Sandakan: Residents, particularly those who are aware of the destruction that Sandakan suffered during the Second World War, attribute the development and modernisation it now enjoys mainly to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
"He has the people's wellbeing at heart and always goes to the ground to meet the people despite his busy schedule," said Tinosa 2 village chief, Bidin Timbang, 64, echoing the favourable sentiments about Musa by villagers and members of the various local communities.
He pointed to the progress in his own village where basic amenities and infrastructure had been adequately provided for the people.
"The latest developments are a new secondary school, a mosque, a tarred road, a housing project and a national service training centre.
"And we are really thankful that because of Independence, we are free to move about anywhere in the country," he said.
Indeed, Sandakan's present status is a far cry from what it was reduced to in the pre-independence era.
Since the 1980s, new business and industrial initiatives such as Harbour Square and Harbour Mall which is complemented by a five-star hotel, Bandar IJM, Bandar Prima and Bandar Lee Tat Jaya, to name a few, besides housing developments have mushroomed in the district, as Chinese Chamber of Commerce Chairman Chia Hock Ak can testify.
"Sandakan's economy is growing - we have our assets in the tourism, manufacturing, transport, fisheries and timber industries.
These will also generate employment opportunities for the locals," he said.
Chia acknowledged that the independence achieved by the country had also enabled the Government to have a free rein in implementing development programmes for the people.
"So, we as the citizens must appreciate the meaning of independence, as otherwise a country in which the people do not live in peace would be unmanageable to develop," he said.
Situated in the centre of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Sandakan's development runs parallel to its status as the second biggest town in Sabah...