Stories, news, update from KePKAS

25.3km pedestrian walkway, cycleway

A 25.3km pedestrian walkway and cycleway project from Tanjung Aru to Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) will begin by mid-2012. Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir, who announced the RM38 million three-phase project yesterday, said it is among plans to be implemented this year to beautify the city.

The first phase of the project will be implemented at Sabah Port and Likas Bay, the second phase at Tanjung Aru, Sembulan and Central Business District (CBD), while the third phase at Tun Mustapha building and UMS.

The pedestrian walkway and cycleway project will include among other facilities bicycle shared path, bridges, decks, covered bicycle parks, children playground, lighting, benches, public toilets, showers and lockers.

Tender for the first phase is expected to be available in April this year, Abidin said during the flag-raising ceremony in conjunction with the 12th City Day celebration at Padang Merdeka here yesterday.

In addition to the pedestrian walkway and cycleway, City Hall will undertake the second and third phases of Sembulan River beautification project, starting from the end of phase one near Sembulan River bridge till Wisma Muis.

He said this year will also see the upgrading of public transportation system or city bus, as well as the building of a bus terminal at Jalan Kepayan.

In addition, City Hall has begun the cleaning of drains in and around the city to overcome flash floods during heavy rain, he said.

Abidin also pledged to expand and duplicate the 5K programme, namely Kebersihan (cleanliness), Keindahan (beauty), Keselamatan (safety), Keteraturan (orderliness) and Kesejahteraan (well-being), to other towns, as well as increasing awareness and enforcement of the anti-litter campaign.

Last year, Abidin said City Hall successfully implemented several programmes as planned, including launching the 5K Programme in Menggatal, ‘greening’ the main roads, upgrading and beautifying city landscape, implementing phase one of Sembulan River Beautification Project and setting up of lay-by stops for buses and taxis in the city.

He said City Hall would be focusing on City Hall Strategic Plan 2011-2015 this year by implementing the projects stated in the plan.

He vowed to overcome the weaknesses in City Hall’s existing service delivery system.

“I urge all City Hall staff to facilitate and not frustrate in delivering your services.

“City Hall staff should stress on efforts to promote creativity and innovation in executing daily tasks,” he said.

Meanwhile, apart from the flag-raising ceremony yesterday, a marching team competition was held and it attracted 23 contingents.

The Health and Urban Services Department took the top spot under City Hall category, while the Department of Corporate Affairs and Engineering Department were second and third respectively.

In the secondary school/higher learning institution category, SMK Perempuan Likas was first, followed by Kolej Aseana and SMK Likas cadet in the second the third places respectively.

SK Sri Gaya and SK Tanjung Aru took the first and second places under the primary school category, while Persatuan Penjaja Bumiputra Barat and Hume Concrete (M) Sdn Bhd took the first and second places under the association and private sector category.

Also present were Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Edward Khoo Keok Hai, Puspanita Kota Kinabalu branch president Datin Florence Malangkig, Mayor of Kota Kinabalu sister city Yongin, Kim Hak Kyu, president of Municipal Council of Penang Island Hajah Patahiyah bt Ismail and City Hall director-general Datuk Yeo Boon Hai.

Source: Borneo Post (by Chok Sim Yee)

First Sabahan primatologist

A local Sabahan, Andy Martin Ginal Martin, has become the first fully qualified primatologist in the State. Martin, a research assistant at Sepilok, underwent a two-year course at Oxford Brookes under the full sponsorship of the Orangutan Appeal UK and has already received accreditation from the university.

When interviewed at the Sepilok Orangutan Appeal UK cocktail party at Rasa Ria Resort recently, Martin said that as a Sabahan, he felt the education he gained was important to further his expertise in the field.

“For now in Sabah, there is no one doing this private conservation. We are Sabahans, we have the orang utans and we still depend on people from the UK and elsewhere to conduct studies for us,” he said.

He acknowledged the Appeal for their role in making his graduation a reality.

“I wouldn’t be able to do it without their support because financially it was impossible to continue with my study for more than one year in the UK.”

Martin said among the important things he had learnt from his academic stint is that he needs to look at conservation from the point of view of education.

“We need to send the conservation message to the world because now in Sabah, we have a lot of programmes but educationally, we still need outside experts to explain the knowledge,” he explained.

As a primatologist, he also commented on the survival of the orang utan in Sabah.

He said that he believed the orang utan in Sabah still have a future and it is crucial for everyone to work together and cooperate to accomplish the objectives and researches in the field.

Martin also said that the most urgent need for the survival of the species now is to protect the forest, the habitat and their population in the wild.

“There is also an urgent need to reduce deforestation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sue Sheward, the founder and chairperson of Orangutan Appeal UK, said that it is important for Sabah to have its own people as primatologists.

She commended Martin for his tenacity in continuing with his study despite the disasters that befell upon his family.

“In the midst of it, his family house was razed by fire and his father suffered serious burns and was very ill, but Andy went on.

“He received an extension and was able to complete his degree. We are glad that now he has passed his degree and is the first Sabahan to be a qualified primatologist and I feel he will make a difference,” she said.

