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KUCHING, Oct 14: Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew proposes the federal government set up a fund to fund the Lower Rajang Development Authority, like the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) and Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) under the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP) covering Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak.
He believed the time is ripe for the federal government to support the State government in funding the development in the central and northern regions of Sarawak to boost industrial development.
“There is an Upper Rajang Development Agency, Highland Development Agency and Northern Region Development Agency to help boost the economic activities in these more remote regions.
“These three agencies are funded by the Sarawak government. It is time for the federal government to support and match the Sarawak government in funding such agencies,” he said in his speech when debating the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) at Dewan Negara.
On another note, Lau who is Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Bawang Assan branch chairman said Sarawak has contributed significantly to the federal government coffers through its oil and gas resources.
Thus, he said it is fair for Sarawak to seek more money from the federal government to fund projects in the State as there is a lack of basic infrastructure in both Sabah and Sarawak.
As such, he called on the federal government to provide funding to fast track infrastructure development in Sabah and Sarawak.
Adding on, Lau questioned the federal government’s plan in 12MP to develop the aerospace industry as opposed to shipping industry.
He said the shipbuilding industry especially in Sibu has good prospects to grow. He highlighted the shipbuilding industry in Sibu is the biggest in the country and 60 out of 100 shipyards in Malaysia is located in Sarawak, with the majority in Sibu.
He noted ships built in Sibu are exported to many countries around the world especially Southeast Asia (Asean) countries and are used in oil and gas industries.
He said the passenger ferries plying between the mainland to Pangkor and Langkawi; between islands in Southern Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the rivers and coastal towns of Cambodia and Myanmar are all made in Sibu.
He added many of the barges used in oil and gas sectors around the world are made in Sibu while the export value of shipbuilding in 2019 was valued at RM350 million.
Lau said there was a proposal for a 400-hectare Marine Engineering Park in Paloh, Tanjung Manis, which is 80km north of Sibu, under 12MP.
However, he noted shipping was not even listed as an index in 12MP. — DayakDaily