KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah state assembly passed five bills related to heritage conservation, culture, biodiversity, railway and sewerage services today.
One of the bills tabled by State Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi was the State Heritage Enactment 2017.
The proposed enactment seeks to make provisions for the conservation and perservation of state heritage, heritage site, and heritage object, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and for related matters.
“Sabah is a state with diverse ethnicity and culture as well as significance historical legacy that have become our pride. All these valuable treasures have attacted the attention of scholars, researchers and tourists.
“It is our duty to respect and protect them and for that reason the government is enacting the bill so the state heritage can be managed properly,” he said at the state assembly sitting.
Kamarlin said the existing Cultural Heritage Enactment (Conservation) 1997 covers only matters relating to tangible heritage, while care and protection aspects of integible heritage are not provided in the enactment.
“Procedures for gazetting and enforcemen powers are also not clearly defined. Therefore, this bill is aimed at improving the existing law by taking into consideration all categories of heritage and its importance,” he said.
In debating the bill, Junz Wong (Parti Warisan Sabah-Likas) porposed the proposed enactment to include protection of underwater cultural heritage.
This was following a controversial research undertaken by University Sabah Malaysia (UMS) in collaboration a local company Ugeens Berjaya Enterprise early this year.
The research focused on WW2 Japanese shipwrecks at popular diving sites in Usukan waters, where salvaging works on three wrecks were carried purportedly for UMS’ research
“We have seen the failure earlier Jan this year. This shows the importance of (having) this law,” said Wong.
In Jan, Ugeens Berjaya Enterprise commissioned a Chinese-registered dredging ship Chuan Hong 68 to conduct the salvaging works.
The process was brought to a halt after State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun instructed UMS to cease its research following concerns raised by the fishing and diving fraternity.
However, by then, the three wrecks sites, said to be teeming with marine life were later found to have been destroyed and the wrecks, missing.
Meanwhile, the Sabah Biodiversity Enactment 2000 tabled by Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Ellron Alfred Angin seeks to introduce new sections and amend certain words and expression as well as inserting new ones to the enactment.
The amended enactment will come into operation on Jan 2 next year and may be cited as the Sabah Biodiversity (Amendment) Enactment 2017.
Another bill - Sabah Cultural Board Enactment 2017 - seeks to amend the 1996 enactment to widen the functions of the Board in conserving and preserving culture.
Tabled by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment assistant minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, the bill will include establishment of mechanism for cultural conservation and to add art galleries in the function to establish, maintain, coordinate, and promote cultural centres.
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister cum State Infrastructure Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan also tabled the two proposed enactments.
The proposed Sewerage Services Enactment 2017 seeks to provide for and regulate sewerage services and for matters connected therewith, while the proposed Railways Enactment 2017 seeks to revise and reenact a new law relating to railways.