Published on: Sunday, July 27, 2014
Kota Kinabalu: The Annual General Meeting of the Sabah United Chinese Chambers of Commerce (SUCCC) in Labuan on July 31 is expected to see a new leadership direction.
After languishing for far too long on the quiet, most of its members are expectant of a more active, opined and visible leadership.
It was astonishing for both members and outsiders that much of the income potential of SUCCC, which was allocated land resources by the State Government together with the Bumiputra Chamber of Commerce and Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce, was lost due to still not very clear or transparent reasons.
"It is good for common interest that as a democratic institution, there is going to be a contest for the top post as leadership direction must be made known and hard choices have to be made for the long-term interest of the chamber and its members," said a delegate.
Recently, the Chairman of the Tuaran Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Tan Kim Beng, said at a luncheon that the Chinese community in Sabah is at a crossroad.
He was one of those named by incumbent Datuk Seri Panglima Gan Sau Wah recently in the controversial joint venture with a firm from West Malaysia under the late SUCCC President Datuk Mohd Sari Tan who took credit for having successfully applied for the land from the State Government and the subsequent deals that are now left hanging in dispute.
"The younger generation is not as hardy as the older generation, preferring easier jobs. They can't compete with the new Bumiputra migrants in laborious tasks. Those who are not well educated are left with blue collar, business or self-employment where soft skills are not so crucial," Tan opined.
Tan was speaking in favour of Sabah's Chinese returning to agriculture as the State's potential in agrarian activities and industries is great, as today youths face greater competition and a higher cost of living.
He was a supporter of Tan Sri Harris Salleh's Berjaya administration, which he recalled as Sabah's golden period in economic boom, like never before it in the history of Sabah.
Likewise, Sabah looks forward to the more positive contributions of SUCCC leadership, in forging a future for the younger generations where ideas for another one of Sabah's golden periods in economic boom happened sooner for the good of everyone, now lingering in challenging and trying times.
Harris is still a strong advocate of Sabah's strength in agriculture and plantation industries and is a frequent visitor to China. That's how he has an inkling of what the China market wants and can obtain from Sabah.
Meanwhile, Sabah is currently highly dependent on Chinese tourism receipts for business and jobs.
On the question of how China, once a poor nation, is today the most affluent tourist output country from rising Asia, is also due to its status as the world's largest holder of money.
China's foreign exchange reserves are $1.5 trillion, 50 per cent more than those of the next country, Japan and three times the holdings of the entire European Union.
For a regime that is ostensibly Communist, China is astonishing by frank in its acceptance of capitalism.
A Chinese official once said in response to a question as to what the best solution to rural poverty was: "We have to let markets work.
They draw people off the land and into industry, out of farms and into cities. Historically that has been the only answer to rural poverty.
We have to keep industrialising."
That's what Harris wanted by starting industrial tapioca starch factories in rural areas to encourage the rural populace to venture into growing commercial crops that are readily marketable in places like China where the demand is huge.
When the same question was posed to Indian or Latin American officials, they launched into complicated explanations of the need for rural welfare, subsidies for poor farmers and other such programmes, all designed to slow down market forces and retard the historical - and often painful - process.
As the Consul General of the People's Republic of China in Kuching, Liu Quan, had said, "The Malaysian and Chinese governments should create a platform to promote exchanges and understanding between East Malaysia and China."
This calls for the incoming SUCCC leadership to do its utmost for Sabah and Malaysia.