Tanjong Aru assemblyman Edward Yong Oui Fah has his work cut out for him ahead of the next general election (GE14) as he tries to soften resistance to a multi-billion ringgit development project in his constituency.
Local NGOs and opposition politicians have been resisting the 348-hectare Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED), insisting the public will lose their access to the beach and voicing concerns over environmental destruction.
The TAED project aims to turn the coastal town into a premier international green tourism destination and a sprawling commercial, residential and recreational centre.
An online petition was initiated to gather signatures against the development, and a group of people even brought the matter to court in a bid to scrap the project. However, the case was later dismissed.
As a result, Yong, who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah vice-president, now has to juggle his job of looking after the people's interests with implementing government policies.
His constituency is one of two state seats under the parliamentary constituency of Putatan. The other state seat is Petagas.
"We receive complaints from everywhere because nobody can be 100% satisfied. People do not see the big picture. Just like the Sutera Harbour Resort project before. When the reclamation started, lots of people objected to it. But they were okay when they saw the end product of the completed resort" Yong told FMT.
He believes the majority of people welcome the TAED and accept that certain sacrifices are needed as part of progress.
He added however that the government would not neglect the welfare of the affected stakeholders.
"When you take away something, the government will bring something better for the people. People must understand, the government of the day is trying its best to develop the area, to be more conducive to our next generation.
"But the government will not take advantage of the people. If the government wants to take your land, they will need to negotiate, even pay for it" Yong said.
The multi-billion-Ringgit TAED project will start work in Q2 2018 with the Phase 1 of the development, said Datuk Seri Victor Paul, who was appointed as Executive Director to manage the project on pro bono basis.
Once completed, the whole development will consist of eight district zones; Aru Gateway, Prince Philip Wharf, Prince Philip Park, Aru Village, Aru Oceanfront, Aru Marina, Tanjung Aru Beach and Golf Retreat.