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Local Official: People Want Answers About Sipadan Construction Plans; 'I Am Not Pointing Fingers'
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KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia -- The people of Semporna, the district in which Pulau Sipadan falls, have their own questions about the rest facilities being built on the island.

Semporna MP Datuk Shafie Apdal said: "The State Government asked the operators to vacate the island. Some of them were descendants of people who had lived there. They made a sacrifice and left Sipadan because they agreed that it would be the best way to conserve the environment there. Now they want to know why there are plans to construct facilities."

His constituents were worried as many depended on tourism spin-offs from divers going to Sipadan and nearby islands, he said, commenting on corals recently damaged by a barge taking construction material and equipment to the island to build rest facilities.

Shafie said he had asked state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat for a report on the incident.

"I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but the authorities must rectify the situation. If there are to be rest facilities, they must be minimal and made of light, wood-based materials. We must be practical because you do need basic facilities for tourists."

Shafie declined to comment on whether action should be taken against the contractor, saying it was a matter for the State Government to decide.

Last week, Chong said the contractor would not be penalised and would only be asked to pay for the clean-up efforts.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has ordered a full probe and took Sabah Parks to task for allowing a barge to dock on the environmentally-sensitive island.


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