Contribute more to education for Sabahans, Shafie tells Petronas

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal has urged Petronas to focus more of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in the state on directly benefiting deserving Sabahans.

He welcomed efforts by the national oil company in environmental conservation, such as through the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA), but said it is time to give more in areas such as education.

“If you carry out CSR in the canyon, tourists and researchers will benefit from it. The preservation of the environment is also crucial.

“But imagine if you give RM100 million to Yayasan Sabah – then we can give scholarships to young people. It’s a lot of money, How many students could benefit from this?” he said to reporters after launching the Sabah Forum on Institutional Governance and Government-Linked Company (GLC) Reforms here today.

The Semporna MP added that he had conveyed his views to Petronas.

“They have taken it seriously,” he said. “That’s why I think it’s very important for us to work closely together.

“If you give CSR to a small group of people, 10 or 100 people would be happy, but it would be better if you made a million people happier. That is how you build a nation.”

Last year, 34 Sabahan students out of 300 who had received excellent SPM results nationwide received sponsorships to further their studies under the Petronas Education Sponsorship Programme.

The ICCA, meanwhile, located in Sabah’s central Tongod district, was gazetted as a Class 1 (Protection) forest reserve by the state government in 2009. It is now one of Sabah’s most promising tourist attractions.

Petronas began collaborating on the project with Yayasan Sabah in 2010, including on the implementation of public awareness programmes, community outreach and research and capacity-building initiatives.

Shafie also said the downsizing of Sabah GLCs is underway as some agencies had registered consistent losses over the years.

“Some of the GLCs are not proactive, and there are some that have been losing money for nearly three years. Their operating costs are too high,” he said.

He added that three subsidiaries of Yayasan Sabah have been identified to be closed, but did not name them.

“If these agencies are shut down, we will ensure that the staff are absorbed into other agencies,” he said.

He also said he wants to restore the initial goals for which agencies such as Yayasan Sabah and Sawit Kinabalu were created.

Yayasan Sabah was aimed at assisting those in need through education, health and management of land and timber concessions.

“We will also create new ones such as the Sabah Marketing Board to look at commodities like vegetables,” he added.

He said large quantities of vegetables in Ranau end up discarded as there is a lack of efficient connectivity between the production centres and the marketing side.

The Warisan president previously said that any Sabah GLC suffering losses and not making a profit would be closed.