Sabah to review costing of RM1.2 bil convention centre

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal says there must be a good return on investment. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) project is under scrutiny after the present state government found that it’s cost has more than doubled.

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said that a briefing from Sabah Foundation revealed that the project, which had originally cost about RM500 million, had been reviewed several times and the cost was now RM1.2 billion.

“The construction of the hotel cost about RM200 million and the convention centre itself is RM1 billion. Can you imagine the complex? It’s so costly,” he said when addressing civil servants here today.

“(I learned) the variation order was carried out five times. Imagine the original cost was RM400 to RM500 million… this is not right (as) this is public funds, the people’s money.

“This is what worries me… the rakyat (people) want financial assistance and yet we have this kind of building. I don’t mind having a small office but what’s important is the service I provide – let that be bigger than my office,” he said.

Shafie said the government needed to ensure that its investments would promise good returns.

“This is one area we are looking into but it will take me a little bit of time to give a comprehensive approach to ensure everything is on the right path.

“Running a convention centre is not going to be an easy task, it is going to cost a lot of money,” he said, adding that the government would also need to study whether similar centres in other parts of the country brought lucrative returns to the operators.

The previous state government had said in January this year that the RM700 million SICC, which would provide ample space for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) was scheduled to open its doors in a year’s time.

The SICC, located on a 6ha site near the downtown area in Tanjung Lipat, would enable organisers of international events to stage them with a scenic backdrop of the South China Sea and Mount Kinabalu.

Meanwhile, Shafie said he had spoken to the consul-general of Japan here to consider taking part in the industrialisation process of Sabah through the building of an assembly plant for four-wheel drive vehicles.

However, he said he had yet to receive a response. Shafie said it would make sense to set up the plant in a state where such vehicles were widely used.

“I have highlighted many issues during my discussion with them on how to beef up our industrialisation process in Sabah. I think the way forward now for Sabah is downstream.

“We can’t just concentrate on supplying raw materials like timber, palm oil, gas and others. We must go downstream, we must have industries in Sabah to ensure we can provide jobs to Sabahans,” Shafie said.

He added that he had also proposed to the Japanese to invest in building a furniture factory in Sabah.

SICC meets dire need for convention centre in Sabah