Continuous improvement on SEDC’s agenda

Reading Time: 7 minutes
SEDC chairman Yb Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip
SEDC chairman Yb Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip

The Sarawak Economic Development Corporation, or SEDC, is a state-owned institution responsible for promoting commercial, industrial and socio-economic development in Sarawak, as well as the development of bumiputera in commerce and industry. Inside investor sat down with SEDC’s chairman Yb Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip to hear more about the objectives and strategies of the body.

Q: What are you currently focusing on in your economic development programmes?

A: We are continuously playing our role in promoting investment in Sarawak by providing advice on business opportunities and, where necessary, serving as a joint venture partner in a range of industries including agriculture, tourism and leisure, real estate development, socio-economic projects and strategic ventures. We will also be expanding in certain areas. In the agriculture sector, we are seriously looking into the development of livestock and aquaculture industries. In the livestock industry, we are presently involved in cattle, goats and deer farming, and we are supported by our two cattle farms in Australia, which provide cattle breed for cattle supply and the beef market in Sarawak. However, we plan to undertake cattle breeding in a big way ourselves to reduce over-dependence on import of cattle and beef from Australia. It is also part of the strategic upstream activities to complement the downstream food processing cluster in Sarawak. We encourage the participation of livestock entrepreneurs in this programme, as the state offers vast potential in the livestock industry. We also plan to develop a halal abattoir capable of producing export quality meat and meat products to be exported to any country in the world. The halal abattoir will also serve entrepreneurs by supplying halal meat for their operations.

Q: What about other food-related sectors?

A: In the aquaculture industry, currently we have farms in Santubong, Kuching Division and Oya, Mukah Division. Our strategy is to collaborate with the private sector to establish aquaculture farms in Sarawak and continue to look for new technology and expertise in this industry, which offers significant opportunities. The government is promoting and encouraging private participation in aquaculture, feed and fry production, particularly in shrimp farming, where we have a large land bank suitable for aquaculture and are looking for joint venture partners including those from the Middle East. We are also looking into adding value to the many clean rivers in Sarawak by utilising them for cage culture. With wild fish stocks declining around the globe due to over-fishing and climate change, we believe cage culture is the way to go towards sustainable supply of fresh table fishes. Swiftlets farming, or the production of edible bird’s nest, is a relatively new industry in Sarawak, and we see huge potential in this industry. We are planning to develop a number of swiftlets eco-parks through joint ventures with private investors and will also look into the processing and export of bird’s nest to ensure the continued growth and sustainability of the industry in the state.

Q: What are the strategies in the tourism sector?

A: We are contemplating the development of new hotels and resorts throughout Sarawak. This initiative comes in support of the state’s efforts to develop Sarawak into a unique and world class tourist destination for foreign and domestic tourism. Among other projects, we will embark on the development of a number of hotels and resorts in the near future. These include a new hotel in Kuching City next to the Riverside Majestic Hotel, the Telok Melando Resort in Sematan, the Kota Samarahan Hotel, the Bakun Resort, the Tanjung Manis Hotel and the Airport Hotel. These projects will enhance our corporation’s position as a major player in the tourism industry in the state.

Q: What role do the issues of bumiputera play in the economic and industrial development of Sarawak?

A: The bumiputera development agenda will continue to be a major thrust of Malaysia’s economic policy, due to imbalances in bumiputera representation in ownership of assets such as property and corporate equity, as well as the share of bumiputera businesses in high value-added activities. The national policies and objectives of reducing the incidence of poverty have been very successful so far, and there has been a marked reduction in poverty among the bumiputera as well as an increase in their participation in commerce and industry. The New Economic Policy, for example, has created more balanced economic participation, and income disparities have been greatly reduced. However, despite this success, there remain vulnerable sections of the population due to their low income or their disadvantaged circumstances. During the Tenth Malaysia Plan period, the government has drawn up key strategies to provide equitable opportunities for bumiputera to participate in the economy as well as work towards greater socio-economic inclusiveness. Furthermore, the creation of the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community, or BCIC, will take into account the need for bumiputera to participate in an environment of competition and efficiency. Thus, although government policies and programmes will continue to provide necessary support to bumiputera entrepreneurs, they will be expected to develop their business activities increasingly on their own efforts and be less dependent on government subsidies and assistance. The issue of bumiputera participation and development therefore is still relevant and is of utmost priority in the economic and industrial development in Sarawak, but this must be implemented through a pragmatic approach.

