KOTA KINABALU: Lahad Datu will be turned into a centre for national and regional investment over the next ten years, says POIC Sabah chairman Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee.
He said that Lahad Datu would be turned into a major hub for the East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) through several proposed transformational initiatives.
"We are proposing an integrated international airport with a ferry terminal, a maritime academy, building towards being 5G-enabled, a gas-powered plant, food safety and certification facility, among others," Yong told the senior management team of POIC Sabah in his maiden visit to the company head office here.
He said that the Sabah government was exploring a comprehensive development plan anchoring on POIC Lahad Datu which is being developed by state-owned POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd.
Yong said that the proposal was to enhance Lahad Datu's comparative advantages and widen the scope of investments to strengthen Lahad Datu's role as a major contributor to the Sabah economy.
He added that that the time was ripe to explore other perspectives to grow POIC Sabah in particular and Sabah's east coast in general.
Yong, a former Chief Minister of Sabah, was recently appointed to be the POIC Sabah Chairman.
"The plan we are looking at will synergise the company's desire to develop oil palm downstream and other industries, promote manufacturing to generate outward cargo and developing POIC Lahad Datu as the logistics hub of BIMP-EAGA, ” he said in a statement on Wednesday (Dec 16).
"It will elevate Sabah as the heart of BIMP-EAGA and enhance development and inter-territorial economic opportunities especially with Indonesia's planned new national capital in East Kalimantan, our southern neighbour," added Yong.
He said the major projects outlined will be developed via a privately funded initiative and with much help from the Federal government, and initiatives such as the BIMP-EAGA China Fund and the Malaysia-China Business Council (MCBC).
On the proposed international airport and ferry terminal, Yong said the rationale is to elevate the envisaged 'hub' status of Lahad Datu where foreign investors, foreign tourists and citizens of BIMP-EAGA member countries can enjoy hassle-free cross-border connectivity.
He added that a halted water intake and treatment plant near Lahad Datu is being revived, while authorities are revisiting a shelved project to pipe natural gas from Kimanis on the west coast to generate electricity in Lahad Datu to develop the water and power supply infrastructure in the region.
"The government spends much yearly to subsidise or make up for electricity short-supply issues, almost as much as the funds needed to build a 300 mega-watt gas-fired power plant," Yong said.