Hajiji: Sabah’s economic future will be further enhanced
KOTA KINABALU: South Korea, one of Malaysia’s top 10 trading partners, has set up a consulate here.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (pic) said Malaysia and the Republic of Korea have come a long way, having had six decades of cooperation following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1960.
“Since then, we have made much progress in exchanges and cooperation in many fields,” he said at the official opening of the consulate.
He said the setting up of the Korean Consulate here was a significant next step in the expansion of South Korea’s diplomatic and consular network as it sought to build and enhance regional and global relations.
Hajiji said in 2022, the Republic of South Korea was listed as Malaysia’s eighth-largest trading partner and eighth-largest export destination, while trade relations between Sabah and South Korea have grown steadily.
He said Sabah’s trade export to South Korea registered at RM4bil and Sabah’s imports from South Korea at RM900mil last year.
“The crowning jewel of this to date is, of course, South Korea’s RM4.2bil SK Nexilis copper foil manufacturing project, one of Sabah’s largest foreign investments,” he said.
“The high-impact investment promised not only employment opportunities for Sabahans but also played a vital role in advancing Sabah’s industrialisation and transitioning it into a sophisticated economy that will continue to benefit the South Korean stakeholders and the region,” Hajiji said.
“Sabah is open for business, and we would like to see more investors coming to Sabah to establish win-win business deals and partnerships,” said Hajiji.
“As we speak, tourism in Sabah continues to grow strongly. South Koreans are a major contributor, with arrivals recorded at 95,966 (an increase of 2,705%) from January to June 2023,” he said.
“As of September 2023, Sabah is connected to two cities -- Incheon and Busan in South Korea with 23 flights and 4,409 seat capacity weekly. I am pleased that Sabah continues to be a sought-after destination for South Koreans,” he said.
Hajiji said the strong growth showing overall visitor arrivals to Sabah registered at 1.2 million arrivals from January to June of this year and generating RM2.45bil in tourism receipts were a good sign.
“We acknowledge the special role the Consulate will play in promoting bilateral relations and serving as a bridge to make connections.
“Together, we can achieve new heights and contribute to the prosperity of both Sabah and the Republic of Korea,” he said.
Hajiji also said that a revised Sabah Malaysia My Second Home (SMM2H) programme will be tabled at the State Legislative Assembly soon.
He said the SMM2H programme has been fine-tuned to make Sabah attractive to foreigners wishing to move here.
“The influx of talent and expertise will benefit us, especially for our SMM2H programme that will be tabled at the State Legislative Assembly soon.
“We hope to see more high-value talents, including from South Korea, moving to Sabah,” Hajiji said.
The Chief Minister said Sabah is now home to approximately 2,000 Koreans.
Also present were Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Seri Dr Joachim Gunsalam, Datuk Shahelmy Yahya, Cabinet Ministers, South Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Yeo Seung-Bae and senior Korean embassy officials.