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Warisan vows to transform Sabah’s east coast economy

 | September 12, 2017

It wants to take advantage of Sabah’s east coast natural resources to boost the economy.

jumzwong-semporna

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah intends to turn Semporna into a tourist paradise and Tawau into an important seafood export hub in the east coast if it grabs power in the 14th general election, party vice-president Junz Wong said today.

He said under a road map for Sabah, Warisan president Shafie Apdal envisioned a more vibrant Sabah east coast, taking advantage of its natural resources and maximising its potential.

Wong said one of the more exciting elements of the party’s plan is the seafood export hub for Tawau which would eliminate the need to transport seafood from the east coast to Kota Kinabalu.

“Instead of going all the way to the capital, fishermen, including fish farmers, can simply drop their products or move their bases to the hub for processing and export.

“We are aware of the need to apply for export certification and tests to ensure quality control of our seafood produce. This hub will facilitate all such tests.

“We are confident this would transform the economy and make the industry more efficient,” he told FMT.

Wong said the hub will have its own research and development centre to study and explore value-added opportunities and other downstream activities.

Tawau Port, he said, was earmarked for the hub because of its strategic location and close proximity to Kalimantan as well as the Celebes Sea shipping route.

Currently, Tawau Port is already a major export and import gateway, with a lot of traffic from North Kalimantan.

The multipurpose port is equipped with facilities to support the handling of various types of cargo.

Wong said with the upgrading of Tawau Port into a seafood export hub, the fisheries industry in Sandakan and Lahad Datu could move operations to the district.

Furthermore, to encourage the growth of Lahad Datu town, Wong said the Warisan government will set up the Sabah Palm Oil Board (SPOB) so that the palm oil industry in Sabah will no longer rely on the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).

“I believe with this Sabah Palm Oil Board, we can develop the palm oil industry more effectively, especially when it comes to downstream industrialisation.

“Our industrial players and experts are equally capable, if not better, in ensuring the quality of our crude palm oil (CPO) and managing its development. We know what’s best for the Sabah palm oil industry.

“At present, whenever we want to export our CPO, we have to go to one of the five exporters chosen by MPOB.

“Under SPOB, we will not have that limitation and everybody will have the opportunity for downstream industrialisation. This will maximise the potential of the palm oil industry and eliminate discrimination as no one will be able to monopolise this industry.”

Wong said the SPOB will set up centres to carry out research and development work. This will add value to the industry and create downstream activities so that Sabah will not rely solely on raw products.

Warisan also plans to move the army camps in Lok Kawi and maritime base in Sepanggar to the east coast for Lahad Datu to have better control of the security issue.

“So, basically, this is what we envision.

“Tawau will be a seafood export hub, Semporna a tourist paradise, Lahad Datu will concentrate on palm oil downstream industrialisation and Sandakan will focus on tourism and palm oil downstream activities.

“All this will not only create many job opportunities but also enhance the chance for entrepreneurship, especially among our younger generation,” Wong said.


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