STC building needs shot in the arm, says state minister

KOTA KINABALU: The primary goal of the redevelopment of the Sabah Trade Centre (STC) is to provide the people with a modern and effective trade hub, driving economic development for local small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs), says Datuk Phoong Jin Zhe.

The state Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister said he welcomed suggestions and ideas to revitalise the “worn-out STC.”

This came following criticisms by two Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) leaders who questioned the rationale of its redevelopment.

“Initially, the previous government had engaged in an agreement to sell the prime land but the current state Cabinet has agreed to reverse the decision in 2023 and retain the STC, which is now under the purview of my ministry,” Phoong said in a statement.

“We will not sell the land as the previous government decided; this is for certain.

“It is important to note that the decision to withdraw the sale of the land, which was initially made a decade ago, reflects the government’s commitment to prioritising the interests of the Sabahan people,” he added.

He said this amid the row over the redevelopment of the STC, with Usno president Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee questioning the move on Thursday.

Pandikar and Yong also questioned the rationale for redeveloping the building just because it did not have an occupation certificate (also known as a certificate of fitness for occupation).

The two GRS leaders said some renovations would suffice for the building that sits within a 2.8ha plot of prime land in Likas to be safe and usable.

They added there was no necessity for it to be redeveloped by private companies into a high-rise.

Phoong said the decision not to sell the land paved the way for a fresh start and the opportunity to reimagine the STC as a vibrant hub for SMEs and trade activities.

“We are committed to ensuring that the STC becomes a beacon of economic growth and provides a platform for local Sabahan entrepreneurs.

“We are not selling the STC or the land to any private sector,” he said, adding that he welcomed the recent idea from Sabah SME Association president Datuk Foo Ngee Kee, who proposed to rejuvenate the STC into an SME hub.

“This aligns perfectly with my ministry’s aspiration and direction.

“Instead of just patching things up here and there, we envision an inclusive rejuvenation that ensures the STC is fully functional and supports the growth of SMEs, facilitating meaningful economic exchanges,” Phoong said.

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