Is Malaysia’s first and biggest oceanarium in Mabul necessary?

I asked the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas in Parliament less than half an hour ago this question – is Malaysia’s proposed first and biggest oceanarium resort of luxury chalets in Mabul in the east coast of Sabah necessary?

This was during Douglas’ winding-up of his ministry in the 2009 Budget committee debate.

I said that the controversial oceanarium resort at Pulau Mabul had become hot news in the last few days and asked for the Federal Government’s stand on the opposition of environmentalists, villagers and dive operators who warned that the proposed 33 ha parcel of shallows will bring disaster to Mabul marine life and may also degrade the eco-sensitive coral reefs of Pulau Sipadan, a 20-minute boat ride away.

I referred in particular to the views of the Sabah Environment Protection Association president Wong Tack who not only asked if the oceanarium was necessary “because one could easily see fishes swimming in the clear Mabul waters” but how approval to such a massive project could be given before the terms of the EIA are known.

Wong Tack had also pointedly reminded the authorities concerned to what happened in Sipadan in 2006 when a construction barge ran aground, destroying a coral reef batch the size of three tennis courts and putting Malaysia in a bad light.

In his reply, Douglas said this was a new issue but gave an assurance that his Ministry would do its utmost to protect marine life.

  1. #1 by Johorean on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 3:31 pm

    Another short sighted plan by our Boleh Government.

  2. #2 by All For The Road on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 3:47 pm

    Have any study and research been carried out on the feasibility and viability of the proposed oceanarium in Mabul? How much will the project and construction cost? Will it be a white elephant later?

  3. #3 by k1980 on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 4:04 pm

    Malaysia’s proposed first and biggest oceanarium resort of luxury chalets in Mabul in the east coast of Sabah will certainly bring in large numbers of tourists, i.e. members of the Abu Sayyap now fleeing from the American-led assault on their stronghold in Jolo. The problem is that they may not pay for using the world-class facilities there.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 4:08 pm

    Isn’t this like bringing coal to Newcastle???

    Most tourists – target market- of Pulau Mabul are, I would imagine, divers.

    They dive into the waters to see and experience first hand strange exotic marine creatures teeming in these waters.

    Why would the same people be interested to see and pay for seeing second hand these strange exotic marine creatures from outside an oversized Aquarium dubbed an oceanarium?

    It is not like having an ocenarium say in KL or Penang!

    Yet State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister says this oceanarium might “value add what nature has endowed us”.


  5. #5 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 4:09 pm

    Check who are the BN cronies/businessmen who benefit from the project.

  6. #6 by rubini on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 4:45 pm

    So who’s project is it? Certainly not to benefit marine life!

  7. #7 by Godfather on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 5:24 pm

    The developer is a RM2 company, according to the Star. What is going on in Bolehland, when a RM2 company can obtain approval to do an oceanarium worth tens of millions of ringgit ? Is this going to be another case of an abandoned project when the piles have already gone into the ocean floor ?

    Anyone can see that this is not the right time to sell “oceanfront” villas that require a two-hour boatride from Sempoerna. Are the developers stupid or are there more sinister objectives at play ?

  8. #8 by madmix on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 6:21 pm

    There will always be greedy developers queuing up with all kinds of proposals to get cheap government land. They are the ones with money to give to the approving officers and higher ups while the rakyat can only make noise. You see this in Hollywood movies time and again and in real live in Malaysia.

  9. #9 by ktteokt on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 6:37 pm

    Another WHITE ELEPHANT in the making!

  10. #10 by cvl on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 7:07 pm

    A few forgotten years back, Abu Sayaf group took a group of dive tourists from Pu Sipadan for an enforced eco-geo tours amongst the isles of southern Philippines.

    Whether adventure tourism in Sabah took off from this hostage taking from Pu Sipadan might be gauged by this Mabul ocenarium.

    The RM 2 company might just have connections to that Sipadan hostage incident.

  11. #11 by monsterball on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 8:38 pm

    Make a research who is buying cheap land in Pulau Mabul BEFORE the project.
    Just like Pulau Langkawai….almost all owned by Diam and Mahathir…..BEFORE multi billion RM projects.
    So…one acre bought for RM600 sold at RM45,000.oo…at least ..and we are talking about hectares of land…owned by these two.
    But ofcourse…you will get their cronies or relations names…leaving them….sparking clean.

  12. #12 by Godfather on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 9:10 pm

    Yes, the directors and shareholders of this RM2 company will be nominees. The real owners work behind the scenes pulling the levers of political patronage. What is most galling is that if the project fails – which I think it will given the current economic climate – then it will be abandoned and the state will have to pick up the pieces to ensure that the undersea environment is not harmed.

