Sabah to launch cheap cooking oil this year

Shafie Apdal talking to reporters after launching the career carnival in Kimanis. Last year, such carnivals found jobs for 17,000 youths in Sabah.

KIMANIS: Sabah plans to launch its own affordable cooking oil this year, Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal said today.

He said cooking oil factories in Sandakan and Tawau are now operational and will utilise the oversupply of crude palm oil (CPO) in the local market.

“We will use our own CPO to produce cooking oil.

“It’s just a matter of a little fine-tuning and we may launch it after the Kimanis by-election.

“One of the companies, Sawit Kinabalu, has already named its product as Sabah Best,” said Shafie after launching a career carnival here today.

Last year, Shafie had announced the state government’s plans to produce its own cooking oil and said Sabah government-linked companies Sawit Kinabalu and Benta Wawasan will start the project.

He said five factories, costing RM5 million each, would be built in Tawau, Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Keningau.

The Semporna MP later announced that Sawit Kinabalu will be producing cooking oil meant for barter trade in order to curb the smuggling of cooking oil to neighbouring countries.

Benta Wawasan, on the other hand, will produce cooking oil meant for domestic consumption.

According to Shafie, the cooking oil price will be subsidised to benefit the poor.

“During my visits to the villages in Sabah, many had no money. They can’t even afford to buy a bottle of cooking oil.

“So the retailers had to pack them in small packs, selling them for around 10 to 15 sen each.

“That is why I want our cooking oil price to be subsidised so it can be sold at a lower price.

“This way, the poor can cook banana fritters or fish to sell them and earn an income,” he said.

Shafie also said he would discuss with national oil firm Petronas to keep a portion of the gas extracted from Sabah in the state. This is to enable Sabah to start its own downstream activities.

Sabah is one of Malaysia’s largest producers of natural gas after Sarawak.

Meanwhile, Sabah Assistant Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Dr Daud Yusof said the career carnival held last year had successfully found jobs for 17,000 unemployed youths statewide and hoped this number will be surpassed this year.

“We are planning to hold at least 35 such career carnivals this year. Most of these job-seekers are the youths living in rural areas.

“They find it too hard and expensive to come to Kota Kinabalu for job interviews.

“I have called all the hiring agencies and companies to join us in these job carnivals so we can reach out to those youths seeking employment,” he said.