Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dropoff Point at Sipadan Island Damaged By Barge

Scuba divers, tour operators, tourism promoters and nature lovers in Sabah were shocked to read about the world famous "Dropoff Point", just a stone's throw from the Sipadan Island, was damaged by a huge barge carrying building materials for construction works on the island.
The "Dropoff Point" is not referring to the jetty for dropping off visitors used by the boats and ferry, it is a rare coral cliff which "drops off" suddenly to a sheer steep depth in the ocean bed. Very few places in the world have such cliff in the ocean bed.
There are also a number of caves of varying sizes and depth, but all are abundance in rare and unique marine life. Some of the caves are excellent training grounds for cave scuba diving.
The barge found resting on top the "Dropoff Points" scrapping off all corals from the top of the "Dropoff Points". It is not yet clear whether the fragile and thin ceilings of the caves mentioned above have collasped under the weight of the barge.
It is a real sad case, we are blessed with such a wonderful gift from Mother nature, yet there are still people who will not see the uniqueness of it all. They destroyed it for their own selfish gains.
It was learned that usually heavy vessels are not allowed near the island, only small boats, called kumpits, though small in size but are capable of carrying heavy materials are allowed under tight control. How on earth that huge barge (it was as tall as the building on the island as seen from the photo) got there ? Now everybody is pointing fingers at each other.
But that is beside the point. The point is the Sabah state government announced two years ago gallantly that in order to preserve the eco-system around the island, all the 7 existing resorts on the island had to be demolished, and NO MORE structure of any kind is to be allowed on this island. The 7 said resorts were subsequently demolished and relocated to the Mabul Island nearby. As one politician from opposition party asked, "Why are there still construction works going on in the island two years after?"
I like to hear the answer, I believe many people like to hear, too.
The Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Musa Hj Aman has declared that Sipadan Island will be closed to prevent further damage and allow the island to regenerate. Is this a move to punish the public who voiced their opinions? The people who caused the damages should be punished not the tourists who did nothing wrong and who bring revenues into the state. It may take hundreds of years for the coral reef to regenerate, or may never regenerate into its past unique shape again. Even if it will, are we supposed to wait for a few hundred years before allowing visitors to go to the island again?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Federal Cabinet Committee To Handle Illegal Immigrants Problems

Malaysia Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abd Razak told repoters that the Federal Cabinet has formed a committee to solve the incerasingly serious problems created by the presence of the large number of illegal immigrants entering Sabah from Indonesia and the Philippines.
He said the Federal Task Force formed in the 90s is not effective in dealing with this problem. The numbers of immigrants not only did not reduce but has increased instead since its formation.
It is a good sign because the federal government at least has acknowledged the problem existed. Hopefully the committee will find a solution, or to stop the numbers of illegal immigrants from incerasing daily.