    You don’t have to go far just to see the example of an UMNO project. Go to the Sepang Goldcoast, the brainchild of Khir Toyo. He had a state agency build the equivalent of Dubai’s Palmyra project, except that the Emirates totally reclaimed land in deep water, but Khir Toyo just put in the piles in shallow water. Today, only the piles can be seen. The makan stalls that were supposed to cater to the tourists are generally empty. Only the sandflies now greet visitors to the Gold Coast.

    Look at the Kg Tekek marina on Tioman. When it was discovered that the construction barges had decimated the cabbage and plate corals off the island, the UMNOputra put on a show of concern and took a helicopter ride with journalists to survey the ecological disaster. After a stop-work order of 6 months, the project resumed, and now the marina stands in place of a coral reef – empty and forlorn. I am sure this UMNOputra will be hoping that the Tourism Ministry will bail him out with a fresh grant !

  13. #13 by letek on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 11:07 pm

    another white elephant project , so its a common practice to channel rakyat’s money into some personnel’s pocket, why bother the consequence. Malaysia Boleh !……..

  14. #14 by menarambo on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 5:58 am

    I guess Malaysia wants to have biggest, longest, tallest everything… Here we have… newest category in Guiness world record: Winner of Country with the most White Elephant projects in the world: MALAYSIA !!!!!! yes! Malaysia boleh!

  15. #15 by frankyapp on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 6:34 am

    Well guys,this proves my point correct once again when I said these UMNOBN fellows will only take their own pokets into consideration when messing around the state and nation assets and funds to develop all these so-called projects making used of the rakyats’s interest as an excuse.More abuse will be exposed,please keep on tracking.

  16. #16 by Kathy on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 6:53 am

    Well said Menarambo. It looks like the people of Pulau Mabul (and hopefully with the help of the relevant NGOs) would have to pick up the pieces before more harm and devastation comes their way.

  17. #17 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 7:46 am

    If the government has the resource to build such elephant project, how come it doesn’t have the money to improve the infrastructure and utilities (e.g. electricity and water supplies) of Sabah – clearly it is a case of misallocation of funds and priorities.

  18. #18 by kkchow67 on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 8:49 am

    I have being to Pulau Mabul island, and when I was there, it is sad to say that the island is very dirty. One cannot even walk on the beach without coming across human faeces and garbage litter. You can see floating faeces on the sea. If building a oceanarium resort with proper environment control implemented, I am all for it. However, I am against government involvement. Let the private sector implement this project. We can follow Singapore model by floating international bids to win this project. Government involvement will definitely doomed the project and the environment.

  19. #19 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 9:12 am

    Necessary? Since when are these ‘satu lagi projek BN’ things necessary? Its always about indulgence and gluttony, a BN disease.

  20. #20 by taiking on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 9:23 am

    “See and you people said umno government neglected sabah and sarawak. Develop got criticise. Dont develop also got criticise. What you want us to do? Criticise for developing oceanarium. No need to say one. Surely will also get scolded if the development is school or road and not oceanarium. Thats why umno government dont want to build roads and schools etc. Not because we dont want to develop sabah sarawak. Develop or not develop also get scolding. Better dont develop and get scolding then develop and still get scolding. What to do?”

    This is one effort by an umnoputra to justify umno’s case for the oceanarium and umno’s policy for sabah sarawak. He has a PhD (oceanarium and space engineering). Dont you fellas ever say that umnoputras are without merits.

  21. #21 by bc on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 9:38 am

    umno dont want to build road and schoo etc, they do not want the sabah people be smart and also no road access to find out there is many illegal immigrant being imported.

  22. #22 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 9:50 am

    $2-ringgit companies with the COLLECT-CONNECTION with bring millions: that had been our national philosophy of erasing poverty among the super rich in Bolehland. Soon enough, Treasury will be tasked with finding funds to finish the job.
    Do we not see the parallel with the GM, FORD & Chrysler with our local NATIONAL car industry? Only that we could shut out other competitors with tariff barrier. In the case of GM,Ford & Chrysler, the Congress is sensible enough to stop the nonsense of national pride. In fact to sustain them will only prolong the agony. This is only a case of supporting a bunch of failed high-paying managers who have failed the shareholders and the public. Of course, we Malaysians are not shocked because we have been asked to witness such incidents so often!!

  23. #23 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 10:37 am

    What’s next? Building the biggest orang utan cages in the world in the rainforest of Sarawak?

  24. #24 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 10:58 am

    Another case of greedy BN politicians exploiting mother nature and the rights of ordinary Malaysians.

