Monday, June 2, 2008


Tawau business community calls for better facilities

TAWAU has the potential to undergo further development if the port is upgraded and better infrastructure facilities are provided for the business sector. Chairman of the Tawau Business Council, Datuk Yap Yiw Sin, said colleges and universities should be built in the district so that the residents here can obtain higher education related to plantation and marine products. For example, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) should set up a campus here to provide agricultural education and skills. “However, the lack of full Ministers in Tawau can influence the pace of economic development here. Many of the tourists will travel to Semporna after they have arrived at Tawau Airport. They will normally go to the islands in Semporna for diving without visiting the township of Tawau. “It is important to do something new to create interest for the people. There are many things that can be done in Tawau, such as enjoying its seafood products. More facilities should be built here to make Tawau a nice place to visit,” Yap told The Borneo Post during an interview at his office here. According to him, it is very difficult to start any industries here due to the high transportation fees. The tourism industry is much easier to be set up as it does not require much cost. Yap, who is also the President of the Tawau Chinese Chamber of Commerce, disclosed that it is important to build up local advantages such as the marine industry and golf sector. The golf courses at Shan Sui and Hotspring here should be beautified in order to create more demand. Publicity also plays an important role to attract more tourists to Tawau. He noted that the cocoa industry is nearly gone after facing a major disease problem. Farmers did not earn enough income and they are facing a big loss. It was really a painful experience for them. Then, they started to move into the palm oil industry. Tawau was the biggest prawn exporter in Malaysia in the early 1990s but it has lost its position. The timber industry is also slowing down because of wood shortage. Therefore, the Government has to build up more research centres here in order to help the farmers and planters with relevant information, guidelines and training, he said. Tuan Hj Othman Walat, the Chief Executive Officer of Sabah Softwood Berhad, urged the entrepreneurs to go downstream. Othman said it is important to create values for any industries such as palm oil, timber and cocoa in order to generate a stable economy. The success of downstream industries is dependent on good infrastructure facilities. “The creation of wealth is affected by outside natural resources such as land and people. The nature economy in Sabah is not something that is sustainable. Once it is depleted, there is a need to create new business. “For example, the timber industry in Sandakan is gone and many of the entrepreneurs are looking for other jobs outside the country. However, Thailand has an excellent economic growth in producing jack fruits and canned food because of the good facilities. Looking back at Tawau, we have potential to develop marine products such as tuna and export the finished products to other countries. “We do not know when the natural resources will finish. Although we enjoy the wealth as a gift from God, but we should not overlook it. It is important for us to venture into other business and go downstream,” Othman pointed out. According to him, economic roles not only depend on the Government to provide infrastructures, but the people themselves are responsible for generating the economy. He added that Malaysia is not just talking about politics but struggling for glorious economic development. Palm oil entrepreneur Peter Lu said that it is important to upgrade the port in Tawau to smoothen the export and import of goods and products. Peter said an upgraded port may allow bigger ships to enter the district easily by bringing products for sale. It will definitely create more business opportunities here. “Tawau has the potential to build more hotels for tourism purposes. A variety of activities should be held to attract more tourists. In fact, it is really difficult to start a business here due to the economic crisis. “For me, it is better to purchase land for palm oil plantation because of the high price demand in the market nowadays. Besides that, the Government should make up their mind and find a way to reduce the price of the products,” he noted. It is learnt that Tawau is lacking of entertainment, especially at night when people would just go home or’ involve in sport activities after work. QPS photographer Abu Chai said the State Government should’ provide more incentives to develop and beautify the tourist places here such as the Hotspring waterfall,’ Bukit Gemuk and Tinagat beach. He said more land here should be developed for tourism attractions like the Disneyland in Hong Kong. “In the future, the allocation of more funds will bring more’ development and create business opportunities,” Abu added. Tawau started off as an agriculture’ and fishing town in 1892 with only a’ few residents. Today, it is the third largest district in the State.