Preliminary Notes on: Sabah Planning Environment

A number of State and Federal Government Departments and Agencies are directly or indirectly concerned with issues and planning related to coastal resources in Sabah.

In accordance with the Federal Constitution, Federal Departments and Agencies have responsibilities in Sabah within the following areas: trade, commerce and industry, development of mineral resources, mines, oil-fields and petroleum products, communication and transport, works and power, medicine and health, control of agricultural pests and prevention of plant diseases. The involved agencies in Sabah are:

In accordance with the Town and Country Planning Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 141), the Department of Town and Regional Planning is responsible for land-use planning in Sabah. The Department prepares Physical Land-use Planning Schemes with the view of consolidating Government’s policies on the best method of urban and rural land use in Sabah. There are several kinds of planning schemes prepared in this respect including the following:

1) Structure Plan, which contains maps, numeric data, statistics, prognoses, guideline, policy frameworks and explanatory text indicating the broad magnitude and directions of urban growth, including infrastructure networks, harbours, airports, hospitals, universities and new towns. The purpose of the plan is to keep area development within the region of autonomy and consistent with the long term National Regional Development Strategy. It attempts to keep the progress of area development in balance with the hinterland and control Local and Sectoral developments. The Structure Plan serves as a guide for the physical development of a defined area or region. It sets forth policies and actions dealing with land use, location of investment projects and other issues related to physical development.

Three Structure Plans have been prepared in Sabah: Kota Kinabalu Structure Plan (1983), this plan is non-statutory and has not been adopted. Sandakan Structure Plan (1984), this plan is non-statutory and has not been adopted. Tawau Structure Plan (1983), this plan is non-statutory and has not been adopted.

2) Local Plans, which are a general term for any statutory plan adopted by a local authority covering a defined area, prepared usually at a scale of 1:5,000 to 1:10,000. They are the main vehicle for presenting preferred land development options through area-specific policies such as new development areas (residential, industrial, recreational etc.), re-development, conservation areas and action areas. Local Plans also provide a basis for development control and a vehicle for bringing detailed planning issues before the public. There are at least twenty-one (21) Local Plans that have been prepared in Sabah for the following areas:

Inanam (L.A), Penampang (L.A.), Mengatal North (L.A.), Sandakan (L.A.),Tawau (L.A.), Mengatal (L.A.), Kuala Inanam (L.A.), Kuala Mengatal (L.A.), Telipok (L.A.), Kinarut (Draft), Putatan (draft), Kinarut South (Draft), Nountun (L.A.), Tanjung Aru/Kepayan (Draft), Kota Kinabalu Local Plan (L.A.), Sook (L.A.), Telupid (L.A.), Beluran (L.A.), Kota Marudu (Draft), Kimanis (Draft), Papar (Draft).

Status (adopted by) * L.A. - Local Authority * Draft

There are also Planning Schemes which are similar to Local Plan but because these have been prepared earlier they were then called as such. There has been at least twenty-nine (29) Planning Schemes being prepared in Sabah for the following areas:

Greater Kota Kinabalu Scheme(L.A.), Kota Kinabalu Comprehensive Development Plan (L.A.), Kimanis (draft), Kota Belud (Cabinet), Tuaran I (Cabinet), Tuaran V (L.A.), Tamparuli (L.A.), Kiulu (Cabinet), Berungis (Cabinet), Bongawan (L.A.), Ranau I (Cabinet), Kundasang (draft), Papar (L.A.), Sandakan (Cabinet), Kota Kinabatangan (Cabinet), Tambisan (draft), Lahad Datu (Cabinet), Semporna (Cabinet),Tungku (draft), Kunak (L.A.), Kudat I (L.A.), Kalumpang (draft), Keningau (L.A.), Kuala Penyu (draft), Tambunan (Draft), Tenom (draft), Menumbuk (draft), Sipitang (draft), Beaufort (draft).

Status (adopted by)* L.A. - Local Authority * Cabinet* Draft

3) Action Area Plans are also prepared by the Department of Town and Regional Planning. These plans are more detailed than Local Plans; at a scale of 1:2,000, prepared for the comprehensive treatment of an area which has been selected for intensive change over a short time period, typically three years. Action Area Plans are suitable for areas of major development need (e.g. alleviation of flooding) or development potential (commercial centres, markets, re-development or upgrading areas) are implementation focused and may frequently transcend administrative/political boundaries.