Source: Borneo Post

Sabah tourist arrivals up 13.6 pct in 2011 to 2.84 million

Tourist arrivals in Sabah last year rose by 13.6 per cent to 2.84 million compared to 2010, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun yesterday. He said the figure not only exceeded Sabah Tourism Board’s (STB) arrival projection of 2.63 million, but also achieved its 2012 projection of 2.75 million.

According to him, the industry contributed an estimated RM4.98 billion, proving the importance of air accessibility for the industry.

“It was an unpredictable year-end with the flight issues. However, I am pleased to say that Sabah recorded double-digit growth every month since March last year.

“This consistency of growth shows the strong demand of visitors coming to our state either for leisure or business with 96 per cent arriving by air,” he said in a statement here.

Masidi said the strong markets that contributed to the figure were China (including Hong Kong) which grew by 37.6 per cent, Australia (33.3 per cent) and Japan (18.4 per cent), despite the recent Japan tsunami crisis.

Domestic tourists recorded the highest number of visitors with 1.99 million or an increase of 17 per cent compared to 2010, he added.

Meanwhile, Masidi remained optimistic for this year, despite being a challenging one with Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) recent route rationalisation.

“The rationalisation will especially affect the Japan and Western Australia markets.

“There are now no direct flights between Sabah and Japan, while for Australia, Sabah Tourism Board is working hard with other airlines to continue offering Sabah holiday packages,” he said.

He said MAS should have continued to develop the Kota Kinabalu-Perth route as there was very strong growth at 33.3 per cent of Australian arrivals in Sabah last year.

“I am sure the route would have eventually been very profitable for MAS in a relatively short period of time,” he added.

This year, Masidi said, the state government is targeting regional and domestic markets and would be working closely with local industry players to improve the product quality as well as introducing attractive holiday packages during the low season.

“We are also looking into collaborating with three-star and four-star hotels to offer affordable holiday packages during non-peak season to achieve the 2012 projection of 2.93 million visitors.

Source: Bernama

Numerous stories, pix depicting the olden days of Gaya Street

Numerous stories and photos depicting the olden days of Gaya Street have been collected for the community heritage exhibition, “Bonding With Gaya Street”, in conjunction with the City Day celebration.

The exhibition is organised by the North Borneo History Enthusiasts (NBHE) in collaboration with City Hall, with support from the Sabah Tourism Board, Information Department, Sabah Museum, Sabah Archives Department and the Daily Express, among others.

These old nostalgic photographs and collection of stories will be on display at different parts of Gaya Street on Feb 11 and Feb 12 during the event.

Tina Kinsil, of NBHE, shared some of the stories and experiences which they gathered from the community.

“A customer was having his lunch at Kedai Kopi Sen Chong Wah (where the NBHE collection booth is set up), when he noticed a photo of his father, Justin Abiu, featured in one of the photos pasted on the stories collection booth.

“He was so excited that the next day he took the whole family – father, mother, brother, sister and children – to take a look at the photo,” said Tina.

According to Abiu, they were called “Delivery Postmen” and issued with bicycles by the Government to deliver mail to the shops (not houses) from 1968 to 1970, adding that no delivery was made when it rained.

Another story is about Ah Pui who has been working and living in Gaya Street for the past 47 years and happened to be at the Syarikat Eng Leong shop in Gaya Street when the NBHE research team dropped by.

“Call me Ah Pui as in ‘pui’, like the sound you make when you spit,” said the 82-year-old, Sino-Dusun.

According to Tina, Ah Pui is originally from Kota Belud and it took him a day’s walk to Tenghilan from Kota Belud where he stayed overnight at a police station before proceeding the next day to Jesselton in search of work.

He arrived in what he refers to as Api-Api or Jesselton in 1964 and his first impression of Jesselton was a town with three neat rows of low-rise shop houses.

A Dusun policeman took pity on him and let him stay at the police station, which, according to Ah Pui, was not unusual for those coming from the villages to use as overnight accommodation during that time.

Since then, he has been living in Kota Kinabalu for the past 47 years where home to him is the workshop behind Mee Kwong Wing Kee Enterprise Sdn Bhd, glass, mirror and frame makers located at No. 15 Gaya Street.

According to Ah Pui, what he remembered most about his life was his experience during the Japanese Occupation in North Borneo.

He was 14 year old when the Japanese arrived in Kg Tombolian where he was living and he recalls the Japanese soldiers having Taiwanese origins.

“They were unlike the Kempeitais who were Japanese and had bayonets so long it reached up to their necks,” he said, recalling how he heard the Kempeitais speaking in Malay to the villagers.

“The soldiers liked to swim in the river and often asked me to join them for a swim,” he said, adding that many villagers at that time had very little to eat and so did the soldiers.

“They stole chickens from the villagers and asked them to cook it with sweet potato leaves.

I used to carry water for them from the river to be used to clean the chicken, which earned me a few sticks of cigarettes,” he said.

Running errands for the soldiers meant there was food and clothing for Ah Pui and, of course, cigarettes from the packets that had pictures of a horse, bicycle or the rising sun Japanese symbol.