Q: What is the current value of your investment portfolio, where does the funding come from and what have been the biggest projects in the past?

A: The current value of our investment portfolio is RM785.73 million, of which 66 per cent are invested in the tourism and leisure sector. The remaining 34 per cent are invested various other sectors including agro food and fisheries, mineral and mining, road works and entrepreneur development. Our investments are mainly funded by government grants, government loans, commercial loans and internally generated funds. And the biggest projects are in the development of hotels and resorts in Sarawak, such as the Riverside Majestic Hotel, the Grand Margherita Hotel, the Damai Beach Resort and the DamaiPuri Resort.

Q: What is the focus of your entrepreneurial development programme?

A: One of our key corporate objectives is to promote and accelerate the development of the mentioned BCIC in Sarawak. As a trust agency, the focus is geared towards providing effective support for the development of bumiputera businesses particularly for the small to medium size entrepreneurs. In general, the levels of technology, management expertise, education, experience and exposure to business competition among bumiputera entrepreneurs are comparatively low. Main reasons are the lack of organisational and managerial capability, difficulties in getting access to credit, and the competition with other agencies in securing supplies and materials. To enable them to have greater accessibility to commercial and industrial ventures, we provide various support facilities such as finance, training and consultancy and advisory services will be provided on an integrated basis. Easier access to credit facilities and business premises are to be extended especially to those who show the potential of being successful and innovative. Provision of support is done according to merit and takes into account the bumiputera entrepreneurs’ ability to become independent of government support in the long run. In terms of skill training, our institution and others such as Pusat Giat, MARA, community colleges, Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat and various skills development centres will continue to provide training in areas such as tailoring, baking, hospitality and food processing to support self-employment. The development of BCIC will be undertaken through segmenting the bumiputera companies according to their business stage, whereby they will be categorised into micro and small enterprises, development and growth stage, and listed or mature stage companies. Funding and support services will be differentiated according to the categories of companies. Micro enterprises will be assisted through provision of equipment, funding and capability building. For mature companies, assistance will include promoted participation in strategic areas.

Q: You are actively addressing domestic and foreign investors to undertake projects or start joint ventures in Sarawak. Could you give examples of successful partnerships? Are there any contacts to GCC investors or companies that are interested in setting up businesses in Sarawak? Can you give some examples of local business success stories your organisation has been involved in?

A: As mentioned earlier, we are committed to promoting investments in Sarawak to local and foreign investors. There are several success stories of partnerships, among them the CMS Quarry Group, engaged in development and operations of quarries, the CMS Premix Group, which produces premix for road construction, the PPES Works Group, which develops infrastructure projects, Sarawak Oil Palm, which develops and operates oil palm plantations, the Sea Horse Corporation, operating a white shrimp farm and IDS Sebor, which is engaged in warehousing and distribution of consumer products. We have also successfully developed residential, commercial and industrial property projects through collaboration with private developers. These include local firms such as Hock Peng Realty, Lamy Industries, Allzone Development and Tenaga SriWangsa. As far as the GCC is concerned, there were some initial interests in the oil and gas sector earlier. However, this has yet to materialise. We are open to proposals from GCC countries and will offer them our unique state with all its hospitality and multi­cultural attractions, and of course the hard-working and dedicated workforce we have here.

Q: What are the activities of the SEDC in human development and skills training?

A: We place great importance on our number one asset, which are people. Human capital development is aimed at improving organisational effectiveness and individual performance. Staff and trainees are given opportunities to develop their competitiveness required to fulfill their current responsibilities, and by helping them to pursue their career goals through in-house and external or public training programmes in financial management, human resource management, creativity and innovation, executive development, communication, quality management, corporate governance and risk management as well as professional and technical fields. We are also running a Corporate Culture Building Programme, whose aim is to groom our staff to be good citizens of the corporation. We also have job rotation programmes, secondments, graduate and industrial trainees in internships and graduate training programmes. In the past ten years since its commencement, to date a total of 412 graduates have benefited from our graduate training programme. And since 2008, a total of 200 industrial trainees have benefited from our industrial training attachment. The programme had also attracted a strong and encouraging response from public and private universities.

