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Yong: Sabah Trade Centre should remain

Kota Kinabalu, Thursday, 22 February 2024

The Sabah Trade Centre at Likas, and the 7-acre prime land that it sits on, is and has always been owned by the Sabah government ever since it was built in the mid-1990s.

Why is the Minister in charge of the Sabah Trade Centre now talking about “government taking back the land”? The land has always been with the Sabah government.

The Sabah Trade Centre should remain and be repaired and renovated. Let not the 7-acre prime land be given to a private developer, probably a Kuala Lumpur developer.

STC a dedicated exhibition centre

Sabah Trade Centre was conceived in the late 1980s, designed in the early 1990s, and built around 1997. The centre, which was declared open by the then Prime Minister, offered the best exhibition centre at the time.

Prior to STC, trade exhibitions were held at community centres and Likas Sports Complex, which were obviously inadequate to host trade exhibitions.

The Sabah Trade Centre was designed to be a low rise building such that maintenance costs can be kept to a minimum.

It is flawed logic for the Ministry of Industrial Development to now claim the place must be shut down at 72 hours’ notice simply because it has no occupation certificate (O.C.).

As managements of old buildings know, BOMBA has been upgrading and raising the standards of fire prevention and fire fighting systems. Some old buildings are still safe to occupy but will need more time and money to upgrade their fire prevention and fighting systems.

Half of government buildings will have to shut too

If all old buildings, though still safe to occupy, have to be shut down due to the challenge of O.C. compliance, then half of government buildings will also be shut down.

It is probable that the old Secretariat Building (now known as Wisma Kewangan) that now houses the Ministry of Industrial Development will also have to be shut down.

Learn from the Wisma Kosan saga

I urge the authorities to learn from the Wisma Kosan saga at Likas, whereby occupiers and businesses were made to move out to make way for a high rise commercial building developed by a big developer from Kuala Lumpur.

Learn from Hotel Labuan fiasco

I also urge the Sabah government to learn from the Hotel Labuan fiasco. Hotel Labuan, which was the best hotel in Labuan at the time, was shut down by the Labuan authorities in 1997 without any plan for what happened next. Sadly, after so long, the hotel building remains standing like a ghost building in town centre of Labuan.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that the Government should repair and renovate the Sabah Trade Centre. The cost should be only RM8 million. This is called “Low Budget, High Impact” economics. Kota Kinabalu City would then get back its dedicated exhibition centre.

There is no need to demolish the present Sabah Trade Centre building. There is no need to build another high rise building because Kota Kinabalu City already has an over supply of office space and condominiums. This real estate glut is already a strain on the local economy.

And please do not give that prime land away to a private developer.

Datuk Yong Teck Lee
Ex-Chief Minister,
Ex-Likas Assemblyman
Nominated ADUN