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Atkinson Clock Tower: Govt must reveal plan

 | June 21, 2011

An ad-hoc conservation group is urging Kota Kinabalu citizens to continue pushing for the authorities to abandon plans to develop the area surrounding the 100-year old clock tower.

KOTA KINABALU: A housewife’s simple bid to save a century-old wooden clock tower from being eclipsed by a planned 16-storey mall has forced the government to declare its plans for the city.

The Kota Kinabalu High Court yesterday ordered the Central Town and Country Planning Board (CTCPB) to declare if plans to build the integrated shopping mall next to the historic Atkinson Clock Tower are being reviewed.

Judge David Wong Dak Wah asked state attorney-general Roderic Fernandez to file an affidavit from the the CTCPB stating its decision.

Wong said that based on a newspaper report that the state local government ministry is reviewing its decision and is awaiting feedback from the relevant authorities, no decision had been made yet by the government.

“For a judicial review, there must be a concrete decision by somebody to do something.

“From this newspaper, which the A-G (Fernandez) concedes is true, it states here the state government has directed the central board to review its decision.

“So in other words, there is no decision to quash, so to speak,” Wong said.

The case will come up again on June 30.

Fernandez stated that among the authorities being consulted is the Department of Environment, which will submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report that allows the public to provide any feedback on the project.

“The public now knows that there is no decision as far as the development on that piece of land (is concerned) until such time that the central board gets feedback from everyone including the public,” Wong said.

Youth power

Meanwhile, local conservationist group, Heritage Sabah, during a gathering on Sunday, called for the project to be scrapped and urged the public to keep up the pressure to protect their heritage.

Said Heritage Sabah spokesman Richard Nelson Sokial: “The issue of the shopping mall next to the clock tower has dragged on for such a long time to the point that many Sabahans have been misled into thinking that the Atkinson Clock Tower is now safe.

“It is not. The construction of the shopping mall has only been delayed for a judicial review. The project has not been cancelled yet.

“It would be an advantage to the beneficiaries of this shopping mall project if the people simply forget about this issue.

“We believe that the minute the people here become complacent, the shopping mall project will most likely resume again. It will ruin our city.”

The campaign to save the clock tower has found strong support with city folk, especially the youth who have been at the forefront of the movement to torpedo any plans to build yet another shopping mall in a mall-saturated city.

Scores of them wearing T-shirts printed with the words “Save our heritage – Atkinson Clock Tower”, urged the authorities to preserve one of the last pieces of the city’s history.

Heritage Sabah, an ad-hoc NGO, wants the Atkinson Clock Tower as well as the surrounding hillside gazetted as a public park, which will act as a green zone for the crowded city.


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