It is greatly disappointing to learn that the Sabah state government and Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) has apparently yet again approved and proceeded with another 18-storey multi-purpose building next to the oldest monument in the city.
After the 2011 judicial review, the state government had decided to shelve the project due to mass protests because the public was worried that such massive construction work would affect the old clock tower structure.
The clock tower, since it was built, has always been well-known among the locals and tourists with its spacious greenery and beautiful hill slope surroundings.
The natural greenery of the clock tower site is a top attraction and reason for tourists to visit this city and Sabah because there are not many more wooden structure clock towers around the world.
Jefferi Chang, Save Open Space Kota Kinabalu (SOS KK) coordinator, co-founder and former member of Heritage Sabah Society, and co-plaintiff of the 2011 Atkinson Clock Tower judicial review commented that the secrecy of the approval process makes it even more questionable.
"We want to ask how the government and city hall can justify their decision to bypass the central board evaluation, approve and push forward for a major construction work next to a sensitive and fragile heritage icon which already reached 119 years old last week since it was completed on April 20, 1905," he said.
He also added that Sabah is among the top tourist spots in the South-East Asia region and tourists visit Sabah for the little heritage sites that it has left.
The clock tower was depicted in a very famous January 1911 Jesselton Town photo which captured the historical town padang, old railway line and sea port.
Today, the clock tower is almost overshadowed by Wisma Inti Utama and Wisma TWB which are respectively six and eight storeys high.
It is believed that the proposed 18-storey building will also hurt the photo scape value, dwarfing and encapsulating the iconic heritage structure to the point of perhaps being seen as ugly and distasteful.