KOTA KINABALU: The Lahad Datu of today is still scarred by the 2013 military standoff as the general public remain wary of this little coastal town.
Although the standoff occurred more than three years ago, the town still cannot shake off the public’s negative notions, said its assemblyman Datuk Mohd Yusof Apdal when debating the government policy speech in the state assembly sitting here today.
“Since the incident, the name Lahad Datu has become synonymous with intrusions and kidnappings.
“Consequently, businesses and investors are less inclined to come in, resulting in poor economic performance within the district,” he said.
Lahad Datu’s unfortunate association with this reputation has also discouraged the entry of professionals such as doctors, who refuse to be stationed there.
“The government has already spent billions to strengthen the security on our waters especially in Lahad Datu, but more needs to be done to restore its image,” he added.
For that purpose, Yusof outlined several strategic steps including promoting the district’s tourist sites such as Danum Valley Conservation Area, in addition to making them more accessible and affordable to the people.
He also suggested exposing the general public to Lahad Datu through cultural, youth and sports events within the district.
Another recommendation was to transform Lahad Datu’s image into a city of safety and security through the development of existing military bases and the deployment of additional officers.
“With these steps, we hope the public’s confidence in Lahad Datu will be restored,” he concluded.