Ong (centre) is flanked by Senator Alan Ling and Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon at the Miri outreach session.
MIRI: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) will help to explore opportunities to spur timber-related manufacturing industry in Sibu and help small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including start-ups to aim for the export market.
Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said Sibu currently lacks new sources of downstream timber processing industry due to lack of growth opportunities and this has hampered it from establishing themselves in Central Sarawak.
“We are trying to see if that area could be re-explored so that there could be more timber-related manufacturing activities in Sibu,” he during a press conference at the end of the ministry’s outreach tour from Sibu to Miri.
The aim of the ministry’s outreach tour was to get public feedback and engaged stakeholders in Sibu, Bintulu and Miri to chart out a plan for industries and SMEs growth beyond the state capital of Kuching in Sarawak.
Ong said many young people from Sibu and Miri had to work in Singapore, Johore and Peninsular Malaysia due to the lack of opportunities to open new businesses in the state.
“We have heard from business associations that when young people wanted to open businesses, they didn’t know how to start or maintain their businesses – this is one area where federal government agencies can help in exposing to new start-up ideas, “ he said of the steps which could be taken.
In terms of foreign direct investments (FDIs), Ong said Sarawak was third after Penang and Johore last year. The state recorded RM 10.5 billion in FDIs and domestic direct investments last year.
Ong said while it is advantageous to attract high levels of FDIs coming into Sarawak, many of the investors are in the heavy industries which are attracted by cheap energy and land.
Although such investments created jobs for locals in Sarawak, Ong suggested that the spill over effects from the FDIs could be improved to benefit the local SMEs to work together with big companies in Samalaju and other parts in the state.
“This was communicated to the big companies in Samalaju when we visited them together with some the SMEs from Bintulu,” he said.