Tan Chong Motor to invest RM600 million in Sabah automotive industry

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal welcomes the Tan Chong entourage led by its president Tan Heng Chew (fifth from right).

KOTA KINABALU: Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd wants to invest about RM600 million to bring about its plans to set up an automative industry including an assembly plant in Sabah.

CFO Daniel Ho said the company was eyeing a 100-acre plot of land in the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP), the state’s main industrial hub in Sepanggar.

“At the moment, we are looking at about RM600 million over a period of 20 to 30 years,” he added.

“With the setting up of a plant, we hope to create about 1,000 jobs for Sabahans. This is something we are discussing with the Sabah government.”

Ho said the company had chosen Sabah partly due to its strategic location bordering Indonesia and the Philippines, both of which are growth areas.

“As always, when we set up manufacturing plants, we are also looking at export opportunities,” he told reporters after a courtesy call on Chief Minister Shafie Apdal today.

Ho said Tan Chong had been in Sabah for many years, represented through its Nissan vehicles business.

He said the company was currently looking at the assembly of commercial vehicles such as buses and pick-up trucks, including four-wheel drives.

“This is something we have been looking at for some time. We hope to work with the state government to take this investment to the next stage and go from concept to reality,” he added.

Tan Chong group senior adviser Saharudin Muhamad Toha meanwhile said the Sabah government had pledged to help sort out an issue with the land earmarked by the company.

He said the situation should be resolved within a month.

Deputy Chief Minister Jaujan Sambakong (seated, right) with Tan Chong group president Tan Heng Chew (seated, middle) and Tan Chong CFO Daniel Ho (seated, left) at a press conference in Kota Kinabalu.

“We will work with Deputy Chief Minister Jaujan Sambakong to sort this out,” he added.

“This is a new government. They work differently and they want to make it happen in Sabah. One important aspect put forward to us is to provide employment and technical knowledge to Sabahans, which is currently lacking.”

Ho said Tan Chong had already begun a skills training centre in Sandakan to address demand.

“Once we have the assembly operations, there will be transfer of technical skills too,” he said.

Jaujan, who was also present at the press conference, said the project was in line with the state government’s goal of creating employment opportunities for locals in Sabah.

“We will try to bring in more investors, particularly in industrial set-ups, to groom the state economy and create jobs.

“This also ties up with the Technical and Vocational Training Education development in Sabah. It is important that we be ready with the right skills to welcome investors to the state,” he said.

Meanwhile, Saharudin said Tan Chong was also exploring other opportunities in Sabah, particularly the energy renewal business.

“This is a waste-to-energy project we are proposing to Sabah. It will be located next to KKIP, at a landfill in Telipok.”

Through the project, he said, waste would be converted into energy so that green energy could be provided to Sabah.

“But it is still at the discussion stage,” he added.