Q: Are you looking into new economic segments such as green technology, biotech and renewable energy?

A: Currently, we are not focusing on new economic segments. Instead, we are strengthening our current portfolio of businesses and enhancing our market share in these sectors.

Q: What is your approach to corporate social responsibility and the integration of local communities into the projects you are conducting?

A: As a corporate body, we also play our part in contributing to the less fortunate and deserving members of society and staff through a number of corporate social responsibility programmes. These include a special educational incentive programme, a special fund for children of SEDC staff and educational incentives for the children. There are other programmes for the aged and those who stay in hospitals, as well as fund raising initiatives for communities.

Q: What would you like to have achieved for Sarawak by 2020?

A: 2020 is a very important year, not only for Sarawak, but also for Malaysia. It is also not very far away. By 2020, we hope to become a developed state and Malaysia a developed country. This is a very challenging objective.  To achieve this, we need to have a per capita income of $15,000. I believe this is achievable if all our economic development programmes are successfully implemented. One of the key initiatives to achieve this is the Sarawak Corridor of Renewal Energy, or SCORE. The planned private investment for SCORE is RM200 billion up to the year 2030, or roughly RM10 billion per year. One million jobs are expected to be created by SCORE. With this kind of initiative, I am confident that we can achieve our goal of becoming a developed state by 2020. There are a lot of business opportunities in SCORE as well as in other parts of Sarawak. We welcome potential business partners, be it from Gulf states or other parts of the world, as long as we have the mutual understanding and interest to work together.

 

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

SEDC chairman Yb Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip

The Sarawak Economic Development Corporation, or SEDC, is a state-owned institution responsible for promoting commercial, industrial and socio-economic development in Sarawak, as well as the development of bumiputera in commerce and industry. Inside investor sat down with SEDC’s chairman Yb Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip to hear more about the objectives and strategies of the body.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

SEDC chairman Yb Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip
SEDC chairman Yb Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip

The Sarawak Economic Development Corporation, or SEDC, is a state-owned institution responsible for promoting commercial, industrial and socio-economic development in Sarawak, as well as the development of bumiputera in commerce and industry. Inside investor sat down with SEDC’s chairman Yb Datuk Haji Talib Zulpilip to hear more about the objectives and strategies of the body.

Q: What are you currently focusing on in your economic development programmes?

A: We are continuously playing our role in promoting investment in Sarawak by providing advice on business opportunities and, where necessary, serving as a joint venture partner in a range of industries including agriculture, tourism and leisure, real estate development, socio-economic projects and strategic ventures. We will also be expanding in certain areas. In the agriculture sector, we are seriously looking into the development of livestock and aquaculture industries. In the livestock industry, we are presently involved in cattle, goats and deer farming, and we are supported by our two cattle farms in Australia, which provide cattle breed for cattle supply and the beef market in Sarawak. However, we plan to undertake cattle breeding in a big way ourselves to reduce over-dependence on import of cattle and beef from Australia. It is also part of the strategic upstream activities to complement the downstream food processing cluster in Sarawak. We encourage the participation of livestock entrepreneurs in this programme, as the state offers vast potential in the livestock industry. We also plan to develop a halal abattoir capable of producing export quality meat and meat products to be exported to any country in the world. The halal abattoir will also serve entrepreneurs by supplying halal meat for their operations.

Q: What about other food-related sectors?

