The Sabah Economic Advisory Council (Seac) Chairman Tan Sri David Chu expressed his hopes to see a long-term plan with attention and importance in developing Pulau Gaya in the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) Development Plan when it launches next month.
He suggested to develop it into a major tourist attraction like Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
“This capital city of Sabah is full of vitality, restful and quiet atmosphere, with modern infrastructure.
“However, the development space of Kota Kinabalu is limited. Therefore, I suggest the State Government develop another place within Kota Kinabalu on Pulau Gaya, using tourism to drive and promote the co-ordinated development of economy and society,” he said in an exclusive interview by Overseas Chinese Daily News (OCDN).
“Because of the slow progress in Kota Kinabalu, tourists have no place to spend the night. They have to go through Kota Kinabalu. Diving in Semporna is a fatal injury to Kota Kinabalu’s tourism industry.
“(So) if you want to develop the State Capital quickly, you should build two sea-crossing bridges connecting Kota Kinabalu and Pulau Gaya. When the night falls, it is bright. The lights and the colourful neon are like waking up from a deep sleep…so that the city does not sleep at night but still bustling and showing the prosperity of a city.
“Of course, the first task is to settle the refugees living on the island to other places. A place to live,” he said.
He said Pulau Gaya, covering an area of about 4,000 acres, has crystal clear waters, golden sands on the beach and colourful corals at the bottom of the sea, which brings tourists a new summer leisure experience.
Chu also proposed the State Government build a new international airport on Pulau Gaya, which is located in a strategic position, suggesting Malaysia Airlines develop direct flights to and from Southeast Asia and major cities in Asia to this new airport.
Chu said moving the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) to Pulau Gaya will not affect the overall development of Kota Kinabalu, as long as the Chief Minister gives the nod, the State Government decides to act decisively, act fast and open up the economy.
“There would be many foreign investors coming. Sabah may invest in joint ventures with local people and participate in development plans. Sabah will definitely develop better than other countries,” he said.