NO SPECIFIC study has been done to look into the feasibility of setting up a rubber wood processing plant in Sibu.
According to Assistant Minister of Industries and Investment Malcolm Mussen, the government is not issuing any licence or permit for the purpose at the moment.
However, he said the government planned to develop an area of 150 acres for general industries mainly for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sibu under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).
“Since shipbuilding is an important industry in Sibu, the government has also approved an area of 250 acres for the extension of Rantau Panjang Industrial Estate under the 11MP.
“This will further boost the industrial development of Sibu as a shipbuilding hub of Malaysia,” he said when responding to questions by David Wong (DAP-Pelawan) in the august House yesterday.
Malcolm added that the ministry was in the midst of upgrading the existing infrastructure of Rantau Panjang Industrial Estate Phase I.
Not satisfied with the reply, Wong demanded the assistant minister to explain how Sarawak could compete with its counterpart in Peninsular Malaysia if the state is not open to investments.
He asserted that having a rubber wood processing plant in Sibu would, to a certain extent, spur the timber-based industry in the central town.
Apparently frustrated, Wong said: “I just ask you to give licences.”
In response, Malcolm said his ministry would attend to applications while approval would be given in due course.
He also added that the government would need investors, given that the industry was private-sector driven.
Wong pursued the matter by pointing out that some investors from Peninsular Malaysia are willing to invest “but you don’t give them licences”.
He then asked the assistant minister how the government could spur the development if no investor was granted the approval.
In response, Malcom said: “As I mentioned earlier, you need to apply first. There must be some… to see viable or not. My ministry is willing to issue licences.”
He quickly added: “You (Wong) are most welcome to bring up your proposal.”