KOTA KINABALU: The government needs to start looking at diverse sectors now so that the state and country is not dependent on any particular sector for revenue, says Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
Speaking at the Petronas education sponsorship award ceremony on Sunday (July 7), he said besides developing manpower skills and technology, the public and private sector must be able to "smell something that is good".
"As we create our human capital equipped with expertise and skills, we need to look at diverse sectors so we can have a 'buffer' in future and avoid dependency on a particular sector.
"Sabah is rich with resources which we have yet to fully tapped into.
"For example when I banned the exports of logs, we had to forego some income but we need to do so to develop our furniture industry - we also need to look at other alternatives to maximise our wood resources," he added.
Speaking to reporters later, Mohd Shafie, when asked about new explorations by Petronas in Sabah, said the state government is always willing to collaborate with the oil and gas company but admitted these ventures are costly and needed surveys first.
On claims that Petronas was not giving priority to local contractors in projects, he said discussions have always been done with Petronas' top management to include Sabahans but the skills of local contractors needed to be improved to gain these opportunities.
At the event, 28 outstanding Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) school-leavers received their scholarships under the flagship Petronas Education Sponsorship Programme (PESP) to pursue a first degree at
University Teknologi Petronas (UTP), as well as at several universities overseas.
They were among the 150 Sabahan students awarded sponsorships in the ceremony, with the rest from less privileged backgrounds from Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) and trainees at various technical institutions under the Petronas Vocational Institution Sponsorship and Training Assistance (VISTA) programme, who received allowances to pay for learning materials, uniforms and other necessities.
Petronas chairman Datuk Ahmad Nizam Salleh said PESP scholarship which started in 1975, has sponsored 36,800 students nationwide involving RM3.3bil funding.
"The 28 Sabahans chosen this year were among the 7,355 who applied, where they received a total sponsorship of RM5.8mil," he added.