Shocking images and videos from the controversial Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) proposed site has emerged today.
Seen in those images are full grown trees being chopped down, with many more being marked to be chopped down soon.
Apart from trees being chopped down, TAED is also inviting businesses to advertise with the controversial project.
The current status of this controversial site is unknown, but Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) has previously announced that the project will resume.
When met this morning, some locals expressed their shock, questioning if the government has decided to bulldoze plans for the multi-billion project, despite being objected by the public.
For the record, the controversial TAED has a history dating back to 2016.
Some argue that TAED would bring economic benefits to Sabah, while those who oppose the project say this is a mischief to privatise a public space.
Locals and hawkers are adamant that the project should not proceed, with many sharing fond childhood memories of the place.
The project was scheduled to begin in 2016, under former Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman’s Barisan Nasional administration.
Despite opposition from locals, hawkers, activists and NGOs, the then Kota Kinabalu Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai in January 2017 defended the project, arguing that the job opportunities TAED brings would last for generations.
Tensions reached sky high in March 2018, when DBKK under the leadership of Yeo forcefully removed hawkers who refused to relocate.
Electricity supply was cut and enforcement personnels were sent in to evict hawkers and confiscate properties like tables and chairs.
The project finally came to a halt in 2018, after BN collapsed.
Musa lost the Sabah Chief Ministership and Yeo’s tenure as KK Mayor ended.
Throughout the Warisan administration between May 2018 to September 2020, no fences were erected and no trees were chopped.
The project came to a halt as hawkers and locals started returning to the first beach.
DBKK under the Warisan administration also started erecting new tents and stalls for hawkers.
Datuk Junz Wong who is Tanjung Aru State Assemblyman in a statement in 2020 explained, Warisan does not oppose development, but there were prerequisites to be fulfilled by interested developers.
Among those prerequisites were no compromise to public ownership of the beach.
He said it would be good if a developer were to develop Tanjung Aru Beach into a world class destination like Sydney’s Manly Beach or Melbourne’s St. Kilda Beach, without claiming ownership of the beach.
But since no developer could agree to the prerequisites set by Warisan, the site was a no-go under Warisan’s entire 26-month tenure.
As GRS came into power in September 2020, the TAED leadership was reshuffled.
Datuk Ismail Abdullah was appointed as the new TAED Executive Director while UMNO’s Abdul Aziz Julkarnain was appointed Deputy Executive Director.
Ismail is a former Director of Sabah’s Economic Planning Unit (EPU) between 2009 to 2014, under Musa’s asministration.
Meanwhile, Abdul Aziz is Sabah UMNO’s Youth Chief.