The state government is prepared to pay the necessary cost to ensure Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon (DaMaI) get recognised as a World Heritage Site (WHS).
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the issue of money was secondary to the protection of the three sites which housed many of Sabah’s endangered animal species such as the elephant, orang utans, Sumatran rhinos, banteng and an array of bird species endemic to Borneo.
“Money can be found but once these treasures are destroyed, it will be gone forever. There will be no replacement. We need to ensure they remain protected,” he said during the workshop on the nomination of DaMaI as a WHS at a resort near here yesterday.
Earlier during the workshop, patrons were told that the cost of nominating a site for WHS would probably reach millions of ringgit.
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“The state government is very keen to protect the three sites because there are none that are as wonderful as these, not just in Malaysia but in the entire world. We need to look beyond our own life in order to safeguard this,” he said.
He also mentioned that a lot of outstanding issues still needed to be resolved and that the journey towards getting DaMaI listed would be a tough one
“It was easy with Mount Kinabalu — there are still a lot of things to prepare. UNESCO has also become more selective, strict, and those with WHS status has to be of exceptional quality. This means it is going to be more difficult to ensure we get nominated,” he said.
As for the issue of getting the three sites nominated as a national heritage site, Masidi said it should not be a problem for the state.
He added that the National Heritage Department would not manage or own the sites recognised as a national heritage site. “There will be no change in the way it is managed. It is just an accreditation.”
Meanwhile, Masidi said the state’s quest for WHS recognition for DaMaI was good for Sabah and for the country.
“If Sabah is out of Malaysia, it will have no Mount Kinabalu, it will have no Sipadan. About 22 per cent of Malaysia would be lost,” he said.
He also mentioned that getting DaMaI recognised would put the country and Sabah on the world map.
“We are not well known. Some people think Malaysia is in Africa. And Sabah is always related to Kuwait. We need to be known.”
Meanwhile, National Heritage Department director general Professor Emeritus Dato Siti Zuraina Abdul Majid said DaMal would not be listed as a World Heritage Site prior to 2015.
This is because Malaysia has become a WHS committee since last year, she said in her speech during the DaMaI WHS nomination workshop held at a resort near here.
“A country remains in the committee for four years and during that period, it is disallowed from nominating any site within its own territory,” she explained.
She added that only 20 countries were selected to become a committee for the WHS.
“This experience shall be beneficial for us as it will assist in gaining WHS nomination,” she said.
Siti Nuraina also said that the criteria to be selected as a WHS were now stricter.
Among the requirements were that the site nominated must have world significance, and have legal protection.
Additionally, the site must be recognised as a national heritage site.
“There are 962 World Heritage Sites in 2012, 69 per cent of which are cultural sites, and only 20 per cent are nature sites. Lembah Lenggong is one of the country’s newest sites to be recognised as a World Heritage Site,” she said.
She added that Malaysia was classified under Asia Pacific Region and there were only four World Heritage Sites listed within the region.