  25. #25 by k1980 on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 11:00 am

    Build the biggest orang utan cages in the world, and populate them with corrupt bn politicians– in the buff, of course. And separate enclosures for the male and female specimens

  26. #26 by monsterball on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 11:04 am

    Under UMNO…Malaysia must have the best and biggest in everything.
    Twin Towers….biggest government vicinity…biggest PM office…biggest banquet halls….biggest UMNO building based on population….most decorated with false titles politician in the world…..biggest political corrupted crooks in the world…biggest government Islamic hypocrites in the name of religion and race…and the list goes on and on.
    Why so???
    Because…they have not much brain powers…so acting and bullshitting are their art and craft….great singers too!!
    These easy come easy go type of mentalities politicians are infact…having great inferiority complexes….not Malaysians.
    They never change…with the times…not Malaysians.
    They never progress and learn…not Malaysians.
    Malaysians have advanced and be well educated and can think for themselves.
    UMNO talk big…act big..with nothing much to learn from them…except how to twist and turn facts to fictions and vice versa….and a very thick skin…to ignore and deny all wrong doings.
    They are teaching young Malaysians… to be a politician…based on their life styles….their so call…leadership by examples.
    Most of all….biggest …largest and the best will cost billions to build…promote and acquire….mooted by Mahathir…for the famous 10% commission….huge huge 10% in fast way t get filthy rich. That is the only fast work…UMNO knows…..shown by Mahathir.
    So..UMNO BARU..from no money to be worth billions. How smart…..businessmen ….they are……party ..self and friends…so fast rich.
    He showed the way…and on going.
    He made all ministers so rich…that’s why he dares to talk cock and bull….all the time.
    Most of all….he his living on pills. He is living on fantasy world…thinking he is the best and non corrupted PM.
    Just go and read his blog…and see the self made King…becomes the king of lying.
    Get to the ROOT…and Lim Kit Siang’s hundreds of crisis said are true…but UNMO is governing….live with it.

  27. #27 by taiking on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 11:44 am

    … and dont forget to cover up the female species completely with large leaves.

  28. #28 by ktteokt on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 12:35 pm

    It’s just going to end up like the many “satu lagi projek BN”! Look at Plaza Rakyat in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur. It was built for the sole purpose of housing the LRT station to meet the dateline for the Commonwealth Games and thereafter, everything is abandoned. The cranes and pile caps are all rusty!

    We should also not forget another famous “satu lagi projek BN” when MP Tiong led a whole team of BN MPs to Taiwan for an agricultural study trip. Looks like they have nothing to say after they came back from Taiwan. Has anyone seen or heard a report on the study trip from him or any of the members of the tour group? So, what was the bloody purpose of the study trip? Did they learn how to plant SWEET POTATOES?

  29. #29 by frankyapp on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 12:43 pm

    Taiking,who’s this Umno guys said such nonsense ? We welcome new schools but critizised the lacking of qualified teachers.Why built new modern schools when you have shortage of qualified teachers ? Similarly, large and modern hospitals are built in most district in Sabah but have no modern facilities and qualified staffs.Most highways are built but lasted only couple of years and major maintaince is necessary to up keep them. WE critizised the unnecessary of public funds wastage.Another excellent example is the current oceanarium project to be developed by a RM 2 company.When it fails,the raykat is the victim.This are the critizisms we are after the UMNO/BN government and it’s the rakyat’s right,right guys ?

  30. #30 by shortie kiasu on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 - 2:37 pm

    This is clearly another case of white elephant to siphon off the nation’s coffer to the pockets of the privileged.

  31. #31 by ktteokt on Thursday, 20 November 2008 - 10:13 pm

    Not only a white elephant but an opportunity for cronies to “gasak” RM, RM and RM from Malaysians again by inflating prices! This is what projects in Malaysia are for!!!!

  32. #32 by trashed on Thursday, 20 November 2008 - 10:41 pm

    Why go through the arduous trip to Mabul when you can go Altlantis in Dubai ?

  33. #33 by zioburosky13 on Friday, 21 November 2008 - 12:11 am

    Who ever came out with such idea Building an oceanarium is an idiot who don’t understand the reason behind it. People go to Sipadan or Mabul to dive. It is a privilege you have to pay but also it’s another way to protect the fragile eco-system there by limiting the number of visitors to the place
    If they really want to built one, they should focus in Kota Kinabalu, which has been starting getting commercialized heavily.

    Federal took our land, our oil, and now our fish. Soon our woman…

  34. #34 by Toyol on Friday, 21 November 2008 - 3:12 pm

    You only build oceanariums in cities where people with no access or no desire to go underwater to view marine creatures. Mabul is a pristine environment and it is totally absurd to build an aquarium in a sea where the waters are crystal clear. It is for the same reason you don’t build a zoo in the middle of the African savannah! Totally stupid of BN…well what can we expect from people with no IQ.

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