Friday, August 30, 2013

Slowly and surely Gaya Island is shedding its garbage dump reputation

DBKK Director-General Datuk Yeo Boon Hai said it is time to banish the negative perceptions of Gaya Island and start focusing on bringing up its great potential to complement Kota Kinabalu as a “Nature Resort City”.

He said this at the Love KK City: Care for Our Environment launching ceremony at Lintasan Deasoka on the 28th of August recently.

“More than three-quarter of Gaya Island is protected under the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park,” said Yeo to reporters at the event. “DBKK is aware and acknowledges the importance of its status so we forged a working relationship with Sabah Parks, especially with Director Paul Basintal, for the purpose of environmental preservation and conservation.”

The park, named after the nation’s first Prime Minister, covers an area of about 50 sq km and is located 3 km offshore from Kota Kinabalu City. Comprising five islands, namely Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik Island, the park’s main objective is to protect the islands’ fauna, flora and marine ecosystems. In recent years  two resorts, namely the Gayana Eco Resort and YTL’s Gaya Island Resort , have been developed to enhance Pulau Gaya’s tourism potential.

“Some part of the island is covered by thick forest and can therefore be considered as a virgin forest. The park portions are still relatively untouched and retain their natural beauty,” he added.

“That is the reason why it remains the  habitat of some rare animals like the Proboscis monkeys and we (DBKK) will continue to seek the cooperation of the Gaya Island residents to protect these endangered species.”

In an effort to conserve Pulau Gaya and keep it clean and beautiful, DBKK has since last  year carried out  a quarterly cleanliness campaign called Kasih Sayang with the island’s residents. Formerly known as the Pulau Gaya Community Project, it is supported by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation of Taiwan along with Sabah Parks, the Environment Action Centre (EAC), Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA), the Royal Malaysia Police and the state’s Marine Police.

According to Yeo, owing to a lack of manpower the project is initially implemented in the island’s Kesuapan Village. Nevertheless, DBKK is optimistic that it will be extended to other villages there.

Yeo revealed that since last year 11 tons of recyclable rubbish has been collected from this village alone. The recyclables were collected by the villagers and sold to Tzu Chi. Yeo said although far from being spick and span  the cleanliness level of the village has greatly improved.

“There is better awareness among the villagers now, and they no longer litter as indiscriminately as before,” said the DBKK Director-general.