Awang Tengah: Sarawak needs own shipping fleet to compete in global trade

Awang Tengah speaking to reporters after launching the symposium.

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By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, Nov 27: Sarawak must look to set up its own shipping fleet to be competitive in the global trade amid the rapid growth in maritime industry.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the state, currently pursuing its digital economic agenda, can no longer be too dependant on foreign technology in the marine industry.

It is widely regarded that 5G technology will hasten the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) in the shipping industry, opening up infinite possibilities in maritime communication, monitoring and accurate positioning.

Awang Tengah, who is also International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Minister, said the marine industry plays an important role to support the development of Malaysia’s global trade, considering that 90 per cent of the world’s trade is done through transport.

“We must try to develop our own in-house capacity and capability,” he said when addressing some 300 participants at the inaugural national symposium on Marine Technology 2019 here today

Among the participants included those from Brunei, Vietnam, Turkey, Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

Awang Tengah (seated centre) in a photo-call with the participants.

“Currently, ship designs for almost all naval and enforcement vessels are procured from overseas. This represents opportunity loss for our local talents, whom I believe have the ability to produce the designs if given the necessary training,” he said.

Awang Tengah said to date, the state has approved 43 investment projects worth RM17.85 billion and expected to create about 10,000 employment opportunities in Sarawak.

Another 19 projects worth RM726.8 million are still under consideration, he added.

“The government is committed to further improve our nation’s competitiveness in the global market by developing our national technology through greater R&D (research and development) and strengthening the industrial sectors.

“The priority is towards promoting local content on every final product that we deliver, starting from design up to shipbuilding and ship repairs,” he said.

This to ensure benefits are accrued to local companies, agencies and industries to enhance the development of Malaysia’s economy, human capital and technology, he continued.

Awang Tengah said that the shipping industry should not remain idle but must continuously upgrade its capability and leveraging on modern technology towards Industry 4.0, which includes greater automation and digital technology.

“However, the Shipbuilding and Ship Repair (SBSR) industry is currently facing many challenges such as slow recovery of crude oil prices, US-China trade war, tighter ship financing and new regulations imposed by the International Maritime Organisation.

“In order to prepare our industries to face the challenge, my ministry together with Curtin University, Swinburne University of Technology, University Malaysia Sarawak and Sarawak Skills Development Centre have conducted nine programmes on IR 4.0 last year,” he said.

He added that the state have also conducted two specific courses for SBSR on ship stability and wiring, ducting and automation in the shipbuilding technology together with University College Technology Sarawak.

Awang Tengah urged SBSR players in Sarawak to work closely with various government agencies, especially Technology Depository Agency (TDA) and AMDeC, as well as other institutions of higher learning, to increase the local content starting with local design.

“Industries and government must work hand in hand to empower the industries to make a difference,” he said. — DayakDaily