A historic clock tower, the oldest standing structure in the city, is once again at the centre of a controversy and may be relocated after approval was allegedly given to build an 18-storey hotel and shopping mall next to it, however there is no confirmation on this yet.
Luyang assemblyman Hiew King Chew said City Hall was thinking about moving the 112-year-old Atkinson Clock Tower from its present location, a hill adjacent to Padang Merdeka here, although a new site has not been finalised.
"I think this is a good idea as the present site is unsuitable" he said, adding that the clock tower has already been dwarfed by other buildings around it as the downtown area has grown over the years.
In response to that, architect Datuk Ho Jia Lit expressed his disagreement, stating that moving the clock tower is the worst option ever.
"Not only does it destroy the existing heritage building and its site in relation to the other adjacent heritage site (Padang Merdeka), it is also destroying the critical historical reference location point (with the Atkinson Clock Tower being the main point)", he exclaimed.
"Are they also going to relocate Padang Merdeka to their new site too?" he expresses, adding that it is absurd to split up the two historical sites to suit some money making development at the expenses of not just Sabahans & Malaysians but to the whole world.
The development project was shelved six years ago amid public protests and court action.
Activists and history buffs here have expressed their disappointment after learning that City Hall had given the green light for it to be revived.
The proposed project could significantly affect the value of the clock tower as a heritage structure and tourist attraction.
The 15.2m tower was built in 1905 by Briton Mary Edith Atkinson in memory of her son Francis George, who died of malaria while serving in the colonial government
The Atkinson Clock Tower is among the very few wooden clock towers left in the world.