Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sipadan Incident: Sabah Parks get local support

KOTA KINABALU: Under fire over the damage of a section of the coral reef off Pulau Sipadan, Sabah Parks have received support from local dive operators.

In a statement posted on Saturday in online dive magazine Fins, the operators said: "The construction of permanent facilities represents a major ongoing financial commitment by Sabah Parks and the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment to ensure adequate infrastructure to preserve Sipadan’s environment. We are grateful for this support."

An angry Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had taken Sabah Parks to task for allowing a barge laden with construction material to dock at the island, damaging corals the size of at least two tennis courts. He has ordered a halt to all construction on the island and an investigation into the project.

Acknowledging that "error by the contractor" had led to the destruction of the corals, the dive operators said it was easy to be swept away by the "emotional impact of the moment", but the most constructive course of action was to concentrate on the future.

"We are collectively committing to working with local and national Government parties, who are currently conducting a damage assessment survey, to devise and implement a programme for rebuilding and restoring the affected area as soon as possible.

"No doubt this will take time, but this is our home, and also our business, so we have the biggest stake in ensuring a positive outcome."

Courtesy of New Straits Times

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