KOTA KINABALU 29/10/2012: Sabah has the potential to become Malaysia’s economic powerhouse, says the Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) president, Datuk Seri Wong Khen Thau.
To realise this, he said the state government policies, investment climate and business environment must be conducive, particularly for the investing community.
“In the context of the manufacturing sector, we have been promoting Sabah and are going all out to make the state, the business hub for the Far East.
“For example, if we look back at Dubai some 20 years ago or less, it was nothing, just a piece of desert land without development.
“But due to the leadership or rather government’s commitment with regard to the importance of the Blue Ocean Strategy, it turned Dubai from nothing to an economic powerhouse in the Middle East today,” he told Bernama.
Wong was one of the participants of an investor roundtable debate here last Wednesday hosted by the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia), in partnership with International Investor, a UK-based business intelligence and publishing organisation.
He also opined that Sabah in this regard, had a better composition of positive factors, compared to Dubai, and there was no reason to not do better than the Emirate, with commitment and the political will.
“The question here is whether the Federal government is prepared to assist us to accept this concept (business hub for the Far East).
“We are happy to note that the Sabah government is in favour of this idea as Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has indicated on occasions that he is personally in support of it.
“But the concept needs to be put forward to the nation’s leaders for serious consideration,” he added.
Wong said the misconception that only the Klang Valley needed to be developed should be done away with and instead, due consideration given to the proposal to make Sabah a business hub for the Far East.
He said Sabah is also blessed with natural resources, particularly oil palm plantations.
“We have petroleum too, an essential ingredient to serve as a catalyst for Sabah’s economy and as the centre for the Far East.
“Having said this, our tourism is also one of the best products in the world. I think more and more people are realising the importance of Sabah, including those from China, with one of the country’s top politicians on transit in the state recently,” he added.
Wong also called on the state government to make the necessary changes or align some of the existing policies for Sabah to move forward, and thereby achieve the desired goal.
He said FSM has called for the abolition of the Cabotage Policy to resolve the disparity in prices in Sabah and the Peninsula.
The Cabotage Policy emphasises that only vessels registered in Malaysia are allowed to load and unload cargo in the ports of Malaysia.