Delve into ‘uncharted waters’, SEDC told

Posted on : 27 Nov 2019  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari (third left) and Abdul Aziz (third right) jointly cut the anniversary cake. Joining them are (from left) Assistant Minister of Transport Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, Minister of Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, as well as Assistant Ministers in Chief Minister’s Department Abdullah Saidol and Datuk John Sikie Tayai.

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is encouraging Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to go into ‘uncharted waters’ after the state-owned statutory body recorded healthy revenue growth for 2018.

Abdul Aziz (left) presents a souvenir to Abang Johari (right), witnessed by other dignitaries.

He said the ‘uncharted waters’ would cover three industries that SEDC could delve into – namely methanol production, hydrogen production and tourism.

“SEDC has recorded healthy growth revenue for 2018. On group level, you also achieved profit which we are proud of.

“As you know, the whole economic scenario has changed and for Sarawak, we have to adapt ourselves to the changing environment. And as a result, we have to sometimes go to ‘uncharted waters’.

“But before we go to that area, we have to have a thorough study, feasibility study, and also the outcome that we want to achieve in the next 47 years,” Abang Johari spoke at SEDC’s 47th anniversary dinner, here on Monday.

Earlier in his speech, SEDC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain said SEDC recorded RM41.52 million in revenue last year, which was RM1.22 million or three per cent higher than the year before.

On top of that, Abdul Aziz said at group level, SEDC with all of its subsidiaries posted total revenue of RM236.4 million, with operating profit before tax of RM46.3 million for last year.

In view of this, Abang Johari said SEDC could play a part in Sarawak’s petrochemical industry by establishing a methanol plant.

“We have plenty of gas, offshore as well as maybe onshore, and methanol is a base for derivatives in the petrochemical industries. Also the demand for methanol worldwide is increasing – meaning the methanol plant will give a new stream of revenue to SEDC.

“I’m sure you have the base and therefore you can, with other investors coming in, produce the chemical products out of methanol. That is why I have made a bold move for us to move into methanol production.

“Though normally and traditionally it is (done by) Petronas, but now we say ‘never mind ‘lah’, no need Petronas all the time’ (because) SEDC can also produce methanol,” he said.

On hydrogen production, the Chief Minister encouraged SEDC to work together with the Sarawak government to produce the gas and to transform the state’s economy into hydrogen economy.

He said although the government had been receiving a lot of flak from the opposition, to the point of urging it to stop its hydrogen bus initiative, hydrogen economy had been in Malaysia’s national hydrogen blueprint, which was initiated by the federal government in 2017.

“And through that blueprint, Malaysia was also going towards hydrogen economy. For the past five years, they (federal government) had done their research but apparently, there was no outcome from their research.

“But Sarawak, we started our pilot hydrogen plant, pilot project – now we can produce hydrogen in just one year.”

Abang Johari also revealed that two countries had shown interest to buy hydrogen from Sarawak and thus, this would be a great potential revenue stream for the state as well as SEDC.

“Surely it will become another revenue stream for the government, besides the fact that if we export the hydrogen, perhaps we could impose one or two per cent sales tax on hydrogen. This is the way how we shape our economy based on the strength of our resources and we go towards these uncharted waters.

“We haven’t even produced it (hydrogen) commercially but already we have interested buyers. So it becomes an encouragement for us to produce hydrogen,” he added.

As for the tourism industry, Abang Johari urged SEDC to take note that for the 12th Malaysia Plan, Sarawak was planning to give emphasis on its tourism industry to boost the state’s revenue.