Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Special attention for special needs
Massive 9MP funding for Sabah shows KL aware of situation: Najib


Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Federal Government is fully aware that Sabah is a State with different economic characteristics from that of Peninsular Malaysia. “And as such, Sabah also has special needs that demand special attention,” he said when officiating at the launch of Sabah International Business Conference 2008 (SIBC2008) and Sabah International Expo 2008 (SIE 2008) at 1Borneo Hypermall here yesterday. According to Najib, this awareness is fully illustrated in the huge development allocation for Sabah under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) and the massive funding allocated will help to alleviate poverty and narrow the regional development imbalance over which Malaysians m Sabah have expressed deep concern. The Federal Government, he said, has also pledged to support the Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint from 2007 to 2025. “If we the State Government and the Federal Government continue to work together and remain in one front, the implementation of SDC will bring about unprecedented development in sectors such as oil palm, oil and gas, biomass, biotechnology and non-metallic minerals such as silica and limestone which would lead to the creation of many new job opportunities in the State,” he stressed. Therefore, both the State and Federal Governments must focus on their implementation and execution of the initiatives and make it visible to the people, he said, adding that there must be changes on the ground where the people can realize the benefits from the substantial allocation under 9MP> according to Najib, not many people are aware of the fact that the Federal Government has been supporting the State Government companies in the development of major projects such as the KKIP and POIC. The Federal Government, he said, recognizes that these companies are important and they need support particularly in the development of expensive infrastructure. “There are many different interpretations of events leading to the formation of our beloved country. There may have been ... there still may be, mismatch between expectations and realities. “But I for one remain convinced that all channels of communication between Sabah and Kuala Lumpur remain open and functioning. There are hitches and hiccups but as long as we remain committed to the ideals of Malaysia and subscribe to dialogue rather than confrontation, I dare say there isn’t an issue or problem out there that we cannot resolve,” he stressed. Meanwhile, Najib said the Government must be prepared for any eventualities in facing the current global financial crisis. He said though the crisis was expected to have an impact on the Malaysian economy, especially next year, it would not be as bad as other countries as Malaysia has made structural changes to its economy since the Asian fmancial crisis 10 years ago. “We are monitoring the situation closely so that we can act accordingly when needed,” he said. Najib said recent events in the financial world had proven once again that “we are living ma truly connected and globalised world whether we desired it or not”. “Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and AIG and many others may be some distance from our shores but the truth is when they are in trouble, many parts of the world will also be in trouble,” he said. Najib said by the same token, Malaysia needed to watch, respond and adopt new business strategies because the global business environment was changing all the time. “Countries that were at one time not in our league have become serious competitors for foreign direct investments (FDIs), such as Vietnam, China and India,” he said. Najib said low wages and entry cost had helped to make Malaysia an attractive destination for export- oriented manufacturing for a long time. He said in the last 30 years, Malaysia has risen to the top rank of developing countries. “Our people now enjoy a higher standard of living. They demand higher wages and they don’t want investments that will inflict damage to the environment,” he added. Najib also said that in recent years, Malaysian investors have been going out of the country to invest in some of the so called low-cost destinations. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), major Malaysian companies have joined the big league of international companies investing abroad, he said. These companies, he noted, had contributed to the 81.9 percent jump in FDIs to RM38 billion last year from RM21 billion in 2006. Najib said liberalization of the services sector represented part of the Government’s response to prevailing conditions in the country. The services sector is the main contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) and the Government hoped that through liberalisation, Malaysia could attract more investments and generate more employment as well as strengthening the competitiveness of local companies, he said.