Thursday, April 27, 2006

Turning Sabah's Tambalang racecourse into top tourist attraction


TUARAN: Major plans are underway to revive the long-overdue development of the Tambalang racecourse with the ultimate aim of turning it into a major tourist attraction in the State, Tuaran District in particular.

This was contained in a proposal submitted by Diriwan Corporation (Diriwan) Sdn Bhd, the operator of the 147-acre racecourse to the State government.

Disclosing this yesterday was the Minister of Local Government and Housing, Datuk Hajiji Noor during an inspection at the racecourse to evaluate the condition of the place.

Accompanying him during the visit were Tuaran district officer Awang Shamsi Jamih, MLGH engineer Wong Yun Sang, and Tan Kim Beng, chairman of Tuaran Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Also present were several Diriwan’s senior officials including its general manager Joseph Lin and corporate advisor Andrew Chong.

“In their proposal submitted to the State government a few months back, Diriwan has among others proposed that the racecourse be jointly developed by Diriwan and the State government through the Tuaran district council, or they will develop it on their own and later sublease it back to the district council to run.

“I will be tabling the proposals to the Cabinet soon, for it to decide on what would be the best approach to develop the racecourse,” said Hajiji.

The whole revival plan would basically evolve around the concept of transforming the racecourse into a turf club of international standard. Hajiji who is also the Sulaman assemblyman asserted that it was high time for both the State government and Diriwan to make some serious efforts to revive the development of the racecourse.

He was convinced that if properly planned and implemented, the development of the racecourse could become a major tourist attraction.

“If such plan becomes a reality later, it would significantly boost the economy of the district and the State as a whole, besides creating abundance of business and job opportunities to the local folks here.

“As the State assemblyman of this region, I would certainly look forward to its realization,” he said.

To a question, Hajiji assured that the State government would assist Diriwan in the relocation of those horse breeders who are currently occupying a portion of the racecourse, when the company starts to implement its development program.

“We shall assist them (Diriwan) in the relocation of those horse breeders to another place, otherwise it would be difficult for them to develop the place,” he said.

He added that the State government would definitely consider the renewal and extension of the lease agreement entered with Diriwan, if the latter is committed to develop the place.

The State government had in 1988 leased the racecourse to Diriwan for a period of 25 years, with a monthly rental of RM250,000.

The agreement will expire in 2013. When approached later, Diriwan’s general manager, Joseph Lin said he was delighted with the assurance given by Hajiji on the assistance in the relocation of those horse breeders, citing that it was one of the thorny issues that had impeded the development of the place all these while.

“With such an assurance from the Minister (Hajiji) himself, I think we can soon move forward with the development of the racecourse,” he said. To a question, he conceded that a study conducted by the company in the past estimated that it would cost at least RM40 million to revive the racecourse.

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

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