KOTA KINABALU: The issuance of land titles and transformation of Semporna are the two most important matters for assemblyman Ramlee Marahaban in his constituency of Bugaya.
Ramlee, a BN assemblyman serving his second term in the Sabah east coast constituency, won the seat by garnering 6,642 votes in a six-cornered tussle. He received a 3,503-vote majority to beat his rivals that included two independent candidates.
Ramlee won his first term unopposed in the 2008 polls.
Ramlee believes the issue of land titles is very important in the constituency as many settlers have been working for a long time on their land without titles.
“I’m pleased that the state government has approved land titles under two concepts involving more than 10,000 acres of land,” he told FMT.
“Under the first concept, communal titles for some 6,000 acres of land were approved by the government. The communal title concept aims to eradicate poverty.
“Under the second concept, the Pantas concept, the government approved titles for 4,000 acres of native land.”
Pantas is the acronym for the Sabah Native Land Services of the Sabah Land and Survey Department which aims to expedite the issuance of titles to native land as part of native customary rights.
Ramlee said there would be two more phases of land title issuance involving some 10,000 acres of land.
“On Mar 9, we will give out almost 500 titles,” he said, adding more would be given out under Pantas, especially in Pulau Bum Bum.
Bugaya sits within the parliament constituency of Semporna where the president of opposition outfit Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan), Shafie Apdal, is Member of Parliament.
The other two state constituencies are split – Senallang is represented by Nasir Sakaran of BN/Umno while Warisan vice-president Jaujan Sambakong is the assemblyman for Sulabayan.
Both Shafie and Jaujan were with Umno before the former resigned his party membership and formed an opposition party, following the 2015 federal cabinet reshuffle that saw him removed from his ministerial post.
However, Ramlee is confident of BN’s chances in winning the Semporna parliamentary seat as well as the three state seats in the next general election.
Ramlee said the ruling coalition would be able to win the seats despite staunch opposition from Warisan, especially in the state’s east coast district.
“Shafie Apdal was Semporna MP for five terms and was a national Umno leader, so he is famous. However, the politics in Semporna does not revolve around him,” said Ramlee.
“We are not worried because we believe our struggle is accepted by the people. We are convinced our preparations are enough to win all the four seats in Semporna.”
Ramlee, who is also Sabah assistant finance minister, is happy with the rate modern infrastructures are being developed in his area.
“We have upgraded the infrastructure for our water supply by replacing pipes and tanks. We are also currently developing a sports complex, which is needed by a big district like us, for our youths to be active in sports.”
Ramlee said the class-B complex was now in phase one of construction and would have a high impact on the people and great effect on the landscape of Semporna town.
“We aim to complete this phase by the end of the year. This project will be much appreciated by the rakyat.”
A new general market, costing RM8 million, to replace the old one is being built. It is set to be completed by the end of the year or early 2019.
Ramlee said he had helped in the enhancement of Semporna’s connectivity with the upgrade of its internet infrastructure. “We recently launched an upgrade to Telekom Malaysia’s Unifi internet facilities that cost RM19 million,” he said.
The area will also have its own district mosque with a 1,700-congregation capacity. Construction is expected to commence in a month or two.
“Phase one of the mosque involves an allocation of RM9 million while the next phase will need a budget of RM3 or RM4 million to build the parking lot and related sections.”
Bugaya, whose Muslim Bumiputera constituents make up 95% of the population, now has a new Islamic academy.
The Semporna Al Quran Studies Academy, the only such academy in Malaysia, according to Ramlee, was opened in cooperation with the Al Quran Studies Institute in Selangor.
“The academy is housed in a former Yayasan Sabah building, thanks to Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman,” he said.
Recently, Senallang assemblyman Nasir Sakaran officially opened the academy’s surau which was built using a donation of RM300,000.
Ramlee said many youths in Semporna were interested in learning the Quran. “The second batch of 105 students have already ‘khatam’ or finished learning to read the Quran. A pupil can read the Quran after a 30-hour learning session and can khatam in three months.”
Semporna will also have an international tourism centre that will require an investment of more than RM200 million.
“It will have six components – a four-star hotel, a marine park, a regatta site, a seafood hub, mini convention centre and 15-door Bumiputera tourism products centre.
“We have entered into an MoU with Safma ( Sabah Fish Marketing Sdn Bhd) to make use of five acres of their land to build the tourism centre. This way, we’re giving a chance to Bumiputeras to become entrepreneurs.”
Pulau Bum Bum is set to be a sub-district island with the state government having agreed to a plan to boost tourism in the district further.
“What’s left now is an endorsement from the government and Pulau Bum Bum and Semporna will complement each other with a lot of potential to develop on the island.
“I’d also like to reintroduce the idea of building a bridge to connect Pulau Bum Bum to the mainland. It’s also time Semporna had its own tourism board and airport, which would be our own gateway as we receive 3,000 visitors a day,” said Ramlee.
Security is also of utmost importance in Semporna, which in 2013 saw an intrusion of armed militants from Sulu, southern Philippines.
“Thanks to the presence of the Eastern Sabah Security Command, some 3,000-4,000 visitors a day, especially from China, now visit Semporna,” said Ramlee, adding that this proved the constituency was safe.