Sarawak has everything investors need, says commerce chairman

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Middle East investors need not look farther than Sarawak for their investment requirements, with Malaysia’s largest state offering plenty of natural resources, an ideal location and political stability.

Resources, location and political stability – these are the key reasons Middle East investors should consider putting their money in Malaysia’s largest state, Sarawak.

Datuk Abang Haji Abdul Karim Tun Abang Haji Openg, Chairman of the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI), said Sarawak offers plenty of opportunities for potential investors from the GCC and others, looking for safe havens for their money.

“First of all, we are rich in resources,” said Datuk Abang. “And if you talk to house developers, they talk about location, location, location. For us, talking about development, it is also location, location, location. We are between two emerging giants – India and China.

“Another thing is political stability. This is something that is very important. It is something that is not guaranteed in the Middle East these days so they should come here and invest.”

The SCCI, like its counterparts all over the world at the provincial and national levels, acts as a middle-man for businesses in Sarawak. The Chamber promotes commerce and industry opportunities for its members and also offers an information duct to the state government.

It also has close links with the national organisation, the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MICCI), and has the important role of looking after some of the smaller businesses that may want a share of the benefits driven by heavy industry developments in the state.

Expanding on Sarawak’s resources, Datuk Abang said the state, apart from sweeping rainforests and big mineral deposits, will have a vast amount of energy once the new Bakun Dam in Bintulu is at full capacity.

The dam is part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) project that has attracted billions of dollars in investments so far.

“The focus is now on SCORE and, because of this programme, we will be able to produce 30,000 megawatts of energy,” said Datuk Abang. “Other forms of energy are depleting but the energy we are producing is sustainable.

“This kind of energy is excellent for production. You cannot run away from it. The Middle East has oil and gas but not much else. There are a lot of opportunities for them in Sarawak.”

The SCORE project has seen big players from Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, the Middle East and Europe invest in various businesses, from heavy industries in Bintulu’s Samalaju Industrial Park to food production at the Tanjung Manis Halal Hub.

While the big companies are well looked after, the SCCI is determined to ensure small businesses also benefit. The body performs the role of a “marriage broker”, playing go-between in matching investors with local partners.

“Some people think that SCORE is meant only for the big players, which is not really the case,” said Datuk Abang. “Of course, when you talk about the trigger industries such as smelting plants and those projects, they involve the mega players.

“But by having them operating in SCORE, they can give a lot of business to the smaller local companies, who can provide them with whatever services they require.

“So that’s where we come in. We have a website, as an information bank, so these investors can go there and try to find what they want.

They can get in touch with these people directly. We are only the introducer. It is up to them whether the partnership lasts or not.”

As SCCI Chairman, Datuk Abang has the pedigree, qualifications and experience to head one of the most important commerce organisations in the state. His father, the late Tun Abang Haji Openg, was the first governor of Sarawak after the state joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963.

A prominent corporate personality in Sarawak, Datuk Abang graduated from the University of Malaya with a Bachelor of Economics (Hons) in the late 60s and then pursued a Master’s Degree in Management from the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines.

He was one of the pioneer scholars of the Central Bank, which he joined as an assistant economist in Kuala Lumpur in the early 70s. He then became the first local to manage the Central Bank’s branch in Kuching and, because of his love for the city, resigned when his employers were about to transfer him back to Kuala Lumpur.

Practically retired now, Datuk Abang holds various positions in business organisations and companies in addition to his duties as SCCI Chairman.

“I enjoy what I’m doing,” he said. “At least I can contribute back to society what I gained out of it. No so much for the money but as a way of providing a service to the community.”

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Middle East investors need not look farther than Sarawak for their investment requirements, with Malaysia’s largest state offering plenty of natural resources, an ideal location and political stability.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Middle East investors need not look farther than Sarawak for their investment requirements, with Malaysia’s largest state offering plenty of natural resources, an ideal location and political stability.

Resources, location and political stability – these are the key reasons Middle East investors should consider putting their money in Malaysia’s largest state, Sarawak.

Datuk Abang Haji Abdul Karim Tun Abang Haji Openg, Chairman of the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI), said Sarawak offers plenty of opportunities for potential investors from the GCC and others, looking for safe havens for their money.

“First of all, we are rich in resources,” said Datuk Abang. “And if you talk to house developers, they talk about location, location, location. For us, talking about development, it is also location, location, location. We are between two emerging giants – India and China.

“Another thing is political stability. This is something that is very important. It is something that is not guaranteed in the Middle East these days so they should come here and invest.”

The SCCI, like its counterparts all over the world at the provincial and national levels, acts as a middle-man for businesses in Sarawak. The Chamber promotes commerce and industry opportunities for its members and also offers an information duct to the state government.

It also has close links with the national organisation, the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MICCI), and has the important role of looking after some of the smaller businesses that may want a share of the benefits driven by heavy industry developments in the state.

Expanding on Sarawak’s resources, Datuk Abang said the state, apart from sweeping rainforests and big mineral deposits, will have a vast amount of energy once the new Bakun Dam in Bintulu is at full capacity.

The dam is part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) project that has attracted billions of dollars in investments so far.

“The focus is now on SCORE and, because of this programme, we will be able to produce 30,000 megawatts of energy,” said Datuk Abang. “Other forms of energy are depleting but the energy we are producing is sustainable.

“This kind of energy is excellent for production. You cannot run away from it. The Middle East has oil and gas but not much else. There are a lot of opportunities for them in Sarawak.”

The SCORE project has seen big players from Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, the Middle East and Europe invest in various businesses, from heavy industries in Bintulu’s Samalaju Industrial Park to food production at the Tanjung Manis Halal Hub.

While the big companies are well looked after, the SCCI is determined to ensure small businesses also benefit. The body performs the role of a “marriage broker”, playing go-between in matching investors with local partners.

“Some people think that SCORE is meant only for the big players, which is not really the case,” said Datuk Abang. “Of course, when you talk about the trigger industries such as smelting plants and those projects, they involve the mega players.

“But by having them operating in SCORE, they can give a lot of business to the smaller local companies, who can provide them with whatever services they require.

“So that’s where we come in. We have a website, as an information bank, so these investors can go there and try to find what they want.

They can get in touch with these people directly. We are only the introducer. It is up to them whether the partnership lasts or not.”

As SCCI Chairman, Datuk Abang has the pedigree, qualifications and experience to head one of the most important commerce organisations in the state. His father, the late Tun Abang Haji Openg, was the first governor of Sarawak after the state joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963.

A prominent corporate personality in Sarawak, Datuk Abang graduated from the University of Malaya with a Bachelor of Economics (Hons) in the late 60s and then pursued a Master’s Degree in Management from the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines.

He was one of the pioneer scholars of the Central Bank, which he joined as an assistant economist in Kuala Lumpur in the early 70s. He then became the first local to manage the Central Bank’s branch in Kuching and, because of his love for the city, resigned when his employers were about to transfer him back to Kuala Lumpur.

Practically retired now, Datuk Abang holds various positions in business organisations and companies in addition to his duties as SCCI Chairman.

“I enjoy what I’m doing,” he said. “At least I can contribute back to society what I gained out of it. No so much for the money but as a way of providing a service to the community.”

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