Shafie urges Toyota to open assembly plant in Sabah

Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal led a trade mission to Japan.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal has urged carmarkers Toyota Motor Corporation to set up an assembly plant in the state.

Speaking to investors during a trade mission in Nagoya, Japan, today, Shafie said the move will strengthen Toyota’s market in Borneo considering the shift of Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to east Kalimantan.

He added that Sabahans can also benefit due to the job opportunities created if the plant materialises.

“We are also end users of the cars manufactured by Toyota. We only need to identify which potential we can work on as some of the cars are exported to our country.

“To ensure this is sustainable, we suggest this partnership could be through an assembly plant,” he said, adding four-wheel drive vehicles are popular in Sabah and Sarawak because of the road conditions in both states.

Shafie said Sabah has the advantage in terms of location and manpower.

“Sabah is not far from Japan and I believe our youth have the capabilities in such fields,” he said.

Earlier, the Semporna MP told 142 businessmen and investors from Japan that furniture production is another sector Sabah is interested to work with the country.

Shafie said that while Sabah has stopped export of logs, Japanese companies need not  worry about an ample supply of wood if they decide to establish factories in the state.

“We have 180,000 acres of land planted with rubber. This wood can be used to make furniture – I hope you can open up factories in Sabah so we can work together. The labour is already there,” he said.

He promised the state will provide all facilities needed including 24-hour approvals to any Japanese company that invested in Sabah provided they fulfilled all requirements set by the government.

“We have a policy to grant approvals for any investment into Sabah in the space of 24 hours as long as you meet the terms of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) study and other requirements,” he said.