Save our Heritage for Our Future Generation
KOTA KINABALU, Monday (27 August 2012); Heritage Sabah spokesperson Richard Nelson Sokial expressed his appreciation to Kota Kinabalu Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir’s for his prompt response to Heritage Sabah’s press statement regarding the public hearings on objections to the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020. He also noted that the City Planning Department of DBKK has held a public consultation between September 2011 and January 2012.
However, while Heritage Sabah notes that DBKK is acting accordingly with what is stipulated in the Town Planning legislation, members of the NGO as city dwellers of Kota Kinabalu feel that it is very important for the public to always remain fully aware of what is happening to policies and guidelines that will govern and shape their city’s future.
Sokial explained that public consultations are a great platform to encourage transparency and dialogue between the public and Local Authorities. As the public consultation exercise on the Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020 is the first that has taken place in Sabah in many years, Heritage Sabah believes that DBKK and members of the public alike should seize this opportunity to establish an effective form of integrated governance at the local level.
The proposed Atkinson Clock Tower development is a notable example where public comment was not sought, triggering strong resistance among the local community and questions about how much value and priority is really put on the public interest.
“In order to avoid history from repeating itself, DBKK needs to ensure that the bond and interaction with the public remains constant even if legislation does not necessitate the need for public hearings to be open to the general public (as stated in Section 7 of the Town and Country Planning Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 141) according to Mayor DBKK”, he said.
Regular press releases or online publications and updates detailing the schedule and proceedings of the public hearings are some of the things DBKK can and should do to ensure their foundation towards an integrated and accountable partnership with the public is not lost.
In the case of public objection to a proposed plan, the objector should be given time to prepare their cases and with advance time notification – and not to be caught off guard at the last minute. The public and press also should be allowed to observe such hearings to gain more understanding over the decision and planning process as it is a matter of public interest.
The Local Governance Ordinance 1961 section 18 also states that “every meeting of an Authority and of a divisional committee established by an Authority under this Ordinance shall be open to the public and the press: Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to any committee appointed by an Authority or to a committee of the whole Authority or to any sub-committee of an Authority”.
As an architectural and cultural heritage NGO, the way that Kota Kinabalu is planned will either increase or diminish the value of living in the city. Heritage is not just what we possess from the past; it also determined how we plan for the city for the future. With that, Heritage Sabah hopes that DBKK will allow more NGO participation in the planning and decision making process to make sure the public interest will be protected.