KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government will continue to carry out balanced development, including ensuring employment opportunities are available in all districts, in the effort to overcome poverty problems in the state.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said efforts to provide sustainable development in Sabah are not only focused on big towns like Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau and Keningau, but also in the rural areas.
“This (poverty) is what the Sabah government is working hard to eliminate. Last night in Sipitang, I was informed by the Labour Department that they have provided employment opportunities for almost 12,000 youths. This is what we want, to address the poverty problem,” he said after opening Artisan Galleria at the Sabah State Administrative Centre (PPNS) yesterday.
Shafie said the Sabah government, through its agencies, including the Sabah Foundation, was also committed to help market the produce of the rural population to further increase their income and socio-economic status.
Citing the Galleria Artisan at PPNS, Shafie said it could be a platform to market products by local entrepreneurs, especially from the rural areas, such as paintings, handicraft work and textiles, as their products are incorporated as Sabah’s fine and unique art .
Apart from tourists, delegations arriving for meetings with the chief minister or state ministers at the building can stop by to see the handicrafts displayed at the gallery, he said.
Meanwhile, Shafie proposed for Sabah-made handicrafts to be widely used by hotels.
He said the handicrafts should go beyond being sold in galleries and be used in venues to showcase the Sabah identity.
“I ask for it after this, such as in hotels that are available… When we have these beautiful baskets that are appropriately priced, for us to use ceramic… might as well we use these village products. Put, in the morning, fruits or bread in there (woven baskets),” he said.
“This will also enable us to help communities, people who in the past did not have the ability to earn an income,” he added.
Local entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas, should also optimise today’s technological sophistication to sell their products through online businesses as the method would enable them to penetrate foreign markets and help increase revenue, he said.
Galleria Artisan is located at Block A ground floor of the PPNS building, and serves as a one-stop centre for collection, sale and display of quality handicraft, batik and painting products from local entrepreneurs throughout Sabah.
Also present at the event yesterday were Sabah Foundation director Datuk Jamalul Kiran Mohd Zakaria and acting chief executive officer of Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (TERAJU), Megat Mohd Yatim Megat Hamid.