• Ilona Andrew

Improve Sandakan infrastructure before giving it city status – Poon


13 Oct 2021

By Ilona Andrew


SANDAKAN: The infrastructure in Sandakan should first be improved before uplifting its status from town to city, said Tanjong Papat State Assemblyman Datuk Frankie Poon Ming Fung.


While he lauded the proposal by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Bung Moktar Radin to give the district a city status, he is of the view that there won’t be much to look forward to if nothing is done to upgrade the infrastructure as there is nothing new to offer.


“I believe a vibrant economy is more meaningful when we are called a city with much to offer. A city is more synonymous with a vibrant economy.


“Right now, it's kind of like lackadaisicalness with nothing much to offer … (Changing the status) would only set off certain curious Malaysian and foreign visitors,” he said in a statement, yesterday.


Poon added that without good infrastructure, there will be additional costs and burden to investors.


“A double carriageway to connect to other towns will certainly help to increase business activities. Imagine moving produce goods from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu or other towns for export or otherwise.


“It's dangerous with no connecting road lightings and long duration and costly. Water and electricity disruptions are of concern to investors too,” he asserted.

Datuk Frankie Poon Ming Fung

The acting chief of Sabah DAP also mentioned that more job opportunities should be created through downstream business activities as Sabah has bountiful natural resources.


“Notwithstanding the pandemic, these activities should continue to move as they are meant for both local and export consumptions,” he stated.


While Sandakan was declared a “nature city” in 2004 by the then chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, Poon indicated that the status has not helped much in making the folks more akin to nature.


This was evidenced when rubbish is still regularly seen floating in the sea or piled up and left uncollected, he added.


“The public walkways at commercial buildings in town still very much ignored with sewerage overflowing from five-foot walkways unresolved … Collapsed sidewalks covers have yet been replaced as well as algae and scrubs growing at the back of buildings without interference from the local authorities. Is this the kind of nature that was envisaged when Sandakan was declared a ‘nature city’?


“The city status would certainly move Sandakan status to the next level. There is no perquisites or criteria in being called a city. There will be an enactment passed in the State Assembly to change Sandakan status legally. There will be a mayor and an advisory board of between five to 15 members.


“Of course, we will be proud. But will the upkeep of Sandakan be wholly dependent on the collections of taxes from its inhabitants? What will happen if there are deficiencies?”


Poon also mentioned that a simple Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) needed to boost the economy in town that was initially approved by the Federal Government was subsequently withdrawn by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.


“The UTC could have helped to boost up business activities in the town centre. What we need is councilors to be elected by the people and not a selected group of people to serve their political masters,” he asserted.


Recently, Bung who is also Sabah Works Minister said Sandakan will be upgraded as the second city of Sabah after Kota Kinabalu in February next year.


He revealed that a soft launching for Sandakan as a city will be held this month where Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is expected to be present for the inauguration.