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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Jan 27: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has suggested that Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) set up a design centre for young designers to hone their design capabilities and skills in the timber and furniture industry.
He highlighted that the timber industry also needed an innovative and productive workforce to stay competitive.
“Competent and skilful workforce is required to manage new technology, develop new products and produce attractive designs,” he said at STIDC’s 45th anniversary dinner at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here last night.
The event was officiated at by Head of State Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
“Abang Johari said he was glad that STIDC had initiated the Pool of Young Designers Programme (POYOD) in collaboration with University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Institute Technology Bandong (ITB), Bandung, Indonesia, and timber industry players.
The designers’ attachment with conglomerates like Samling, Shin Yang and Giovani, he added, had shown potential in producing commercial furniture designs.
“STIDC will work closely with Sarawak Timber Association (STA) so that this training programme will benefit more industry players.
“I am glad to know that the participation of these young designers in trade exhibitions in India, Australia and Dubai last year has generated potential sales of RM47 million of furniture, designed by these young designers,” he shared.
The state’s timber industry, Abang Johari emphasised, had been one of the major contributors to the economic development of Sarawak, alongside sectors like natural gas, petroleum and palm oil.
“The industry has created more than 100,000 jobs. In 2018, the total export value of timber products was about RM5.4 billion, of which about 91 per cent were primary and secondary products.
“The timber industry is an export-oriented industry. It is important for the industry to enhance competitiveness through innovations by leveraging on more structured and collaborative research initiatives and knowledge sharing,” he added.
The industry, he advised, need to capitalise on the best available expertise by conducting collaborative research and development (R&D) with reputable research institutions both domestically and internationally.
On Industrial Forest Plantation (IFP), Abang Johari pointed out that Sarawak had the potential to be developed as the hub of planted forest-based industry in this region.
“The harvesting of the IFP in Sarawak started in 2011 with log production of 44,000 cubic metres. In 2018, log production from the planted forest was about 1.72 million cubic metres, and this is expected to increase in the years to come,” he said.
A highlight of the gathering last night was the presentation of a book ‘The Tanjung Manis Story: Powering Sarawak’s Central Region Forward’ to Taib.
Taib mooted and initiated idea to develop Tanjung Manis. In 1984, a master plan study for the timber industry in the Rajang Basin was commissioned, which was conducted by H.A Simons from Canada.
The findings of this study formed the basis for the development of Tanjung Manis. The earth-breaking ceremony for the development of Tanjung Manis was officiated by Taib on March 11, 1990. Now Tanjung Manis has transformed not only for the timber industry but has diversified into a mega economic growth area, especially in the central region of the state.
Taib’s wife, Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib, Chief Minister’s wife, Datin Patinggi Datuk Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Assistant Minister of E-Commerce Datuk Naroden Majais and Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh were among the distinguished guests present.— DayakDaily