KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah state government plans to diversify industries to open up job opportunities, while enabling the automotive sector to expand in the state to be a new source of revenue and towards further enhancing overall economic development.
Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) Assistant Vice President Iwan Masrul said the move is also aimed at providing more job opportunities for graduates in the technical engineering and vocational fields.
He said the state government’s commitment to develop the automotive industry was supported by Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd’s (TCMH) plan to undertake a long term investment of RM600 million.
“Sabah has strong prospects and potential in respect of developing the automotive industry with the presence of the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP).
“The KKIP can support the development of the automotive industry in Sabah, as apart from its suitable and strategic location in being close to the Sepanggar Container Port, it also has basic infrastructure facilities as an industrial area,” he told Bernama here.
TCMH’s investment in Sabah is believed to be for the building of the first automotive assembly plant at the KKIP.
The company chose Sabah due to it being a strategic state for the development of the automotive industry within the East ASEAN Growth Area comprising Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Timor Leste.
Iwan said SEDIA welcomed the development of industries beneficial to the people of Sabah as long as it was in line with key principles of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) to generate high impact economic value, alongside a balanced and sustained development.
He also said suitable industrial development will create more job opportunities and business for locals, build a larger skilled labour force, to provide for a spillover of economic benefits to make Sabah a progressive state.
In the context of the development of the automotive industry, Iwan said the state government needed to build an ecosystem, as well as, a network of supporting industries first.
“Both these elements are very much needed to ensure the automotive industry in the state is able to develop and compete effectively.
“In the beginning, the development of the automotive industry will surely entail a large expenditure, particularly for the construction of the ecosystem and supporting industries involving the production of automotive components.
“This is important as without this ecosystem and supporting industry network, Sabah will have to import a lot of the vehicle components which will leave the state not being competitive,” he added.
In a related development, Iwan said Sabah’s strong economic development was driven by the key sectors of agriculture, palm oil, tourism, mining and quarrying as well as manufacturing, which also generated job opportunities in the engineering, technical and vocational fields.
He said development projects under the SDC needed skilled manpower in the mentioned fields for developing the oil and gas industry, upgrading ports and harbours, the oil palm industry, building of highway infrastructure as well as other private sector projects being successfully brought into Sabah.
“The state government has created various economic opportunities via development projects throughout Sabah. In this regard, the youth, specifically graduates, must take advantage of these opportunities to develop themselves,” he added.