A: In the aquaculture industry, currently we have farms in Santubong, Kuching Division and Oya, Mukah Division. Our strategy is to collaborate with the private sector to establish aquaculture farms in Sarawak and continue to look for new technology and expertise in this industry, which offers significant opportunities. The government is promoting and encouraging private participation in aquaculture, feed and fry production, particularly in shrimp farming, where we have a large land bank suitable for aquaculture and are looking for joint venture partners including those from the Middle East. We are also looking into adding value to the many clean rivers in Sarawak by utilising them for cage culture. With wild fish stocks declining around the globe due to over-fishing and climate change, we believe cage culture is the way to go towards sustainable supply of fresh table fishes. Swiftlets farming, or the production of edible bird’s nest, is a relatively new industry in Sarawak, and we see huge potential in this industry. We are planning to develop a number of swiftlets eco-parks through joint ventures with private investors and will also look into the processing and export of bird’s nest to ensure the continued growth and sustainability of the industry in the state.

Q: What are the strategies in the tourism sector?

A: We are contemplating the development of new hotels and resorts throughout Sarawak. This initiative comes in support of the state’s efforts to develop Sarawak into a unique and world class tourist destination for foreign and domestic tourism. Among other projects, we will embark on the development of a number of hotels and resorts in the near future. These include a new hotel in Kuching City next to the Riverside Majestic Hotel, the Telok Melando Resort in Sematan, the Kota Samarahan Hotel, the Bakun Resort, the Tanjung Manis Hotel and the Airport Hotel. These projects will enhance our corporation’s position as a major player in the tourism industry in the state.

Q: What role do the issues of bumiputera play in the economic and industrial development of Sarawak?

A: The bumiputera development agenda will continue to be a major thrust of Malaysia’s economic policy, due to imbalances in bumiputera representation in ownership of assets such as property and corporate equity, as well as the share of bumiputera businesses in high value-added activities. The national policies and objectives of reducing the incidence of poverty have been very successful so far, and there has been a marked reduction in poverty among the bumiputera as well as an increase in their participation in commerce and industry. The New Economic Policy, for example, has created more balanced economic participation, and income disparities have been greatly reduced. However, despite this success, there remain vulnerable sections of the population due to their low income or their disadvantaged circumstances. During the Tenth Malaysia Plan period, the government has drawn up key strategies to provide equitable opportunities for bumiputera to participate in the economy as well as work towards greater socio-economic inclusiveness. Furthermore, the creation of the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community, or BCIC, will take into account the need for bumiputera to participate in an environment of competition and efficiency. Thus, although government policies and programmes will continue to provide necessary support to bumiputera entrepreneurs, they will be expected to develop their business activities increasingly on their own efforts and be less dependent on government subsidies and assistance. The issue of bumiputera participation and development therefore is still relevant and is of utmost priority in the economic and industrial development in Sarawak, but this must be implemented through a pragmatic approach.

Q: What is the current value of your investment portfolio, where does the funding come from and what have been the biggest projects in the past?

A: The current value of our investment portfolio is RM785.73 million, of which 66 per cent are invested in the tourism and leisure sector. The remaining 34 per cent are invested various other sectors including agro food and fisheries, mineral and mining, road works and entrepreneur development. Our investments are mainly funded by government grants, government loans, commercial loans and internally generated funds. And the biggest projects are in the development of hotels and resorts in Sarawak, such as the Riverside Majestic Hotel, the Grand Margherita Hotel, the Damai Beach Resort and the DamaiPuri Resort.

Q: What is the focus of your entrepreneurial development programme?

A: One of our key corporate objectives is to promote and accelerate the development of the mentioned BCIC in Sarawak. As a trust agency, the focus is geared towards providing effective support for the development of bumiputera businesses particularly for the small to medium size entrepreneurs. In general, the levels of technology, management expertise, education, experience and exposure to business competition among bumiputera entrepreneurs are comparatively low. Main reasons are the lack of organisational and managerial capability, difficulties in getting access to credit, and the competition with other agencies in securing supplies and materials. To enable them to have greater accessibility to commercial and industrial ventures, we provide various support facilities such as finance, training and consultancy and advisory services will be provided on an integrated basis. Easier access to credit facilities and business premises are to be extended especially to those who show the potential of being successful and innovative. Provision of support is done according to merit and takes into account the bumiputera entrepreneurs’ ability to become independent of government support in the long run. In terms of skill training, our institution and others such as Pusat Giat, MARA, community colleges, Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat and various skills development centres will continue to provide training in areas such as tailoring, baking, hospitality and food processing to support self-employment. The development of BCIC will be undertaken through segmenting the bumiputera companies according to their business stage, whereby they will be categorised into micro and small enterprises, development and growth stage, and listed or mature stage companies. Funding and support services will be differentiated according to the categories of companies. Micro enterprises will be assisted through provision of equipment, funding and capability building. For mature companies, assistance will include promoted participation in strategic areas.