In Sabah, it is unknown how many of these action area plans have been made as there has been little record regarding this activity. Much of their preparation is done in an ad-hoc manner usually at the request of politician or representative of a constituency or when the need arises. Most action area plans in Sabah have no time frame. They are also non-statutory and as such are not enforceable by law. The only plans which are recorded are the Town Plans, but they too have no time frame.

Town plans are meant to guide the physical development of a defined area or more specifically urban centres. In Sabah, at least eighty-one (81) Town Plans have been prepared including the following:

Berungis, Bongawan, Bundu Tuhan, Donggongon, Penampang, Inanam, Kiulu, Kinarut, Kawang , Kimanis , Kundasang, Kota Belud, Mengatal, Nabalu, Papar, Pukah, Putatan, Ranau, Telipok, Tamparuli, Tenghilan, Topokon, Tampasuk, Taginambur, Tuaran, Labuk, Beluran, Gum-Gum, Kota kinabatangan, Sungai-Sungai, Telupid, Paitan, Tongod, Apas Balung, Kunak , Lahad Datu, Sebtik, Bum-Bum, Semporna, Tungku, Kalabakan, Merotai, Persimpangan, Apas mile 8, Kanibongan, Karakit, Kota Marudu, Kudat, Limau-Limauan, Matunggung, Pitas, Sikuati, Tandek, Telaga, Kudat extension, Kelumpang, Apin-Apin, Beaufort, Woodfort, Bingkor, Kuala Penyu, Kayul, Kuala toman, Kemabong, Keningau, Membakut, Sindumin, Mesapol, Melalap, Nabawan, Sinagang, Merapok, Sook, Sipitang, Tenom, Tambunan, Tulid, Weston, Patau, Toboh and Pengalungan.

Some examples of the planning system in relation to some of the major resource sectors include the following:

Land matters : Land matters are dealt with by the NRO and LSD, but both departments function primarily as administrators. Regarding planning, both are concerned with the details of planning proposals made by other agencies. There is no single agency or mechanism for planning land allocation or land use in an integrated fashion, at regional, District or State levels. In relation to land matters, the Natural Resources and the Lands and Surveys Department deal with them on an ad-hoc and piece meal basis by way of making decision on the best use of land individually and on a case by case basis. The Lands and Surveys Department issues land title on a case by case basis and usually no planning is involved.

Forestry: The Sabah Forestry Department takes the lead role in all aspects of forest protection and management, but the Natural Resources Office, Sabah Parks, SAFODA, and Wildlife Department are involved in management of certain aspects and areas of forestry. In addition, SFI and Yayasan Sabah are intimately concerned with the detailed aspects of management in substantial permanent forest areas. Although, the Sabah Forestry Department has a degree of control over wood extraction on land outside Forest Reserves, no single Government agency is concerned with long-term forest management on State land and alienated land. Under the Forest Enactment, 1968 the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) which is aimed at protecting and managing the State Forest Reserves is required to prepare a Forest Reserves Classification Plan for Sabah. Such plan may be reviewed when the need arise.

Coastal and Marine Resources : Mangroves within Forest Reserves are managed by the Sabah Forestry Department. Fisheries and aquaculture in mangroves outside Reserves are overseen by the Department of Fisheries. All marine life comes under the purview of the Department of Fisheries , except (a) marine mammals and reptiles, including turtles which come under the Wildlife Department, and (b) marine aspects of Parks which come under Sabah Parks.

Non-renewable Resources : Minerals, except petroleum, are considered the rightful property of the State. The Geological Survey Department is responsible for mineral exploration and identification of potential mineral sites. The Department of Mines is involved in the supervision of mining activities in Sabah. Lands and Surveys Department is responsible for administering the processing of applications for prospecting permits, prospecting licences and mining leases, while directives on mining come from the Natural Resources Office.

The entire ownership and the exclusive right, powers, liberties and privileges of exploring, exploiting, mining and obtaining petroleum and gas, whether offshore or onshore, are vested in Petroleum National Berhad (PETRONAS)

Master Plans for different sectors have been prepared, including, the Sabah Tourism Master Plan, the Sabah Industrial Master Plan, the Water Resources Master Plan and the Master Plan for Aquaculture Development for Sabah.

The other steps taken in respect of the same direction mentioned above are the introduction of the following: the Sabah Environmental Bill, and the Sabah Planning Bill.