KOTA BELUD, Sept 21, 2015:

“Come and see Kota Belud for yourselves, on the developments that have been brought by the government,” said Andy Chua Hung Chu, 53, when asked by Bernama about the changes brought about in the town.

Chua, a native of Kampung Tombol, Kota Belud, said in the past two decades, Kota Belud had been booming with development, in addition to the building of road networks that could be categorised as mini-highways, among them, the construction of a bypass road from Kota Belud to Kudat.

“The government has also built and upgraded the Tuaran-Kota Belud route. I see as well that there are no road access problems.

“There are roads that have been paved and there are those that are still being constructed, like the Kampung Kadamaian and Melangkap Piasau-Gaur roads, of about 24km (in length),” he said.

The community head said that good road access in the area had propelled economic development, thereby creating more jobs and business opportunities for locals.

“Maybe before, Kota Belud could be labelled as a cowboy town, however, it is no longer appropriate with what we have achieved now,” he said, rejecting claims by Jalumin Bayogoh published in The Malaysian Insider news portal.

Jalumin, who had contested the Kota Belud parliamentary seat on the Opposition ticket, was quoted by the news portal as saying Kota Belud was still a cowboy town and backwards, despite having in its midst two federal ministers, namely the Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak.

Chua believed the statement expressed in the article titled “Kota Belud has two federal ministers but remains a ‘cowboy town'” was a weathered issue that was deliberately raised.

Chua said he saw the federal government and the state government currently giving full commitment to developing Kota Belud and other areas in Sabah, which had become the main agenda of the government, so that the state could enjoy equal development opportunities as the others in the country.

In the context of Kota Belud, Chua said the construction of housing units through the People’s Housing Programme (PPR) in Kampung Pirasan and Pulau Mantanani was also underway, which would benefit the residents.

In May, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak officiated a housing project worth RM160 million over 32.2 hectares of land. A total of 900 terrace houses would be built in Kampung Pirasan, while 100 units would be built in Pulau Mantanani.

Chua said the water problem was also being tackled with 10 groundwater pumps to be added to ensure the livelihood of the local population.

In August, the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili announced that the ministry had placed a mobile water treatment unit with the capacity of treating 3 million litres per day at Sungai Wario, as a measure to provide clean water supply for residents in the area.

The government also took proactive measures to address the problem of water supply in Kota Belud following the earthquake and the floods in June, which included financial allocations and technical support.

Meanwhile, Mohd Mustazzar Bundah, 42, of Kampung Pirasan, said Kota Belud was now much better equipped with the needs and wants of the people here, which included banking facilities, hotels, postal services, broadband coverage, hypermarkets and commercial buildings, with a variety of services.

With these facilities, residents in the area often did not even need to go to the city of Kota Kinabalu, which takes about an hour’s drive, to meet their daily needs, he said.

In terms of tourism, Mohd Mustazzar said Kota Belud also had a tourist centre in Pulau Mantanani, with new attractions to draw more tourists to the area to enjoy panoramic views of the island, as well as scuba diving activities.

Mohd Mustazzar, who works as a teacher at SMK Arshad Kota Belud, also said that change was not only happening in the town of Kota Belud alone, but the development of education was also emphasised through the upgrading and building of new schools in the district.

“In this regard, SMK Taun Gusi II is a new secondary school here. In addition, the Timbang Menggaris Agricultural Training Centre has also been upgraded from issuing certificates to the diploma level.

“In addition, there are also schools that have been upgraded from wooden structures into concrete buildings, and the secondary schools which did not have hostels, now have them,” he said.

Hence, Mohd Mustazzar said claims that the government had not brought any development to Kota Belud was not true at all, and instead viewed them as an attempt to only find faults with the government.

Touching on youth development, Mirza Affendy Asah, 33, from Kampung Sorob Tambulion said the advancements in Kota Belud were not only focused on physical development, but that human capital development among the youths was also prioritised.

“Skills and leadership programmes are also held in the district, like sewing courses, courses for young entrepreneurs, and courses on ethics and protocol, which are efforts to empower the youths in Kota Belud,” he said.

Mirza, who is also the Kadamaian District Scout Commissioner, said the government had never compromised on youth development, and continued to contribute towards it to ensure that youths in Kota Belud thrived, and remained competitive with their peers from other regions.

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