Today, Kalimantan has achieved the planting of at least 13 million hectares in 2020. More hectares to come! To put Musa’s vision in today’s context, Sabah has 1.7 million hectares and Malaysia a total of 5.87 million hectares.
Kalimantan alone has more than doubled the area of Malaysia. There is no doubt that the tripling is only a few years away, given that the supply of cooking oil in Indonesia is still insufficient at present.
Musa also commissioned two other crucial facilities [a] The construction of a deep water port of 20 meters draft which is the only one in Sabah and Borneo. Today’s VCUL [Ultra Large Container Vehicles] with a capacity of over 20,000 containers or more, will have no problem docking at POIC. [b] Musa also completed the container facilities in 2018.
The POIC port is a very important asset, but largely underused.
Kalimantan’s only deep water port is Kijing in West Kalimantan, facing the South China Sea. POIC is only a stone’s throw away from East Kalimantan where development is accelerating rapidly. The draft of Kijing is only 12m to 15m. POIC”s is 20m.
POIC’s potential, given the right policies and approach, can be huge and can live up to Musa’s full vision.
The time is right to develop POIC in a big way.
All the stars are coming together for a major POIC expansion.
[a] Musa prepared the infrastructure.
[b] Major developments are already underway in East and North Kalimantan and the new Indonesian capital is going to generate big waves for this part of the world.
[c] Very significantly, Yong Teck Lee got the ball rolling by securing support/participation from China Construction Bank Corporation Labuan (CCBL) in Kuala Lumpur on April 8 for the development of POIC. This collaboration with CCBL will open many doors in China if Sabah can produce an attractive win-win package for POIC’s expansion. This is a major breakthrough.
[d] Of paramount importance is Hajiji’s open approach and investor-friendly policies, which have already attracted RM20 billion in the first quarter of 2022 alone! We can expect more.
A combination of FREE TRADE ZONE, deep water port, 5,000 acres of industrial park is a rare asset. Exploit its potentials.
Think “BIG” for POIC.
Thanks to the proactivity of Yong Teck Lee, CCBL’s support for POIC is a clear message that Sabah must read, ponder and act.
Yes. Sabah must think big on POIC. A few investors have already signed MoUs to invest a lot of money in Sabah. Why not? As I said, all stars shine for POIC. The critical missing puzzle piece is the federal government’s FREE TRADE ZONE to which Sabah is more than entitled. With this in place, Sabah can do great things with POIC’s 5,000 acres because:
[a] Indonesia is developing Kalimantan considerably. Its new capital called Nasantara is transferred to Kalimantan.
[b] Apart from the new capital, Indonesia is pushing major developments in Kalimantan like pan Kalimantan highway, oil palm and downstream, mineral exploitation, food production, tourism.
[c] Indonesia is rapidly becoming an economic power. Its economy will overtake Germany and the UK by 2030. Much of this expansion will occur in Kalimantan as it has the natural resources and space to fuel Indonesia’s economic expansion.
[d] A major Chinese company has already signed a memorandum of understanding to convert CPO into aviation fuel and green energy. POIC, being close to the palm oil center of Sabah and Kalimantan’s 13 million hectares and FREE TRADE ZONE status, will be a very attractive and natural destination for more such investments.
[e] CPO and its derivatives can be used to manufacture hundreds of products, generating many business opportunities.
[f] As a FREE TRADE ZONE, POIC can become a major warehouse covering Kalimantan and South Philippines and beyond.
[g] Sabah is expected to take advantage of its geopolitical location in the South China Sea and its proximity to China, Kalimantan and the southern Philippines.
[h] The UN has alerted the world to an impending major food crisis. Sabah can certainly produce more food for us and for export. POIC with its deep water port can be a regional center for processing and exporting food products.
A well-thought-out POIC development model can be the engine of growth for the entire east coast of Sabah.
FREE TRADE ZONE for POIC.
With big dollars splashing like no tomorrow in West Malaysia, the federal government has rejected Sabah’s request for funds to build a CIQ complex in Serudong, Tawau, citing lack of money. Sabah’s request was thrown out the window just like that. This would have helped Sabah develop into a thriving border trading city. What a drive down. Let’s not depend on the federal government. Sabah can turn POIC into a major development hub. All we expect from the federal government is fairness. In fairness, the federal government should and must grant FREE TRADE ZONE status to CHOP. Sabah is entitled to at least one. After all, he has already given away plenty in W Malaysia. [a] The Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone for high-tech companies, [b] The Pasir Gudang Free Industrial Zone for shipbuilding and heavy industry activities. [c] Tanjung Pelepas Port Free Zone (PTP). [d] The Port Klang free zone for port and maritime activities. [e] The digital FREE TRADE AREA.
The Federal Government must justify, Sabah cannot accept a brush stroke, if it refuses to give Sabah a FREE TRADE ZONE. The Federal Government, if it cannot afford funds for Sabah for a simple CIQ, should give POIC the FREE TRADE ZONE for Sabah to self-develop. To reject Sabah the FREE TRADE ZONE is a bad intention, to want to restrict, to deprive Sabah of our rights to development, to prosperity.
Of course it can be done!
Only pessimists think otherwise. Sabah cannot afford to give in to such pessimists because they will leave us stuck in poverty forever. The world belongs to those who have faith in themselves. We can overcome these challenges.
FREE TRADE ZONE of the federal government.
Other states have it. No reason for Sabah not to get it. Why discriminate Sabah. After all, the federal government will derive more economic benefit than Sabah from a FREE TRADE ZONE. The tipping point is that ALL political leaders in Sabah unite, fight for FREE TRADE ZONE status. If the rulers of Sabah cannot unite to achieve it when other states can, something is seriously wrong with them. Political unity is essential.
Challenge 2. Funding.
The fear of lack of funds is a myth for those who seek an excuse to do nothing. Yong Teck Lee established the very important first link with the China Construction Bank, one of the 4 largest state-owned banks in China. Although this is no walk in the park, CCBL can help find funds for CHOP development provided Sabah can produce a sensible/logical plan within the context of Hajiji’s policy framework.
Challenge #3. Investors.
POIC will need a major partner investor to develop POIC into a full fledged industrial destination. A good example is the successful MCKIP [Malaysia China Kuantan Industrial Park] which was launched in 2013 and Port MC Kuantan which only has a draft of 11m compared to POIC’s 20m.
POIC has better attributes than Kuantan in terms of infrastructure and raw material supply in addition to being closer to China.
Challenge #4. With many pre-requisites to attract investment already in place, particularly Hajiji’s investor-friendly policies, POIC should be able to secure a developer/partner for the development of POIC’s remaining 5,000 acres, albeit in developing in reasonable phases. All it needs is for POIC to produce a favorable and beneficial business model for all stakeholders based on strategic partnerships. This, Yong Teck Lee and his team can do in the context of Hajiji’s investor-friendly policy, which has already brought so much success.
– The views expressed here are those of Datuk writer John Lo and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.
– If you have something to share, write to us at: [email protected]