Ah Pui and the other villagers had to learn the Japanese language which was taught by a Shanghainese, and during the Occupation, villagers had a difficult choice of whether to obey the Japanese or risk losing their lives or starve.

Later, he left Kg Tombolion for Kota Belud where he found work planting groundnuts and cutting grass, recalling seeing leaflets that had distinct red edges being dropped from airplanes by the Allied forces.

He stayed in Kota Belud and later Tuaran for some time until that fateful day-long trek to Jesselton in 1964 in search of a better life.

Source: Daily Express

Sabah: Partnering neighbours in air travel

The New Year has started out on a turbulent note for Sabah’s air transportation sector, with some fearing that recent developments may spell hard times ahead for investment in the state and its tourism sector. Yet a possible partnership with neighbouring Brunei Darussalam’s national carrier may hold a solution to Sabah’s air travel troubles.

Difficulties began when national carrier Malaysia Airline System Bhd (MAS) announced the cancellation of a number of flights to and from the East Malaysian state. On the chopping block are flights from Kota Kinabalu to Osaka, Perth, Tokyo and Seoul. These cuts accounted for more than 16 million available seat kilometres (ASKs), or almost 70 per cent of MAS’s international capacity at Kota Kinabalu Airport.

In December 2011, MAS unveiled a new business plan to reduce system-wide ASKs by 12 per cent. The capacity reductions were designed to improve the airline’s bottom line by RM 220 million (US$70.69 million) to RM 302 million (US$97.04 million) by the end of 2012.

In the first nine months of 2011, MAS reported a net loss of RM1.24 billion (US$398.44 million) compared with a net profit of RM8.55 million (US$2.75 million) recorded a year earlier. Its cash and cash equivalent fell to RM968.5 million (US$311.19 million) during the same period, compared with RM1.92 billion (US$616.93 million) in 2010.

In anticipation of this, MAS and low-cost airline AirAsia agreed to a landmark share swap and cooperation deal in August 2011, with MAS subsequently focusing more on the premium end of the air travel market. Under the deal, Tune Air – AirAsia’s major shareholder – now holds a 20.5 per cent stake in MAS, and MAS major shareholder, Khazanah Nasional, now holds a 10 per cent stake in AirAsia.

As MAS reduces its presence in the region, AirAsia’s market share in Kota Kinabalu is thus expected to increase. Kota Kinabalu is AirAsia’s second-largest Malaysian base, but it currently does not serve any of the four discontinued MAS routes, though it is expected to revive some of them.

AirAsia is already the largest carrier at Kota Kinabalu Airport, with a total capacity of 52 per cent. Its domestic and international capacity shares are 54 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively.

Many of Sabah’s politicians and tourism operators have voiced their concerns regarding the national airline’s decision, accusing it of crippling business and investment. Additional concerns had been raised that the absence of competition resulting from the MAS-AirAsia swap would result in more expensive airfares for locals.

Indeed, local media reported that opposition Sabah Progressive People’s Party (SAPP) president, Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee, a former Sabah chief minister, had even described the share-swap as a form of ‘collusion’ between the two corporations and warned against a ‘monopoly’ of the nation’s air-travel industry.

The high degree of concern is partly explained by Borneo’s isolated geography and difficult terrain, which makes air travel the easiest – and sometimes the only – way to get on, off and around the island.

The controversy continued when Sabah Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) chief Datuk Edward Khoo, who is also the assistant minister to the chief minister, told reporters in January he thought MAS should rethink its business plan in Sabah.

“Being a national airline, you have such a thing called social responsibility,” he said, “especially to Sabah and Sarawak, because you are also responsible to help promote the integration of Peninsular and East Malaysia.”

He added that MAS also has a responsibility to promote business and tourism in Sabah and Sarawak, and that if it was abandoning this responsibility, perhaps it was time to open up Sabah to other airlines on international and domestic routes.

Stepping into the fray, Sabah Air Aviation (Sabah Air) announced it was seeking approval to become a full-fledged airline that would operate domestic and regional routes. However, many question whether the relatively inexperienced state-owned airline was equipped to take on such operations.

Indeed, Yong cautioned against Sabah Air starting its own carrier. “It’s too high a risk for Sabah Air to start its own airline,” Yong said. “Sabah Air is not suited as an airline to even fly within Sabah, as there are many risks and costs involved.”

According to Yong, a better alternative would be for Sabah Air to partner with an established regional airline, such as Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA). “I would feel that the first airline to talk to is RBA using Bandar Seri Begawan as a hub. RBA … want passengers coming to Sabah and Sarawak to stop over in Brunei. So it is possible that Brunei can be the hub. This is part of BIMP-EAGA,” Yong stressed, referring to the regional cooperation group.

Whether RBA is interested in partnering with Sabah Air is unknown. The Bruneian carrier has seen cut backs of its own recently, but expanding its presence within Borneo, given its aim to establish itself as a regional air centre, could be a strong incentive.

Source: Borneo Post (by Robin Carballido)