Ramlee slams Warisan's Sabah Plan, ask what Shafie did for Semporna

SEMPORNA: Sabah Umno has panned a reported state “road map” by Parti Warisan Sabah, which includes making the east coast more economically vibrant, saying it is outdated as the area has become more sophisticated and larger than what is envisaged.

Its information wing’s deputy head Ramlee Marhaban said the idea to make Semporna into a tourist paradise and Tawau into an important seafood export hub if Warisan wrests the state in the upcoming 14th general election (GE14) lacked depth and understanding.

He questioned what Warisan president Shafie Apdal had done for the east coast when he was the rural and regional development minister with an annual budget of more than RM6 billion until his removal from the federal cabinet in July 2015.

Shafie, who has been Semporna MP since 1995, quit Umno where he was vice-president in July last year to form Warisan.

“That question is on every Sabahan’s mind. What can he do for Sabah when he has practically done nothing for Semporna all these years despite having the opportunity and the means to do it?” Ramlee, who is Sabah state assistant finance minister, claimed.

“If Shafie had the Semporna people in his heart in all the years he had been in power, Semporna would today be enjoying modern facilities like a sports complex, a new central market, a religious school and well-positioned clinics to look after the people,” he added in a statement.

He said the Barisan Nasional (BN) state government’s tourism plan for Semporna had already led to 30,000 to 40,000 non-diving tourists visiting there every month, especially from China.

He said with the new Tawau airport and the Sandakan airport earmarked for upgrading, more tourists would make their way there, creating economic spin-offs in the various districts.

“As a complement to the efforts, Warisan Harta Sabah Sdn Bhd has already planned to build a tourism centre, a marine park as well as seafood centre in Semporna,” he said.

“If Shafie is serious in wanting to bring tourism development to Semporna, he must produce a concrete plan, not just utter political catchphrases to the people,” he said.

Ramlee also said the idea to make Tawau a seafood hub was outrageously outdated because the state government had already formulated a plan for it which focussed on more than seafood.

“The first part of this plan is the completion of the Tawau ferry passenger terminal in October 2016 at the cost of RM29 million, with the negotiation to develop Tawau Port for transhipment for the Tawau/Kalimantan region at an advanced stage with the Indonesian authorities,” he said.

“Tawau is already Sabah’s largest live seafood export point,” he added. “When there is sufficient passenger and cargo traffic volume, direct flights will be mounted between Tawau and international consumer centres.”

Warisan vice-president Junz Wong was reported on Sept 12 as saying that the party’s plan included a seafood export hub for Tawau which would eliminate the need to transport seafood from the east coast to Kota Kinabalu.

“Instead of going all the way to the capital, fishermen, including fish farmers, can simply drop their products or move their bases to the hub for processing and export,” he had said.

“We are aware of the need to apply for export certification and tests to ensure quality control of our seafood produce. This hub will facilitate all such tests.”

Tawau Port, he said, was earmarked for the hub because of its strategic location and close proximity to Kalimantan as well as the Celebes Sea shipping route.FMT