The East Malaysian state of Sabah will soon require all new buildings to be built on quake proof standards, says the local government.
Sabah is said to be finalising a building code that will require new constructions to adhere to strict regulations in the future, following recent seismic activity in the area. The regulations are expected to target high-rise buildings in particular.
Although Sabah does not have a long history of being earthquake-prone, it suffered an usual earthquake in 2015 which registered 5.9 on the Richter scale (the highest on record for the nation), while recent seismic activity in the nearby Philippines caused strong tremors in certain parts of the state this year.
State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor said some of the tremor-prone areas include Ranau and Kundasang at the base of Mount Kinabalu, as well as Lahad Datu and some parts of Sabah’s east coast.
Hajiji said the code will also be implemented in Kota Kinabalu which was severely shaken by the 2015 earthquake.
The building code has already been drafted, following a visit to Taiwan and Japan by state officials to study the requirements and practices there.
The new building code is expected to be introduced in a matter of months once the Sabah Cabinet has given its approval.
Sabah is deemed to have the most active seismic fault lines in the country ahead of Sarawak, Selangor, Pahang and Negri Sembilan, according to experts in the field.
“A new building code is something that we have been talking about for several years. We will introduce it soon,” Hajiji added.
Meanwhile, the heightened seismic activity in the region is also causing nationwide jitters. Recently, the federal minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, has been pushing for Malaysia to develop its own technology and innovations to produce earthquake resistant structures.
Among the key natural resources that can be utilised is rubber. In the late 1970s, the Malaysian Rubber Board and University of California in Berkeley initiated a joint research and development to evaluate the use of seismic rubber bearings as base isolation for the structures.
Tangau said the technology had since been used in the construction of the second Penang bridge, which could now withstand an earthquake of up to a magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale.
He added that countries such as China, Indonesia, Armenia and Iran are already using Malaysian technology to construct earthquake-proof buildings.