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Malaysian Prime Minister: Sipadan Cannot be Developed; Island 'Must be Kept In Its Pristine State'

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PETALING JAYA, Malaysai -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said development projects cannot be implemented in Pulau Sipadan, Sabah, as the beautiful environment surrounding the island especially the coral reefs need to be protected.

"The island is a very valuable asset to the country and must be kept in its pristine state," he told reporters after opening a conference on efforts to improve the public service delivery system here today.

Abdullah had been asked if development projects would be allowed on the island, which is world famous as a divers' paradise.

The Sabah government last year was reported to have rejected plans to develop a clubhouse and restaurant on it.

However, it later eased on the matter and allowed basic infrastructure for divers and tourists using environment friendly materials to be built at a cost of only RM1.5 million.

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