KUALA LUMPUR: One of the biggest achievements in his 18 years of being the Primary Industries Minister was developing the ministry from being commodity-based to one that is resource-based, said Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik.
This is the situation for the new minister to take over. We have institutionalised all that is needed, improving and restructuring the commodities sector with emphasis on downstream development, he said.
He added that in 1986, total exports stood at RM13bil.
Today, it is RM59.5bil, with palm oil and related products making up RM27.7bil, he said at the handing-over ceremony to the newly appointed Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui yesterday.
Dr Lim said the processing of commodities into products such as rubber products has resulted in the country being the largest exporter of rubber goods in the world now.
He added that there was a need to expand the range to automotive rubber products.
For furniture products, we have to find a niche market and go for medium-range markets to compete with emerging markets like China and Japan, he said, adding that most of the commodities were value-added downstream products.
Dr Lim also said the high price of commodities was one of the factors that contributed to the clear mandate won by Barisan Nasional.
The smallholders and farmers are able to benefit from the high prices of rubber and cocoa and from the sale of timber products, he said.
On his new appointment as Energy, Water and Communications Minister, Dr Lim said: It is a challenge for me. I understand that it is very much a service industry and the slogan of the Barisan is to improve services.
He said his major challenge would be to make the services more efficient and affordable, adding that he would be checking up on privatised companies to see whether they have improved their services and lowered costs.
Chin said that with the ministry doing so well, he was pleased to be appointed as its minister after Dr Lim.
It is a happy situation that I am in and I hope it will continue being so. I will follow what Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has requested from the people, which is to work with me and not for me, he said.
Newly appointed parliamentary secretary Ng Lip Yong said the ministry was a valuable asset to the country as it was its economic lifeline.
I will fully support the ministry and hope to co-operate with Chin, he added.