PULAU MANTANANI (Kota Belud):
Surrounded by crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches, Pulau Mantanani is undoubtedly a strong tourism attraction for the upper west coast of Sabah. With underwater visibility as far as 20 metres deep and a huge variety of marine life, it is no wonder Pulau Mantanani is holding its own as a scuba diving haven in Sabah after Pulau Sipadan in the east coast. Made up of three islands, Pulau Mantanani is about 40 minutes boat ride from Kuala Abai in Kota Belud and has about 800 villagers who are all fishermen who sell their catch in Kota Belud either for local consumption or to exporters to be shipped to other countries. The island which is under the Kota Belud parliamentary constituency, has a resort to cater to visitors, especially foreigners who go there for scuba diving. A visit to the island recently revealed that while the standard of living there has improved as many of them now have new houses, there is still much more lacking, especially in terms of basic facilities and infrastructure. The Government has constructed a mosque, a kindergarten and a primary school on the island. Children continue their secondary education on the main land, especially in Kota Belud. Although fishing is their source of income, the villagers also rear poultry and plant vegetables to supplement their diet. What the villagers really want now is a steady electricity supply as they now depend solely on power supplied by a generator which is only operational from evening to dawn daily. Kota Belud Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Salleh Tun Said admits that Pulau Mantanani has much potential economically and it is up to the villagers to make full use of it. “The villagers must find the initiative to profit from the island’s popularity and potential so that they can improve their family’s economy,” said the former Sabah Chief Minister. He said one of the ways they can improve is through education and he urged parents on the island to ensure that their children receive the best education. “Without edudation, we will be left behind,” he said, adding that an education will ensure that their children can gain employment in the tourism sector or in hotels such as the resort on the island.