Bangladesh seeking win-win ties with Sarawak

Imran (third from right) presenting a souvenir to Chai. Also seen are (from right) Ngui and Md Shahidul.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 17: The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is calling for a win-win collaboration with Sarawak in various sectors and industries to propel the development of both countries.

Its State Minister of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment, Imran Ahmad, urged the Sarawak government and the private sector to forge partnership and invest in Bangladesh besides recruiting its manpower.

“I am here to look for a cooperative situation between Sarawak and Bangladesh. This will be a win-win situation for both countries,” he told a dialogue session with Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCGCCI) and Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developer Association (Sheda) at Wisma Chinese Chamber, here, yesterday.

“I proposed that you consider recruiting manpower from Bangladesh, including at the white-collar level. Once upon a time, we have a workforce in the bottom unskilled level but today, the situation in Bangladesh is completely different.”

Bangladesh and Peninsular Malaysia, he emphasised, had a long relationship in terms of labour recruitment, where Bangladeshi workers had taken part in the development of Malaysia.

“Sarawak is going up (progressing rapidly), but without a good workforce, you cannot go up,” he opined.

Observing the diverse industries in Sarawak from construction to shipbuilding, he added that Bangladeshi workers today were well trained and could meet the requirement of many industries.

Imran, however, pointed out that there must be give and take in collaborations and, thus, strongly encouraged Sarawak to invest in his country, which offers many opportunities.

“If I said you can take my labour, but I will not be doing complete justice if I don’t say that maybe you should come to Bangladesh and invest over there,” he shared.

“I am not looking for one-way traffic, I want two-way traffic. It has to be give and take.”

Noting the facilities that the Sarawak government offered to foreign investors here, he said that the Bangladesh government also provided similar benefits to its foreign investors, including taking out 100 per cent of money invested as well as profit and no income tax for 10 years.

“We are setting up 100 economic zones all over the country, and one specific zone can be dedicated to Malaysia if there are enough investors,” he said.

Having paid a courtesy call on Head of State Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud yesterday morning, Imran revealed that in the discussion about agriculture plantation, he had suggested that Sarawak could diversify into fruit tree plantation such as mango.

“It does not necessarily have to be oil palm plantation. Mango is just an example. We can think about cooperation in this sector because we have educated people and the workforce.

“You have a lot of land over here, and land can be used for many purposes. I was thinking, maybe, I can get some land and start a small farm over here. We are starved of land as Bangladesh has a population of 160 million people and the size of Sarawak. So you can imagine how tight we are,” he pointed out.

In his first visit to Sarawak, Imran said he was impressed as this trip had completely changed his viewpoint on Sarawak.

While Imran looked forward to deepening collaboration with Sarawak, he reassured that the cooperative situation achieved could be beneficial to both countries.

“I have visited Peninsular Malaysia, and they have their own set of rules and Sarawak has its own set of rules. That’s the main reason I am here talking separately with Sarawak.

“I have met the Home Minister and Human Resource Minister and they said Sarawak had their own rules, and they can do whatever they want to do and it was completely up to them (Sarawak), and this gives me a lot of confidence that maybe you can take the labour from Bangladesh,” he reiterated.

The High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Malaysia Md Shahidul Islam, KCGCCI secretary-general Jonathan Chai and Sheda president Dr Christopher Ngui were among those present. — DayakDaily