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CM: Corporate experience helped me steer Sabah to new heights

Published on: Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kuala Lumpur: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the hardship he went through as an entrepreneur and businessman, as well as experience gained as a result, made him more aware of the plights and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Malaysia.

"They have heightened my appreciation of the important role played by entrepreneurs and businesses in society; creating economic value, employment and spurring economic growth and development," he said, in his acceptance speech of an Honorary Doctorate in Entrepeneurship by Binary University at Hotel Putrajaya Marriot, IOI Resort City, Saturday.

"Many people know me as Chief Minister of Sabah. What is less well known is the fact that I have been an entrepreneur and businessman for a large part of my adult life. From very young I have always been interested in entrepreneurship," he said, adding that after leaving business, he was fortunate to earn the trust of the people and the nation's leadership to lead Sabah.

"Looking back and even now, the experience that I had gained in the business world helped me tremendously in my new job. As businesses are an important stakeholder in the economy, the government of the day has to ensure that the business sector is both dynamic and productive.

"Thus, one of my first tasks as Chief Minister was creating a business-friendly government and an environment conducive to doing business, as a means to spur investments, employment opportunities and economic growth.

"My training in business has also made me more discerning when it comes to evaluating projects and State government expenditures.

To me, leading a government is really not very different from leading a business.

"As a CM, I am functionally similar to a CEO of a large organisation.

Both entities require a high degree of prudence in operation and striving towards maximisation of values, for the rakyat in case of the CM, and the shareholders in the CEO's case," said Musa, who is also State Finance Minister.

Musa said knowledge of good business practices as well as good governance has also made it possible for Sabah to revive a number of non-performing Government-Linked Companies (GLCs).

"Alhamdulillah, most of Sabah's GLCs are now performing well; financially sustainable and some even paying out dividends to the State Government. Another measure that I have instituted when I took office was requiring the State civil service to apply prudent management in everything they do.

"For five years in a row now, we have been awarded a Triple A rating from RAM Rating Services for our excellent financial management.

We have also been awarded the ISO certification by Moody's International for three years in a row for our state financial management.

On top of this, the Auditor General of Malaysia has awarded us a clean bill certification for 13 years in a row.

"Largely as a result of prudent financial management, our State Consolidated Fund now stands at more than RM3 billion (in 2013) compared to RM100 million in 2001," he said.

Earlier, he said he was honoured to be associated with such a distinguished group that included his Johor counterpart Dato Seri Mohamed Khalid Nordin, AirAsia founder Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and SP Setia founder Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin. All were also recipients of honorary degrees from Binary, also known as a specialist university for Management, IT and Entrepreneurship.

"I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Dato Prof. Joseph Adaikalam, Executive Chairman of Binary University, for his many contributions to the field of higher education for the past 30 years and, in particular, for establishing the first university with an entrepreneur focus in the country, and for putting a Malaysian university on the global map.

"His leadership and commitment to higher education in the country is exemplary. Further, he has been most generous in giving out scholarships worth millions of ringgit to Malaysian and foreign students alike.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Binary University for the many scholarships that had been awarded to Sabahans, which I believe are worth more than RM3.7million in total."

Musa said the State Government hopes that as a five-star higher learning institute, Binary would play an active role in expanding and enhancing human capital in Sabah.

He said human capital development was one of the State government's important focuses. "Presently, we are in the midst of planning the human capital requirements for Sabah to serve a rapidly transforming innovative economy, in line with the National Economic Transformation agenda and the goal of attaining a high-income status nation.

"Despite Sabah's abundance of natural resources such as oil and gas, oil palm, biological diversity and a diverse cultural heritage, we believe the key to our success lies in our human resource.

"Creativity and innovation together with good entrepreneurial skills will maximise the value of our resources for the sustainable development of the State," he said.

Musa said Binary University's concept of Industry Specialist Professional (ISP) graduates particularly was found to be interesting and potentially pertinent to Sabah's human capital development agenda.

"We are made to understand that students of Binary University have been provided with an extensive and relevant skills-set that allows them to immediately work productively and move up the corporate ladder upon graduation.

"As such, education and training is one area that I believe Sabah can work closely with Binary University.

The human resource and capital requirements of Sabah are huge given our planned rapid development based on the Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint," he said.