SIBU: The Sibu Shipyard Association (SSA) marked its 45th anniversary with a dinner at a leading hotel here recently.
Speaking at the function SSA president Ngieng Ping Sing commended its members for weathering the storm of cyclical economic downturns and raw material shortage by working together since the establishment of the association in 1974.
He added since the industry is again facing economic slowdown, the members must work closely together to overcome the challenge.
“All this while, the government has exempted sales and service tax for shipbuilding and ship repair.
“However, since last year, the government has expressed the intention to revise certain regulations which might affect the exemption.
“This will hamper the development of Sarawak’s shipbuilding industry. Therefore, SSA hopes the government can retain exemption for all shipbuilders in order for us to compete with the international community,” he said.
Assistant Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Malcolm Mussen Lamoh represented Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan as the guest of honour at the dinner which also celebrated the mooncake festival.
Ngieng said SSA was established in 1974 with seven companies as members and had since expanded to the current membership of 48 companies.
He paid tribute to past presidents and officials for their efforts in expanding the membership of the association and the development of the shipbuilding industry here.
“Even though Sibu is a small place, it is a prominent shipbuilding site in the eyes of the world.
“The local shipyards’ productions are varied and diversified, including barges, speedboats, tugs, landing craft, cargo ships and marine auxiliary vessels.”
Ngieng added shipbuilders in Sibu are internationally renowned as their ships are sold throughout Southeast Asia, China, Middle East, Europe and America.
Since 2005, he said the shipbuilding industry here has moved to the shipbuilding industrial zone of Rantau Panjang, bringing the shipbuilding business to the next level.
“However, I believe we shall not stop here. We must look for more new opportunities for development,” Ngieng said.