Angry Musa halts work on Sipadan

KOTA KINABALU: An angry Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman has ordered construction work at Pulau Sipadan to be suspended. He also lashed out at Sabah Parks for failing to protect the internationally renowned diving haven.

Musa said he wanted a probe on how construction of buildings using steel and concrete was allowed on the environmentally sensitive island. Five days ago, a barge laden with building materials wiped out a coral reef the size of two tennis courts in Sipadan.

“Until I get the report, work here is suspended,” Musa told a press conference here yesterday. “A few years ago, we asked diving companies operating resorts to vacate Sipadan. We wanted to protect the environment. “The island cannot take any major development.”

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said on Thursday that the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, through Sabah Parks, was spending RM5mil for public facilities such as a restaurant and public toilets on Sipadan. The contractor, who was allowed only to use wooden long boats to transport building materials, had instead used a barge, resulting in the damage to the corals.

The May 15 incident received worldwide attention after it was reported by diving enthusiasts Andrea and Antonella Ferrari in their blog.

Source: The Star Online, 20 May 2006