Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone has benefited Sarawak in many ways — CM

Abang Johari (third from right) and Iljin Group chairman Huh Chin-Kyu (second from right) touching the screen for the launch gimmick of Iljin Materials Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Jan 24: Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone or High Tech Park here continues to be a success story for the state with exports totalling RM4.6 billion last year, an increase of 43 per cent compared to the 2017 figure of RM3.2 billion.

A delighted Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said 11,800 jobs had been created in Sama Jaya to date, where 98.9 per cent of the workforce are locals and almost 10 per cent of them engineers.

“I am happy that the multinational companies (MNCs) here are committed to recruiting local Sarawakians. I hope you will continue to give priority to the local workforce and our small/medium enterprises (SMEs) so that we can prosper together and at the same time Sarawakians can also benefit from the technology and knowledge transfer,” he said when officiating at the opening of Iljin Materials Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Iljin) at Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone here this afternoon.

Abang Johari revealed that cumulative investments by MNCs in Sama Jaya had exceeded RM12 billion, and the annual salaries paid to the workforce there alone stood at RM460 million last year.

This has created many multiplier effects to the state’s economy, such as demand for food, housing, transportation, and retail and entertainment.

The Iljin Group, one of South Korea’s biggest conglomerates specialising in high voltage electrical components and equipment, through its plant here, will be manufacturing elecfoil — thin copper foil that makes printed circuit board (PCB).

This component is crucial in the construction of lithium-ion batteries, electronic circuit boards for smartphones as well as components for electric vehicles (EV).

“Very soon, we’ll have elecfoil used in smartphones such as Samsung and electric vehicles such as BMW, GM, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Benz and Porsche that are manufactured in Kuching. Not the cars themselves but the components used to make them.

“As you know, the state government is also promoting the use of electric vehicles (EV). Therefore, this will have an advantage, where a lot of these elecfoils will be used as parts and components of EVs,” said Abang Johari.

Iljin started piling works to build the plant on Jan 14, 2018, and Phase 1 of the plant costing RM400 million is now completed. It hoped to start production within the first quarter of this year.

On that note, Abang Johari also told Iljin that the state was moving towards smart manufacturing, employing robotics and automation to remain competitive in this increasingly challenging business environment.

“I understand X-FAB (analogue/mixed-signal semiconductor foundry) and LONGi (solar ingot, wafer, cells and module producer) are embarking on programmes to adopt Industry 4.0 for their operations in Sarawak.

“Soon, Sama Jaya will have a Digital Village and possibly a Data Centre as part of our Digital Economy Initiative,” he said.

Iljin Group chairman Huh Chin-Kyu (right) presenting a souvenir to Abang Johari. With them is Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

As Sarawak industrialises, Abang Johari said the state would need more skilled and talented workforce.

As such, he assured that the state government would continue with its efforts to develop human talents to nurture creativity, innovation and technopreneurships to drive the state towards the high-income economy through digital economy platforms.

“I would like to assure investors, particularly foreign investors, that the Sarawak government will carry on with our business-friendly policies and create a more conducive environment to attract more high value and high tech investments to Sarawak,” he said.

Among those present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Assistant Minister of Coastal Road Datuk Julaihi Narawi, Assistant Minister of Industries and Investment Malcolm Mussen Lamoh and Assistant Minister of Entrepreneur and Small, Medium Enterprise Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais. — DayakDaily