Sarawak to continue to embrace industrialisation to achieve high income economy

Abang Johari (second left) and Awang Tengah (third left) look at photovoltaic cells ​on display after the official opening ceremony of LONGi Kuching at Sama Jaya High Tech Park, Kuching.

KUCHING, April 16: Sarawak cannot continue to rely on low cost, low tech and labour intensive growth strategy if it is to become a high income state by 2030.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the way forward for Sarawak towards achieving a high income economy would be through industrialisation, leveraging on the digital economy as a platform that would leapfrog its economy to the next level.

Speaking during the official opening of China-headquartered solar manufacturer LONGi (Kuching) Sdn Bhd (LONGi Kuching) this morning, he said the state had established the Sama Jaya High Tech Park which would definitely create many economic spinoffs which would benefit the state’s local business communities.

“Our local entrepreneurs, particularly the small medium enterprises (SMEs) must continuously upgrade their capabilities and capacities so as to meet the stringent requirements of these global players.

“SMEs must be innovative and creative, leveraging on new technologies to remain competitive in this globalised and challenging environment. I would like to take this opportunity to make a friendly request to LONGi Kuching and other investors in Sarawak that where possible, please give business opportunities to our local companies, especially SMEs to ensure a win-win situation,” Awang Tengah said.

Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, pointed out that the state government could only facilitate, but the private sector as the engine of growth must grab the opportunities created by the initiatives of the state government including the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), Social Economic Transformation and the digital economy.

He also said Malaysia was among the top investment destinations in this region and Sarawak was among the top three most preferred destinations in Malaysia over the last five years.

“The state government has approved total investments amounted to RM46.3 billion for the last five years. This does not include the proposed USD3 billion steel project and the USD2 billion methanol project.

“China being the second largest economy in the world is one of the major sources of foreign direct investment (FDI). Therefore, we will continue with our efforts to attract FDI including China, and at the same time we will continue to attract Domestic Direct Investment (DDI).

“All these achievements thus far do not come by chance, but mainly due to the political stability and efficiency of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government. The state leadership under the Right Honourable Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) will continue with its business-friendly policies and to provide a conducive ecosystem for businesses to grow and prosper. We will continue to preserve social harmony and unity,” said Awang Tengah.

He also revealed that in 2017, total exports from Sama Jaya High Tech Park had reached RM3.2 billion (up from RM2.7 billion in 2016) and was expected to hit the RM4.5 billion mark by end of 2018 when LONGi Kuching goes into full production.

Some of the products from Sama Jaya, he said, were found in global brands such as Apple, Samsung and BMW.

“For instance, approximately 1,000 pieces of multi-layer ceramic capacitors (MLCC) are mounted in one unit of smartphone such as iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. In that smartphone, 30 per cent of the MLCC are supplied by the Taiyo Yuden Group worldwide, in which 15 per cent are manufactured here in Sama Jaya.

“Similarly, X-FAB produces chips primarily used in the European automotive sector, notably in most major European car brands. These chips are found in tyre pressure monitoring systems, rain sensors, LEDs for interior lighting, power windows and seats,” he said.

Awang Tengah highlighted the establishment of the Sama Jaya High Tech Park as the brainchild of Sarawak Governor Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud when he was the Chief Minister.

He said Abang Johari was then the Minister of Industrial Development, responsible for the successful implementation of this first free industrial zone in Sarawak.

“Without him (Abang Johari), we would not have this beautiful high-tech park where we are gathered today. Thank you to our Right Honourable Chief Minister for a job well done,” said Awang Tengah.

Awang Tengah speaks at the official opening ceremony of LONGi Kuching at Sama Jaya High Tech Park, Kuching.

He also added that initially during the early years, only a handful of companies such as Toko Electronics (which set up business here in March 1992) and Taiyo Yuden (December 1994) were established in Sama Jaya.

Awang Tengah revealed that today, there were several multinational corporations like X-FAB, Western Digital (or HGST), and now LONGi which is a leading global mono crystalline solar manufacturer. The presence of these multinational corporations (MNCs) have put Sarawak on the world map as a preferred investment destination.

He said these foreign investments have created 10,800 job opportunities in Sama Jaya High Tech Park of which 99 per cent of those employed are locals, and almost 10 per cent of the locals were engineers.

“I would like to express my thanks to the MNCs for their efforts to recruit local Sarawakians and I want them to continue to give priority to the local workforce.

“For example, LONGi Kuching alone employs 2,130 staff including 247 engineers. Ninety-nine per cent of the workforce employed by LONGi Kuching are local Sarawakians, including its CEO (Sii Jing Ngieng). This shows that Sarawakians are capable people. LONGi Kuching is expected to increase its workforce to 2,851 by the end of this year to support its aggressive expansion plans. So far, 120 have been sent to China for training,” said Awang Tengah.

He also revealed that the cumulative investments by MNCs operating in Sama Jaya have exceeded RM12 billion. The annual salaries paid to the workforce in Sama Jaya alone stood at RM380 million in 2017. This has created many multiplier effects on the state’s economy such as demand for food, housing, transportation, retail and entertainment.

“Sama Jaya High Tech Park continues to attract high value, high-tech investments such as the recently approved copperfoil project from Iljin Materials, South Korea. The company will invest RM2.2 billion in its facility in Sama Jaya that will produce copperfoil for batteries used in smartphones and electric vehicles.

“The state government, through my ministry will continue to enhance Sama Jaya High Tech Park and equip it with more modern facilities and amenities. We hope to transform Sama Jaya High Tech Park into a smart industrial park and become a catalyst for industries to move towards Industry 4.0, in line with the Sarawak Digital Economy Initiative,” said Awang Tengah. — DayakDaily