KOTA KINABALU: Palawan is moving closer towards acquiring its power supply from Sabah BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BEBC) chairman Datuk Roselan Johar Mohamed told The Borneo Post yesterday that this followed the recently concluded meeting involving the power cable and other equipment suppliers from China.
“The cost of supplying and laying the submarine cables has already been indicated and it works out well for Palawan, even though some minor adjustments are expected,” he said.
Roselan added that the Governor of Palawan, Jose Chaves Alvarez, had flown in for the two-hour first technical meeting with the Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB).
He also said that a few more technical meetings were expected to take place before the project could be considered viable for all concerned.
The meeting and several earlier meetings were initiated by BEBC which also played a crucial role through the wholly-owned investment company.
“I hope that if all goes well, the whole exercise should be completed by December 2018,” said Roselan.
Roselan also explained that presently, Palawan was being plagued with periodic brown-outs and the nearest source of affordable power will be through its neighbour, Sabah.
“The 186-kilometre submarine cable will link Kudat and Bulliluyan which is at the southern tip of Palawan, thus paving the way to opening this isolated Muslim region to the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jose Chavez has also expressed his wish to see the people of Sabah and Palawan to be integrated peacefully to socialise and trade with each other and the ferry services shall be the connecting vessel.
“In the not too distant future, we can cherish the drive from Manila via Palawan and into Sabah via Kudat to get to Pontianak,” he said.
Meanwhile, the new chairman of the BEBC Sarawak chapter, Haji Osaha Haji Suhaili was sworn in recently by Roselan just before the Transport Minister’s meeting held recently in Kuching and witnessed by Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
Osaha said that with this new recognition comes a higher degree of responsibility towards propelling Sarawak’s involvement to trade and socialise with the countries of Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.
His first immediate responsibility is to ensure that he has a good team in every major and important towns of Sarawak before they can talk about business and investments.
Osaha also reiterated that in the event he failed to achieve any result for Sarawak, he would on his own accord, retire gracefully and let others take the lead role.
The recognition given to Osaha came in at a very appropriate time when the movement did not make any headway earlier to chart the course of Sarawak’s involvement within the aspiration of BIMP-EAGA, said Roselan.
So far for Sarawak, Roselan said that the only visible trade recently carried out was the sale and purchase of four maritime vessels by a Sibu shipbuilder to a private entity in Palawan.
“This is very good because it augurs well for the future of Sarawak shipbuilding. I am very sure that more orders are in the offing and I hope other Philippine shipowners can consider making more ship orders from Sibu,” he said.
With regard to the closure of the Tebedu-Entikong inland container depot, Roselan explained that success could only happen if there was a two-way traffic.
“If we only sell but never buy, the other party may not be happy. Perhaps it is best that we encourage our entrepreneurs to have joint venture with Kalimantan landowners to plant field corns for our animal feed mills,” he said.
“Kalimantan has quality planting labour and not so expensive and Sarawak can buy back corns from Kalimantan to complete the two-way traffic. So both sides win. I think Sarawak alone is importing about 10,000 to 12,000 metric tonnes of corns every month from elsewhere and our other food import bills are also rising. So we should prioritize our land-use capabilities to plant for the present and future needs. It is not good to import when we ourselves can plant.”
He added that furthermore, if Sarawak can plant more corns, any excess can be sold to Peninsular Malaysia in containers. This in return would also improve the two-way traffic between Port Klang and the Sarawak main ports.
Ultimately, the ocean freight from Port Klang can be lowered and nobody would be complaining against the cabotage policy, he said.
Roselan also said that there was an agricultural producer somewhere in Sarawak that plants cavendish banana.
“I hope the state government can give him all the support and encouragement so that he can plant more for export. If land is what he needs, then by all means the state government can give him more land to plant. In return, this land can be considered as the Government’s equity and still belonging to the state to enable the government to collect recurring incomes every year for the next 25 years.”
He said that in Mindanao, all the major banana plantation owners had their own private ports, wharves and even ships to facilitate their exports.
“So this banana business is truly a good business to look into,” he said.