Q: You are actively addressing domestic and foreign investors to undertake projects or start joint ventures in Sarawak. Could you give examples of successful partnerships? Are there any contacts to GCC investors or companies that are interested in setting up businesses in Sarawak? Can you give some examples of local business success stories your organisation has been involved in?

A: As mentioned earlier, we are committed to promoting investments in Sarawak to local and foreign investors. There are several success stories of partnerships, among them the CMS Quarry Group, engaged in development and operations of quarries, the CMS Premix Group, which produces premix for road construction, the PPES Works Group, which develops infrastructure projects, Sarawak Oil Palm, which develops and operates oil palm plantations, the Sea Horse Corporation, operating a white shrimp farm and IDS Sebor, which is engaged in warehousing and distribution of consumer products. We have also successfully developed residential, commercial and industrial property projects through collaboration with private developers. These include local firms such as Hock Peng Realty, Lamy Industries, Allzone Development and Tenaga SriWangsa. As far as the GCC is concerned, there were some initial interests in the oil and gas sector earlier. However, this has yet to materialise. We are open to proposals from GCC countries and will offer them our unique state with all its hospitality and multi­cultural attractions, and of course the hard-working and dedicated workforce we have here.

Q: What are the activities of the SEDC in human development and skills training?

A: We place great importance on our number one asset, which are people. Human capital development is aimed at improving organisational effectiveness and individual performance. Staff and trainees are given opportunities to develop their competitiveness required to fulfill their current responsibilities, and by helping them to pursue their career goals through in-house and external or public training programmes in financial management, human resource management, creativity and innovation, executive development, communication, quality management, corporate governance and risk management as well as professional and technical fields. We are also running a Corporate Culture Building Programme, whose aim is to groom our staff to be good citizens of the corporation. We also have job rotation programmes, secondments, graduate and industrial trainees in internships and graduate training programmes. In the past ten years since its commencement, to date a total of 412 graduates have benefited from our graduate training programme. And since 2008, a total of 200 industrial trainees have benefited from our industrial training attachment. The programme had also attracted a strong and encouraging response from public and private universities.

Q: Are you looking into new economic segments such as green technology, biotech and renewable energy?

A: Currently, we are not focusing on new economic segments. Instead, we are strengthening our current portfolio of businesses and enhancing our market share in these sectors.

Q: What is your approach to corporate social responsibility and the integration of local communities into the projects you are conducting?

A: As a corporate body, we also play our part in contributing to the less fortunate and deserving members of society and staff through a number of corporate social responsibility programmes. These include a special educational incentive programme, a special fund for children of SEDC staff and educational incentives for the children. There are other programmes for the aged and those who stay in hospitals, as well as fund raising initiatives for communities.

Q: What would you like to have achieved for Sarawak by 2020?

A: 2020 is a very important year, not only for Sarawak, but also for Malaysia. It is also not very far away. By 2020, we hope to become a developed state and Malaysia a developed country. This is a very challenging objective.  To achieve this, we need to have a per capita income of $15,000. I believe this is achievable if all our economic development programmes are successfully implemented. One of the key initiatives to achieve this is the Sarawak Corridor of Renewal Energy, or SCORE. The planned private investment for SCORE is RM200 billion up to the year 2030, or roughly RM10 billion per year. One million jobs are expected to be created by SCORE. With this kind of initiative, I am confident that we can achieve our goal of becoming a developed state by 2020. There are a lot of business opportunities in SCORE as well as in other parts of Sarawak. We welcome potential business partners, be it from Gulf states or other parts of the world, as long as we have the mutual understanding and interest to work together.

 

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