Thursday, March 28, 2013

ESSCOM: Promotes Socio-Economic Growth In Sabah's East Coast

LAHAD DATU, (Bernama) -- The formation of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) serves as a double-edged sword.

It not only ensures the sovereignty and security of Sabah's east coast, but also brings a breath of fresh air to residents in the five districts.

ESSCOM, which encompasses Kudat, Tawau, Kunak, Sandakan and Lahad Datu, as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on March 7, is poised to promote more rapid economic growth, in line with the Sabah Development Corridor launched in 2008.

Silam Member of Parliament Salleh Kalbi said ESSCOM's formation would give a major impact, not just economy-wise, but could stimulate the tourism, education and socio-cultural sectors while creating 100,000 employment opportunities.

"When ESSCOM is implemented, prices of properties will appreciate with a double-terrace house rising to as high as RM500,000 from RM350,000 now.

"Secondly, factories will be set up to meet the demand of palm oil and generate more jobs," he told Bernama in a recent interview.

Najib announced the establishment of ESSCOM when observing operations mounted by the security forces in eradicating terrorist groups from southern Philippines at Felda Sahabat 16, near Kampung Tanduo, about 130km from Lahad Datu town.

Lahad Datu, the administration centre of ESSCOM, is located at the centre of two main districts on Sabah's east coast, namely Tawau and Sandakan with a population of 195,000, of which 25,162 are voters.

The Silam parliamentary constituency has 308,000 residents, of which 52,054 are voters.

Salleh said, the Silam parliamentary constituency comprising three state assembly seats, namely Lahad Datu, Kunak and Tungku, had its economic strength based on coconut and oil palm plantations and was poised to see greater prosperity with more new residential areas sprouting when ESSCOM was implemented.

"Access by roads will improve from the current situation and a new airport will be built in Silakan. Upon completion, the areas will be well served with modern transportation," he added.

He is confident the changes would attract foreign investors to Lahad Datu, which would be the second city after Kota Kinabalu in development, and an economic hub of Sabah.

The Silam member of parliament said the creation of ESSCOM along the 1,400km coastline of Sabah's east coast would also promote fishing activities, involving tiger prawn, shrimp and crab, apart from seaweed cultivation.

With an area of about 6,635 sq km, Lahad Datu currently has an airport located in the middle of the town and receives about 20,000 tourists a month.

Salleh said the Danum Valley and the Tabin Wildlife Park were among the tourist attractions, besides its natural beautiful environment.

Flight to Lahad Datu from Kota Kinabalu takes about an hour. There are five daily flights on the route.

"After ESSCOM, I am confident the tourist arrivals here will increase as they feel safer now," he said.

On water villages not gazetted as heritage villages in the area, he agreed that they should be demolished despite their impact on the tourism sector.

"Prior to this, the water villages served as tourist attractions, even though it may expose them to foreign intruders. Therefore, ungazetted villages will have to go for the benefit of all.

"A gazetted water village will be maintained as a heritage village and managed systematically so that it is free from dangerous threats," he said.

He proposed that the government build a new relocation area which was comfortable, conducive and not far from the sea as most of the villagers were fishermen.

Lahad Datu, located by the seaside, is poised to have army and police camps and depots as proposed, and it would be upgraded as a maritime city, if it fulfilled all conditions. There is even a possibility of setting up a university.

The ESSCOM move, noted Salleh, would give confidence to Sabahans that the government will guarantee peace and sovereignty for the Land Below the Wind.

On Monday, the prime minister announced the creation of the East Sabah Safety Zone (ESSZONE) covering 10 districts - Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

ESSZONE will be administered by the ESSZONE committee established under the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance 2013 and is chaired by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
*Taken from Bernama

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