New air route between Manado and Kota Kinabalu welcomed-Liew

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Christina Liew

KOTA KINABALU: Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Christina Liew welcomed the proposal to open up
a new air route between Indonesia (Manado) and Sabah (Kota Kinabalu)
operated by Batik Air.

“I fully support the proposal which is good for both Sabahans and Indonesians in the interest of air connectivity and further tourism growth for mutual benefits,” she said.

During a courtesy call by the Consul-General of The Republic of Indonesia in Kota Kinabalu, Bapak Krishna Djelani, he proposed a direct flight from Manado (capital of North Sulawesi) to Kota Kinabalu, in addition to the existing direct flight from Jakarta to Kota Kinabalu.

“It takes only two hours to fly from Manado to Kota Kinabalu. The idea is to boost the level of tourism and enhance people-to-people ties. It is our desire to strengthen bilateral relations between Malaysia and
Indonesia in general, and between Sabah and Indonesia in particular, in all fields of endeavour except for politics,” he told the Minister.

Given the current direct flight from Manado to China, the Consul-General, who was accompanied by Vice-Consul Sartono Hendrarso, was looking at the possibility of a China-Manado-Kota Kinabalu route
and a China-Kota Kinabalu-Manado route.

Bapak Krishna, who was aware of the soaring number of Chinese tourist
arrivals to Sabah, spotted the potential for tourism collaboration between Sabah and Indonesia. “I have read about it (Chinese tourists) in the media,” he said.

In response, Liew suggested further discussion on the proposal before raising the matter with both the State and Federal Governments.

On another note, she broached the subject of loaning a Sumatran rhinoceros from Indonesia for the State’s rhino breeding programme.

“As it is, we have only got a pair left and the female rhino is sickly and presently put on 24-hour surveillance. It has lost about 50kg since July this year,” she said.

Currently, the two rhinos are kept at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.

At this juncture, Bapak Krishna said he would follow up on the matter with the relevant Indonesian authorities as there had earlier been a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) on bilateral relations between Indonesia and Malaysia.

It is believed that the MOA had touched on the Transboundary Conservation Project on Sumatran Rhinoceros. It is also understood
that the subject will be discussed among high-level officials of both countries at a bilateral meeting scheduled to be held in Malaysia next month (November).

Meanwhile, Consul Ibu Hendro Retno Wulan, who was present, briefed Liew on efforts to start a tourism-related vocational curriculum at Sekolah Indonesia Kota Kinabalu in Sepanggar. It has an enrolment of 900 students from kindergarten level to junior high school.

“It is a free three-year skill diploma training course sponsored by the Indonesian Government. Intake starts this month. We are teaching them useful skills in the
culinary arts to ensure they have a good future,” she said.

Ibu Hendro was seeking support from the Sabah State Government for the students’ internship with local hotels here prior to their graduation.

“We hope the Immigration authorities will consider issuing a temporary pass for the interns to complete their internship,” she said.

There are also 227 schools called Community Learning Centres (CLCs)
for children of registered workers of oil-palm plantations throughout Sabah. Of the figure, 80 are registered with the Sabah State Education Department (JPNS).-pr/BNN