Dr. Joachim (second, right) at Wisma SEDIA during the Webinar, at Kota Kinabalu.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah needs a tailor-made policy focusing on small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) in order to rejuvenate the state’s manufacturing sector.
The contribution expansion will in turn solve Sabah’s youth unemployment crisis said Sabah Minister of Industrial Development, Datuk Dr. Joachim Gunsalam.
Industrialisation roadmaps he said are being prepared in collaboration between the State and local think tank, Institute for Development Studies (IDS) and the Kondrad-Adenauer-Stiftung of Germany, to raise the State’s current RM6.47 billion GDP to RM20 billion by 2030.
“The manufacturing sector contributed only 7.6% of Sabah’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, mainly due to the lack of downstream processed products available for export.
“The same year, Sabah recorded a 5.8% rate of unemployment, which is the highest in Malaysia,” he told a webinar titled ‘State’s Industrialisation: A Solution to Migration and Youth Unemployment in Sabah’ earlier today.
Dr. Joachim said identifying critical issues faced by the manufacturing sector here as well as potential markets and the amount of government expenditures required to support growth is the first step followed by exposure to advanced technology.
“We need to look into smart manufacturing which will eventually lead to the emergence of smart cities and smart services.
“Sabah needs to be seen as a primary destination for high-tech industries. As such, we need to create the right ecosystem for SMEs to grow into small and medium Industries (SMI)s which is imperative for transformation.
He envisions Sabah to position itself as a formidable industrial powerhouse following the footsteps of British and China’s Industrial Revolutions.
Since her independence, Malaysia has pursued a trade-intensive policy particularly in the 1980’s set by then Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad designed to heavily promote industrialisation and manufacturing.
Because of these policies, manufactured products take up a large share of trade in states in Peninsular Malaysia such as Selangor, Johor and Penang.
“However, the industrialisation had hardly made significant progress in Sabah.
“This lack of job creation in Sabah resulted in unemployment of youths. The continuing migration of youths to Peninsular Malaysia and other countries gives a strong reason for Sabah to quickly progress itself into an industrialised entity.
“It is a waste of opportunity for Sabah to lose all our talented and skilled youth due to the lack of jobs and industries suitable for them here in Sabah.
Dr. Joachim who is also Deputy Chief Minister made a point that the Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya will optimise state resources and revenue, stimulate economic recovery and improves the people’s economy and human capital on top of building a united, peaceful and prosperous state and society.
“I believe the industrial sector could play a bigger role and become the catalyst in generating more employment opportunities for our youth in line with the development plan which will attract investors in our manufacturing and downstream industry.
“Hopefully, when the study is completed, it will serve as guidelines to support strategic and long-range planning, by matching short-term and long-term goals with specific solutions in regard to industrialisation,” he said.
Dr. Joachim (middle) at Webinar on The State’s Industrialsation at Wisma SEDIA, Kota Kinabalu.