sprawling commercial, residential and recreational centre.
An online petition was initiated to gather signatures against the development, and a group of people even brought the matter to court in a bid to scrap the project. However, the case was later dismissed.
As a result, Yong, who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah vice-president, now has to juggle his job of looking after the people’s interests with implementing government policies.
His constituency is one of two state seats under the parliamentary constituency of Putatan. The other state seat is Petagas.
“We receive complaints from everywhere because nobody can be 100% satisfied.
“People do not see the big picture. Just like the Sutera Harbour Resort project before.
“When the reclamation started, lots of people objected to it. But they were okay when they saw the end product of the completed resort,” Yong told FMT.
He believes the majority of people welcome the TAED and accept that certain sacrifices are needed as part of progress.
Yong (right) with community leader Henry Chu explaining the TAED
He added however that the government would not neglect the welfare of the affected stakeholders.
“When you take away something, the government will bring something better for the people. People must understand, the government of the day is trying its best to develop the area, to be more conducive for our next generation.
“But the government will not take advantage of the people. If the government wants to take your land, they will need to negotiate, even pay for it,” Yong said.
Urban renewal scheme
As a three-term elected representative for his constituency, Yong wishes to see through all the development plans for Tanjong Aru.
“My time as the elected representative is almost up as the election is nearly here. Hopefully, if we get re-elected and the BN government wins then I hope the area can really develop,” he said, adding that much remains to be done.
“Actually, even five years is not enough because a lot of time is needed to complete projects like the TAED and also the Sembulan urban renewal scheme,” he said, referring to the redevelopment of Kg Sembulan, considered a slum area tucked in the heart of the city.
“I’m not worried. I will leave it to the top leadership. If they still want me to stand, definitely I will continue.”
The TAED masterplan
According to the latest electoral rolls, native Muslims (Bumiputera Islam) account for about 65% (15,260) of the 23,664 voters in Tanjong Aru while Chinese voters comprise 26.69% (6,315), non-Muslim Bumiputera 8.49% (2,009) and minority races 0.3% (80).
Yong is not underestimating the state opposition, however, and says each party has its own strengths.
“We treat it as 50-50. We have to see the candidate and the support for the party. Even in the last elections, we (BN) lost 12 seats.”
Yong said BN was working hard to retain its seats, in his case the Tanjong Aru state seat, but that in essence, the people were the actual kingmakers.
“We will try our best. In every seat there’s a fight but we will not know the results until the boxes are opened and the votes are all counted.”
In 2013, Yong won the Tanjong Aru state seat in a four-cornered fight with a majority of 3,690 votes, beating his closest contender, Hamid Ismail of PAS, who garnered 5,409 votes.
The other candidates were STAR’s Salleh Tiaseh with 750 votes and Yong We Kong of the Sabah Progressive Party with 1,333 votes. -FMT

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