CM refuses to get dragged into `excessively priced’ musical fountain argument

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Oct 17: Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has refused to be dragged into the argument that the RM31 million Darul Hana Musical Fountain project is “excessively priced”.

The chief minister declined to respond when asked to comment on Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How’s query of the project.

“No comment. Today we are talking about healthy cities,” he told a press conference after the opening of the 8th Alliance for Healthy City Global Conference and General Assembly at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) today.

See was reported as saying on Tuesday that many would expect the fountain to at least match the length of the 1.6km Kuching Waterfront and not a mere 80m stretch on the opposite bank in front of the State Legislative Assembly complex.

He also wondered whether there was any preferential treatment to a particular contractor on the building of the city’s latest tourist attraction.

For comparison, the state PKR vice-chairman said the recently completed Darul Hana pedestrian bridge across Sungai Sarawak cost RM35 million, while the nearly-completed floating mosque project a few metres upstream was projected at RM10.6 million.

The Kuching Waterfront, opened in 1993, had cost RM89.9 million then.

Abang Johari, at the opening of the musical fountain on Sunday (Oct 14), in conjunction with Governor Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s 82nd birthday celebration, said the project would add atmosphere to the waterfront and boost tourism in the city center.

The fountain, with displays of lights and music, would add to Kuching’s image of being a colourful and beautiful city with a soul, he added.

On another matter, Abang Johari said the wave of rubbish abandoned along the Kuching Waterfront by visitors who witnessed the opening of the musical fountain does not reflect the city as a whole.

The chief minister attributed this to the discipline and ethics of individuals, as the overall cleanliness of Kuching is considered satisfactory. He added that such a problem normally occurs when there is an event or festival that attracts a large crowd.

Abang Johari ruled out the lack of rubbish bin as contributing to the littering. He said the council was also quick to clean the rubbish the following day.

“It is a question of discipline. It comes from the individuals.

“There must be compatibility between the city government and the people, but the situation in Kuching, on a whole, is quite good.

“For that particular occasion, when there is a big crowd, there is bound to be those who do not have the discipline to carry themselves properly. It is not a year-round issue, only during big occasions,” he added.

He agreed on the need for more awareness and education to inculcate the public to be more civic-minded and responsible. The media could also play their role to disseminate these messages.

“If the people treat the city as their own home, everything will be all right. People would have a sense of responsibility to maintain cleanliness.

“It takes time to educate, inculcate the people, but it needs to be done. Over time, let’s hope we can see some improvement,” he said. — DayakDaily