Friday, May 26, 2006

Sipadan Incident: Ministry to act against contractor for coral damage

KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment has been directed by the State Cabinet to take appropriate action against the contractor for damaging the corals at Sipadan Island.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat has briefed him and the Cabinet Ministers over the incident at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Musa who is also Finance Minister said Kah Kiat was asked to explain to the media what actually happened so that the people would know.

“He (Kah Kiat) has briefed the Cabinet Ministers based on the report by Sabah Parks. The Cabinet wanted a thorough explanation on the incident,” he told reporters after presenting scrolls to 297 newly trained teachers at the Gaya Teachers Training College convocation here yesterday.

Musa said he had also directed a review of the project’s scope of work on the island including disallowing the use of heavy materials.

“The incident was unfortunate and I don’t want it to recur,” he said.

“It should not have happened and now we leave it to the Tourism Minister to take the appropriate action,” he added.

Deputy Chief Minister Kah Kiat is also the Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister.

The Sipadan incident came to light when FiNS Magazine associate editors Andrew and Antonella Ferrari took pictures of the steel barge and damaged corals when they were diving in this world famous dive island about a week ago and posted them on the internet.

They said that in the process of being beached, the steel hull of the barge brought in by the contractor had wiped away corals like a giant knife slicing through butter, leaving in its wake hundreds of square metres of unnaturally flat limestone and a veritable wall of corals.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister said there had been no reports about Sabah teachers being unhappy with their posting to the peninsula.

He said Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun who was responsible to look after education in Sabah did not raise the matter during the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“If there is a problem, usually the Minister will bring it up for discussion,” he said.

He also said Sabah should have no problem sending teachers to serve in Peninsular Malaysia if there were adequate teachers from the state.

“There are a lot of teachers from West Malaysia serving in Sabah. So, I think it is a good idea to send our teachers over there if we have enough to enable them to improve knowledge and gain more exposure,” he said.

And, advising the young teachers to be prepared to teach in the peninsula, the Chief Minister said whatever problems they faced initially would be overcome once they got familiarised with their new workplace. – Paul Mu

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

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